Arsene Wenger says the thought of retirement makes him panic. The 65-year-old Arsenal manager is set for a 20th year at Arsenal but says he has no intention of following ex-Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson out of the game.
“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 [Alex 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 the next exam and come out of it with success. So it always demands 100% commitment.
“I’m like everybody. The job of a manager is to reduce the time of crisis. I want to do well for the club and, as well, when I leave one day, leave the club in a position where the club can go on and on. That is why I always fought for the financial fair play – that is vital so the guy who comes in has top quality players, a strong financial situation and can work with his ideas. That, for me, is very, very important.”
The former Monaco boss joined Arsenal in 1996 and won the first of two League and FA Cup Doubles in his first full season in charge. But he has not led Arsenal to the Premier League title since the ‘Invincible’ season of 2003-04.
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.
“I did not necessarily anticipate that. Even here there are unpredictable responses.
“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.””