- Arsenal manager surprised at reaction to Carabao Cup final defeat
- Wenger has one year left on his contract but faces summer review
Arsène Wenger has made it clear he has no intention of walking away from his Arsenal contract at the end of the season. The manager is under renewed pressure following Sunday’s 3-0 defeat to Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final and morale in the dressing room is at a low ebb.
The players held a meeting after Tuesday’s training session – the first one after the Wembley debacle – in which senior members of the squad voiced their frustrations and urged everyone to pull together. They host City in the Premier League at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday night.
Wenger has long been the focal point for supporter angst and the single biggest issue at the club now concerns whether he will continue into next season and so fulfil his two-year deal. The Frenchman, 68, is both annoyed and exasperated at the very question. He has never failed to honour a managerial contract in his long career and he has no plans to break the habit.
Wenger accepted he remained an employee of the club’s majority shareholder, Stan Kroenke, and he could only do so much to control his destiny. But the inference from him was he would leave only if Kroenke were to sack him.
“I have been here for 21 years and I always respected my contract, so I am quite amazed that you ask me the question,” Wenger said. “In life, I look at what people do, not at what they say. What I did in my life was that [honour contracts], so I am quite amazed that you ask me the question.
“If you want me not to be here, that’s a different problem. You ask me [about] my commitment and my attitude is dictated by what I did in my life, not by what I say in a press conference.
“In life, you focus on the quality of your job. How well you commit, how hard you work and you try to master what you can master. What is above you … You will not decide your future in your newspapers and I am exactly like you. I am an employee and I give my best for my club that I love.”
Wenger brought up the jobs he had turned down during his Arsenal tenure to reinforce his loyalty and commitment. He has previously indicated he said no to Real Madrid and Paris St-Germain, among others. “I turned the whole world down to respect my contracts,” Wenger said. “So I am still amazed that I still have to answer these types of questions.”
He faces an in-house review at the end of the season and the club has an eye on replacements should it be decided he has to go. His best chance of salvaging the season – and Champions League qualification – would appear to lie in the Europa League, where Arsenal play Milan in the last 16. They are 27 points behind the league leaders, City, and 10 behind the division’s fourth-placed team, Tottenham.
“My position is my position,” Wenger said, brushing aside the question of the end-of-season review. “Honestly, that’s the last worry I have at the moment. My worry is to focus, to get the team ready for tomorrow’s game. I don’t ask you if your position is reviewed at the end of the season.
“Does it stop you to sleep that my position is uncertain or would not be certain or is certain? No. What is interesting in football is the performances of football, the game you will see on Thursday night. All the rest may make headlines but it is not really interesting.”
For the umpteenth time, Wenger called for perspective after a damaging defeat. He reminded his audience Arsenal had not lost to a team at “the bottom of the league in division five”, rather one that was dominating English football. It was plain he felt the reaction was overblown.
“I am quite amazed it is such an earthquake that we have lost a final,” Wenger said. “It means we have got our fans used to going to Wembley and winning. But nobody can guarantee that.”
Wenger stood his ground in the face of the criticism, which was led by Gary Neville on Sky Sports, who described Arsenal as “spineless” and questioned why some of their players were walking and not tracking back.
“You find in every single game, on both sides, moments where a player doesn’t track,” Wenger said. “You have to analyse why. Has he made two runs before to go in behind and was exhausted, or did he not track because he didn’t want to? Of course, the players gave me everything.”
SOURCE: The Guardian, UK