Wenger told to learn from his mistakes

A few fans held up placards calling for Wenger’s dismissal on Saturday.

LONDON - Arsenal's second-largest shareholder, Alisher Usmanov, has warned Arsene Wenger to start learning from his mistakes as pressure mounts on the Gunners' boss.

The team have lifted just one trophy in 9 1/2 years and Saturday's 2-1 home defeat by Manchester United marked the club's worst start to a season since 1982.

Mr Usmanov, who owns 30 per cent of the English Premier League club, believes Wenger is letting his purist footballing principles stand in the way of Arsenal's success.

"Arsene Wenger is one of the greatest coaches, not just of European, but of world football," he told CNBC on Monday.

"But we have a Russian proverb which goes: 'Even an old lady can have a roof falling on her.'

"Everybody makes mistakes. He can make mistakes and I know as you age, it is more difficult, more challenging, to accept one's mistakes.

"The potential of the team is there but there is no critical evaluation of mistakes and they need to acknowledge them.

"Because no genius can retain the same level of genius if they do not acknowledge mistakes. It's only when you admit your mistakes that you can get rid of them. I wish this to my club.

"Nothing bad is happening apart from repeating the same high result - we keep being in the middle of the Champions League but we...lose the first knock-out games.

"Some may be happy with that but, as a shareholder, I am not."

Wenger's position as manager has come under intense scrutiny in recent seasons as the team have drifted further away from being serious title contenders in either the EPL or the Champions League.

Mr Usmanov, who has not been offered a place on the Arsenal board, admitted it is "frustrating" to be excluded from discussing the manager's future but suggested that he still supports the Frenchman, adding "the club leadership relies on Wenger".

Despite spending big money on Mesut Oezil and Alexis Sanchez over the last two seasons, Wenger is no closer to turning Arsenal into title contenders, but Mr Usmanov said the club must continue to splash the cash.

"My opinion - and I tell it openly - we need to strengthen every position to play on the level of such teams in Britain as Chelsea and Manchester City, in Europe like Real Madrid, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and other clubs," he added.

He is not the only one disgruntled with Wenger's lack of success. At the United game, a few Arsenal fans held up A4-size placards calling for the manager's dismissal. These were quickly confiscated by club stewards.

The recent developments and sentiments will only increase the scrutiny on Wenger, particularly with today's crucial Champions League game against Borussia Dortmund.

Arsenal need a draw against Group D leaders Dortmund at the Emirates to be sure of joining the German club in the knock-out stages of Europe's elite club competition.

But a defeat could leave the Gunners needing a result in their final fixture - in a hostile environment at Galatasaray - to avoid being eliminated at the group stage for the first time in 15 seasons.

Given that Dortmund have already beaten Arsenal 2-0 in the group stages this year and won 2-1 at the Emirates at the same stage last season, there is every reason for the team to be concerned.

Arsenal's failure to convert a series of chances to kill off United proved their undoing, but captain Mikel Arteta is confident they will make amends against Dortmund.

"We will have to analyse what we did wrong to lose the game, but if we played 10 times like this against Man United, then we would win nine and draw one," the Spaniard said.

"The fans have seen both the quality and the determination which the team played with, so we say sorry, we tried our best, but it was not our day - (next time, the team) just have to put the ball in the net."