Supporter tensions have affected Wenger - Rice

Pat Rice, Arsene Wenger's long-term assistant, is saddened by the circumstances surrounding the veteran manager's looming exit from Arsenal.

Arsene Wenger will be "very hurt" by the strained relationship with Arsenal fans that has soured his final years in charge, according to former assistant Pat Rice.

After more than two decades at the helm, Wenger last week by announced he was to step down at the end of the season.

The Frenchman later revealed his irritation over the lack of "unity" projected by the club's supporters, believing they damaged the respected image he had built across the world.

Wenger's position has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years and Rice, his number two between 1996 and 2012, believes the debate has had an effect.

"I think he would feel very hurt about the reaction he was getting but at the end of the day we all know we are in a business where it can happen to anybody," Rice told Sky Sports.

"It is not the first time it has happened to a football manager but when you think what he has done for our great club it is a shame that it had to end this way.

"I'm just hoping that for the last home game of the season [against Burnley] everybody shows their appreciation to a wonderful man and a tremendous manager."

Wenger has won three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups since arriving as a virtual unknown from Japan and remains in contention to sign off with a Europa League triumph.

But it is the 68-year-old's revolutionary impact on the way the game is played in England that Rice believes elevates him to the top of the pile at Arsenal.

"In my eyes he is the best Arsenal manager there has ever been," Rice added.

"The foresight that he had was just second to none and he changed the way of people's thinking about football in England, there's absolutely no doubt about that."