What he said:
“When you are such a long time in football as I am, you don’t understand any more what crisis means. I must get to the dictionary and look at it well again.”
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger responds to majority shareholder Alisher Usmanov’s critical remarks about his team management.
“My opinion – and I tell it openly – we need to strengthen every position to play on the level of such teams in (the) U.K. as Chelsea and Manchester City, in Europe like Real (Madrid), Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, (Bayern Munich) and other clubs.
Arsenal is a dream that sometimes becomes a mirage and sometimes a pain as every dream.
(The) potential of the team is there, but there is no critical evaluation of mistakes and they need to need to acknowledge them. Because no genius can retain the same level of genius if they do not acknowledge mistakes. It’s only when you admit your mistakes that you can get rid of them.”
“Arsene Wenger is one of the greatest coaches not just of European but of world football.
But we have a Russian proverb which goes: ‘Even an old lady can have a roof falling on her.’ Everybody makes mistakes. He can make mistakes and I know as you age that it is more difficult, more challenging to accept one’s mistakes. Maybe it’s a problem today.
I like Arsene for his principles, but principles are a sort of restriction. And restrictions are always lost possibilities. That’s why sometimes coaches even without principles became the coaches of great teams and some coaches with principles lose because some positions in team are vacant because of ethical, moral or personal views.
Does he have money or not? There is officially money in the club. How does he spend [it]? This decision investors have left with him. I wish them victories, because their victories are the victories of investors, including myself, and of great Arsenal fans, which deserve these victories.”
Arsene Wenger dismissed Usmanov’s remarks:
“During the 18 years I have been here I have shown that I can take criticism. Everybody has the right to have an opinion, having said that, we have values at this club.
The first one is when we go through a difficult patch, we show solidarity. That is a very important one. The second one is that, when you have something to say to each other, we say it face to face. We don’t need to go to the newspapers.
I don’t take [Usmanov’s comments]personally at all. It is an opinion I respect, but when you are from this club, you are from this club. You are in or out, you cannot be both.
I am long enough in the game to know that when you play well, but lose the game, you get flooded with critics, however, if you play a very bad game, but you win it, everyone says how great you are.
It is our job to take a distance with that and see what was right and what was wrong. The rest is part of the game.
What is important is how close we are together inside the club and how much we can respond to people who question our quality. I personally feel there is a very strong bond inside the team and the club, and that this team will have a very strong season.
I believe in what I do and I especially believe in my players, and in their quality and spirit. I question myself every day and I hope you do that as well.”
What he really meant:
“Hmm… now should I look up sub-heading ‘team crisis’ or ‘personal crisis’?”
What he definitely didn’t:
“I’m going to be studying Russian proverbs instead—specifically the ones with old women in them.”