Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is demanding respect for the way his team have performed this season, despite seeing a possible quadruple whittled down to just a title challenge in 14 days.
Arsenal were looking well set for a crack at all four trophies two weeks ago, with a 2-1 first leg lead against Barcelona in the Champions League, a Carling Cup final against Birmingham to look forward to and an FA Cup quarter final.
Roll on 14 days and Arsenal had found themselves humbled by Birmingham in the final, beating 3-1 away in Barcelona and comprehensively dispatched from the FA Cup by a Manchester United reserve team.
Wenger however argues that his team still deserve credit for the way they have performed this season, and should be proud of their efforts.
“Nobody in England believed we could even fight for the top four,” said Wenger, talking about pre-season predictions.
“The fact we are in the position we are in, I think, deserves a lot of credit.
“We still have it (steel and mental strength). I don’t question that.”
Wenger admitted that a lack of trophies in six years had forced him to look at himself from time to time.
“I question myself always, but don’t worry about that if that is your worry,” he continued.
“If I listened to everybody, then it is a miracle that we are playing for the title with 10 games to go.
“It’s been very difficult for the players, but they have never shown any sign of weakness mentally. Even on Saturday they have put absolutely every effort in and I can only be proud of how much they did fight.
“The only thing I can say is that I’m ready to give absolutely everything to win the title.
“Let’s hope, and I’m confident we will, but we need now to work to recover.
“I believe we can do it. It’s a good test now for us to show we can regroup, show mental strength, togetherness and respond quickly.
“We will have this kind of questioning for the next two, three weeks and we have to show we have an answer to that.
“We are used to being questioned – and we have to show we are strong enough to deal with that.”
Arsenal will welcome league leaders Manchester United on May 1st in a game dubbed by pundits as the league decider. Wenger agrees, if his team can win their games before that.
“The United game is only important if we win our games before that,” he said.
“I am convinced, if that game is decisive, we will have a good chance to do it. Before that, it is very important that we respond quickly.”