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Jan 21, 2012

Wenger: Not reaching UCL a 'disaster'

Arsene Wenger has warned it will be a 'disaster' should Arsenal fall short in their bid for Champions League football next season.

• Hill-Wood plays down impact of failure

The Gunners, who have been drawn against AC Milan in the last 16 of this season's Champions League, have seen their Premier League title hopes suffer a blow with back-to-back defeats to Fulham and Swansea leaving them 15 points adrift of leaders Manchester City and four points behind fourth-placed Chelsea.

Club chairman Peter Hill-Wood has eased the pressure on the manager by revealing there is a contingency plan in place for the financial loss of not claiming a spot in the top four, but for Wenger, who has overseen 14 consecutive Champions League campaigns, not reaching Europe's elite competition would be considered a 'disaster'.

"For me it would be [a disaster]", he said. "Because I want to play with the best."We want to be in there, in the top four, and to play in the Champions League, and anything else would not be good enough."

Arsenal could fall further off the pace in the Premier League if they lose to champions Manchester United on Sunday but, with City facing the Gunners' arch-rivals Tottenham on the same day, Wenger is maintaining a glass half-full mentality.

"It could be a good one [weekend]", he said. "In the press you are now educated to see everything in black. You reflect the fans' fear, but you create it as well."

Sixty-two-year-old Wenger, meanwhile, says he is unlikely to match Sir Alex Ferguson's longevity, revealing he is already considering what he may do with his time once he is no longer in football management.

"We are in a job where we need our physical strength and health," he said. "That weakens, I've heard, the older you get. I will maybe do a different job, not every day out there with the football team, but I will work, that's for sure. I don't like to get up in the morning and have nothing to do - maybe I will become a commentator."

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