Suffering is part of my job: Wenger

Arsenal's head coach Arsene Wenger reacts during the Uefa Europa League round of 16 soccer first leg match between AC Milan and Arsenal at the Giuseppe Meazza stadium in Milan, on March 8, 2018. PHOTO: EPA-EFE
Arsenal's head coach Arsene Wenger reacts during the Uefa Europa League round of 16 soccer first leg match between AC Milan and Arsenal at the Giuseppe Meazza stadium in Milan, on March 8, 2018. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Frenchman admits recent results have been below par but criticism has been over the top

LONDON • Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has said that suffering is in fact all part of being a football club's manager and admits he has had his fair share of late.

The Frenchman was speaking with Sky Sports on Friday, a day after the Gunners snapped a four-match losing streak in all competitions to beat AC Milan 2-0 in the Europa League last-16, first-leg tie.

"Any manager will tell you that when you don't get results the first thing affected is the mood, the lack of sleep," the 68-year-old said.

"I've managed in 820 or so Premier League games and 200 odd European games but there is no possibility not to suffer.

"You have to suffer. You have to be capable to go through periods when it's very difficult."

Wenger's future at Arsenal, where he has been in charge since 1996, has been a source of constant debate with his side in sixth place in the Premier League ahead of today's home game against Watford.

He added that he has had messages of support from past and current managers, even old adversary Alex Ferguson, and that finding solutions to problems remains an addictive part of the job. But he also claimed that some of the recent criticism aimed at himself and his players has been over the top.

PART OF THE TERRITORY

I've managed in 820 or so Premier League games and 200 odd European games but there is no possibility not to suffer. You have to suffer. You have to be capable to go through periods when it's very difficult.

ARSENE WENGER , Arsenal manager, whose future has been a source of debate.

"We have to have a little perspective, we got to a Cup final (last month's 3-0 defeat by Manchester City in the League Cup) and we fight to be in a Cup final," Wenger said. "We played against the best team in the country.

"We have been in four finals in the last five years and lost once, against Man City who are the best team in the country so it's surprising the intensity the storm the players have faced."

Gunners midfielder Jack Wilshere, however, conceded he and his team-mates had been performing well below their best for several weeks.

"We know we haven't been good enough. We are aware of it," the 26-year-old said.

Arsenal, who are coming off three straight league defeats, will host Watford today with their hopes of a top-four finish for a Champions League spot next season hanging by a thread.

They trail fourth-placed Tottenham, who travel to Bournemouth, by 13 points and with eight games left after today.

Whether or not the end is nigh for Wenger, this summer or next, he insists upon coping the only way he knows how, by focusing on the next game only.

Having found a spurt of strength in adversity to beat Milan, the Arsenal manager is urging his team to stay on solid ground.

"What is important is to add a win to another win to build up the belief again. That is for us absolutely the most important," he said.

The Frenchman hopes his team can get enough rest and recovery to be in shape to beat the Hornets and then finish the job against Milan on Thursday in the second leg.

Until then, he knows his position remains highly precarious.

"Judgment is judgment. We have to focus on the quality of our game. Our games were not as bad as everybody said. We have to live with that," Wenger added.

REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 11, 2018, with the headline 'Suffering is part of my job: Wenger'. Print Edition | Subscribe