Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Sorry for last night!
I used to say to the players, ‘our job is not to talk, but to produce performances.’ So I’m not very comfortable today, to speak to you. I would just like to start my speech by thanking Pat Rice, who publicly was my right hand for 16 years. He was a genuine, committed and 100 per cent dedicated Arsenal man. So I would like to thank him personally and publicly.
I know there seems to be a lot of dissatisfaction and I can understand because we want to win. But as well, it’s important we don’t go overboard. If everybody is absolutely devastated when we finished third in the league, I promise you I will not be here when we finish 15th one day.
We have, last night, not produced a good performance but as well let’s not forget that it was the first defeat in 43 home games in the Champions League. First of all, not many clubs play 43 home games consecutively in the Champions League, and I think many teams don’t lose at all for 43 games.
Having said that, we finished last year third in the league. A season where we had a very difficult start and where we, of course, had to be solid. One of the good consequences of last year is that the Club has been solid, the team has been solid and the staff have been solid as well to come back and win third place that was down to one point basically.
During the whole season, we had no Wilshere, no Diaby and of course at the end of the season, we lost Van Persie. We lost Song and we lost Benayoun. We bought Cazorla. We bought Podolski. And we bought Giroud.
We anticipated a little bit that we might lose Van Persie, because the talks were open but we didn’t know if he could find an agreement and that’s where we anticipated Giroud and Podolski to bring them in. Of course we lost 40 goals, but I think the three players we bought will be [a] success.
I think as well, that this team started in a very convincing way, a very dynamic way and in a very promising way. We hit the wall in the last two games in a little bit of an unexplainable way. But the attitude of the team is fantastic. The focus they have every day is very good and the quality that we see in training is very good.
We have as well some good news with players coming back. It’s always difficult, the day after a defeat, to take a distance with the result and have a little bit [of a] bigger picture. But I believe this team can deliver and therefore I am personally optimistic that we’ll have a good season and that we still will show, and that the players will show, that I am right.
I do not want to go too much into financial discussions. It’s not my job. My job is to deliver a team who produces performances with the resources we have and I never complained about that. I think it should be the same absolutely everywhere.
You can be proud, when you produce the resources, that your team delivers. I wouldn’t be very proud to take my wage at the end of the month, just because somebody puts a cheque in and says ‘OK take my money’. I would like to think that every club produces its own resources and pays its players with the money it produces. There’s no way to be ashamed of that.
For the rest, our policy will be exactly the same as we have always done. Produce our own players - I think that’s vital for the spirit of the game. The style of our play and of course the way we want to behave. Therefore, it’s important that 60 to 80 percent of the team comes from our own ranks.
We produce English national team players, maybe the most now in England. That means the quality of our work comes through. For the rest, the 20 to 30 to 40 per cent of the players we bring in have to be top-class players.
That’s why I would like to come back to one thing. We speak about trophies. For me, there are five trophies - the first is to win the Premier League, the second is to win the Champions League, the third is to qualify for the Champions League, the fourth is to win the FA Cup and the fifth is to win the League Cup.
I say that because if you want to attract the best players, they do not ask: 'did you win the League Cup?', they ask you: 'do you play in the Champions League?
I say that as well, because recently we had a meeting in Geneva about when a manager is in some situations, what does he do? For example, a guy came out with a problem. He said ‘I played the semi-final of the Europa League at home and three days later, I played the decisive game in the championship to qualify for the Champions League.
And I was thinking 'what do I do?' Do I go for the semi-final of the Europa League? Or do I go for the qualifier in the Champions League?’ And the whole meeting was about that decision.
What came out as a 90 per cent conclusion, is that all the managers said ‘if you take care of you, you go for the semi-final of the Europa League. If you take care of the club, you go for the Champions League position.’ And that’s what we do, always.
I think that’s vital because we have periods where we [don’t] have the squad available to play in the competitions and we protect the championship when we have injuries. That of course is our priority. If people convince me that’s wrong, we have to do completely differently, I’m listening. I’m ready to do that.
First of course, we want to win the Premier League and that’s why we are here and that’s what we want to fight for. Believe me we’ll give absolutely every drop of energy to achieve that and we will do that again this year.
The environment is competitive, difficult and challenging. I think we have to be united to achieve it. I accept every different opinion but it looks to me that the modern world creates [little communities] inside every big community. The multiplication of medias create little groups of different opinions and we see that as well inside these clubs.
But these little communities have to learn to live together for one common thing, and that is the strength of our Club. And I think we have to keep that in mind.
We understand that you do not always agree with what we do. But [it’s] still very important that we keep strength and that we keep united for the same thing - the good of Arsenal. Sometimes we can forget that.
I’m sure we can count on you for the whole season and we’ll come up with what we deliver at the end of the season. If you’re not happy, I’m happy to listen to you, and I’m happy to meet you.Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 25 Oct 2012