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Wenger calls for more unity after Usmanov criticism


Arsene Wenger

Arsene Wenger


Arsene Wenger

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will not take criticism from major shareholder Alisher Usmanov personally, but has told everyone involved with the club they must get behind his team.

Uzbek oil magnate Usmanov - whose Red & White Holdings Group has just over a 30 per cent stake in the Gunners parent company - gave an interview to American broadcaster CNBC in which he questioned the direction of the club.

He suggested Wenger's mistakes were never properly evaluated, which was standing in the way of them challenging Europe's other leading sides.

Wenger, now the longest-serving manager in the top flight, has enough experience not to take anything to heart, with the 2-1 Premier League home defeat to Manchester United on Saturday having attracted plenty of negative headlines.

The Gunners boss, though, believes such public statements and suggestions of crisis talks with the board do little to benefit the team, who host Borussia Dortmund tonight looking to secure a place in the last 16 of the Champions League once again.

"When you are such a long time in football as I am, you don't understand any more what crisis means. I must get to the dictionary and look at it well again," said Wenger, who confirmed England midfielder Jack Wilshere will see a specialist to assess the seriousness of ankle ligament damage suffered in the defeat to United.

"During the 18 years I have been here I have shown that I can take criticism. Everybody has the right to have an opinion, having said that, we have values at this club," the Frenchman added. "The first one is when we go through a difficult patch, we show solidarity. That is a very important one.

"The second one is that, when you have something to say to each other, we say it face to face. We don't need to go to the newspapers.

"I don't take (Usmanov's comments) personally at all. It is an opinion that I respect, but when you are from this club, you are from this club. You are in or out, you cannot be both."

Midfielder Aaron Ramsey insists the squad are united in their desire to turn the campaign around, adding "We believe in ourselves, we have a great team spirit. We know all about what we are capable of doing."

Arsenal will be able to call on France defender Laurent Koscielny, who has resumed full training.