Arsenal’s second largest shareholder, Alisher Usmanov, appears to have given his backing to Arsene Wenger, calling the Frenchman a ‘great coach’, but says the Arsenal manager has made mistakes the club need to strengthen to compete properly domestically and in Europe.
Speaking to CNBC, Usmanov said, “He is one of the greatest coaches not just of European, but of world football.
“But there is 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.”
When pressed on whether or not it was time for Wenger to go, Usmanov said, “That is not my decision.
“He is a great man, a great coach, he had great victories and he has to have an opportunity to secure trophies, which he and his team ought to have.
“I wish them victories, because their victories are the victories of investors, including myself, and of the Arsenal fans who deserve them.”
It’s worth remembering that Usmanov’s alliance with David Dein probably makes his quite pro-Wenger, but he wants to see more investment in the playing squad.
“My opinion, and I tell it openly, is that we need to strengthen every position to play on the level of such teams in UK as Chelsea and Manchester City, in Europe like Real, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and other clubs.
“I have no plans apart from wishing lots of successes to Arsenal, but I always express my opinion. I know sport pretty well and respect everyone at the club, including Kroenke, who has a substantial experience in sport.”
So, basically he’s saying what many fans are: that the team needs to be strengthened, the manager needs to address some of his issues and that we need to be more to be competitive.
The only difference is he’s got 30% of the shares as he says it.