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Arsenal boss makes trophy pledge to fans

ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger is convinced his young side will finally realise their potential and end a five-year wait for silverware this season.<br /><br />The Gunners have not won a trophy since the 2004-05 campaign, when they lifted the FA Cup. But on a day when largest shareholder Stan Kroenke declined to clarify whether he plans a takeover, Wenger could not have been clearer about his own expectations for the months ahead.<br /><br />&ldquo;I know we haven&rsquo;t won a trophy for four years but we were very close and I believe that this year the team will do it,&rdquo; the Frenchman told shareholders at yesterday&rsquo;s annual general meeting. &ldquo;When I say that, it is not to please you, it is because I am really convinced of it. There&rsquo;s a strong determination in the team and that&rsquo;s why I&rsquo;m convinced we&rsquo;ll perform throughout the season.&rdquo;<br /><br />Wenger, who celebrated his 60th birthday yesterday, praised his side&rsquo;s consistency in qualifying for the Champions League, arguing that it justified his faith in nurturing youth over big-money signings.<br /><br />&ldquo;We&rsquo;re in the Champions League for the 12th consecutive year &ndash; only three teams have done that: Real Madrid, Manchester United and Arsenal,&rdquo; he added. &ldquo;Other teams have invested money and not done it. It&rsquo;s not just about pumping money into the team. There is magic in our sport and our club.&rdquo;<br /><br />Kroenke, who this month raised his shareholding to 28.9 per cent, sat alongside his fellow directors at the AGM, but the American sports entrepreneur allowed chairman Peter Hill-Wood to bat away a question about his intentions.<br /><br />&ldquo;I believe he is happy as a long-term shareholder in Arsenal,&rdquo; said Hill-Wood. &ldquo;What his intentions may or may not be I cannot discuss.&rdquo; When one shareholder suggested Kroenke himself could elaborate, Hill-Wood added: &ldquo;We have a takeover panel breathing down our necks and I have to be terribly careful what I say.&rdquo;<br /><br />If that left shareholders cold, they were cheered by Hill-Wood&rsquo;s disparaging quip about arch-enemies Tottenham. Responding to a question about Aston Villa and Spurs threatening Arsenal&rsquo;s top four place, he said: &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t consider them rivals really.&rdquo;<br />