Wenger hears fans' rage at stormy Arsenal meeting

Associated Press Modified: October 25, 2012 at 5:06 pm •  Published: October 25, 2012
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LONDON (AP) — For 16 years, Arsenal fans have proclaimed "Arsene Knows" in chants and banners supporting their French manager Arsene Wenger. For some supporters, though, it's now become "Arsene Knew."

After seven years without a trophy, the London club's fans are clearly frustrated at the lack of success from Wenger's team.

The manager was exposed to that fan unrest on Thursday, when he and the club's directors endured a stormy 75-minute annual general meeting with its smaller shareholders — many of whom are both perplexed and angry at the club's failure to invest in the team despite assurances the cash is there.

Most of the heckling and dissent was directed at American owner Stan Kroenke and chief executive Ivan Gazidis as they discussed the club's financial strategy. Wenger meanwhile delivered an unusually downbeat annual address.

It didn't help that his address came barely 12 hours after Arsenal slumped to a second successive loss. After a timid defeat against previously winless Norwich on Saturday, Schalke became the first foreign team to win at Arsenal since 2003.

"Sorry for last night," Wenger said as he began his speech. "I tell players it's our job to perform not speak, so I'm not comfortable speaking today ... I knows there seems to be a lot of dissatisfaction."

Wenger was stating the obvious: the suite at the club's Emirates Stadium had been echoing to frequent jeers during the previous 45 minutes.

"It's important we don't go overboard," Wenger said. "It is still important that we keep our strength and stay united for the good of Arsenal."

That would be easier if there was a recent trophy success to celebrate. Wenger can't lay claim to Arsenal's nine straight English titles — in women's football.

The Frenchman, though, doesn't just define success in terms of silverware.

"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," Wenger said. "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?'"

Arsenal is currently competing among Europe's elite for a 15th consecutive season.

But the 13-time English champions are currently languishing in ninth place in the Premier League — four places below the Champions League qualification spots.

Supporters were incensed that stars have been allowed to leave when rivals come calling.

Restless captain Robin van Persie joined Manchester United for around $40 million a year in August — and has already scored 10 goals for them — after predecessor Cesc Fabregas was sold to Barcelona for a similar fee a year earlier.

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