Sunday, February 25, 2024

Full transcript: Arsene Wenger on West Ham, his departure & what lies ahead

At the end of an emotional and seismic week for Arsenal Football Club, Arsene Wenger presided over a 4-1 victory over West Ham United.

While his post-match press conference started by touching on the game, unsurprisingly, the journalists in attendance were desperate for him to elucidate further on his announcement that he’ll step down from the club this summer.

Much like Ivan Gazidis on Friday, he was keen to avoid the specifics of why and how the decision was made despite the probing questions.

Here’s every word…


What were your reflections on today?

I felt that West Ham blocked us well in the first half and we had problems to find fluency in our game. I liked the game because we needed to be patient. I told the players at half time, if we keep the discipline we’ll find space and that’s what we did in the second half. We had many chances straight after in the first 10 to 15 minutes but we couldn’t take them. When it came back to 1-1 it was a little bit of a test as they had one or two chances as well. Once we scored the second goal, I think they collapsed a little bit and we could score many goals.

What was today like for yourself and also for the players? Bearing in mind what a special day it is…

Well, I think we are professional and we focus on our job. To be professional means you’re capable to do your job even if emotionally it is a little bit special. That’s what I did my whole life, it was not always easy circumstances. I believe that to be professional is to always prioritise your job, I will continue to do that as long as I am here.

It’s been a while since the fans have chanted, ‘One Arsene Wenger’ with such vociferousness, such volume, that must have been a special moment for you?

I am happy when our fans are happy. I’m even ready to suffer to make them happy. If sometimes they make me happy as well, i take it. Every single decision I made in my 22 years here is for the good and the sake of Arsenal. Even when they were wrong decisions, it was always with one priority, to do well for the club. I tried to influence the club on the structural side, on the development of players, the style of play and the results. To combine the three is not always easy. I believe that I leave the club in a very strong position on all fronts. My target was always to do that. I give an opportunity to the guy who comes in after me to do even better in the next 20 years. That’s my wish.

Do you want to have any say in who that will be?

No. I always feel that the most important [thing] in a football club is that everybody does their job. My job is to take care of the football team, of the results and of the finances of the transfers. That’s what I did. My job is not to select the next manager.

What persuaded you that this was the right time to go?

I made a statement, that is basically all you need. Overall, I feel it is not the moment to come out on that. I would like to focus and to keep the priorities right until the end of the season and to focus on how well I can do until the end. I’ll speak about that a bit later in my life.

Can you describe at all the range of emotions you’ve gone through in the last few days?

No, not really. It’s a mixed feeling. First, I must say I’m touched by all the praise I got from all in English football. I’m grateful to have had that experience in this country, that for me is special. Where the football is special, where the passion is special, you find it nowhere else. I know that I will not get that anymore in my life so that is absolutely special. That I could see the development of the Premier League in the last 20 years, that is sensational and I hope that will last for a very long time. After that I had a feeling a little bit to see life at my funeral…because people speak about you, how you were. It was a little bit interesting on that front, so I don’t need to die anymore. That is quite interesting. I must say, I would like to say that aside from a little sense of humour I would like to thank everybody who has been absolutely nice to me. It’s a bit our job, I certainly got more praise than I deserved and maybe sometimes, more criticism than I deserved. It has been difficult, but as well, fantastic.

Arsene, huge congratulations on your 22 years. What was the moment that you knew you were leaving? Where were you, what were you doing?

It’s not the moment to talk about that.

Arsene, you’ve always respected your contracts and that has been admirable, so what’s changed this time?

I just told you a few minutes ago, that I’ll talk one day about that. But it’s not the right moment.

You seemed to suggest a moment ago that you wouldn’t manage again in England when you answered one of the earlier questions, is that right?

If you speak about emotions, that would certainly for me, be emotionally difficult. I don’t know how well I will live without, so at the moment it’s difficult for me to say never. At the minute I speak to you, I’m too attached to this club to say I’ll go anywhere else.

Do you feel like you’ve processed it [leaving] in your head just yet? Has it hit you that you’re going to be leaving this club that you love in the summer?

