Arsene Wenger feels the Arsenal captaincy is a heavy burden for Cesc Fabregas but has backed the Spaniard to grow stronger next season.
With the Premier League title slipping out of reach ahead of Sunday's home clash against Manchester United, the Gunners are facing up to a sixth straight year without a trophy.
They had been fighting for silverware on four fronts just a couple of months ago but have since suffered disappointment in the Carling Cup, UEFA Champions League and FA Cup.
A series of draws in the league, followed by last weekend's defeat to Bolton, have effectively extinguished their hopes for another season, and Fabregas has recently expressed his frustration.
In a controversial interview with Spanish magazine Don Balon earlier this month, the 23-year-old voiced concern about what Arsenal are missing to convert promise into medals.
Wenger made Fabregas skipper in November 2008 after stripping William Gallas of the armband, and feels the player has struggled to balance his burning desire for success with leading the team through adversity.
"It is too much for him at his age. I believe so," Wenger said. "But he is the captain of the team and [Robin] van Persie is vice-captain, they put a lot of pressure on themselves.
"Cesc is a winner. He wants to win, he is desperate to win the games, and of course when it does not work, he is frustrated.
"It is too much because it doesn't go as well. Once it will go well, he will grow with it.
"Every difficulty in life will make you stronger, especially when you have a strong character, and Cesc is a strong character.
"I believe it will make him stronger, but maybe this season it is a bit of a heavy burden."
Wenger feels the turning point of the campaign was the final moments of the Carling Cup final, where a defensive mix-up gifted Birmingham a dramatic winner.
"Victory could have given the players a little bit of playing with less weight on your shoulders," he said.
"I don't fault the attitude. I feel that this season the team could have won absolutely everything, but when things turned against us we became a bit nervous in the key moments of the games."
Despite the frustrations of this season, Wenger is determined to keep his current group intact.
"I believe that this team has been educated, grown together. The biggest achievement for them will be to win together," he said.
"They will have learnt their job the hard way. They have been criticised a lot and, at the moment, they do not get the credit they deserve. Once they win, they will be stronger."
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