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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff
Nov 29, 2013

Alisher Usmanov backs Arsene Wenger

Arsenal's second largest shareholder Alisher Usmanov has thrown his support behind manager Arsene Wenger, who he believes can guide the club into a "new era."

Alisher Usmanov is seen as a rival to Kroenke at Arsenal.
Alisher Usmanov is now more upbeat over Arsenal's future.

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Wenger's men currently sit atop the Premier League standings as they aim to win their first silverware in eight years.

Frustration has built in recent times for Usmanov, who last year wrote an open letter criticising the Gunners' frugal transfer policy. This past summer, Arsenal smashed their transfer record with the £42.5 million signing of Mesut Ozil, which Usmanov feels is a step in the right direction.

Usmanov told BBC Sport: "I never said anything bad about the club or somebody personally. I said what, in my view, we can do -- not better -- but more effectively. I continue to keep this right for me.

"If I am [a] fan, if I am [a] shareholder and my team is in position number one, of course I am very happy. I hope this result keeps on until the end of the season. I wish this [for] my club.

"The club and team demonstrate Arsene Wenger's capacity to be number one. This is Wenger's responsibility and his vision.

"He does not every time have the possibility to solve this. Now I think he has this possibility and we support every effort to make our club [the] best.

"In the past I tell the club that if they want to pretend to be number one in every tournament then they must have best players in the world, and if we don't have them in our squad we need to buy these in the market. Wenger confirmed this by buying, for example, [Mesut] Ozil.

"I don't think somebody heard me but in any case anything that gives to Arsenal, good results, is for us very good news. This is our mission and hope.

"We wait -- I think we begin a new era for Arsenal where we win trophies. It's most important for football, winning trophies. We will be number one."

Meanwhile, Usmanov also defended foreign investment in the Premier League with Arsenal -- owned by American Stan Kroenke since 2011 -- just one of a number of clubs funded by overseas businessmen.

"It's an artificial question which somebody wants to put on the table. Everyone who has legal right to buy something can perform this right," he said.

"We have Kroenke, [Aston Villa's Randy] Lerner, many, many people and now many Asian owners. I think everyone is comfortable if the club are successful.

"If the club are not successful then, of course, everybody wants to find somebody guilty.

"I'm sure it is good [for English football]. When investors come and invest in the economy, in British football, it is a big part of the entertainment economy in the United Kingdom. What's bad?"

Information from the Press Association was used in this report.

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