I will completely never leave this club because my first look will always be for the result of Arsenal and how well the club develops. I will always be attached. It’s difficult, you do not give 22 years of your life like that, I gave the best years of my life to this club. I arrived at 46 years old and I worked seven days a week, not six, not six and a half, seven…for 22 years. You cannot just walk away and say thanks very much, bye bye like it’s absolutely normal. You cannot be on one side completely committed and after walk away like nothing happened, it’s impossible. I know I will face that challenge, that it will be difficult for me but I’ve had other difficulties in my life and I hope I will get through this one as well.

Is it your hope that making this announcement now galvanises the team and the club and the fans?

I don’t know. That was not the first speculation that the club needs to prepare for the future or that the earlier it is said, the better it is. You cannot come in on the 1st of June and say, look we’re separate now, do what you want.

When Ferguson left Manchester United it was very obvious that he would retire and that would be it. That’s definitely not the case with your statement, you want to manager…

Look, maybe. It’s new for me. I don’t know. Ferguson was different, I agree with you. He is still at the club, he stayed at Manchester United.

You said a year ago that you would carry on managing if you left this club, I don’t see you as a director of football, you still take training every day…


I can’t imagine you wanting to ‘go upstairs’, am I right?

Honestly, I cannot tell you much more. I don’t want you to come back to me in six months and say, you lied to us. I know I did that a few times!

[room laughs]

I wouldn’t like to be definite today. I don’t know how I will respond to that situation.

What do you think the club needs from a new manager? What sort of a person? Also, what does the club need to do to get back to the level of expectation and ambition, in terms of competing for the Premier League and Champions League?

Look, you take me. And you take a guy who is much stronger in every strong point I have. You then have the perfect guy.

You talked about working seven days a week for 22 years and obviously it’s a stressful job. Have you felt, amongst the emotion you’ve felt, have you felt some relief?

No, because I was not tired. I feel that, how can I say it…personally, I believe that this club is respected all over the world, much more than in England. Our fans did not give the image of unity I want for this club, all over the world. That was hurtful. I feel the club is respected and overall, the image we gave from our club is not what it is and not what I like.

Some players, including Mertesacker, have said let’s win the Europa League for Arsene Wenger. Do you feel if Arsenal doesn’t win the Europa League that you will have been let down?

We will try, we play against Atletico Madrid. It’s very open. Hopefully we can continue to have positive results until the end. Then we’ll see where we go from there.

Would you be kind enough to elaborate on your comment about the fans, because that’s quite a strong statement about unity? Would you be kind enough to say when you felt that happened?

Nothing more to say. I feel that this club has a fantastic image and for me that is absolutely vital. We can speak and speak and speak. Sport is about winning and losing and you have to accept that you will lose games, even though I will not be here anymore. It is as well about something bigger than winning or losing and for me it was always a worry, how the club is perceived worldwide, for kids who play in Africa, America, China and the the dream that it can create for young children who want to play football. All our clubs, have a responsibility in that.

The fans clearly hurt you in that sense…

No, not me.

The club? The fans clearly hurt the club, in that sense?

Look, I’m not resentful. I do not want to make stupid headlines. I’m not resentful with the fans. If my personality is in the way of what I think this club is, for me that is more important than me. That is all I want to say, it’s nothing to do with the fans. The fans were not happy, that’s my job, I have to live with that. I can accept that.

What was being created [the tension] was damaging?

I don’t know if it was damaging, but it did not correspond with how I feel the club should be perceived and is perceived all over the world. If you travel with us…I travel a lot, you know, and this club is respected all over the world. That’s down to work, as well to the way we play football and the way we behave and the way we treat people. I want that to go on and to be respected. Even if there’s a lot of money in the game. Above all of that, more than the money, more than the results is the way the club is perceived and the example the club gives all over the world.

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5th Gen

Class, as usual.


What motherless fuck thumbed that down, I wonder.


Jeez that journo was a bit of a bell end wasn’t he. Gasping for a click bait line. Arsene shut him out like a Serie A back 3

Hamburg Gooner

And it worked .. see some idiots on facebook or Twitter: “He´s blaming the fans” …


I think sometimes this campaign against the man has forgotten that in all his decisions have always had the club at heart. Like any human he will make mistakes. What I personally found hurtful was when people likened him to some vile dictators and the last few days have proved how wrong that accusation was. I wish him all the best and I will never forget the inspiration he has provided me with, football and non football. Thank you Arsène.


Class. One Arsene Wenger. Toxic Arsenal fans could never get the whole picture of what we are. His legacy is way bigger than just winning the league.

