Patrick Vieira has accused Arsenal's players of letting down Arsene Wenger as scrutiny on the manager's future intensifies.
Some Gunners supporters protested against the Frenchman, who is out of contract at the end of the season, prior to Tuesday's humiliating 5-1 defeat to Bayern Munich at Emirates Stadium, which sealed a 10-2 aggregate demise in the Champions League's round of 16.
Chairman Chips Keswick released a statement on Thursday acknowledging the grievances of supporters, while Wenger himself has confirmed the clamour for him to go may influence his thinking when he decides whether or not to consider a contract extension.
Vieira, who played a key role in all three of Arsenal's Premier League title successes under Wenger, and also won the FA Cup, backed his countryman to keep fighting and called on the players to take responsibility for some poor recent performances.
"He is going through a really difficult period but at the same time I know Arsene and he is not the kind of person who will throw the towel in and walk out of this situation," the New York City FC coach told Omnisport ahead of the Gunners' FA Cup quarter-final tie at home to Lincoln City on Saturday.
"He will fight for it because he is proud and he will give everything like he has been doing for the football club.
"It is true that people are doubting his capability to manage the team… but I think you have to look at the players and in some situations the players have been letting Arsene down a lot because coaches have responsibility but players have responsibility as well.
"You can work the whole week in how you want to play but when [the] players [are] on the field they are the ones who have to fight and if you don't do it then it is a problem.
"So we can talk about Arsene, we can talk about other things but I think it is important for players to take responsibility and look at themselves in the mirror."
Such is Wenger's stature at Arsenal, it seems unlikely the board will force his exit and Vieira expects the 67-year-old to retain control of his destiny.
"I think Arsene knows better than anyone what he has achieved and he knows what he wants to do and he will make a decision," he said.
"I don't want to get involved to say if he should stay or go, he has enough experience to make the correct decision and the best decision for the football club, he has always done this and will continue to do so.
"I know he has got a passion and love for the club and the team, he loves being on the field, he is obsessed by football. He is passionate about the game so he will know what is best for him and the football club."