Arsene Wenger's 'principles' are costing Arsenal, says billionaire shareholder Alisher Usmanov

Uzbek billionaire also says French manager needs to 'admit his mistakes'

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The Independent Online

Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov says manager Arsene Wenger is stopping Arsenal from succeeding because of his 'principles'.

In an exclusive interview with CNBC, the Uzbek businessman, the world's 34th richest person with a fortune estimated at $18billion (£11.5bn), says that while Wenger may be "one of the greatest coaches", his "principles" - when it comes to spending money and building a team capable of challenging for trophies - are a "restriction".

Usmanov holds a 30 per cent stake in the club, the second biggest shareholder behind Stan Kroenke, but has no say in the running despite multiple attempts in the hand money to Wenger.

After a defeat to Manchester United on Saturday left Arsenal in eighth place fans have, again, called for Wenger's position to be looked at.

Usmanov said that Wenger retains his backing but he must admit his mistakes and change.

"[Wenger] is one of the greatest coaches not just of European, but of world football. But we have Russia proverb which goes – ‘Even an old lady can have a roof falling on her’.  Everybody makes mistakes," said Usmanov.

"He can make mistakes and I know as you age that it is more difficult, more challenging to accept ones mistakes. Maybe it's a problem today. He is a great man, a great coach, he had great victories and he has to have an opportunity to secure the place, which he and his team ought to have.

"I think the men who created winners have to be winners themselves. And I wish him this. Another question is to how to make this possible and are there conditions for this."

Asked if Wenger is "too stubborn" to spend money - with Cesc Fabregas a player that might have joined this summer - Usmanov said his "principles are a sort of restriction".

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Arsene Wenger will also be without Szczesny, Wilshere and Walcott

"I like Arsene for his principles. But principles are sort of restriction. And restrictions are always lost possibilities. That's why sometimes coaches even without principles became the coaches of great teams... Does he have money or not? There is officially money in the club. How does he spend them - this decision investors have left with him."

Usmanov declined to talk about his position at the club and his relationship with Kroenke, but added that he wanted to see money spent again in January.

"My opinion, and I tell it openly, - we need to strengthen every position to play on the level of such teams in UK as Chelsea and Manchester City, in Europe like Real, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Bavaria [Bayern Munich] and other clubs."

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