Our Euro failure is down to money, says Henry

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Thierry Henry yesterday criticised Arsenal's transfer policy, and the financial restraints imposed by building a new stadium, for their latest early exit from the Champions' League.

Thierry Henry yesterday criticised Arsenal's transfer policy, and the financial restraints imposed by building a new stadium, for their latest early exit from the Champions' League.

The striker said: "I am not trying to look for any excuses but everyone knows we have had to squeeze our teeth for the new stadium, for a little while. And we did something brilliant last year so no one noticed that no one came."

Henry said it was wrong that Arsenal are "not even there with the likes of Tottenham and Birmingham" when it came to spending on new players. "I am not even talking about Manchester United or Chelsea. That is not an excuse - just my answer to the question. That is not my job [spending money] - the one I have out there is difficult enough."

Not that he will be able to do it for the next two to three weeks. The Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger, confirmed last night that Henry had picked up a calf strain and will miss the now vital FA Cup quarter-final against Bolton Wanderers tomorrow as well as the next Premiership game. After Wednesday's 3-2 aggregate defeat to Bayern Munich - in which Henry scored a brilliant goal, taking him to within seven of Ian Wright's all-time Arsenal scoring record of 185 - the Cup is the only realistic hope of winning a trophy. Having to cope without him will be a major blow.

Henry's criticisms run contrary to the insistence of the Arsenal board that the £357m to pay for 60,000-seat Emirates Stadium at Ashburton Grove, due to open for the 2006-07 season, would not affect squad strengthening. The board has always said, despite the huge commitment, that the football club were "ringfenced" and money was available to Wenger.

Arsenal's finances appear in healthier shape, despite the £260m loan they have to repay for the stadium, although their share of the pot from next season's Champions' League will diminish because they did not reach the last eight this year. Also, if they finish third in the Premiership, they will have to play a qualification tie for next season's group stages. Failure then would be unthinkable.

Henry said: "This season we've been missing some people in the starting line-up and it has shown that we have missed them. The only people you can ask those questions to are the board."

Wenger has been promised a transfer budget of £40m in the summer and, after the disappointments of this season, looks set to spend it with his long-term target Mickaël Essien, from Lyon, a likely midfield arrival. He could also generate further cash from the sale of either Ashley Cole or Jose Antonio Reyes and knows that he needs to secure a reliable goalscorer and a new goalkeeper.

Wenger has always prided himself on his rare ability to unearth players for bargain fees, such as Patrick Vieira, and attract young talent, such as Cesc Fabregas, but may have to spend big. It will be an intriguing test.

Being knocked out by Bayern was the seventh year of European failure and Henry did not hide his disappointment. "Me, I am only trying to do my best on the pitch, sometimes obviously it's not enough but I'm trying," the 27-year-old said. "After what we did last year I understand that everyone's expectations were to do better. Unfortunately we've been here before."

Henry added: "Only Chelsea and Manchester United have reached the semi-finals since I arrived here in England. I haven't seen any other English team going that far. That's the way it is."

His words were echoed by Vieira. "We know that we're not the best team in Europe and we still have a long way to go," he said. "That is the target of the club, but, of course, we are frustrated."

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