Belfast Telegraph

Wenger needs to learn - Usmanov

Arsenal's second largest shareholder Alisher Usmanov has told Arsene Wenger to start learning from his mistakes and claims the Gunners need to strengthen the entire team to compete with the best in Europe.

The Russian billionaire, who owns 30 per cent of the club, was keen to emphasise his admiration for Wenger but believes the Frenchman is letting his principles stand in the way of Arsenal's success.

The Gunners have lifted just one trophy in nine-and-a-half years and a 2-0 defeat at home to Manchester United on Sunday marked the team's worst start to a season since 1982.

Usmanov told CNBC: "Arsene Wenger is one of the greatest coaches, not just of European, but of world football.

"But we have 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 it is more difficult, more challenging to accept one's mistakes."

Usmanov continued: "The potential of the team is there but there is no critical evaluation of mistakes and they need to acknowledge them.

"Because no genius can retain the same level of genius if they do not acknowledge mistakes.

"It's only when you admit your mistakes that you can get rid of them. I wish this to my club.

"Nothing bad is happening apart from repeating the same high result - we keep being in the middle of the Champions League but we only lose the first play-off games.

"Some may be happy with that but as a share holder, I am not."

Wenger's position as manager has come under intense scrutiny in recent seasons as the team has drifted further away from a serious challenge in either the Barclays Premier League or the Champions League.

Usmanov, who has not been offered a place on the Arsenal board, admits it is "frustrating" to be excluded from discussing the manager's future but suggested he still supports the Frenchman, adding "the club leadership relies on Wenger".

Arsenal spent £35million to sign Alexis Sanchez in the summer, a year after breaking the club's transfer record to buy Mesut Ozil for £42.4million.

Usmanov insists, however, that money is available to add more quality and Wenger must not allow his principles to translate into "lost possibilities".

"Does (Wenger) have money or not? There is officially money in the club," Usmanov said.

"My opinion - and I tell it openly - we need to strengthen every position to play on the level of such teams in [the] UK as Chelsea and Manchester City, in Europe like Real Madrid, Barcelona, Paris St Germain and other clubs."

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