Arsenal’s AGM took place at the Emirates this morning with the highlight, as usual, Arsene Wenger’s lengthy address to assembled supporters.
Arseblog News, in attendance as a member of Fanshare, was there to witness the boss in full flow and now provides the following transcipt. Enjoy…
“Good afternoon. Thank you for allowing me to be here again. It’s always an important part of my season to come here and meet you. Why? I know that you are ambitious. Why? I know as well that you can be sceptical and critical as well. I think it’s very important. I know we have something in common, we are loyal to this club and we love this club. I’m very grateful to see the same faces for so many years now, we share together a love for the club and its values. I know I don’t always please you, but I would love to.
“In front of every season there’s an apprehension that we don’t do well, that we don’t fulfil your expectations. One thing for sure is that we give it all every season to make you happy. We come out of a season [2013/14] where we started with some problems. Let’s remind you that we started last season with a home defeat [against Aston Villa] and more than ever I felt after this game there was a little revolution…a little Tsunami on the club. Why? Because of course we start with a first defeat at home, on top of that against Aston Villa. Why as well? Because we were under huge pressure to buy players at that time and we had not done it. There was a lot of scepticism around the way we’d prepared our season.
“I think if we showed one thing last season it’s that we were united, [had] strong togetherness and were ready to work hard. These are important qualities around the world, especially in a very competitive world today. What has changed compared to a few years ago is that many clubs have resources, many clubs are in the [transfer] market and there’s more finances and choice for top players when we try to strengthen our squad. In the end we managed to buy [Mesut] Ozil, which gave us of course some comfort and some hope as well.
“We finished the season with ups and downs, but finished with 79 points. In 1998 we won the championship with 78 [points]. 79 points means you need to be remarkably consistent. We had 17 clean sheets last season and it was a bit paradoxical. We were remarkably consistent in the Premier League, but when we lost, we lost. We we got beaten in the Premier League last season, it was battered. We came out of the season with many questions, how can you have 17 clean sheets and still concede five or six [goals in a game]?
“I believe a lot, as well, in perspective. Today if you concede the first goal in a big game there’s an 85% chance you lose the game. That’s a statistic. It doesn’t mean that you have to lose the game when you concede the first goal but overall when you are one down you have to come out and you make it easier for the opponent to hit you on the counterattack.
“Overall as well I think we have developed some good young players and in the Champions League we were in a very difficult group with Dortmund and Napoli and I felt we came out well. Bayern Munich was one of the failures, again in the Champions League it was at home that we lost it. In the cup, we won the FA Cup. It was a very difficult run. We played against Tottenham, Liverpool and Everton and when it looked like it became a little bit easier, in fact it was more difficult. We played our semi-final against Wigan at Wembley and the final against Hull City where we had a very difficult time. In the end this team did what teams before did not do. I think we are stronger, I think it makes us more confident and I believe we’ll have a great season.
“We worked on different aspects to strengthen our side. We bought four players, we lost two defenders in [Thomas] Vermaelen and [Bacary] Sagna and bought two defenders in [Mathieu] Debuchy and [Calum] Chambers. We were able to buy as well [Alexis] Sanchez and [Danny] Welbeck, on the last day of the transfer market. There was a lot of talk about that. I believe we have done remarkably well on the transfers. I agree we could have bought one more player, we didn’t find him. We will try in December to rectify that because we are a bit short with the injuries we have. We will rectify that in the transfer market in January.
“What happened as well, today we have developed and bought English players because we want to develop a major core of our team, if possible [with] more local [players]. You can see from England’s last game with Estonia that there were five players from our club in the English national team and as well Walcott was not there. We have a good core of young players who can be the basis of the English national team. I think overall the team is heading in the right direction.
“We’ve tried as well, because there have been some concerns about the injuries, to strengthen our prevention work for injuries. I am a big fan as well, and we do a lot of work on this, developing the mental side, what I call the love for the club. Inside the club we do this with our youth team and with our top players as well. Modern life has become more and more [about the] individual. The players focus on their career but I think it’s important today in the modern world for the clubs to take responsibility to develop the game and [to ensure] the players are attached to the club, attached to the values of the club and we teach them very early in their life. I believe that the future of our modern sport is to turn the game more in favour of the clubs. A player can be happy to make his career but happy as well to be part of something bigger, something stronger, to give something back to the club. We have a responsibility to develop that and personally I’m determined to do a lot of work to develop that with our youth team, as well as our senior players. The modern game has slowly lost that a little bit.
“We have in front a very important season. We have already lost some ground against the top teams but we think we can come back. I am here to tell you that I believe we can do well and that I’m willing to fight harder than ever to come out of this season, and hopefully face you next season, being right. We are united. We are determined. And we are ready for the fight. Of course, that’s easy to say. It’s down there [on the pitch] that we show that and we start on Saturday [against Hull]. The team is united. They still lack a little bit confidence because we’ve been hit hard by injuries again. But this year they’ve been post-World Cup injuries. Ozil got injured on his own. We had Debuchy get injured on his own. We had Giroud who got injured at Everton from basically nothing. These aren’t soft tissue injuries these are accidental injuries. The good news is that we have Theo Walcott coming back now, we have Aaron Ramsey back Monday, Arteta back. Slowly we’ll have a more balanced team again ready for competition.
“So here we are, in front of another big season where we need, of course, your support again. I’m sure we’ll get it. I must say I’m very grateful, we’ve had some home games this season when it’s made a big difference when the crowd have been really behind us. I encourage you to keep doing that because we’ll have some good days at home. Away the supporters are always magnificent. I’m sure we’ll come out of this season stronger, more united and we’ll all feel happy.”