Wenger issues rallying call to Gunners supporters

ARSENE WENGER feels his young Arsenal side are not “getting the support they deserve” from their own fans or the media.

The Frenchman urged supporters to share his belief in the young Gunners and help give them the guidance needed to deliver a first trophy since 2005.

Arsenal again showed their potential with a superb result in Europe this week, thrashing Fenerbahce 5-2 in Turkey to take a significant step towards qualifying for the knockout stages of the Champions League.

Wenger’s men resume their domestic campaign at West Ham on Sunday, when they will be looking to keep pace with the leaders, having slipped four points behind after already losing two Barclays Premier League games — at Fulham and at home against Hull.

The French coach has long championed the ability of his up-and-coming side in the face of pundits and fans calling for the Gunners to match Manchester United and Chelsea by spending big rather than continuing to rely on the talent of tomorrow.

He reiterated his view when addressing shareholders at Arsenal’s Annual General Meeting yesterday morning.

“You are all very quiet, a little bit like the game on Saturday. It is a recession mood, but it will not last, do not worry,” Wenger joked as he took the microphone.

“I would like to give you some reasons to cheer up and be optimistic, and to share my optimism with you.

“First of all, I feel the club is well managed financially and I am very proud that we live within the resources we create from our own business and we do not need external income, because I feel that is very important for the future of the club.

“The structure of our team is fantastic, but very young. That means that tomorrow will be better than yesterday.

“I believe we are at a stage where this season we are close to deliver, and it is my job to do that.

“Last year were very close to winning the championship, finishing just four points behind Manchester United.

“We were really unlucky at a difficult part of the season. Having led for so long, it was very disappointing.

“But today, when you have such a young team, you have to be intelligent.

“Instead of showing resentment, we have to believe in our team, more than ever because this team will deliver.

“But the younger you are, the more you need support and the belief in the quality of these young players.

“I ask you as well to be proud of them and to show your support.

“I am personally very proud, and believe this team needs a strong guide to go through difficult periods, because at the moment I do not feel that either from the media or our supporters that this team gets the support that it deserves.

“That is why I think they need a stronger guide than ever and I want to get this team to deliver, not next year, but this year.”

Arsenal’s new board member, Stan Kroenke, attended yesterday’s meeting, and sat alongside Wenger on the top table as chairman Peter Hill-Wood addressed the floor.

The American sports tycoon — who holds a stake of around 12% in the Gunners’ parent company —– accepted the offer to become a non-executive director in September as ties with the Kroenke Sports Enterprises group were strengthened.

However, chairman Hill-Wood maintains the board —– who are party to an internal “lockdown agreement” over selling any of their shares, now worth around £7,600, until 2012 —– see no reason to look for any other outside investment.

“We will strive to maintain the custodianship of the club as it is,” he said.

“Arsenal runs through my veins and we do not want control handed over to somebody who has not got Arsenal in their blood.

“Rest assured, we are not going to sell out to the first man who comes along.”

The chairman added: “I promise you that expenditure on players remains our top priority.”

Hill-Wood, though, revealed there would be ongoing dialogue with Red & White Holdings, the investment company backed by Russian metals magnate Alisher Usmanov, which has a stake of around 24%.

“I expect their contribution to evolve over the years,” he said.

Wenger revealed striker Eduardo could be back in contention for a first-team return “in three weeks”. The Croatia international has been sidelined since he suffered a broken leg at Birmingham in February.

“Eduardo is three weeks away from playing competitive football,” Wenger said. However, Tomas Rosicky is not likely to return from a hamstring problem until after Christmas.


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