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Page last updated at 05:41 GMT, Friday, 15 May 2009 06:41 UK

Wenger pleads for fans' patience

By David Ornstein

Arsene Wenger and Emmanuel Adebayor
It is the easiest thing to sit in the stands and say they are not good enough... Adebayor is a great player and has done fantastically well for the club, but by slaughtering him you don't help him

Arsene Wenger

Arsene Wenger has admitted that if Arsenal do not end their trophy drought in the next "one or two years" his strategy for the club will have failed.

The Gunners have not won anything since 2005, but team boss Wenger called on supporters to rally behind his team.

"If we do not deliver in one or two years I will be responsible," said the Frenchman, whose contract runs to 2011.

"It is the most important moment in the life of this club and we have to be strong now and support this team."

Wenger was speaking at a question and answer session with Arsenal shareholders at the Emirates Stadium.

Questions for such events usually have to be pre-submitted, but on this occasion the floor was open and the Arsenal manager was involved in a couple of heated exchanges with disgruntled supporters.

Having overseen a fourth consecutive season without silverware, he faced some fierce scrutiny over his transfer policy, team selection and tactics.

The 59-year-old made an impassioned defence of his players, hit out those who have taken to haranguing them at home games and was particularly stung by claims they lack the stomach for a battle.

"It is the easiest thing to sit in the stands and say they are not good enough, that they do not fight," said Wenger. "It is always that negative way of thinking, that the players do not care.

"We are playing in the best league in the world and you do not go 21 games unbeaten if you do not stand up and fight.

606: DEBATE
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"What these players have done this year in a negative environment shows they can stand up for their own responsibilities.

"At the moment what this team needs is the support of the fans. I must say there is a massive difference between the away fans, who are absolutely fantastic, and the home fans."

One shareholder was applauded for expressing a desire to see striker Emmanuel Adebayor - scorer of 30 goals last season and 16 this term - sold in the summer.

"Adebayor is a great player and has done fantastically well for the club," Wenger responded. "He was the most sought-after player last year - all the big clubs wanted him and it will be the same again.

"When we bought him nobody knew him and he became a great player. Players are quickly singled out and you realise how good a player is when they have gone.

"At this level, when players don't do well it's because they've lost their confidence. The only way to help a guy who has lost confidence is to help him again and again. But by slaughtering him you don't help him."

Wenger reacted angrily to a suggestion that 31-year-old defender Mikael Silvestre was a "geriatric".

"I cannot accept that you speak about the players of your club like that," he said. "You are attacking the players and that is much worse [than attacking me]."

Arsenal fans at the Emirates Stadium
Arsenal supporters have had little to cheer this season

While confirming that Arsenal would be bolstering their squad in the forthcoming transfer window, Wenger dismissed concerns over the quality of his current crop.

"If tomorrow we say we have to sell the players do you want to know how many clubs would want to sign them?" said Wenger, referring specifically to Alexandre Song, Abou Diaby and Theo Walcott.

"They have a huge value and if they go somewhere else, in two or three years you will say to me 'why did you let them go?'.

"They are great players and they will show you that they are great players.

"We are going in the right track and everyone at the club is convinced we are doing the right thing.

"If we do not get there next year or the year after then you can say this was not the right way."

Arsenal reached the FA Cup and Champions League semi-finals and, provided they come through a qualifying round, will contest Europe's premier club competition for a 12 successive season next term after guaranteeing fourth place in the Premier League.

The revenues from their 60,000-seater stadium have placed them among the world's richest clubs and Wenger is optimistic.

"This season has not been disastrous at all," he added. "One day you will look back and say it was not as bad as people thought.

"But the most important thing is that, structure-wise, the club is in a fantastic situation.

"We have built a massive new stadium and maintained this club at the top, top level in Europe and I'm very proud of that. The future of this club is great."



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FROM OTHER SPORT SITES
Mirror.co.uk Arsene Wenger uphappy at abuse from Arsenal fans - 10 hrs ago
New Zealand Herald Wenger stung by criticism - 13 hrs ago
Nigeria Guardian Please Be Patience With Me, Wenger Begs Fans - 24 hrs ago
The Independent Wenger: it feels like I've killed someone - 30 hrs ago
Kenya Broadcasting Corporation Wenger calls for patience from fans - 39 hrs ago


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