Sunday 18 March 2018

Wenger in it for the long haul

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger cannot contemplate retirement
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger cannot contemplate retirement

Arsene Wenger says he is more committed to the job than ever and that the thought of retirement makes him panic.

At 65 and approaching the start of his 20th year with Arsenal, the Frenchman could be forgiven for considering following the path of old foe Sir Alex Ferguson into a life away from the game.

On the contrary, though, Wenger has never been more up for the challenge and has admitted that he cannot allow the thought of packing in to linger.

In an interview with a number of national newspapers, he said: "Retirement? Yes, it crosses my mind sometimes but for no longer than five seconds because I panic a little bit.

"When we played at Man United, he (Ferguson) came to meet me after the game. I said: 'Come on, you don't miss it?' He says: 'No.' He had enough. He goes to every game. But he has horses. I have no horses.

"Enthusiasm? That is not a problem, honestly. I am more committed than ever for that. I just think the number of times you have done it doesn't count. It is how much you love what you do that counts.

"And the love of what you do is not necessarily diminished by the number of times you've done it. Football is new every day. That's a big quality. It makes you question.

"Because with every defeat people say: 'What is this guy doing?' Every three days you are questioned. You have an exam every three days. You have no way to look back. You have to prepare for the next exam and come out of it with success. So it always demands 100% commitment."

Wenger's commitment was tested last season when, after a particularly nasty defeat at Stoke, he was verbally abused by a section of his club's supporters as he boarded a train for home.

Experience, he says, cannot prepare him for moments like that.

"I have big experience and experience helps you anticipate what you will face. I did not necessarily anticipate that. Even here there are unpredictable responses," he said.

"You would not necessarily expect people to insult you on the way to the train. It's the way society has gone and you have to go with it. You can take it or not. I can, as well, take a distance from that.

"I know the same people can be excessive on one side and the other side. That's where experience helps. You have a good assessment of who you are. And you're not influenced by what people say, whether that's on one side too positive and on the other side too negative."

Meanwhile, goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny could be offered the chance of a loan move to Roma, Press Association Sport understands.

The 25-year-old played in the FA Cup final win over Aston Villa at Wembley, but lost his place in the Gunners' Barclays Premier League side to David Ospina at the turn of the year following some inconsistent performances and being fined for smoking in the showers after the defeat at Southampton.

Following the arrival of veteran Petr Cech from Chelsea, the Poland international appears set to get the chance of some regular match action with the Italian club.

Midfielder Mathieu Flamini is expected to leave for Galatasaray.

Press Association

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