LONDON: Appearing consistently in the Champions League is more important than winning a domestic cup, according to manager Arsene Wenger, addressing shareholders at Arsenal’s annual meeting.
Arsenal have not won anything since 2005 but they have competed in the Champions League for the past 15 years.
Wenger, despite his controversial assertion, was given a more gentle ride at the agm than chairman Peter Hill-Wood, majority shareholder Stan Kroenke and chief executive Ivan Gazidis in the wake of the 2-0 home defeat by Schalke in the Champions League.
That was Arsenal’s first home defeat in 10 Champions League years as well as already 10 points behind Premier League leaders Chelsea.
Wenger said: “For me, there are five trophies: the first is to win the Premier League, the second is to win the Champions League, the third is to qualify for the Champions League, the fourth is to win the FA Cup and the fifth is to win the League Cup.
“Players ask: ‘Are you in the Champions League?’ A new player doesn’t want to know if you have won the League Cup.”
Gazidis told the AGM that Arsenal will be able to compete with the biggest clubs in the world in two years, once UEFA’s Financial Fair Play initiative is enforced.
Wenger started by apologising for Tuesday night’s defeat, acknowledging “a lot of dissatisfaction” then added: “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.”
Some heckling from the floor during the meeting was effectively irrelevant. Kroenke owns 66pc of shares and Alisher Usmanov 29pc: hence all the rest together own only a powerless five per cent.
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