Wenger wants fans’ trust

The Gunners suffered a cataclysmic collapse after their shock

defeat in the Carling Cup final to Birmingham at Wembley, winning

only two of the last 11 Premier League games to finish fourth after

Sunday’s 2-2 draw at Fulham. With FA Cup winners Manchester City

having claimed the third automatic Champions League berth, Arsenal

must now come through a play-off in August to take their place

among Europe’s elite for what would be a 15th consecutive campaign

under Wenger. While there is now likely to be plenty of movement in

both directions at Emirates Stadium over the coming weeks, Wenger

called for the supporters who chanted “spend some money” as he

walked off the pitch at Craven Cottage not to lose faith in his

long-term vision for sustained success. “They need to trust us

because the club is in a strong position and we have a strong basis

[of the team],” Wenger told Arsenal TV Online. “I share their

disappointment and it is completely understandably because a few

weeks ago we were in a position to win the league and in the end we

play for qualifying in the Champions League. That is a massive

disappointment. “Whether we deserve [fourth place] or not, it is

the points which count. “The team has given a lot this year, has a

strong basis and we want to improve that. “We will be active and

busy (in the summer) certainly and will try to make the right

decisions. “We have to take it on the chin and come back stronger

next season.” As well as bringing in some experienced cover – most

likely in defence with Blackburn centre-back Christopher Samba a

long-term target – Wenger will now also jettison some squad players

who have failed to step up when given the chance. Brazil midfielder

Denilson has already declared his intention to leave, while Nicklas

Bendtner’s father claims the Denmark striker is “100% open now to a

change of clubs”. Time also appears up for veteran goalkeeper

Manuel Almunia, Emmanuel Eboue, Tomas Rosicky, Sebastien Squillaci,

Carlos Vela and perhaps even the inconsistent Andrey Arshavin,

while left-back Gael Clichy is a reported target for Inter Milan.

Wenger must also decide whether to bring youngsters back into the

senior squad like Henri Lansbury, who helped Norwich win promotion,

and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, loaned to Cardiff, or allow them to move

on. The Gunners boss, though, will also continue to keep one eye on

the future with expected signings of Southampton’s starlet Alex

Oxlade-Chamberlain and Charlton left-back Carl Jenkinson. Even

though pundits and supporters alike are calling for major changes,

Wenger remains defiant it is only minor adjustments which are

needed to finally end what would be a seven-year trophy drought in

2012. “We have learned that we have the quality, despite what

everybody is saying, but of course we need to gain some strength in

some areas of the team,” Wenger told reporters. “Mentally as well I

hope the team has learned a lot this season because we could not

cope with the number of games nor with the pressure in important

moments of the season. “I felt they lost confidence and you can see

that there has not been the same sharpness on the mental front.

“However, this was also the season we produced the best games ever.

“We had the technical quality to win the league, but certainly not

the defensive solidity to do it. “We just had problems to deal with

the disappointments and in the end it was difficult to get over the

line.” Arsenal, meanwhile, are set to confirm a first pre-season

tour to the Far East later this week, with July dates in China and

Kuala Lumpur on the agenda.