Eduardo: 'No one but Wenger can keep Arsenal at this level'


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The Independent Football

The former Arsenal striker Eduardo da Silva has condemned critics of Arsène Wenger, whom he believes should be given time to turn things around at the troubled club. "Sometimes people don't have patience, and they think they must win everything all the time," he said during an interview here, where he plays for the Ukrainian side Shakhtar. "You cannot come first or second every year for 10 years, I don't think fifth is such a bad place for Arsenal."

Despite Arsenal's lack of silverware, Eduardo thinks any other manager thrust into the role would fare much worse. "Arsène Wenger made Arsenal, and Arsenal made Wenger. If he goes away, I doubt anyone else could keep Arsenal playing at the same level.

"I learned a lot from him, not just about football but about life. How to be a professional, how to deal with pressure and how to adapt to life in England," he said. "I went to Arsenal from Dinamo Zagreb where it was quiet, and suddenly you had photographers everywhere taking pictures even if all you were doing was going to training."

Eduardo, who suffered a horrific leg injury at Arsenal from which he never really recovered, says he is now fully fit and has put the incident behind him. "I needed 10 months off completely, and then there was another year when I had problems with the muscles every two or three months. But I haven't had any injuries at all here."

He is still in touch with many of his former team-mates, he says, and treasures the goal he scored for Shakhtar on his return to the Emirates in 2010, a consolation strike in a 5-1 defeat. "It was so emotional when I scored, and I got such a good reception from the Arsenal fans. That's a memory I will tell my children."

For now he is concentrating on the European Championships this summer, when he will represent his adopted country, Croatia. "Of course there are favourites, like Spain and Holland, but I think every team that's in it has a chance. The main thing will be to get out of the group. After that it's a lottery."

That is something the Croatians are required to believe, after being drawn in a group featuring both Spain and Italy. Along with Ireland and Italy, the Croatians will be aiming for the second place behind Spain, which could set up a quarter-final with England.

"We will be fighting for second place, and the order of our games is good; first Ireland, then Italy and then Spain last, so of course we'll be trying to qualify by winning our first two games. After that anything is possible, and I won't be surprised if we get to the semi-final."