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Conte culpable in uneven season


Cesc: We'll win nothing with kids

Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas has warned the club must make a decision between relying on youngsters and winning trophies.

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In comments that he later defended on Twitter by saying "people try and twist everything to make headlines", Fabregas indicated his belief Arsene Wenger may have to compromise on some of his policies if the club is to go to the next level.

Arsenal look certain to end the season without silverware once more after Sunday's dramatic 1-1 draw against Liverpool left them six points behind Manchester United in the Premier League with six games to play.

It looks set to be another disappointing conclusion to the season for the Gunners, who were defeated in the Carling Cup final before exiting the Champions League and FA Cup in the space of under two weeks in February and March.

Fabregas, 23, is growing frustrated with the perennial failures and believes Wenger may now need to turn to more mature players.

He told Spanish magazine Don Balon: "From 2007, I had already started saying, 'We're not winning, but we're playing well', and then you realise that's no use.

"You enjoy yourself, during a phase of the championship - like this year, for example, when we were still in four different competitions, and you say to yourself, 'Here I have everything!' But then that final point is missing and it's then when you have to make a decision: either go out and win or develop players."

He added: "It's difficult. For me it's more a lack of a winning mentality, also of maturity in key moments. We have plenty of quality but lack this bit of confidence.

"The problem is that the team needs to win something. That's why it was so important to win the Carling Cup. We needed this cup to be able to believe in ourselves as a team. Van Persie has won an FA Cup as I have, but there's no more.

"Nobody in the team has won anything. We are missing that ability to say: 'Now I know what it is to win and I know what it takes to win'.

"That's what made the Arsenal team of 'The Invincibles' so strong - they knew how to win games, when to dig in, when to attack. They had a special intelligence to read games. Now we are very young."

Wenger has managed to ensure Arsenal remain competitive despite limited investment in the squad, but there are those who believe his position should be under scrutiny as the trophy drought looks set to increase to six years.

Asked why he has not come under pressure from the board, Fabregas said: "It's different here. The coach is an intelligent person and the club value other things - that the team is always in the Champions League, that they fight until the end, bring through young players, economic stability.

"I guess that for the board that is important. Although I imagine there will be a moment when you have to take the plunge ... either you win or you don't win."

Fabregas' own future has certainly been under the spotlight after Barcelona made an attempt to take the player back to the Camp Nou next summer.

It remains to be seen whether he will still be at Arsenal next season, although Barca president Sandro Rosell's claim that he believed Fabregas has declined in value over the last year would appear to suggest a move this summer may now be unlikely.

He said: "You have to have patience with things and wait for the right moment. The day that I leave Arsenal I will do it with my head, not just because.

"As well as that, who can be sure that you are going to play in a new team? Here I have the great fortune that at a personal level, despite not having won much, I'm doing very well.

"I spoke with [Carles] Puyol and he told me that at 26 he hadn't won anything. Puyol, who has won everything in the football world! Patience and hard work are the most important things in life."

He added: "If some day I leave Arsenal, it will never be to sign for another English team."


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