LONDON -- Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has claimed consistency and not winning trophies should be celebrated, although he believes his side are ready to start challenging for the game’s top honours once again.
Wenger, who is preparing for his 1,000th game in charge of the Gunners, has come under fire for his failure to win any silverware since the club’s FA Cup win in 2005, with 502 games having passed since he lifted the trophy.
While the Frenchman did not repeat his previous claim that consistently finishing in the top four should be celebrated in his latest news conference, it is clear that he still shares those sentiments.
"If winning a trophy is winning the League Cup and you finish 12th in the league, I would take distance from that," he said. "I think the most important thing for the quality of the club, of the management of the club, is the consistency of the achievement. After the trophies come and go, but I believe you see the quality of the management in the consistency of their achievement.
Wenger believes he is now working under conditions that allow him to challenge for the top honours in the game once again, with the financial restrictions caused by the club's decision to move to the Emirates Stadium now relieved.
"I still think the consistency of our achievement shows that we have not made too many, and we did that always with a balanced budget," he said. "We had to fight always against clubs who lost a lot of money every year and had a huge financial potential. Today we can fight financially again with the top clubs.
"For us now, it is coming out of that period now by delivering trophies and winning, competing again with everyone at the same level. You can only show that with trophies and I mean the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League."
When asked to reflect on how the game has changed during his time at Arsenal, Wenger suggested that the need for managers to develop a thick skin against criticism has become essential since his arrival in 1996.
"The game itself has become, maybe, more physical, faster, quicker, but especially the environment has changed and the pressures," he said. "The importance of football has become bigger, the multiple comments on every single event that happens in football has been multiplied.
"The pressure of the environment is of course bigger because we live in a society where we have more opinions, and maybe inside the club today you need to be stronger to resist all that than when I arrived."