Arsene Wenger launched a staunch defence of his record at Arsenal and insisted he is unconcerned by continuing speculation about his future after his youthful side claimed a place in the Carling Cup fourth round following an unconvincing victory over League Two Shrewsbury.
Ivan Gazidis, the Arsenal chief executive, insisted yesterday morning that Wenger's position is secure despite mounting criticism of the manager following a disappointing start to the Premier League season but the manager quickly distanced himself from the debate.
"Whether I work here for the next 10 years for the club or the next day I will let others assess the situation," he said. "I focus on what I'm doing for the club. And I must tell you something, I'm not bothered at all by all this speculation, at all.
"I am completely focused on doing well. I can understand that people are unhappy and criticise but you know as well as I know people are very quick to go overboard. I accept critics and I do not say it doesn't matter that people criticises us, I prefer it like anybody else when they say I am good. But you cannot complain when you lose a game and you are criticised.
"When we do well we take all the plaudits so we have to take as well all the blame when it doesn't go as well," Wenger added. "When it goes well we must not completely believe what people say and when it does not go as well, we must not completely believe it."
However, when asked if the criticism was unfair given his record, the manager said: "My record? I have just managed 14 years at this club and I have kept them 14 years in the Champions League and I wish it lasts another 14 years."
Evidence of his irritation came when he was quizzed about whether he should recruit former players such as Tony Adams and Martin Keown to address his team's defensive failings. "I have been coaching for 32 years and I do not need to answer that kind of question," he replied bluntly.
Wenger would undoubtedly have been forced to shoulder more criticism had his side failed to recover after falling behind to a 17th-minute opening goal from Shrewsbury striker James Collins. Kieran Gibbs equalised with a 33rd-minute header but it was not until Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain struck in the 58th minute that the home side looked comfortable and Yossi Benayoun confirmed victory with 12 minutes remaining.
Once again Wenger had opted to field a side made up largely of reserves and youngsters in the competition, resisting the temptation to incorporate more senior players to avoid another embarrassing defeat in the wake of Saturday's 4-3 loss at Blackburn.
The plan looked ill-judged during the opening 45 minutes when Wenger's second-string defenders displayed all the weaknesses their more senior colleagues had shown in conceding 12 goals in their last two Premier League away games. Collins got between Johan Djourou and Ignasi Miquel to head the opening goal and with more luck, the visitors could have at least doubled their lead before Gibbs headed Arsenal level.
"It was a bit nervy because we played against a good side," said Wenger. "The lower divisions have improved in the last five years. They were direct but had good technique. They had a few dangerous positions even after they scored.But we took over in the second half. I was very calm at half time because panic doesn't help."
Oxlade-Chamberlain, the game's outstanding player, struck a low shot to give his side the lead and from that point on Shrewsbury's hopes disappeared. "The feeling at the moment is one of disappointment that we are out of the competition," said Graham Turner, their manager. "We caused Arsenal plenty of problems and it might have been 2-0."
Arsenal (4-4-2): Fabianski, Djourou, Jenkinson, Gibbs, Miquel; Oxlade-Chamberlain (Aneke, 90), Frimpong (Ozyakup, 77), Benayoun, Coquelin; Park (Miyaichi, 71), Chamakh. Substitutes not used Martinez, Boateng, Yennaris, Watt.
Shrewsbury Town (4-4-2): Smith; Grandison, Jacobsen, Hazell, Goldson; McAllister (Richards, 72), Wright, Wroe; Ainsworth (Taylor, 78); Collins (Bradshaw, 72), Morgan. Substitutes not used Neal, Leslie, Male.
Referee T Bates (Staffordshire).Reuse content