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Page last updated at 14:35 GMT, Thursday, 22 October 2009 15:35 UK

Wenger 'needs to win silverware'

By David Ornstein

Arsene Wenger
Wenger recently became Arsenal's longest-serving manager

Former Arsenal star Emmanuel Petit has warned that manager Arsene Wenger must end the club's four-year trophy drought this season or face a backlash.

Wenger turns 60 on Thursday and Petit told BBC Sport: "They have to win something this season or the pressure on Arsene's shoulders will be huge."

Former vice-chairman David Dein argues that the board should offer the Frenchman "a job for life".

Wenger believes his young side could end their trophy drought this season.

"I know that we haven't won a trophy for four years, but we have been very close and I believe that this year the team will do it," Wenger said at Arsenal's Annual General Meeting on Thursday.

"When I say that, it is not to please you, it is because I am really convinced of it.

"This season we are ready to go for it in the Premier League, the Champions League and of course both the cups as well."

Dein is in no doubt about Wenger's role in Arsenal's transformation in the past two decades, adding that the former Monaco boss "deserves a seat on the board".

"Whenever the day comes when he decides he doesn't want to put on a tracksuit there must be another job for him," he said.

"He has such a brain, too good an eye for talent not to keep him harnessed the rest of his life at Arsenal."

Dein first met Wenger, the Gunners' most successful manager and also their longest serving in terms of games played, in 1988 - eight years before he joined the club.

He had a yacht moored near Monaco and would regularly watch the team and then go to dinner with Wenger afterwards.

The pair became good friends and Dein first suggested him to the Arsenal board as a managerial candidate after George Graham was sacked in 1995, but had to wait until after Bruce Rioch's short tenure to see him given the role.

Asked why he was so convinced Wenger was the right man for the north London club, Dein said: "I was comforted because I had seen him at close-quarters, had observed his methods of training and realised how intelligent he was. He had an encyclopaedic knowledge of players.

"And after he won the double in his first full season I thought that was a pretty good clue."

Wenger has won the double for Arsenal twice, in 1998 and 2002, and also delivered the 2004 League title along with the FA Cup in 2003 and 2005.

But four years without a trophy have slightly dented Wenger's reputation and Petit believes the Frenchman, whose current contract expires in 2010, would have been sacked by now if held that record elsewhere.

"After five years without winning a trophy it's surprising that Arsene has stayed in charge of the team," said Petit, who played under Wenger at Monaco and Arsenal.

"When the manager doesn't win a trophy for four years at any of the other big clubs in Europe they are fired.

"Arsene has the confidence from the board and fans because they know it's a new generation of players and if he can keep the nucleus of the team together they will win.

"But if you go five years without a trophy, some of the players will think, 'I don't want to waste time any more, I want to win trophies somewhere else'."

Petit feels this importance of lifting silverware this season is magnified by the 2010 World Cup.

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"Most of the players will come back from South Africa tired and disappointed and they'll go into the new season thinking, 'here we go again - we're going to play well but not win anything'," he said.

"If Arsene continues to miss out on trophies year after year, I think the board and the shareholders will take action, if not the fans and the press before that.

"Arsene is doing a great job but now he has to win trophies because that is what football is all about."

Dein, a close friend of Wenger's, concedes the manager has become frustrated at times as his young team has repeatedly missed out on domestic and European honours.

The last trophy Arsenal lifted was the 2005 FA Cup and they have since contested finals in both the Carling Cup and Champions League.

"It's about the expectation," said Dein. "Because he's done so well over the last 10 years - Arsenal have qualified for the Champions League every year he's been there - consequently everyone thinks it's a given right to win a trophy every year.

"If it was that easy everyone would be doing it, but as you get older you get more and more frustrated - and the competition is getting stronger than ever before."

Dein, who left Arsenal in 2007 because of "irreconcilable differences" with his fellow board members, added that one of Wenger's most telling achievements was to abolish the "drinking culture" at Arsenal.

"Arsene came in and said [to the players] 'If you follow the diet and look after your bodies you will get a year or two extra at the end of your contracts, and that'll be worth a lot of money to you.' Sure enough they listened to him.

Wenger and Dein, October 2001
Because he's done so well over the last 10 years everyone thinks it's a given right to win a trophy every year - if it was that easy everyone would be doing it

David Dein

"There is no doubt he has changed the whole philosophy of the club. He designed the new training ground, literally down to the last tea cup, and the first piece of equipment he puts on every morning is a stopwatch.

"He used to study very carefully a player's background before deciding if he was right for Arsenal and could develop.

"Of all the players he has brought in I think he has improved all their careers, taken average players to be good players, good players to be very good players, and very good players to be world-class players.

"Not a week goes by without scouts and managers and technical expert coming from around the world to watch how he operates - that's tremendous credit to him."


Listen to Emmanuel Petit, David Dein and Lee Dixon during a special programme, Arsene at 60, on BBC Radio 5 live at 2000 BST on Thursday .



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see also
Wenger at 60
22 Oct 09 |  Arsenal
Wenger excited by Arsenal future
05 Oct 09 |  Premier League
Kroenke silent on Arsenal plans
22 Oct 09 |  Arsenal
Wenger hungry for further success
02 Oct 09 |  Arsenal
Wenger has 'no plans to retire'
24 Sep 09 |  Arsenal
Wenger admits to 'selective vision'
14 Aug 09 |  Arsenal
Wenger's recipe for success
12 Aug 09 |  Arsenal


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