DB10s Air Miles

Class comment!


Thats the thing. Toxic Arsenal fans shouted the loudest and the media lapped it up. I feel ashamed to be a Arsenal fan right now. #sorryArsene

Carlos Alberto Mendez

People are going to come on and say he’s blaming the fans, but what I think he was trying to say at the end there is that he knew the fans were not happy with his management, and he didn’t want the club’s image to be swallowed up by all the infighting. That isn’t to say that the fans were wrong, even if I suppose he thinks he was doing the right things. But this is why it was the right time to go: the club was divided and the focus was not on the football. Apart from that, I… Read more »


“I tried to influence the club on the structural side, on the development of players, the style of play and the results. To combine the three is not always easy.” I love the man to death but sometimes I wish he had insisted on a structure at the club that lightened his workload. He should never have been the sole voice of the club during the banter era. All the half-truths about having money to spend and being happy with the squad put too much strain on his credibility. The lack of unity and harmony at the club is down… Read more »


I totally agree. And that only makes it more shameful, if even possible, how Wenger is being treated now. Kicked out the club by those same people that hid behind him. They could have at the very least given him a director of football type role. Hate to say this but MUFC showed way more class with SAF


Ferguson took much more control over his image and how he was represented. He constantly threatened to ban negative reporters from his press conferences, he had a changing roster of high-profile assistants who could share the blame for bad performances, and if he wanted money to spend he said so directly and publicly to his boardroom. And by the time he stepped down his fanbase was much more united behind him. It’s not just about the titles he won. He knew that in British football you can’t ask fans of the biggest clubs to accept anything less than success and… Read more »


Other than leave – which he could done multiple times – what was he to do? The Board were not prepared to put the money in

Dan Hunter

Don’t agree. The money was there. The season we bought Cech – why did we not buy a DM and a CB? How did we allow ourselves to finish 10 points behind Leicester?

New Guy Out

Oh boy!! If you were one of the #WengerOut or #DontAttendGames or if those groups consist of people with this line of thought, then the club has just made a huge mistake by listening to those who now appear to be Mourinho fans. Irrespective of who the new manager will be, it does not seem likely that the club will suddenly match the financial power of the Manchester clubs and Chelsea. If I remember correctly, the amount paid for Cech wasn’t enough to buy one established defender, forget two. Given his (Cech’s) age and the performances that have followed since,… Read more »


Spot on. Let’s hope the new guy can carry forward Wenger’s legacy like cryuffs successors did at Barca and deliver us the big trophies. The fact that united were so desperate for success that they appointed mourinho shows they are a club with no values.

Wenger is a bigger legend than Ferguson. United fans love ferguson because he delivered them trophies. We love Wenger for the man he is. Our love story will stand the test of time.

Wenger is the Herbert Chapman of this century.

Dan Hunter

On the other side of the coin, if it really was that bad, why not leave before? His love for the club? If he loves the club then surely he says ‘enough is enough’ a lot sooner and comes out and says where the real problem is? By staying on and hiding the truth, if that is what has happened, has only added to the problems, not helped to relieve them. He has to take a lot of the blame just as the board take a lot of the blame. The fan split is also because he was not willing… Read more »


It seems arsene has indeed being forced out. Well we all wanted for board to grow some balls and fire him and i guess they finally nutted in. Right now i feel sad for le prof and some may feel injustice, But i believe it’s our feelings talking and logically board has taken the right decision to force him out.


I didn’t want that. Speak for yourself.


Well, Where were you guys hiding when arsene was taking all the blame for this season and this forum was toxic. 90% of people in here wanted him out . Learn to stand-by your decisions.I respect wenger and i am very sad to see him go like this.He truly loves the club but any sane man could see that players were not responding to him.Reading some comments in here it seems like you guys were always supporting him which surely wasn’t the case.Don’t be so fickle with your decisions.

Dan Hunter

Exactly – respect to you goongot. Stand by your principles. I wanted him gone years ago, and now he is going, I am not suddenly going to flip flop and start feeling sorry. This is what was needed. It is only sad that he had to go after such a big decline.


With all due respect for Wenger, I can’t say I feel sorry for him because he’s been given the respect and time he deserved.

