LONDON • Arsene Wenger has made it clear that he is far from finished as a football manager and will continue plying his trade for the foreseeable future - although not necessarily at English club Arsenal.
He endured unprecedented criticism in the wake of Wednesday's 5-1 thrashing by Bayern Munich. And the familiar nature of that defeat, combined with Wenger's demeanour in its immediate aftermath, had fanned a sense that his days in the dugout will end soon.
But at a press conference yesterday he set out to banish that notion.
"No matter what happens, I will manage next season, whether it's here or somewhere else I am not sure," the Frenchman said when asked whether he was thinking of retirement following another chastening failure in the Champions League and amid rising discontent among Arsenal supporters.
The 67-year-old insisted that he felt the pain of defeat as much as anyone but that he retains the desire and fortitude to carry on.
"You do not stay somewhere for 20 years and walk out of a defeat like that and whistle," he said. "But I have the strength and experience to deal with that. I would just like to add as well that we played against a good Bayern team who have won this competition (recently), and who have 11 top-class players.
STAYING IN THE DUGOUT
No matter what happens, I will manage next season; whether it's here or somewhere else, I am not sure.
ARSENE WENGER , Arsenal manager, quashing speculation he might retire after another disappointing Champions League result. The Gunners are on the brink of a seventh straight last-16 exit after being beaten 5-1 by Bayern Munich on Wednesday.
"I am in a public job, I accept that and I have to behave with my values and accept everyone can have an opinion. We have to focus on real problems. The way we play football, not my future."
He seemingly still has the backing of his employers and the offer of a two-year contract extension - worth a reported £8 million (S$14.08 million) a year - remains on the table. But he said he will wait until next month or April before deciding whether to accept that.
"If I said March or April it is because I don't know," he said. "My personal situation is not important, it's Arsenal Football Club and the future of our team and what we can achieve until the end of the season that is important."
He also batted away reports of disharmony in the Arsenal dressing room, denying claims that players were engaged in a heated argument in the aftermath of Wednesday's error-strewn humiliation at the Allianz Arena.
"Everybody was of course deeply disappointed and affected but there was no incident apart from a huge sadness and disappointment," he said.
He also denied reports that striker Alexis Sanchez, who seemed particularly disillusioned during the loss, has been given time off to go on holiday. He said the Chilean went to Barcelona to attend a court hearing about a tax case and will return to London today.
Wenger does not know the extent of the injury suffered by Laurent Koscielny on Wednesday but said the centre back would undergo a scan. Beyond those updates he invited Arsenal fans to take a broader view of the club's situation, reminding them that he has established the club as regular participants in Europe's elite competition.
"Even if I go, Arsenal will not win every single game in the future, that is part of it, you have to accept that as much as it hurts to lose games," he said. "In the last 20 years only three clubs have played in Europe every season: Arsenal, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid. That means that although everything is not perfect, not all is wrong. We have to accept that."
THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE