Wenger won’t bring back glory days, says Lehmann

FA CUP FINAL:

Wenger won’t bring back glory days, says Lehmann

Arsenal are strong favourites to end their nine-year trophy drought today when they face Hull in the FA Cup Final at Wembley. But Lehmann believes the Arsenal ‘brand’ has been seriously weakened by their lack of trophies and says he is ‘not sure’ whether Wenger is still the man to restore Arsenal to the heady days of 2004, when they went an entire season unbeaten.

Lehmann was the goalkeeper in that side and is the first of the Invincibles to break rank and publicly question Wenger’s future at the club.

It is thought the Frenchman will sign a new two-year deal at the Emirates, but Lehmann believes changes are needed if Arsenal are to compete at the top level again.

“Is Arsene still the man to make Arsenal successful? I’m not sure,” said Lehmann.

“I think in the current conditions it will be very hard for them to win something. They have to make changes.

“Arsene represents the club as no other [manager in world football]. Sometimes the structure has to be not only on two shoulders, or one man, but sometimes you need to have a couple of people who define, control and monitor the progress of the club and the philosophy, particularly the clubs are always growing and the demands on managers are growing.

“If you have to do that always by yourself I doubt you can be successful.

“I think [chief executive] Ivan Gazidis is doing a great job there. But Gazidis came in when the times had changed a little bit.

“David Dein was supporting Arsene in terms of football, his valuation of players. At the time Arsene had the advantage of knowing the French market fantastically well.

“The markets have changed – the supply chain has changed. A club like Arsenal, who is majorly dependent on Arsene’s view on football and philosophy and detection of new players, that is not enough anymore.

“He is doing great but he can’t do everything. A little bit of support on the sporting side in terms of football knowledge outside the training pitch, in my opinion could be helpful.

“Do I want him to stay but with a Sporting Director alongside him? Yes. Somebody like that can be there as support.”

And Lehmann believes Arsenal’s standing in world football has been hugely damaged by their long run without a trophy.

“The FA Cup final is very important,” continued a man who made 200 appearances for Arsenal. “It’s important for the club, the manager and the players. They have to win.

“The Arsenal brand is still a good brand but it isn’t considered to be among the best football brands in the world any more.

“When I was playing there it was one of the two or three top brands in the world. It is a little disappointing it is not there anymore. They have to start winning something and that will start on Saturday.”

Lehmann has also taken aim at Mesut Ozil, telling the club record signing he must improve his fitness to be considered ‘world-class’.

Ozil, who cost £42.4m from Real Madrid last summer, has played 39 games for his new club this season but missed almost six weeks with a hamstring injury suffered against Bayern Munich in March.

And Lehmann also insists he does not care Arsenal’s squad now contains five Germans, claiming it doesn’t matter who they are if they don’t win anything.

“You are a world-class player first when you play most of the games,” said Lehmann when asked about Ozil.

“You can’t be a world-class player when you aren’t available.

“Am I happy there is a German influence at the club now? I would be more pleased if they won the championship this year.

“No matter if they were German or not. They could have won it, they haven’t won it – again. So I am not pleased. And when you don’t win it more is needed – in every department.”

- Jens Lehmann is an Ambassador for Laureus, which has raised over €60 million to support projects which have helped to improve the lives of millions of young people in 34 countries. For more information visit www.laureus.com

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