Laughing Stock

I agree totally. He has had a MASSIVE result being able to stay this long at such a big club. Lucky to earn all that money whilst delivering less than he should. He should feel nothing but gratitude for what he has taken from Arsenal. That’s not to say he didn’t achieve a lot FOR the club, but it’s very much a two way street.

John Bull

And what , pray Sir , should true Arsenal supporters feel for what he has delivered to the club in terms of trophies , records , Brand , finances , new stadium, finances , values and tradition for the club ? Do enlighten us .I hope that is not a taxing question for one to answer

Yellow Ribbon

Laughing Stock – a name so apt for you both.
Nobody cares about your opinion. We..”the rest of us” are anyway going to try and give the great man a good send off.


Ah the moral high ground. How’s the view from up there?

The Swede

He doesnt want you to feel sorry for him, dude.

Yellow Ribbon

An absolutely emotional read. Calm and composed even under such circumstances and as usual oozes class in every statement. My absolute role model.
Love you Arsene. Hope you go on to manage another club abroad like PSG or Real Madrid and win the Champions League.

David C

some pretty pissy questions from the British media. That’s not like them at all….(cough, cough)

best quote: “Look, you take me. And you take a guy who is much stronger in every strong point I have. You then have the perfect guy.”

Thanks for all the memories Mr. Wenger! Now let’s go and win Europa.

Hope Elneny is ok too.


the line: “Look, you take me. And you take a guy who is much stronger in every strong point I have. You then have the perfect guy.”

I know what he’s saying, but it’s still so sad to read that. Classy until the end.

Ashburton Grove

This line is heartbreaking. If we needed any further proof that he’s been forced out against his will it’s this. And there’s lots of other quotes in the above piece to confirm it. He didn’t deserve the fans turning against him after everything he’s done. And then for the same hypocritical fans to turn up again and chant his name after he’s been let go is shameful.

Whocter Do

After all that’s happened in the past few days, this is something I just cant make any sense of. The fans/supporters who stopped coming to the Emirates and those who were #WengerOut, why did they come back (to the stadium)?? Surely, anyone making the “showing Wenger respect” argument must know how ironical and hypocritical it sounds. I don’t think there ever was any doubt about the love Wenger has for Arsenal, and that he’s always been classy. The least they (WengerOut and those not attending the games despite purchasing tickets) should have done is to be half as dedicated to… Read more »

Cyprus The Immortal Gooner

I wanted him to step down but I love Wenger as much as anyone who wanted him to stay. It not black and white mate. Wenger couldn’t win the league again and that was evident 5 years ago. Not only that but every year the others grew and we got smaller. BUT I would never call him bad names or smear his legacy.


There has been fan abuse for the last 3-4 years. The board and dear Gazidis were absolutely happy to let one person bear the brunt of all that. I think the real clincher for them must have been the empty seats, and maybe the fact that people aren’t so hot for ticket renewals right now. Empty seats don’t look good on worldwide TV, nor for potential sponsors, and losing a cash cow hurts the coffers. So basically it was ok to keep him as long as the money kept coming and seats were filling up. Like nearly everyone, yes, I… Read more »

Andy Mack

The seats were sold, so they aren’t that worried whether they’re being used or not. There’s still big queue for season tickets.
As for sponsors, Most of our games are televised, so although results / Europa or no European football exposure has an affect, it’s not that major.

DB10s Air Miles

Sold or Not, empty seats don’t look good on tv.

Andy Mack

Of course, but it doesn’t make much difference to the club or the sponsors…

DB10s Air Miles

I think you’re wrong regarding sponsors to be honest.

Dan Hunter

That’s not the way sponsors work. Empty seats is bad for publicity. Sponsors don’t like bad publicity. I have read that sponsors approached Arsenal and threatened their deals with the club because of empty seats. The timing makes sense

Arse City Blues

As much as anyone ‘hates’ Wenger now, any vaguely intelligent or empathetic person will realise that we will never have someone with such resilience, professionalism, wisdom and selflessness in charge again. I know that I will never take him for granted.

John Bull

Is it a surprise to any thinking and rational Arsenal – or any sporting team – supporter that , when you have a lack of unified support in the stadium and among a section of the fans who look to media and blogs to tell them what to think , it makes it even harder for a team to win a football match and to win the trophies all supporters would like ? How can what Wenger , and some players , had to endure from the so-called Arsenal supporters who held their Wenger out banners and who went on… Read more »


This is a very apt summary of recent times and how institutions can fall on the back of social media driven influence. Do we do the same with the next manager if we don’t win the league in the next two years?


