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Wenger – I don´t need trophies to be a success

SoccerNews in English Premier League 17 Aug 2008


Arsene Wenger insists he will not be under pressure as Arsenal manager – even if his trophy drought extends to a fourth year.

The Frenchman has failed to taste success since lifting the FA Cup in 2005 and his young side could struggle to end that barren run this year, despite opening the season with a 1-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.

Arsenal amassed 83 points in finishing third in the Premier League last year but with the club struggling to replace Alexander Hleb and Mathieu Flamini, both sold to Champions League rivals, that target appears distant.

Wenger is aware of the growing unease among sections of his own supporters at the club's lack of conspicuous success but insists the League or FA Cup remain well down his list of priorities.

Instead, he believes success – or otherwise – should be gauged on whether he leads the north Londoners to a top-four finish.

“For me, when you're in a big club, the important thing is that you are fighting for the title,” he said. “Is finishing 12th and winning the League Cup a successful season for us? I don't think so.

“You see the real quality of a team after 38 games – in the League Cup, or the FA Cup, if you win five games you can be in the final. Does that tell you the real quality? No, because real quality only comes out in the championship. “If you don't win the league, of course you are frustrated but the levels are very high – possibly the highest in the world – and two or three points is not a big gap. We finished with 83 points last season and everywhere else in Europe, that would have made us champions.”

Wenger remains bullish about his team's prospects this season, but Arsenal looked red raw against newly-promoted Albion and were fortunate to escape with an opening day victory.

Having started fluently enough – Samir Nasri converting Denilson's pass for a debut goal following his move from Marseille – the hosts quickly became bogged down and goalkeeper Manuel Almunia was forced into two sprawling saves to protect their advantage.

The Gunners manager hopes to add to his squad this week, with Xabi Alonso, Yaya Toure and Gokhan Inler both reputed to feature on his wish list, and is refusing to panic despite his team's tentative start.

“I'm not worried,” he added. “I don't think we were sharp enough to finish what we created. I also believe that with everyone fit, we can create more clear cut chances.

“I am confident in us. We lost only three games last season and we have a stability in our club which means we can keep improving.

“I know we are not making headlines with big names but it is what we produce on the pitch which is important.”

Tony Mowbray, the West Brom manager, declared himself satisfied with his side's spirited return to the top flight.

The Baggies matched their illustrious hosts for long spells but, despite their polished performance, Mowbray is still planning his own spending spree before the transfer window closes on August 31.

“I don't want us to be known as little old Albion and we are going to strengthen the squad over the remainder of the transfer window,” he said.

“I hope we can add at least four bodies over the next few weeks because we want more quality out on the pitch.

“Our attitude was very good but we have earned the right to be here because the Championship is a hard, hard league. Now we have to work hard to stay here and we will be competitive in every match we play.”


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