Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger recently spoke at the club’s General Annual Meeting and emphasised how the club must stay united through the current rough patch at the Emirates to experience success in the future.
The full speech by Wenger follows:
Good afternoon – thank you for your welcome. I am happy to have the opportunity to speak to you. Usually I speak to you through the media and they do not always reflect what I say. I am happy as well to be part of the fact that the Club celebrates 125 years of existence. My dream is that one day a manager will stand in font of you and say one thousand years – don’t worry it will not be me! You may not be here as well…
Personally, I have had the privilege of being in charge of this club for 15 years and I am very grateful that you have placed such high confidence in me for such a long time.
I know that I am at a special club. If I have one merit, I think I have been loyal to this club and committed. I do not say I was always right. I knew always it was always a privilege to be at this club because I always had the support of people and the freedom to work the way I want.
“I hope as well that in many years, people will look at this period and think that we have put the Club on the right track, defended the right values and think that together we were not too stupid.
“I believe that the values we defend are highly defendable because we want to do things with class. We want of course to be very ambitious. We want to be very brave. I believe that this club has always been very brave in its decisions. The courage is a quality I admire because it is a highly-needed quality in the modern world.
“I can see a lot of fear and discontent among you and I can understand that because we live in a world where we fight with people who have extremely high resources. The way we can compete is to try to be intelligent but as well to be united because it is very difficult to be consistent in football. We have been more consistent than anybody else in the world in the last 15 years.
To stay at the top, top level, we have to be united. That doesn’t mean I am not to be criticised. I accept that is part of my job and that the board has been criticised but to the outside we have to show we are united because that is the only way to survive at the top. It is difficult enough if you are united. If you are not united, you have no chance.
We defend values as well that at the time are questioned – the self-sufficient model. Do we want to change that or not? I believe, and I take full responsibility for this, that we can be competitive in the way we run the Club.
The players that we bought – I heard we lost two world class, I agree with you and we lost even more – but do no judge the players we bought too quickly because I think they are top, top level. And I would remind that some world class players arrived in August and did not play before September or November. Some of them became world class players after that.
We had a very difficult start and a very difficult environment at the start of the season and we were under tremendous pressure.
I would just like to come back on last season.
Because last season was the season I must tell you maybe the most difficult to accept with its end result.
Somewhere somedays I thought maybe it was completely my fault because I convinced the players we can go for all the four competitions and that we can win every single trophy.
I believe overall we had a very good season performance-wise, yet it finished very badly. We were competitive in all competitions.
We lost unfortunately in the last minute of the Carling Cup Final, we went out of Europe in the last minute against Barcelona and I believe at home against Barcelona we played the best game that Arsenal Football Club has ever played against a team.
We lost in the last minute of Liverpool for the [chance of the] championship. After, everything was judged in a negative way.
“But the overall performance the team has put in last year was much better than the credit we got in the end. We had a problem to get over the line and in the end it was disappointment after disappointment – it was very difficult.
We played 27 games in November, December and January. We paid for it in March and April, when we lacked a bit petrol to get over the line. Fabregas played I think 19 games in the championship, and van Persie 17.
We were also not very lucky with the injuries we had. The overall performance was not as bad as it had been judged. We managed to get over the line and qualify again for the Champions League.
We also had some positives like the emergence of world-class players like Wilshere who has shown at international level how good he is. We have a very good basic situation.
I was under a lot of pressure to buy goalkeepers and we were faithful to the keepers we had – everybody would agree we have sorted the problems out.
The basis of our team and its potential is right. If you take the young players we have and manage to come back and compete at the top level again, I am much more positive than people are.
In the media, we do not get credit we deserve.
The team is on the right way, it has a fantastic attitude and spirit. We are capable of competition and we will. Where we will finish at the end of the season? Frankly, I don’t know.
I know just one thing that these players we have at the moment are ready for a fight, because I see them every day and they are ready to have a go. Not many people at the moment are behind us, but I believe we can be a positive surprise. Let’s stand behind this season.
We started at the Emirates with a very difficult environment because people were very sceptical. But they understood two things – if they do not get behind the team we have no chance, and secondly people realise this team has the right attitude and spirit.
Even during the difficult periods in the last few home games the fans have been absolutely fantastic behind the team – what we had not seen at the end of the season.
It is time to realise that yes, times are more difficult, but yes we can still be successful under one condition – that we all stand behind the team, and are united.
At the end of the season, we will see where we stand.
Then if we give absolutely everything and do fight together for every single game in every single competition we can still look back at the end of the season and be proud of our attitude and what we have achieved.
I am personally convinced that we have a chance to qualify again. I know as well that in the modern world the ticket pricing is a problem. We spoke about that a lot at the board before that decision has been made.
But just to keep the players we have to put our wages up so high that the financial situation becomes more and more difficult for us. That’s why I can understand that you feel punished by that, but it is not a decision that we made for that, it is just a decision that gives us a chance to keep our players and unfortunately it is the real situation we face at the moment.
I know I have been talking too much already. I would just like personally to turn round the scepticism that is surrounding this club at the moment. For me it is too high. And if I would just like to achieve one thing today it is ‘trust us, this team has qualities, this team will fight’.
And if you help us to do that I think we will have a successful season.
What do you guys think about the speech Arsene made at the meeting? Do you agree or do you disagree with what the Frenchman has said? Feel free to leave your comments below!