Football: Wenger's Arsenal dream becoming a mirage, says key shareholder Usmanov

Team manager Arsene Wenger must start learning from his mistakes if Arsenal are to compete at the highest level of European football, Alisher Usmanov, the London club's second-largest shareholder, has said. -- PHOTO: AFP
Team manager Arsene Wenger must start learning from his mistakes if Arsenal are to compete at the highest level of European football, Alisher Usmanov, the London club's second-largest shareholder, has said. -- PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (REUTERS) - Arsene Wenger must start learning from his mistakes if Arsenal are to compete at the highest level of European football, Alisher Usmanov, the London club's second-largest shareholder, has said.

The Russian billionaire, who owns 30 per cent of the Gunners, is frustrated by Arsenal's worst start to a Premier League season which has brought only four wins from their first 12 matches and little more than half the points that leaders Chelsea have.

"Arsenal is a dream that sometimes becomes a mirage and sometimes a pain," Usmanov was quoted as saying in British media on Tuesday ahead of the club's midweek Champions League clash at home to Borussia Dortmund.

"The potential of the team is there, but there is no critical evaluation of mistakes.

"No genius can retain the same level of genius if they do not acknowledge mistakes. We just repeat the same mistakes year by year."

Arsenal ended a near decade-long wait for silverware last season with an FA Cup triumph but the optimism that was instilled has faded quickly after a poor start to the season.

Consecutive league defeats to Swansea City and Manchester United have left Arsenal in eighth place. They also lost early in the League Cup.

They should qualify for the knockout rounds of the Champions League but defeat by Dortmund on Wednesday could leave them vulnerable.

Arsenal's lack of defensive stability has been held up as the team's main failing of the season so far but Usmanov believes all departments need strengthening.

"We need to strengthen every position to play on the level of such teams as Chelsea and Manchester City and in Europe like Real Madrid, Barcelona, Paris St Germain and other clubs," he said.

"I like Arsene for his principles," he added. "But principles are sort of a restriction. And restrictions are always lost possibilities."