Arsene Wenger Q&A: The FULL transcript of his most astonishing press conference yet
Published 23:59 08/04/11 By John Cross
In all of my years covering Arsenal, including almost all of Arsene Wenger's reign, rarely have I seen the manager been so upset, passionate and defiant at a press conference as he was yesterday afternoon.
After a week of unprecedented criticism from fans in which even the Arsenal Supporters' Trust expressed their "considerable disappointment", Wenger had to face some tough questions.
Questions on whether this season had been a failure, his spending policy, why is there not more experience and whether he'd walk away if fans continued to be so upset.
At Arsenal press conferences (both pre-match and after games), they do a section in front of the cameras and then they are switched off for the written media to put their questions. This is not filmed.
In the past, Wenger has always enjoyed a good cordial relationship with the written media but, understandably, defended his players, the club and his own record with passionate replies to some tough questions.
Here is the transcript from Friday's written press conference.
Q: You've had a fantastic career here and no-one is disputing that, but can you understand why some supporters wish there was a bit more experience there, thinking about what you may achieved if there was?
A: "I'm against superficial judgement, that's what I fight against. For example people ask 'why don't you buy central defenders?' We have a better defence than Man United if you look at the numbers, but nobody mentions that. And should we kick Vermaelen, Djourou and Szczesny out? What for?
Q: You said the team had done well for its age, so isn't experience an issue?
A: "We've done well for our age as we're second in the league. Is that a disaster for you? There are teams who invest ten times more than us, one player cost more than the whole team and they're behind us. I don't understand the way people think.
Q: It's what the supporters are thinking though, that's the issue.
A: "Do not hide behind what the supporters think, tell me what you think. You do not know what the supporters think because what people write is only 5 per cent of what they see on the internet. There are 95 per cent others.
Q: But it's not my money, it's the supporters who are paying to watch:
A: "How many supporters are complaining?"
Q: But there were people complaining after the Blackburn match.
A: "At every game I find people complaining. What are you talking about? I don't understand supporters complaining."
Q: Compared to four years ago, they weren't complaining, because it wasn't so long without a trophy?
A: "Do you judge this season or the last four seasons? Some of the clubs behind us have done nothing for 20 years, yet suddenly they get a lot of praise. I don't understand. We have eight games to go and are in a position to fight for the Championship so let's give the maximum. If we're disappointed at the end then okay. Why do you say it's a disaster when we're second in the league? Do the 18 clubs behind us have a fantastic disaster?"
Q: Are you a victim of your own success?
A: "I'm a victim of nothing. I try to do my job as well as I can, and that's it."
Q: But you are judged against your own success?
A: "I told you just now. To be consistent at the top level is the most difficult and important thing in our job. We've been in the Champions League for 15 years, and there's only two clubs who've done that in this country. It's Arsenal and Man United."
Q: Arsene, everyone respects the job you've done, but shouldn't a club like Arsenal be judged on the trophies they win? And obviously in the last six years there haven't been any trophies?
A: "Trophies are one way to judge a club."
Q: Are trophies an over rated way to judge success?
A: "They're not overrated as it allows you to say you've won a trophy, but would you swap winning the FA Cup for playing in the Champions League? Is it a trophy or not to be in the Champions League? Is it more important to win the FA Cup? We do as well as we can, and if it's not good enough it's not good enough. But what I deny is that everything is suddenly negative. We've built this club. Tomorrow, you look at the players in this team and I'll speak to you in 10 years."
Q: We know you've had some fabulous offers to leave this club - Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester City - if this continues will it make you think about leaving, if you're not being appreciated?
A: "I don't think about leaving. I love this club and do the maximum for them. I don't think like that. When I make a commitment I give absolutely everything. At the end of the season I'll look back and see what we've done well and not done well. We should not go overboard. We're second in the league so it's not a scandal. Where is the common sense there?
"I do as well as I can with the players I have. What's important for me is how well we do. All the rest I don't care about.
Q: Where would this club be without you, Arsene?
A: "I don't know where Arsenal would be without me, maybe better, maybe worse. I hope one day maybe better. I'm happy that the club goes on and gets better. But we shouldn't think we have the right to be where we are."
Q: I've rarely seen you so passionate, so upset, are you hurt?
A: "I'm not hurt at all, but I defend what we do here and the way we do it. That's all. I don't see why we should be negative when we're going for the Championship. I'm having to answer why it's a disaster. I'll have to stop talking and you write what you want. If I cannot defend that, we're second in the league and fighting for the Championship then I should stay at home, but I'm in a fighting job."
Q: Arsene, sometimes there's a criticism that you don't sign the quality of player that you used to. Have you had a change in policy?
A: "Of course, we've had a change in policy to sign younger players. It's important for football that there's another way then to just come in, put money on the table and buy a star. I feel it's very important for football."
Q: Can you expand on that?
A: "No, I don't want to expand on that. The way we are doing things is right. Personally, I'm rather proud of this team, proud of the players, if I look at this team I'm proud of them, proud of the attitude of the players and the football we play. It's only in this country that we have to face what we face. If you go anywhere else in the world Arsenal are given much more credit, I can tell you."
Q: You spoke about the age gap to Barcelona as perhaps one reason why you haven't won trophies, but how will that change if you're always bringing younger and younger players into the squad?
A: "That's why it's important to keep these players together."
Q: What about the stadium. It's important to get into the piece, to be positive, to get into the piece, because that impacted on your spending and yet no-one's talking about that? You haven't then been able to sign big players?
A: "Nobody talks about the fact we built a new stadium. We have many big players in this team, and the future will tell you that. Whether they play here or somewhere else, you'll realise they're big players."