Arsene Wenger delivered a rousing speech at Arsenal’s AGM however there were rather cold responses toward chief executive Ivan Gazidis and chairman Peter Hill-Wood’s addresses.
The Frenchman apologized for Wednesday’s performance, paid tribute to Pat Rice and then got down to business. He outlined the fact that qualifying for the Champions League is far more important than winning the FA or Capital One Cups, and that his new look side has started convincingly and will find their feet again.
The Gunners slumped to consecutive defeats over the past 5 days – playing unconvincingly away and loosing to Norwich before Schalke pipped a weak looking side at the Emirates on Wednesday night. It was not the best of times for Wenger and the clubs hierarchy to face bereaved shareholders and fans.
[on loosing van persie]
We anticipated a little bit that we might lose Van Persie, because the talks were open but we didn’t know if he could find an agreement and that’s where we anticipated Giroud and Podolski to bring them in. Of course we lost 40 goals, but I think the three players we bought will be [a] success.
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[on the current squad]
I think as well, that this team started in a very convincing way, a very dynamic way and in a very promising way. We hit the wall in the last two games in a little bit of an unexplainable way. But the attitude of the team is fantastic. The focus they have every day is very good and the quality that we see in training is very good.
[on the clubs transfer policy]
You can be proud, when you produce the resources, that your team delivers. I wouldn’t be very proud to take my wage at the end of the month, just because somebody puts a cheque in and says ‘OK take my money’. I would like to think that every club produces its own resources and pays its players with the money it produces. There’s no way to be ashamed of that.
For the rest, our policy will be exactly the same as we have always done. Produce our own players – I think that’s vital for the spirit of the game. The style of our play and of course the way we want to behave. Therefore, it’s important that 60 to 80 percent of the team comes from our own ranks.
We produce English national team players, maybe the most now in England. That means the quality of our work comes through. For the rest, the 20 to 30 to 40 per cent of the players we bring in have to be top-class players.
[on winning silverware]
For me there are five trophies every season: Premier League, Champions League, the third is to qualify for the Champions League. The fourth is the FA Cup and then the League Cup.
When you look to sign a player, he does not ask if you have won the League Cup recently. He asks if you are in the Champions League.
First of course, we want to win the Premier League and that’s why we are here and that’s what we want to fight for. Believe me we’ll give absolutely every drop of energy to achieve that and we will do that again this year.
The environment is competitive, difficult and challenging. I think we have to be united to achieve it. I accept every different opinion but it looks to me that the modern world creates [little communities] inside every big community. The multiplication of medias create little groups of different opinions and we see that as well inside these clubs.
But these little communities have to learn to live together for one common thing, and that is the strength of our Club. And I think we have to keep that in mind.
We understand that you do not always agree with what we do. But [it’s] still very important that we keep strength and that we keep united for the same thing – the good of Arsenal. Sometimes we can forget that.
I’m sure we can count on you for the whole season and we’ll come up with what we deliver at the end of the season. If you’re not happy, I’m happy to listen to you, and I’m happy to meet you.
There are certainly some interesting talking points especially the emphasis on maintaining a top four finish in the Premier League. While I can understand Wenger’s emphasis on this I see it more as a cover up for their lack of silverware in cup competitions. He was basically distracting us from the main issue which is trophies. But surely this season is our best shot with a squad full of depth in most areas and Giroud requires more confidence which can be helped in these cup matches?!
It is a reoccurring theme from Hill-Wood etc that Arsenal have money to spend but still they fail to provide sufficient depth in certain areas. Jose Enrique was available from Newcastle in the 2011 summer transfer window and we were hotly tipped to buy the Spaniard, yet Arsenal were too stingy to meet his relatively low price of around £7m – the price we sold Clichy for. Instead we bought Santos as a last minute rush buy. If you have money then spend it when a brilliant opportunity comes begging, I would’ve welcomed Enrique over Santos any day of the week.
Whether or not Wenger buys a striker this winter will be interesting. There are a few available. Llorente’s contract ends next summer as does Schalke’s Hunterlaar who we all saw on Wednesday night and there has been much speculation over Adrian Lopez. Basically there is not many excuses to weasel their way out of this one, the Gunners clearly need more attacking options and January has to be the time to reinforce with some stars available for cheap prices.
You can read Wenger’s full speech here.
What are your thoughts on Wenger’s speech? Feel free to comment below or in allArsenal’s forum under the AGM thread.