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Oct 25, 2012

Wenger: Fourth place like a trophy

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has claimed that qualifying for the Champions League is the equivalent of winning a trophy at a fiery Annual General Meeting with the club's supporters on Thursday morning.

• Blog: Same answers; less patience
• Delaney: Deja vu dominates AGM
•  Brewin: Same old problems remain

Wenger received a warm ovation after his speech that addressed the concerns of supporters, yet chief executive Ivan Gazidis and chairman Peter Hill-Wood did not receive such warm platitudes as they were given a rough ride by irate fans.

Questions over why fish and chips at Emirates Stadium costs a massive £13.90 were mixed with dissent over the £2.1 million salary and bonus package paid to Gazidis last year, with chairman Hill-Wood infuriating supporters with what they claimed was his 'dismissive' attitude towards them.

It fell to the always articulate Wenger to save the day with a speech that served to fuel belief that the future may not be as bleak as it seems for Arsenal fans, after a week that has seen his new-look side crumble to uninspiring defeats against Norwich in the Premier League and Schalke in the Champions League.

"For me there are five trophies every season: Premier League, Champions League, the third is to qualify for the Champions League," Wenger told the room full of assembled shareholders and some media representatives. "The fourth is the FA Cup and then the League Cup.

"When you look to sign a player, he does not ask if you have won the League Cup recently. He asks if you are in the Champions League."

Wenger famously delivered a rousing eleven-and-a-half minute speech at last year's AGM that was described by those present as being comparable to those offered up by former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, but he tried to calm supporters by claiming their last two results are a blip that can be overcome.

"This team started in a very dynamic and promising way," he told the audience. "We have hit a wall in the last two games and that is a bit unexplainable, but the attitude and focus of the team every day is fantastic.

"My job is to deliver a team with the resources we have, and I have never complained about that. I want a club to pay players from its own resources, there is no shame in that.

"It is important that we all stay united and I'm sure I can count on the fans for your support until the end of the season. If you're not happy at the end of season, then I'm happy to meet you."

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