Mertesacker: Criticism makes me better


Conte chose to start with Fabregas on the bench in Saturday's FA Cup final defeat against Arsenal, with the Blues losing 2-1 at Wembley.

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte were unhappy with the first goal.

With his defence ravaged by injury and suspension, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger handed Mertesacker, the club captain, his first appearance in the starting line-up for 392 days.

Fabregas was roundly jeered by the Arsenal half of Wembley as he made his way on to the pitch, but he has backed former boss Arsene Wenger to continue, with the Frenchman's future set to be decided at a board meeting on Tuesday.

"I don't think that is the case (at the moment), I think he can manage for a long time".

Yet, Wenger has been loyal to Mertesacker despite his struggles, handing the World Cup-winner a new contract earlier in the campaign. "I don't know. Now, it's the Confederations [Cup], now it's focusing on the national team".

"Let us enjoy this win and not worry about the future".

If he does leave the club at the end of the season, however, another FA Cup win will allow him to exit on a high.

"Outside the game, I accept I never had any word with any journalist in 20 years if they criticise my decisions or my opinions".

"Am I the right man to lead this club further?" It's not about popularity, it's about competence.

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After finishing fifth, Wenger and Arsenal missed out on Champions League football for the first time in 19 years.

He described the criticism he had faced as a "disgrace" in a BBC interview broadcast prior to the final and returned to the theme after lifting the trophy. I feel this club has special values and we have shown that.

"I'm in a public job, I accept to be criticised and people don't agree with me", he said.

"The boys deserve it and I'm happy for the manager to get another FA Cup".

Wenger added: "Once the game starts and you are a fan, you stand behind the team, that is what I have not accepted this season and I will never accept it. I'm here for whatever the team needs and I have shown that during the season".

Despite his disappointment at missing out on the Double, Conte said Chelsea's feat of winning the Premier League with a record 30 wins meant it was still a season to savour.

Diego Costa equalised with 15 minutes remaining only four Aaron Ramsey to score the victor at Wembley once against for Arsenal.

Courtois is certain the goal deserved to be ruled out, explaining that the handball should have been given even if not deliberate and that Ramsey impeded him. "Numbers in the squad and also quality".

"I hope he stays here, he's been fantastic for me and fantastic for these players".