Arsene Wenger admitted uncertainty over his future as Arsenal manager played a role in the club’s failure to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in 20 years.
Arsenal concluded the Premier League season with a 3-1 home win over Everton on Sunday, but Liverpool’s 3-0 victory against Middlesbrough condemned them to a fifth-place finish.
Wenger – who claimed he had “turned down every club in the world” – has refused to say whether he intends to stay on beyond the end of the season, which has angered some fans, and he conceded it had created an unhelpful atmosphere at the Emirates Stadium.
“It is annoying (to miss out on the Champions League), but we had a spell during the season that was difficult and it was difficult for me in my personal situation,” he said.
“We were playing in a hostile environment. The players came back stronger in the last two months and I’m very proud of them for doing that.”
Arsenal will hope to salvage something from their campaign when they tackle league champions Chelsea in the FA Cup final at Wembley on Saturday.
But they will be without Laurent Koscielny after he was sent off against Everton and Wenger said Gabriel was also unlikely to feature after being stretchered off with a knee injury.
While Wenger accepted the uncertainty about his future had been counter-productive, he said his commitment to Arsenal could not be questioned.
“I was focused on my job. I am professional,” said the Frenchman, who has been in place since September 1996.
“I love this club enough to do my best every single day. One thing you cannot question is my love for this club. I’ve turned down every club in the world to stay here.”