LONDON, United Kingdom, Feb 17 – Arsene Wenger said on Friday that he will make a decision on his Arsenal future “in March or April” as he vowed to remain in football management come what may next season.
The Frenchman is out of contract with the north London side at the end of the current campaign and questions over whether he will stay at Arsenal intensified after the Gunners’ humiliating 5-1 defeat by Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Wednesday.
“No matter what happens I will manage for another season,” Wenger, who has been Arsenal’s manager for more than 20 years, told reporters at the club’s training ground, north of London, on Friday.
“Whether it’s here or somewhere else, that is for sure,” the 67-year-old added. “If I said March or April it is because I didn’t know. I do not want to come back on that. We have other priorities at the moment.
“I hate defeat and it’s hard to take, but I have the strength and experience to come back from that,” he added ahead of Arsenal’s fifth-round FA Cup tie away to non-league Sutton United on Monday.
What made the Bayern defeat all the more bitter for Arsenal’s supporters was that it meant, barring an extraordinary second leg, the Gunners will be knocked out in the last 16 of the Champions League for the seventh year in a row.
Meanwhile Arsenal have not won the Premier League since 2004 and could not mount a sustained challenge even when 5,000/1 outsiders Leicester took the title last season.
That domestic title drought looks set to continue, with Arsenal currently 10 points adrift of Premier League leaders Chelsea.
But Wenger warned Arsenal fans, many of whom have been heavily critical of him in recent times, that the club’s form will not improve spectacularly just as a result of him leaving the Emirates Stadium.
– ‘Safe hands’ –
“We have to focus on the real problems and they are the way we play football, not my future,” he said. “It is always important not to look for wrong excuses in life.
“Even if I go, Arsenal will not win every single game in the future. It is not like before I arrived Arsenal had won the European Cup five times.
“I think what is important is that the club makes the right decision for the future. I care about this club and its future and it is very important the club is in safe hands.”
He added: “I am used to the criticism. I think in life it’s important to do what you think is right and all the rest is judgement. I am in a public job and I have to accept that, but I have to behave with my values.
“As long as you do not win absolutely everything, there is always something wrong. You have to accept that as you want to go to the next level.
“If everything is not perfect. not all is wrong.”
Meanwhile Wenger dismissed reports of a dressing room bust-up immediately after the heavy loss in Germany
“The main emotion is that everybody is disappointed and we need to focus on the next game,” he said.
“We can’t influence the last game, we can only influence it the next time we play Bayern at home.
“The defeat did not extend into a row in the dressing room. Everyone was deeply disappointed but there was no issue in the dressing room apart from huge disappointment,” the manager insisted.
Wenger indicated he would field a strong side at Sutton, rather than take too many chances against the fifth-tier club, saying: “We will have the normal team on Monday.
“They have a good opportunity to show what they normally do…But we need to regroup for the next game to take care of the consequences of a disappointing result on our spirit and everyone inside the club and make sure we bounce back.”