Arsene Wenger says he’s giving himself a month to figure out what he does next and admits he’s still in ‘a state of shock’ at his change in circumstances.
The Frenchman, who presided over his final game as Arsenal manager last Sunday, is under contract until the end of June but wants to decide on his next challenge before he heads off to watch the World Cup in Russia. It’s believed he’s been inundated with job offers, ranging from coaching positions to work in the media.
In an interview with beIN Sports broadcaster Darren Tulett, the 68-year-old admitted he’s been overwhelmed by the recent recognition of his achievements at Highbury and the Emirates and stressed that he’s excited by the ‘blank page’ in front of him.
“It’s just too soon to know what I will do next,” he says. “I haven’t even emptied my desk yet and in a way I am still in a state of shock. I am going to give myself until June 14, the day the World Cup begins, to decide. The question is do I still want to coach, to be on the bench, or is it time to take up different functions? The one thing I can say for sure is that I will continue to work.
“But do I want to continue to suffer as much? I want to continue to defend my ideas of football, that’s for sure. Spontaneously, I would say I still want to coach but I can’t really say that yet for sure.”
He went on: “I need a challenge. I have lived and breathed football all these years and it’s a passion – I can’t imagine doing anything else. That’s why in a way this is an exciting moment for me, too.
“I have a new page, a blank page in front of me. As all good writers know, that can be a time of anguish but I hope I won’t have too much of that. It’s also a chance to write new chapters.”
Wenger was given a hero’s farewell by the Emirates faithful when the Gunners played Burnley in the final home game of the season and there were further standing ovations from opposition fans at Manchester United, Leicester City and Huddersfield. His departure from the Gunners became THE talking point on both the front and back pages of the newspaper and enveloped social media.
“It was very touching to see,” Wenger said of the attention. “It has been a strange period – switching from contestation to unanimity in just a few days. Surprising, but quite nice also. I have the impression people wanted to salute my longevity, my fidelity to my club and perhaps the ideas about football I always tried to defend.
“I take it as a sign of recognition for the total commitment I have always had towards values I hold dearly – the desire to play dynamic, attacking football with a certain idea of how to go about it, too.
“My type of loyalty probably doesn’t exist any more. Maybe the dinosaur I became was the last symbol of times that have changed. We are today in a society which is so quick to reject. There is no time to build, to construct, always this demand for results immediately. Maybe people wanted to manifest that too.
“It was nice to see some of the recognition, I admit. When I arrived, you know, I was a complete unknown and I have always had the impression I am representing my country in a way. In a land where there has always been so much animosity between the English and the French I am proud to have achieved certain things and perhaps to have opened doors for other French coaches. Don’t forget, when I arrived in England a foreign manager was a very rare thing.”
If you’ve not already, it’s well worth reading Darren’s full interview with Arsene in the Guardian. There’s a fair bit more from ‘the boss’ on what he might do next, his take on Mikel Arteta being touted as his replacement and the emotion he’ll feel when he clears out his desk at London Colney.