Wednesday 13 December 2017

Ending trophy drought stopped Wenger leaving Arsenal

Arsene Wenger claims the balance of power in English football is shifting. Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
Arsene Wenger claims the balance of power in English football is shifting. Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Matt Law

Arsene Wenger has dropped the heaviest hint yet that he was ready to walk away from Arsenal if the club's trophy drought had continued.

Arsenal finally ended their nine-year run without winning silverware by lifting last season's FA Cup, and manager Wenger signed a new three-year contract.

Wenger claims the balance of power in English football has now shifted in Arsenal's favour, as proved by the club's £60m outlay so far this summer.

But Wenger may not have been around to spend Arsenal's money had the club lost the FA Cup final against Hull City.

"I always said the same thing," said Wenger. "I want to think I had done well for the club. My motivation was never at stake and I never wanted to go somewhere else, never. I always wanted to stay.

"But, as well, I wanted to feel that I had done a good job and, of course, the fact we could not win was going on in my mind. It was important for me to feel that I have done a decent job."

Asked directly if he would have signed a new contract had Arsenal not won anything last season, Wenger added: "I do not want to answer that question.

"I never look behind me. I look in front of me, what you have done or not done I forget. I always turn forwards. We won the cup, but we want to win more and come back and fight for more. What is done is done."

Since committing himself to the Emirates for another three years, Wenger has signed Alexis Sanchez, Mathieu Debuchy, Calum Chambers and David Ospina, and expects to bring more players to Arsenal. Wenger admits his task has changed considerably since last signing a contract extension in 2010, when Arsenal could not hold on to their star players or compete financially with Chelsea, Manchester City and United.

"I accepted the challenge when I signed my last contract, knowing what would happen," said Wenger.

"I thought, personally, it was the most sensitive and important period of my career here.

"I knew that from the start, but it was as well exciting to manage to keep the club at the level with less resources.

"Did we do well or not? The only thing I can tell you is we were consistent at the level, but we lacked some quality to win it.

"The balance of power is a bit more even than it was five or six years ago. In the league, with the financial fair play added to the fact we have more financial power than five years ago, it gives us a better chance.

"In the last two seasons, things have changed because we had the financial power. But the seasons before we could not. I was sitting here and saying, 'Yes, who will go next?' But we managed to get in a better position.

"It's a vicious circle, once you get great players in, everybody wants to stay. You see the case with Southampton. Would Morgan Schneiderlin absolutely want to go if everybody stayed? It's a vicious circle on both sides."

Wenger had become used to waiting until the final week of the transfer window to do the majority of his business, but Arsenal have been able to act quickly in the transfer market this year.

"I'm very happy because I did what I wanted and I am still open to do more," Wenger said. "Let's not forget that we are at August 1 today and the transfer window closes on the 31st.

"For years, it's a long time, I didn't sit with you here on August 1 having done quite a lot. We are a bit ahead of what we usually do, because the availability on the market was bigger and earlier than before."

Sanchez, a £30m signing from Barcelona, will make his Arsenal debut in this weekend's Emirates Cup after receiving visa clearance. The Chile international had been on Wenger's radar since his time at Udinese.

Wenger wants to look at Sanchez as a central striker and in a wide position, and is confident the 25-year-old will be able to step out of the shadow of Lionel Messi.

"He [Sanchez] is a striker," said Wenger.

"He's a good finisher, who made a great impression in Italy. I saw him there and he was really outstanding."

Wenger admitted that agreeing a deal worth £16m with Southampton for 19-year-old Chambers was a gamble, but revealed that English players in his squad have an advantage over their foreign team-mates.

"I prefer the fact they are English," Wenger said.

"I give them an advantage, as it is easier for a club to have stability.

"A guy who is English who manages to go to Arsenal will want to stay there and make his career there." (© Daily Telegraph)

Irish Independent

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