Football: Four more years for embattled Wenger?

Arsenal's French manager Arsene Wenger arriving at the stadium ahead of the English Premier League football match between Swansea City and Arsenal, on Jan 14, 2017.
Arsenal's French manager Arsene Wenger arriving at the stadium ahead of the English Premier League football match between Swansea City and Arsenal, on Jan 14, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON • Arsene Wenger has hinted he wants to continue managing for at least four more years - preferably at Arsenal.

The Frenchman also said he has no intention of following his old adversary Alex Ferguson into retirement as he has no other passions to pursue.

As he prepares for today's FA Cup game with non-league Sutton United, he insists that he has no desire to end his association with the club.

Wenger drew a distinction between himself and Ferguson, who stepped down as Manchester United boss in 2013 and has since devoted himself to activities such as watching horse racing and lecturing on leadership at Harvard University.

By contrast, there is still nowhere Wenger would rather be than on the training ground or in the dugout.

"Ferguson has some other interests in life and he was older (when he retired) than I am today," said Wenger on Saturday. "He was four years older. He retired at 71 and I'm 67."

Asked whether if he is planning to carry on for another four years, Wenger replied: "Maybe more, maybe less, I don't know. I do not want to take anything away from Ferguson. He was an absolutely unbelievable manager, but he had enough. He had enough. And I'm not at that stage."

The two-year contract extension offered to Wenger remains unsigned and he has said he will not decide whether to accept or reject it until March or April.

By then he will have a better idea as to how much he wants to stay and, more pertinently, how much others want him to stay.

Discontent among Arsenal supporters is rising and Wenger hinted that he may ultimately have little choice but to leave.

"I am adult enough to analyse the situation," he said.

He considers the rest of the season, starting with today's game at Sutton to be a test of mental strength and solidarity.

"I would say it's more about character and being united because it's important you do not get in a blame culture and (instead) focus on being united to respond well."

THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 20, 2017, with the headline 'Four more years for embattled Wenger?'. Print Edition | Subscribe