Premier League

Wenger demands 'clever' Arsenal

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Sat, 23 Feb 2013 11:58:00

Gael Clichy has called on Manchester City's hierarchy to keep Roberto Mancini as manager at the Etihad Stadium.

Mancini's future at City has been the subject of fresh speculation in recent days after reports linked Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini with a move to City at the end of the season.

Mancini has shrugged off the rumours over his position and remains confident he has the backing of City's owners.

Clichy is a big fan of Mancini and hopes City chiefs will keep faith with the Italian as his record proves he is the right man to take the club forward.

"Only time will tell whether the club decides to sack him or keep him, but he's doing well," Clichy told The Sun.

"It's the people above who decide - but I believe he can take us higher.

"He's the one who brought me here. Of course I'd like to see him stay. As a player you want to give your best for a manager like him.

"If you look at his record, he's the one who brought silverware to this club, the FA Cup, Community Shield, Premier League. You have to give credit where it's due.

"I think people say with that money any manager could do the job but I doubt it."

City are currently trailing league leaders Manchester United by 12 points with the FA Cup offering their most realistic chance of silverware this season.

Clichy, however, insists even if they finish this season without any silverware there is no need to panic at the Etihad.

"It would be a big disappointment if we don't win anything because when you taste it, you want it every year. But it's not as simple as that," added Clichy.

"Last season United didn't win anything and this year they have come back strongly and it looks like they will win something.

"One year without a trophy is not a lot. If we don't win this year, then next season we don't compete for anything and so on for three or four years then it's different, but that's not the case. We need to stay calm.

"Being second and competing for the FA Cup is not too bad. The quality is there and I'm sure there is more to come from this team in years to come."

Few would have expected to see Bradford and the Swans facing off for the Capital One Cup when they were drawn against Aston Villa and Chelsea in the last four.

While Bradford continued their run of success against Premier League teams by knocking out Villa, Swansea were particularly impressive in securing a 2-0 aggregate win over Rafa Benitez's side.

Williams, 28, was at the heart of two exceptional defensive displays from the south Wales club, sadly overshadowed by the furore over the incident involving Eden Hazard and ball boy Charlie Morgan.

Having been underdogs against the Blues, Swansea must now cope with being odds-on favourites against a Bradford side with the backing of the majority of neutrals.

But Williams knows Swansea may never get a better chance of winning a major honour, and they have to make sure their semi-final triumph does not prove to be in vain.

He said: "Beating Chelsea was massive. When the draw came out, we were thinking 'oh no, not Chelsea'.

"But once we thought about it, we realised it would be Bradford or Aston Villa at Wembley if we could just get through.

"Those two games have been huge for us in terms of confidence, they were two of the biggest games this club has ever being involved in. I thoroughly enjoyed playing in them and I think we did the perfect job.

"But all of that will count for nothing if we do not win."

Williams admits, however, the players were disappointed their achievement was marred by Hazard's red card for his alteration with 17-year-old Morgan, son of Swansea's largest shareholder Martin.

"It is what it is, it happened," he said. "It's a shame it overshadowed the win, which it did as it was all about the ball boy in the papers.

"But we were still able to celebrate as a squad, we haven't spoken about it or seen him (Morgan) since and it's only when the media come in we have had to speak about him."

Chico Flores superbly partnered Williams in their two memorable meetings with Chelsea, but the Spaniard will miss the final with the ruptured ankle ligaments he suffered against QPR two weeks ago.

And Wales captain Williams is desperately disappointed for his colleague.

He said: "I am gutted for him, I have spoken to him but what can you say?

"He's so disappointed, he couldn't do anything about the challenge on him and it's one of those things.

"He has been brilliant, he deserves to play in the final but he is not going to.

"Injuries happen in sport but we will try and win it for him and get him a medal, but we are gutted for him."

Bayern handed out a masterclass when they cruised to a 3-1 win at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday night to all but end Arsenal's Champions League ambitions.

Wenger, however, insists he has the basis of squad which can develop themselves into one of the most feared teams in Europe.

"We are not far away, but it is difficult to convince you today," the Arsenal manager said.

"We have to be clever. It costs a lot of money and it costs intelligent work.

"I believe in some areas of our team, we can compete with anybody in the world. We speak about the Wilsheres, the Cazorlas and we have a very strong technical basis, but we have to be more efficient, strengthen the team where in the positions we feel where we are a bit weaker.

"But for me, we have a basis of a team that is very strong."

Despite all of the negative recent headlines surrounding Wenger and his squad, the Gunners boss remains determined to keep the players focused on the job in hand - which continues with the visit of Barclays Premier League strugglers Aston Villa on Saturday.

"I am in a strong mood because if I am not, I don't see how my team can be," he said.

"I have enough experience in my job to know you have to deal with all kind of situations and this is one that is difficult to handle but it's also a good opportunity to show that we have strength and we don't have to go too 'over-disastrous' about it.

"We are fighting for a Champions League place, not against relegation and we have to take that in a positive way if we are to stay at the top."

Arsenal are set to announce their latest interim financial results next week, which are expected to show another healthy cash reserve available to be ploughed back into the squad in the summer - should Wenger wish to spend it.

The Gunners boss feels the new commercial deals which are set to kick in following their 2006 move to their new 60,000-seater home at Ashburton Grove will also help retain key men like Jack Wilshere rather than see them follow former captains Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie out of the club.

He said: "In England, there is a way of thinking that every problem is sorted out just by spending money, but that is not always the case.

"If it was like that, the same teams would win the Champions League every year because there are two or three clubs in Europe who are richer than everybody else and do not play in the Champions League.

"I believe that the problem today is not the money, it is to find the talent that strengthens your team.

"We also have to be faithful to what this club is about, which is to give a chance to the young players we educate - that is vital - and therefore to bring in the players only who give us really a plus.

"If we find tomorrow a player of top, top, top quality, we will take him."

Arsenal look set to go an eighth season without winning silverware.

Wenger, however, insists getting his team capable of maintaining a sustained title challenge will always remain top of the agenda.

"Trophies for me is basically the championship and Champions League because that is where the real quality comes out," he said.

"This year you have first to consider the quality comes through the championship and not through the FA Cup or through the Capital One Cup.

"The real quality of the team is judged on where you are on a consistent level in the championship and where you are in the Champions League.

"We are a bit short, but we are not far away and we have to reduce that gap."

Wenger added: "The competition in the Premier League is absolutely massive for everybody.

"It is difficult to guarantee for anybody that they will win the Premier League - this year Manchester United looks well ahead, but usually it is very tight."

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