Wenger: Last season was my hardest EVER
Published 23:01 14/07/11 By John Cross in Hangzhou, China
Arsene Wenger has admitted that last season was the toughest of his career.
The Arsenal manager confessed that the run-in left him mentally and physically drained, and he looked gaunt as the Gunners' campaign collapsed.
It has left Wenger facing his biggest test.
He is under unprecedented pressure to deliver a trophy - or else this could be his last season at Arsenal.
But Wenger insists that last season will serve as inspiration, because Arsenal are desperate to bounce back after going from chasing a historic Quadruple in late February to finishing empty-handed.
Many experienced Arsenal- and Wenger-watchers even felt that last season’s pain might have been too much, but the Gunners boss swears he will bounce back.
“The last part of it was the toughest of my career,” he said. “That was certainly the toughest because, emotionally, it was very difficult because we were on a low.
"And then you could see, the last three or four weeks were very difficult.
“It was because I took full responsibility for what happened. I knew at some stage that it was lost and I had so much hope for the team.
“Through November and December, you could feel that the team had really taken off and could win everything. And it was so close.”
Worryingly for Arsenal fans clamouring for major signings, Wenger has already hinted he still believes in the players who fell short last season.
Arsenal’s season went from bad to worse after they lost the Carling Cup Final to a Birmingham side that ended up getting relegated.
Within a matter of weeks, the Gunners were also out of the Champions League and the FA Cup and had slipped out of the title picture.
It all left major question marks over Arsenal’s physical strength and whether they have a soft centre.
Yet with less than a month to go until the season begins, Lille striker Gervinho is Wenger’s only major summer signing so far.
“We feel we were very close to winning the championship, and part of a young team’s development is to carry on developing and win a trophy this year," said the Arsenal boss.
“We never have a problem with spending money - there’s always someone happy to take it - the problem is that we need to find the right player who can help improve the team.”
But Wenger is adamant last season’s pain can inspire them to greater things.
“I believe the real destiny of this team is now there,” he said. “They know as well as I know that we were very, very close.
“You can say, 'OK, we missed our chance' or you say, 'Let’s show everybody that we can do it and come back stronger’, which is what I think we can do because we are a young team and we can only be better.
"It demands the strength of character that the champions have. That’s what we want to show."