Date:Sunday December 14 2008
Five defeats in 17 league games is bound to engender an air of despondency amongst many but Wenger feels it is overdone. Conscious of the impact on his young side when speaking prior to the game against 'boro he expressed his view that the scepticism is overdone.
"Why should we be infected by this? If there is a doubt, there is a doubt," said Wenger "Everybody can doubt your ability, but what is important is that you believe in your ability and show it on the football pitch.
"I believe that with such a young team, the minimum you can do is to be behind them, be proud of them and help them.
"To always ask them if they are good enough - personally, I don't think that helps the team. It is the first question that I have been asked since the first of July to the first of May.
"I don't know why we are always in that negative culture. In every single press conference it is exactly the same. We have not to be affected by the scepticism around the team."
Perhaps with thoughts of the disappointment created in the summer Wenger refused to take questions on his transfer policy, which for some is the source of the current discontent.
"In England every problem is sorted out by buying a player when you lose a game. We have a team where most of the players are 20 or 21. OK maybe we haven`t had the consistency until now, but we are not disastrous.
"We have 29 points and are in the position to come back. Instead of saying let`s believe in these players everybody says you have to buy five or six players.
"It is difficult to get any rationality into the analysis that we face at the moment. We are qualified in the Champions League but I am speaking as if we are absolutely nobody."
After a game in which we dropped two points against Middlesbrough the manager was unfazed preferring to focus on the next contest though he appears aware of the negative atmosphere apparent in recent games, particularly at the Emirates.
"You want always to get more but I feel my team needs more encouragement because they don`t get it anywhere and that is why I want to focus on the next game."
Claiming signs of improvement he feels that some progress in teamwork can be seen as he explained in his post match interview
'We have a better defensive balance, are more a team but just lack that extra thing that comes with confidence. This is a young team that is under a lot of pressure at the moment and that is why it is important to keep belief.'
The Premier League seems set to be a tough competition this year with Liverpool and ManU also dropping points yesterday and no one opening up too big a gap at this stage. The Gunners have their work cut out over the next 21 games to stay in among the leaders and little can be taken for granted by anyone.
The teams in the past have had periods where results have not gone their way and confidence has ebbed away. Though a four match losing sequence in 2002 remains Wengers longest it heralded a strong finish to the season in which we finished 2nd. Two seasons before we managed to lose 8 league games and still finish a creditable 2nd. Maybe there was more of a big two then instead of the big four of the present but it was probably easier for the team to come back from such blows to their confidence then with experienced players than the current crop of youngsters.
Once lost confidence is hard to regain especially among younger players less assured of the extent of their own talent. Wenger needs to work hard to instil this sense of belief and there seems to be few avenues of support for him. In reality it has to come from the team itself. It`s possible to see the effect a goal has on our play if we go in front as play becomes more fluid. Sadly we can also see the doubt that creeps in if we relinquish that gain. That will only be bridged with a positive sequence of results. Some comfort can be taken from our results against ManU and Chelsea a sequence against the top clubs that we will seek to prolong when meeting Liverpool next before we face another current top four side in Aston Villa.
It`s time for the team to think positively. Some positive vibes from elsewhere wouldn`t do any harm either.
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Date:Sunday December 14 2008
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