By Richard Clarke
Arsène Wenger does not draw personal satisfaction from the turnaround in Arsenal’s season.
The Frenchman shouldered a heap of criticism early in the campaign after his side lost to Fulham, Hull, Manchester City, Aston Villa and Stoke City to leave them with only the remotest chance of winning the title.
They have not quite been able to recover the ground they lost in the first third of the season. But they are at least favourites for a top-four finish and this week can advance to the latter end of two cup competitions.
“These boys are winners,” said Wenger ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League Quarter-Final second leg with Villarreal.
“I believe in general this team has not got the credit it has deserved. The focus these players have shown since the beginning of the season has been fantastic. The hunger they have shown every single day in training is great, so that's why we have improved a lot. And there is still a lot more to come - at 21, 22 you can only go upwards.
“Let's leave me out of all that,” he replied when asked about the satisfaction he took from his side’s comeback.
“We have gone for a policy in the Club. I am in a public job and when those results are not there, people are entitled not to be happy and we have to accept that. The most important thing is the Club has a policy, keeps to it, is convinced of it and goes about it in a strongly determined way.”
Now, argues the manager, it is a matter of retaining that belief for the crucial two months ahead.
“What is very important in these games is the belief, the determination and the squad spirit,” said Wenger. “We can take a lot of encouragement from our team spirit recently.
“That is certainly vital when you are going from game to game. You have to rotate your squad a little bit and I believe the whole squad is focused and ready to go for the challenges.
“I believe I have always shown the same faith, commitment and belief in my players. I have worked very hard this season with our young players to become stronger.
“In the first 14 games we lost five and in the last 18 we lost none. That means the team has improved and that the team is on a good way.
“The most important thing is to be faithful to the vision we have of the game and to improve in life.
"There is nothing worse than feeling you are standing still. And this team is improving.”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 14 Apr 2009