Champions League qualification is third in Wengers list of priorities ahead of the FA Cup, Capital One Cup and only behind winning the Premier or Champions League. Many Arsenal fans will disagree with this philosophy, arguing that winning a trophy is more satisfying than securing 4th place every season just to ensure Champions League football and more money coming into the club.
Wenger said: “For me, there are five trophies every season: Premier League, Champions League, the third is to qualify for the Champions League. Players ask: are you in the Champions League? A new player doesn’t want to know if you have won the League Cup.”
Wenger is correct in the sense that Champions League football is what attracts the world class players to clubs like Arsenal but in truth how often does Wenger, splash the cash on “world class” players? Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski were “world class” signings this summer but they are a rarity in Wenger’s usual transfer philosophy.
As an Arsenal fan, having heard and read this comments made by Wenger, I feel a little bewildered and the sense of what many fans and even former players have said, we are lacking ambition if we are satisfied with just securing Champions League football every season, ahead of domestic trophies and it in many ways these comments by Wenger explain why Arsenal have not won a trophy for seven years and counting now, if as club we more concerned about securing Champions League football than we are winning the FA Cup.
It’s an achievement to secure Champions League football every season, which Wenger successfully achieved for 16 consecutive seasons but its no good if we aren’t winning trophies as well.
A club of Arsenal stature in world football should be securing Champions League football and winning the FA Cup as well, Arsenal have the quality and ability to achieve both if the right mindset is put in place. Arsenal, in the years of the Invincibles, had a host of “world class” players like Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Patrick Viera who not only secured a top four finish but competed for the title and the FA Cup.
The current Arsenal, however, are not up to the quality of the Invincibles, we all know that but we also know that we can be more ambitious and strive to achieve more than just the standard top four finish which Arsenal have achieved for the last 16 seasons.
Ambition is a mindset within a club and with the right mindset players can win trophies again. History remembers the cups won by the club not finishing in the Champions League.
I’m not being critical of Wenger, I still believe in his philosophy and in my eyes he’s still the manager to take Arsenal into the next era and win trophies.
However, I do question his comments here about a top four finish being more important than a domestic trophy, call me old–fashioned but I would like many Arsenal fans prefer to see the club win their first trophy at the Emirates and end the seven year drought than secure another top four finish.
Nothing is impossible and realistically Arsenal are moving in the right direction, even if it’s slowly.