Saracens coach Paul Gustard believes the club have learned from the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal

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Saracens coach Paul Gustard says the club want to emulate Manchester United and Arsenal by using continuity and stability to become one of the best teams in Europe.

The club announced on Monday that ten players had extended their current contracts, which came just a week after five members of the coaching staff - including Gustard and director of rugby Mark McCall - also pledged their futures to the Men in Black.

And Gustard believes Saracens' belief in continuity is borne out by the success of teams in other sports.

"Look at Arsenal in football, whether or not they've won a trophy or not they're still competing there or there abouts every year," Gustard said.

"And look at Manchester United - with their longevity and their success under Sir Alex Ferguson - if you look at any successful sports club, any good organisation in business or sport, it's those that have a clear, long-term direction that will succeed and that's what we want to emulate."

Billionaire Johann Rupert became the club's majority shareholder in January 2009 and the club's fortunes - on and off the pitch - have improved ever since.

But Gustard paid tribute to the leadership of the club, not only for providing financial stability, but for setting out a clear direction for the club to follow.

"We're obviously very fortunate that we have the ownership of people who are very successful businessmen," the defence and forwards coach said.

"They've made a successful model for us to follow and [CEO] Edward Griffiths is obviously very clear with his vision.

"So with that we’ve been able to protect a lot of our values like keeping a consistent squad - of course there will be a bit of natural wastage with people retiring, people moving on, people we thought were surplus to requirements, but generally we've kept a very stable squad over the last few years."

That continuity has seen Saracens go from strength to strength in recent seasons with the team on track for a fourth consecutive finish in the top four of the Aviva Premiership.

The Men in Black are also one win away from qualifying for the knockout stages of the Heineken Cup for only the third time in their history. 

Success though breeds expectation and Gustard believes the players have had to adjust to a new benchmark.

He said: "Whatever has happened over the last three or four seasons, one thing is for certain - we're one of the top sides now, we're one of the teams that will be firing around May for the Premiership and hopefully for the European competition too.

"So from that point of view there is always an expectation at one of the bigger clubs in the country - we do expect certain results but we also expect performances and if you're part of Saracens you have to subscribe to that."

Saracens are a close-knit club, well-known for looking after their players on an individual level as well as a professional one.

Billy Vunipola and James Johnston both opted this week to quit current sides Wasps and Harlequins at the end of the season to join Sarries, and the club's personal touch is undoubtedly an attraction.

But Gustard insists it's a two-way street.

He said: "The players have to work unbelievably hard and if they do they will get the rewards and that includes all the extra bits and pieces that the club provides over and above what other clubs provide for their individuals.

"There is an expectation that we have to perform, of course there is, but that's no different whether we’re top of the league, fourth in the league or sixth in the league.

"We’re meant to be one of the best clubs now, we're meant to be at the top and we're aspiring to be one of the best in the country and in Europe."

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