"When you are fighting with Manchester City, Tottenham, Liverpool and Aston Villa you cannot say that because you finished third it is a disaster."
Wenger's words smack of defeatism. This does not augur well on the eve of the Chelsea encounter. For words like these can be internalized by a young team to mean that matches now have little consequence. We have moved the goalposts from winning the title to now preserving third place. But these are the sort of words that carry over to subsequent seasons - used by players who are being courted by other clubs to inform their decisions.
The sight of Man Utd without their talismanic striker after four seasons, a patchwork defense decimated by injuries with Rio and Nemanja Vidic pairing up barely four times, players flirting with retirement like Giggs and Scholes, and an attack which has seen its share of gold diggers like Berbatov, Owen, and Valencia. Sir Alex might have been forgiven if he spoke those words. But Man Utd even in their darkest moments have managed to pull through by fighting hard and sometimes winning ugly. That is because their coach never gave them any other choice.
The pursuit of trophies might be the least of the worries. What Wenger is doing with these words is discount his own legacy. If he truly believes that the system that he set up at Arsenal with its premium on supremely talented youth was the wave of the future then he is admitting that he has failed. And youngsters are attracted to shiny, new objects like trophies - so why take away their most important motivating factor?