Prior to the recent Interlull, Arsene Wenger hinted he’d made a decision about his future and that everyone would find out soon enough whether he’ll call time on his Arsenal reign in the summer.
Facing the British media for the first time in two weeks he was naturally asked for an update, on four separate occasions, in his pre-City press conference.
Rather than clear things up, he instead muddied the waters…albeit with a smile on his face and a few a fun quips to keep the headline writers busy.
Here’s what he said…
Morning Arsene, before the international break you said you’d made a decision about your future and the rest of us would find out soon…is today the day?
I didn’t say the second part of your sentence. I said the first part of the sentence, I accept. [laughs]
I thought we would find out soon…
Not today. I’m very clear in my mind. But anyway, do I stay two months or two years my commitment will be exactly the same. The time I spend here does not influence at all my attitude.
We’re still in suspense then, there’s suggestions an announcement could be made after the City game.
I’ve always been very clear in my mind and I will remain like that. It’s a subject that at the moment is not sorted completely out.
Not sorted completely, a negotiation or waiting until the end of the season?
I have nothing more to add to that.
You said you’re very clear in your mind…
Yes, I would not like to answer that debate again [laughs]. I’ve done enough press conferences about that and I think at the moment that’s not the most important subject at the club.
It’s just one question on whether you think the delay in announcing anything is causing instability at the club.
No. I think the priority in life is to always focus on what is important and not to look for excuses. At the moment our results are not going the way that we want but as well we have to make sure that the priority for us is what happens on the pitch. Being professional is to perform on the football pitch not to find escape and excuses where there are none.
Pep Guardiola said the treatment of you by former players and journalists has been unacceptable and disrespectful. Would you agree with that?
I don’t judge. It’s a nice statement. I’m not in judgement. I’m not a judge. I am somebody who loves competition, who loves to perform and who loves football. I focus on what is important for me. For the rest, everybody is responsible for their own behaviour. I’m responsible for mine, when I’m wrong I stand up for it. I do not want to judge people, I want to focus on what matters to me, that is competition. I use all my energy to win the next game.
Arsene, how much difference does it make to you when some of your own players like Alex Iwobi are calling you a great man and saying the criticism is unfair, does that make any difference to the decision you make?
No…it’s very nice but I want the players to focus on their job. Their job is to perform. Mine is to help them to perform and to help them develop as players. That’s for me what matters. Intelligence in life is to focus on what is important and that’s why I believe what is important for a football player is to perform on the football pitch and to give absolutely everything to help the club and the team. Especially in difficult periods you see the difference of quality between those who focus on what really matters. And what really matters for us at the moment is to stick together and show that we care about our end of season and this club and our values that we stand up for.
Do you know when you’re going to make that decision, are we talking days, weeks, months?
I’ve spoken a lot about that. For me it’s exactly the same. I have to focus on what is important.
Has this been a period of soul-searching for you, the last two weeks?
Last two weeks has been a period for me where I focus on the next game and prepare for the next game.
I know you’ve talked a lot about your future…
No…you force me! [laughs] You force me to talk about it. I don’t talk a lot about it!
Arsene, you’ve made it pretty clear that you want to stay, what are you waiting for?
I have nothing more to say.
But what are you waiting for?
You want to force me to talk about something I don’t want to talk about.
Could you at least tell me what needs to happen for you to start talking about it? [General laughter] What needs to change? [More laughter]
Not a lot, you just continue to ask the same question and one day I will answer. [More laughter].