Arsenal fans cannot expect trophies says Fulham boss Martin Jol

 

Martin Jol today told Arsenal fans it was no longer realistic for them to expect a regular diet of trophies as he looked to add to their “frustration” ahead of Fulham's trip to the Emirates Stadium.

Cottagers boss Jol, who spent three years in charge of the Gunners' arch-rivals Tottenham, suggested Arsene Wenger's men were not competing on a level playing field with Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea.

The Dutchman admitted seven years without silverware was "a long time" for a club of Arsenal's stature but insisted their supporters would miss Wenger when he finally left the manager's hotseat.

The longer the Gunners' trophy drought has continued, the more the pressure on Wenger and the board from the fans has intensified, and Jol said: "If you look at the likes of Man City with almost half a billion spent, Man United, it's not easy nowadays.

"Can you expect a team like Arsenal to win things, with Chelsea, Man City, Man United, all these clubs?"

Asked if supporter anger was justified, Jol said: "I don't think you have to be angry. Frustrated is probably the better word.

"Angry with Wenger? Wenger created the new Arsenal, almost.

"Maybe in three years' time, they will hope and pray to get someone like Wenger."

Jol famously clashed with the Frenchman while in charge at White Hart Lane and added: "I'm not an Arsenal fan - as you well know - but I always admired Wenger for what he did.

"There is not one other team in the top four doing the same thing with the same philosophy.

"They always manage to find the players who are younger and create value on the pitch.

"Of course, it's probably not what an Arsenal fan wants.

"Seven years? That's a long time?"

Wenger was criticised in some quarters for suggesting 15 successive seasons inside the Barclays Premier League top four was the equivalent of a trophy.

Jol said: "He's one of the few managers who will never be under pressure because people realise what he has done, not only in the past but last year."

Arsenal recovered last season from their worst start in 58 years to finish third.

They are only seventh this season after 10 matches, nine points off top spot and level with Jol's Fulham, who they host on Saturday.

"I would always put my money on Arsenal to be in the top four," Jol added, who admitted the loss of Robin van Persie was a big blow to them.

"Of course, they miss him, but we miss a few people and we get other people in."

Jol insisted it was "ridiculous" to suggest Fulham had any chance of finishing above the Gunners this season, although he did not rule out leapfrogging them this weekend.

The Cottagers have never won at Arsenal but went as close as ever last season, leading 1-0 at the Emirates with eight minutes remaining.

"If we have a good day with our team, I think we could cause them a problem," said Jol, whose side have taken five points off the Gunners in their last three meetings.

"We did that last year. They scored in the 85th minute or so.

"At home, we scored the winner with Bobby Zamora in the last couple of minutes, so hopefully we can do the same."

Jol was today sweating on the fitness of midfielder Mahamadou Diarra, who he rated "50-50" with a knee injury.

Kieran Richardson should return to Fulham's squad, with Simon Davies the only long-term absentee.

PA

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