'Top four is not a trophy' – Arsenal icon Petit condemns Premier League giants' falling ambitions
The ex-Gunners star bemoaned the attitude of some in UK football, but believes Unai Emery is being treated far better at the Emirates than PSG
Arsenal icon Emmanuel Petit has hit out at managers and players who view a top four finish in the Premier League as success and insisted trophies are the only currency the game’s top names should trade in.
Manchester City and Liverpool have left the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham in the dust approaching the halfway point in the league campaign, with Jose Mourinho even conceding recently that Manchester United would need a miracle to bag a Champions League spot.
Petit, who won a Premier League and FA Cup double with Arsenal in 1998, claimed ambitions have slipped among the game’s top stars and that attitude needs to be eradicated from the game.
“The money in the Premier League now is nice for players, but if they are like me, the only thing that matters is winning trophies,” the Paddy Power ambassador told Goal. “Top four is not a trophy. It is a mistake to say that.
“I know Arsene used to say a top four is as good as a trophy, but come on. That can never be the case. Top four is okay if you are building for the future, but who will sit back in 20 years’ time and remember the team that finished third or fourth in the Premier League this season? I tell you the answer to that question and it is no one.
“The way the Champions League is now, some clubs and players view being in that competition as the only target, but this is a shame for me.
“I remember when the Champions League had one team from each country and the fight to be in that competition was fierce. Now you have so many options to qualify for this competition and I have the feeling that clubs are more happy to make money than win trophies.”
Meanwhile, Petit has hit out at Paris Saint-Germain’s star players and claimed the club’s Qatari hierarchy disrespected Unai Emery during his two-year reign as the club’s head coach, as he backed the Spaniard to bring the glory days back to Arsenal after he succeeded Wenger as Gunners boss last summer.
Emery has made a huge impression in his first few months at Arsenal, piecing together a 22-game unbeaten run that has lifted the gloom that had descended over Emirates Stadium during the final two years of Wenger’s enduring spell at the helm.
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Now World Cup winner Petit has suggested PSG chiefs may regret not giving Emery more control during his two years in Paris, as he admitted star men like Neymar and the club’s owner, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, were guilty of constantly undermining his efforts.
“I’m happy for Unai Emery that he has been given this chance after what was two very frustrating years with Paris Saint-Germain,” added the Frenchman.
“He won the title with them, but they didn’t succeed in the Champions League and some players didn’t show respect to him. The president of Paris Saint-Germain didn’t show him respect either. Too many people are trying to be in charge of that club and Emery was left alone. I think he was very sensitive about this.
“In his final weeks at PSG, you could see a change in his personality and a change in the way he was doing things. He knew he could not win the battles at this club.
“It was not just Neymar. It was other players who would try to influence things and if they didn’t like how something was being done, they didn’t go to the manager, they went to the president.
“Eighty per cent of the dressing room were doing whatever they wanted to do and that is not a position any manager wants to be in. You have big egos at PSG and they don’t take orders very well from anyone.
“I am happy that he is now in a job where his vision for the game can be laid. There are not so many egos at Arsenal and I think everyone is following the way he wants to go. I’m happy for him.
“After he left Sevilla, people were asking who he was when he went to PSG. It was like Arsene Wenger when he came to Arsenal and everyone said Arsene who? Now we are seeing Emery getting the credit he deserves for a good start at Arsenal and I believe he can take the club back to the top.
“Arsenal have already closed the gap on the top four teams of the last couple of seasons and you can see real progress. What Emery has done in a short space of time is fantastic.”
Emmanuel Petit is a Paddy Power ambassador and you can read his views at news.paddypower.com