Arsène Wenger has made it abundantly clear that he is far from finished as a manager and will continue plying his trade for the foreseeable future – although not necessarily at Arsenal.
The Frenchman’s position at the Gunners helm after more than 20 years in charge is under greater scrutiny than ever after a devastating 5-1 defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich on Wednesday night.
He confirmed at his press conference this morning that he would make a firm decision on his position in March or April – but stressed he would be working next season.
“No matter what happens I will manage next season whether it is here or somewhere else, that is absolutely for sure,” he said.
Wenger’s current contract comes to an end when the current season finishes, though he has been offered an extension.
He says he won’t be making any knee-jerk reactions following the mid-week humbling in Germany and that his decision will be in the best interest of Arsenal.
Wenger met the media for the first time since the brief three-minute press conference he gave in the wake of the Bayern defeat when he was clearly shaken.
It was planned as part of the build-up to Arsenal’s FA Cup tie with non-League Sutton Untied on Monday, though that game barely got a mention.
Wenger also denied that there was a dressing-room bust up after the game at the Allianz Arena, with reports that star player Alexis Sanchez lost his temper with his team mates.
“No, not at all. Everyone was disappointed, but there was no incident in the dressing-room apart from a huge sadness,” he said.
Sanchez was given a few days off after the game, though Wenger explained because this was because he had to deal with legal matters to deal with in Barcelona, where he played before moving to London, and will return to training on Sunday.
“On a night like that, of course I hate defeat and I hate to lose games. I want to do extremely well for this club and I feel a big responsibility.
“You do not stay somewhere for 20 years to then walk out after a defeat like that. I think what is important is that the club makes the right decision for the future.
“I do not work here for 20 years not to care about this club, because I had many opportunities to go somewhere else during that period and I care about this club and I care about its future.”
If Wenger is to leave, and barring a miracle turnaround in the second leg against Bayern, he will end his reign without being able to deliver the Champions League to the club.
But he insists the expectations of the increasing number of supporters calling for a change in manager should be evaluated based on where the club were when he first took over in 1996.
“Even if I go, Arsenal will not win every single game in the future, that is part of it, you have to accept that as much as it hurts to lose games,” he said.
“If you look at the history of Arsenal, Arsenal had less Champions League games when I arrived than I had in my career already, and since then we have done a few.
“So I hope in the future we can win this trophy, or Arsenal can win this trophy, but it is not like I arrived Arsenal had already won the European Cup five times – they had never won the European Cup.
“They played maybe 10 games in the history of the club so you have to take into perspective some demands.”