Arsene Wenger has said he is “irritated and frustrated” that he cannot make every Arsenal supporter happy.
The Gunners boss had to endure calls for his departure on Saturday before and during his side’s 1-0 Premier League home victory over Norwich.
“We respect the opinion of everybody. We gave absolutely the best,” said Wenger, whose team moved up to third.
“I’m really sorry I cannot make them all happy but we will continue to work hard to achieve it.”
It was a minority of fans who had voiced their frustrations at their team’s failure to mount a title challenge in recent years.
Fans from the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust, the Black Scarf Movement and Red Action handed out posters with the message ‘time for change’ and some fans held them up after 12 and 78 minutes – 12 being the number of years the club has gone without winning the league.
In a divided stadium, there were those who supported their manager, singing “there’s only one Arsene Wenger” in response to the 12th-minute protest.
Wenger, who joined the club in 1996, said he had been warned about the protest, adding: “I have respect for the club and gave so much for the club. I want to make people happy.
“It was a bit of a strange atmosphere. I think the fans were behind the team, and I believe as well that we did not have the stylish performance that could raise people off their seats.
“We had a serious, studied performance, a bit subdued at stages, but we wanted absolutely to win the game and we did it.”
Wenger’s pre-match comments had stoked the flames this week, with the manager saying fans had gone “overboard” with their criticisms, and that his team had played in “a very difficult climate” at home over recent months, contributing to their failure in the league.
Arsenal were top of the Premier League at the turn of the year, but their title hopes have since faded with their home form a major contributing factor – they have collected 14 points from their last eight games at the Emirates Stadium.
Wenger said: “Maybe it is as well because we have been remarkably consistent. This season was a bit special because we were in a position for a long time where our fans believed we could win the league.
“We didn’t and that’s why I think it’s more disappointed love than real aggression.”
Victory over Norwich moved Wenger’s team a step closer to Champions League qualification and above Manchester City, who have a game in hand and who play the Gunners at the Etihad Stadium next weekend.
“We have to give a special game next Sunday,” said Wenger of the City match.