After Wednesday night’s crushing defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich, the rumour mill has been in overdrive about Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal future.
Facing the press on Friday ahead of the Gunners FA Cup fifth round trip with Sutton United, the boss tackled repeated questions about whether his time at the club is coming to an end.
Interestingly, he went so far as to suggest he’ll be a manager next season no matter what…hinting that he’ll look for another job if he calls time on his 20-years in N5. He also confirmed he could make a decision as soon as next month.
Here’s a transcript of the questions he faced on the subject and his answers…
Do you feel offended by some of the things you read and hear after all you’ve achieved?
Because I’m used to it. I’m here for 20 years and I think in life it’s important you do what you think is right. Everything else is judgement. I’m in a public job and I have to accept that. I have to behave with my values and the way I see my job and accept that everyone can have an opinion on it.
Did you tell anyone this week that you’ll decide your future in March or April?
Will it be March or April?
I don’t know. If I say March or April it’s because I didn’t know.
Have you spoken to the main shareholder [Stan Kroenke] or the Chief Executive [Ivan Gazidis]?
Every time I have the opportunity, I do.
What’s their view on your future, as far as you understand?
I do not want to come back on that. I think at the moment we have other priorities. Me as a person, as I’ve said many times, is not as important as Arsenal Football Club and the future of our team and what we can achieve until the end of the season. That is important.
Your face the other night was a picture, it looked like it was pretty hard for you to take, and I’m sure it was…do you ever feel like you’ve had enough?
No. No matter what happens I will manage next season. Is it here or somewhere else, that’s absolutely for sure. On a night like that [Wednesday], I hate defeat. I hate to lose games. And I want to do extremely well for this club and I feel a big responsibility. You do not stay for somewhere 20 years and you walk out of a defeat like that and you whistle, you know. It is difficult to take. But as well, I have the strength and the experience to respond to that.
[Further questions were then asked by another journalist…]
Do you feel the increased speculation around your future and the intensity of it rising up again is unhelpful for the club and the players? Do you think it would be better if some clarity was brought to the situation sooner rather than later?
No. I think we have to focus on the real problems. The real problems are the way we play football and not my future. The priorities are how we respond to defeat and how we play together that is what it is to be professional. It’s always important not to look for wrong excuses in life and to focus on what you can influence and what is your job.
You’ve always taken the criticism, when the fans go home unhappy, very personally. The criticism is reaching new heights with growing sections of the support basis seemingly thinking it’s time for you to move on.
Maybe. That’s an eternal debate when you’re somewhere for a long time and you have a big disappointment. Even if I go Arsenal won’t win every single game in the future. That’s part of it…as much as it hurts to lose games. If you look at the history of Arsenal, they had less games in the Champions League than I’d had in my career already [when I arrived]. Since, they have done a few. I hope that in the future I hope we can win this trophy or Arsenal can win this trophy. It’s not like before I arrived, Arsenal has won five times the European Cup. They have never won it, they have played maybe ten games in the whole history of the club. We have to take into perspective some demands.
With that in mind, and when you’ve seen a club like Manchester United go through transition, do people have to be careful what they wish for in that sense?
No. I think what is important is that the club makes the right decision for the future. I did not work here for 20 years not to care about this club. I had many opportunities during my time here to go somewhere else. I care about this club. I care about its future. It is very important that the club is in safe hands. Is it me or is it somebody else? What I’m sure it will be [in safe hands].
On that, is it going to be your decision or the club’s or a mutual decision?
I do not want to continue to talk about that now. I think that chapter is closed. We have to focus on what is important.
The position that Arsenal are in now is a familiar one, these sort of questions have been familiar over the last six or seven years, is there anything underlying what’s going wrong that you’ve identified?
As long as you do not win absolutely everything there is always something wrong. You have to accept that because you always want to go to the next level. On the other hand, in the last twenty years in Europe only three clubs managed to play every year in the Champions League and it’s Arsenal, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid. Nobody else. If everything is not perfect, not all is wrong. We have to accept that. It will be difficult again this year because it’s a fight at the top level [of the Premier League]. We have to focus on what is important now. It’s the quality of our performances and the quality of our games.