Wenger faced a hostile crowd at the clubs AGM on Thursday afternoon and was forced to answer some tricky questions from the clubs shareholders, including why Arsenal had not lifted any silverware since their 2005 FA Cup triumph.
However, Wenger hit back insisting his priority is not to win the FA Cup or League Cup (Capital One Cup), and claimed qualifying for the Champions League is like winning a trophy in his eyes.
The Frenchman told Sky Sports.
“For me, there are five trophies.
“The first is to win the Premier League, the second is to win the Champions League, third is to qualify for the Champions League, fourth is the FA Cup and the fifth the League Cup.”
The Gunners boss explained that the reason he feels this way is because no top player is interested in the domestic cups, as they are more concerned if they will be playing in the Champions League.
“I say that because if you want to attract the best players, they do not ask ‘did you win the League Cup?’, they ask you ‘do you play in the Champions League?’. Wenger continued.
“If everybody is absolutely devastated when we finish third in the league, I promise you I will not be here if you finish 15th one day.
“We did not produce a good performance last night, but let’s not forget it was a first home defeat in the Champions League for 43 games. Not many teams do that.”
Wenger also showed faith in his current squad, insisting they are capable of having a good season, and backed the players to prove him right. He continued:
“I believe this team can deliver and I am optimistic we will have a good season and the players will show I am right.
“My job is to deliver a team with the resources we have, and I have never complained about that. I want a club to pay players from its own resources, there is no shame in that.
“It is still important that we keep our strength and stay united for the good of Arsenal, sometimes you can forget that.”
This is certainly a contentious point among Gooners. On one side, I agree that Champions League football is vital for the club, both financially and in terms of being able to attract top players, so can be seen as a ‘fifth trophy’ as Arsene suggests, but like all fans, I love the feeling of winning a trophy.
I agree completely that the League Cup (or whatever their calling it these days) is pretty meaningless but the FA Cup should still be regarded as an important competition. I remember the day I was at Wembley in 1998 to watch Marc Overmars and Nicolas Anelka score in a 2-0 win over Newcastle to lift the FA Cup. Do I have such memories when we finished fourth to qualify for the Champions League in 2008? Nope.
The simple fact remains, whether Arsene likes it or not, trophies will always be the benchmark of a clubs success, not Champions League qualification, and the fans won’t rest until we see some fresh silverware in the trophy cabinet.
But, if given the chance would I swap a year (or possibly more) in the Champions League for an FA Cup? Probably not. And that’s just indicative of how important the Champions League has become.
While we crave trophies, we Arsenal fans need to appreciate how vital Champions League football is in the modern game and not take it for granted. Just ask Liverpool fans.
However, with a reported £70m+ sitting in the bank, shouldn’t Arsenal have a squad capable of qualifying for the Champions League AND winning a trophy?! The exact amount available to the boss is unknown, and Wenger gives little away.
He’s known for having one of the best poker faces in the game. You can never tell whether Arsene”s telling the truth or lying. You can just imagine him sitting at home in his office, logging into his pokerstars account and rinsing the so-called ‘online poker pro’s’ for all they’ve got! But surely he should be more open to us fans about the clubs finances?
If there is money available and it’s not being spent we should know why. If there isn’t surplus cash in the bank, fair enough. At least we know. But the boss can’t keep bleating on about not having a squad strong enough to cope with four competitions each year, when we’re hearing there’s millions available to spend.
What do you think? Would you swap Champions League football for an FA Cup win? Share your views in the comments section.
Fancy a flutter on the game? Claim your £10 welcome bonus at Sky Bet and enjoy some of the best match odds in the business.