'Tired' Wenger refutes claims, insists Wright is wrong

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger's future had been questioned in the wake of defeats against Watford and Chelsea.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger's future had been questioned in the wake of defeats against Watford and Chelsea.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Arsene Wenger insists he is not preparing to end his long tenure at Arsenal despite Ian Wright's claim that the Gunners' boss is on the way out.

Wenger's future had been questioned in the wake of defeats against Watford and Chelsea that effectively killed off their Premier League title hopes.

His side returned to winning ways with a 2-0 home victory over Hull on Saturday. But after the game the Frenchman was quizzed on his future, with his contract expiring at the end of the season and a minority of fans turning on the manager.

Former Arsenal striker and pundit Ian Wright had fanned the flames by claiming on Friday that the 67-year-old had told him he was "coming to the end" of his time after 20 years at the helm.

"I was with the boss last night, and if I'm going to be totally honest, I get the impression that that's it," Wright told BBC Radio 5 live.

"He actually mentioned when we were talking that he's coming to the end. I've never heard him say that."

Yet Wenger countered by saying any tiredness stems from his commitment to the job and that Wright must have misunderstood any conversation.

Asked whether he had given Wright the impression he was leaving, Wenger replied: "No, no. Mark (Gonnella, Arsenal communications director) was with me as well on Thursday.

"It was questions and answers. I could be tired because I get up early in the morning and I finish late at night, so I am tired, yes. But I didn't give any indication about my future."

Asked if Wright could have misinterpreted any comments, he said: "Yes. You know I appreciate very much that you want me to rest, absolutely. But I am not ready for that yet."

If Arsenal had not won against lowly Hull, it would have ramped up the pressure on Wenger to depart.

"When you lose two games on the trot, you face a good storm, when you are at Arsenal," said the Frenchman.

"And there is only one answer and it's to win the next game. Or you face even more. I am at Arsenal for 20 years, I know that.

"But when you look one day, whether I lost three Premier League games on the trot and you will be surprised."

Under Wenger's watch, Arsenal have lost three straight league games just thrice.

But another poor result against Bayern Munich in the Champions League last-16 first leg at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday will certainly raise more questions about Arsenal's ability to deliver silverware this term.

The German league leaders will go into the match on the back of a 2-0 win of their own on Saturday.

They became the first team in Bundesliga history to score their first two goals of a match after the 89th minute.

Bayern manager Carlo Ancelotti said the late goals by Arturo Vidal and Arjen Robben were the perfect confidence-booster for the clash against Arsenal.

"We have to show the same character and mentality against Arsenal. That will be the key," said Ancelotti.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 13, 2017, with the headline ''Tired' Wenger refutes claims, insists Wright is wrong'. Print Edition | Subscribe