Arsene Wenger delivered a passionate speech to shareholders at Arsenal’s Annual General Meeting on Thursday following their failure to reach the Champions League last season.
The Gunners finished fifth behind Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City and Liverpool in the Premier League last term and had to settle for Europa League football this campaign.
Several members of the Arsenal hierarchy were in attendance, including chief executive Ivan Gazidis and majority shareholder Stan Kroenke.
Speaking at the AGM, Wenger insisted “winning” and “trophies” remains his goal after being controversially handed a two-year contract extension in the summer.
“It’s an immense privelige to speak to you,” Wenger began. “I dedicate 99 per cent of my life to making you happy. Looking at what happened today that’s not easy…
“A football club is about the past, the present and the future. In what we see now football is always ahead of the society. What is for sure, in our game the weight of the past and the weight of the future has been kicked out of the game.
“The weight of the present has become heavy. It’s the only one thing people want. Win or out. It’s acceptable but I always guided this club with one idea. That the club is always for me about values. When I look at photos of the 1930s, 1950s and 1960s they have not always won but there’s some pride for the sense of belonging to this club.
“I will never betray the people who create these values. Arsenal is a highly-respected club not only because we won the last game but because we represent something that is exceptional.
“The present for me is about style of play, winning, trophies, winning every game. Don’t think I don’t know. It’s essential.”
Wenger continued by addressing the current issue of mega money in football and admitted that the Gunners must “find a way to compete” with the richest clubs.
“What the modern game has as well created is a concentration of the financial power in a very small amount of clubs,” Wenger said. “It has provoked a concentration of the very best players in a very small number of clubs.
“It kills a little bit the unpredictability. If I asked you today could Aston Villa win the Champions League you’d laugh.”
A heckler shouted “at least they won it.”
Not put off, Wenger continued by admitting that Arsenal: “need to find a way to compete with the clubs. My hunger and commitment is bigger than ever. I question myself a lot and I will sit down every year with my board to see where I go from there.
“My hunger is absolutely huge. No matter what happens one day I will always love this club forever and be a huge fan of this club.”