Wenger wants to put ‘difficult’ season behind him

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has conceded that last season was the toughest of his career.Wenger’s side had once again looked to challenge for honours for a significant part of last term, only to lose in the Carling Cup final, which in turn became a catalyst for a poor end to the season, resulting in the club’s sixth trophy-less campaign.

The north Londoners were eliminated from the Champions League and FA Cup by Barcelona and Manchester United respectively following the 2-1 defeat to Birmingham City at Wembley.

Speaking ahead of his side’s friendly with Hangzhou Greentown, the 61-year-old said: “The last part of it [the season] was certainly the toughest [of his career] because emotionally it was very difficult because we were on a low. You could see that the last three or four weeks were very difficult.”

“It was because I took full responsibility for what happened.”

“I knew at some stage that it was lost and I had so much hope for the team, because through November and December, you could feel that the team had really taken off and could win everything. And it was so close.”

However, the Frenchman believes that a further year of maturation for his side’s young players, and also a return from injury from a number of key figures, will pay dividends when the new campaign gets underway next month.

“I believe we are perfectly good enough. What we did last year, considering the age of the squad and the problems we had with injuries, was a credit to the team and we have a good opportunity now to show that we have the quality,” Wenger said.

“If you are a winner, you say: ‘We were very close last year, let’s do it this year’. You come back.”

“I believe that the real destiny of this team is now there. They know as well as I know that we were very, very close last season.”

“We intend to show everybody that we can do it. We are a young team and we can only be better. It demands the strength of character that the champions have. That’s what we want to show.”