Wednesday 13 December 2017

Wenger would be sacked by now in Spain - Fabregas

Arsene Wenger. Photo: PA
Arsene Wenger. Photo: PA

Jeremy Wilson and Rory Smith

Cesc Fabregas has said that Arsene Wenger would have lost his job if he worked at one of Spain's top clubs and is now urging Arsenal to choose between developing players or simply winning.

In a remarkably candid interview, Fabregas also drew a stark contrast between the experience of Arsenal's Invincibles of 2003-04 and the current generation of players who have been unable to end the club's trophy drought since the 2005 FA Cup.

The Arsenal captain confessed that, unlike the era of Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Patrick Vieira, he did not look at any of his team-mates and say "wow".

"If you went to Spain and said to (Pep) Guardiola, (Jose) Mourinho or Unai Emery that they would have three years without winning a trophy, it would be obvious they would not continue," he said.

"But here it is different; the manager is intelligent and the club value different things. That the team is always in the Champions League, that we compete until the end, that we have young players, economic stability.

"But I imagine there will be a moment when you have to decide: do you win things or not? From 2007 on, I started to say, 'we don't win, but we play very well'. And, after that, you realise that it doesn't work.

"You enjoy it, during a part of the season, like this year, when we were in four different competitions and you say, 'here I have it all'. But then you cannot make the final step and it is here where a decision has to be made: to go out to win or to develop players."

Fabregas also spoke of the weight of responsibility that has come to rest on his shoulders since becoming Arsenal captain at the age of just 21.

"The key to a successful team is a good combination," he said. "Me and (Robin) van Persie grew up watching our idols. We learned from the best. Now it is different because we are all so young that there is nobody you look at and say, 'wow'.

"Without a doubt, the Invincibles team is the best I have ever played in. I was in a winning team. You felt that if you had a bad game, nothing happened because your team-mates helped you. Those players made you better.

"Now a lot has changed and I am the man that everyone looks to. I don't like to say it but it is true. If I play badly, I take responsibility and the pressure of the supporters.

"It is not something I am used to but I am captain, so it is reality. Only me and van Persie remain of that generation, and we have a lot of responsibility. Before there were reference points, winning, strong players. Playing with them you learned faster."

On the eve of tonight's crucial north London derby, the timing of Fabregas' frank assessment is particularly unfortunate, but underlines a deep frustration at the club's recent results.

It will also heighten fears that he wants to return to Spain. Fabregas is adamant that he would never leave Arsenal to play for another English club.

"Patience and hard work are the most important things in life," he said. "If one day I leave Arsenal, it will never be to sign for another English club. That is for certain." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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