Get a grip man. unfortunately his ability to compete lessened over time. I for one don’t use Facebook or look at twitter and the others so none of those platforms told me it was time for change


Yes but you weren’t leading a campaign against him and using that as a means for personal profitability. My comment doesn’t relate to thinning the club needs a new manager – it’s how you make your feelings known that matter. Empty seats ultimately hurt but they reflect a general disharmony and not when personal insults are hauled which cross a line.


Wenger is a legend because he won us titles. That’s the no1 metric by which you judge managers at the biggest clubs. All this fixating on “campaigns” and “abuse” might make sense to you, but there is literally zero evidence that ‘social media echo chambers’ were more influential than disastrous European exits and failed title challenges. If social media echo chambers influenced the fanbase negatively then why are we the club with the longest-serving manager in Europe? And even if social media affects players it doesn’t matter because it’s an obstacle for every club equally. The bottom line is a… Read more »


Is this going to be like old Queen Victoria, wearing black all your life after Albert, her hubby passed away. The empty seats seemed to be the only way to get Kranky & his cohorts to see sense in the end. No sympathy for the overpaid players, who have had it easy peasy , no pressure on them for years.


Seems like it. Going to be dear old arsene for years now


I think it’ll get better for most people after the shock has worn off. But not everyone will recover sadly


Class is permanent. Which is more than I can say for some segments of our fan who wish to construct false scenarios to now diminish his image. This man lives and breaths for the club (even with his huge salary so what?) He has his failings (like everyone) and he has largely flattered to deceive since 05-06 but he has been extremely consistent managing top 4 and CL until last season and this. We have never been massive in Europe (a couple of odd tertiary trophies) but a chance to leave on a relative high with the Europa. That would… Read more »


The man is class through and through. His comment that even his wrong decisions were made for the intended benefit of the club is what fans should remember. I’m afraid that, in the end, the outcomes just didn’t match the intentions but that does not entitle people to aim personal abuse at him.

We all think we are good at our jobs but there comes the time when the appraisals by others must be taken as contrary evidence.


I hope the twats at Arsenal “fan” TV and those like them are proud of themselves. Clearly Arsene is upset that the reputation of the club has been damaged, which it has. I recently worked with a guy who, knowing that I’m a Gooner, asked me about Arsenal “fan” TV, and was surprised to learn that I despise it, he seemed to think it represented Arsenal fans. It does, but not my sort of Arsenal fan. Most of us will agree that Arsene has stayed too long, but that’s why I appreciate this site so much, Blogs gives us a… Read more »

Arse City Blues

Yes mate, totally agree. Well said.

Dessert Eagle

Sounds like a man that was forced out. It’s the journalists job and also a simple question, you said you respected your contracts so why aren’t you respecting this one? Unless they fired you.. If you don’t want to talk about it just explain it’s personal, don’t be rude


How exactly was he rude?
And isn’t also the journalists to show some decorum around the issue


He did say he released a statement and they should have refer to it. He was then specifically asked about the fan sentiment (good and bad to be fair) and he answered.

SB Still

The Board haven’t supported Wenger much the last few years. I hope they do a few things correct at least now for Wenger and the club… 1) Wenger deserves a status / section named after him 2) Find a very good manager to succeed him not Rogers or the likes. Needs to be in the same category as Simone, Allegri. 3) Once the successor is selected, give Wenger a role upstairs like Fergi at the club. We can’t afford to loose someone with as much knowledge, connection and love for the club Plus, I hope the the players, who also… Read more »


Wenger wins 3 FA cups in 4 seasons.

Ponchenttino has won nothing last 4 seasons.

Yet the media paints him as ‘progressive’.

Granted we no longer meet our top 4 minimum standard, but top 4 trophy good enough for Ponchenttino?

Double standards.

Takes nothing away from Wenger’s failings but the media sets the bar differently for different managers.

Billy Bob

Class as always, I too think some fans have been shameful, I do think the time is right for Wenger to retire but the abuse he got for other clubs buying titles is/was out of order!! Yes he can be stubborn at times and I think I found that annoying, especially when it bit him on the bum, because I love what he has done for the club and wanted the fairy tale to continue!!!

Des Lynam

Cue ‘The fans forced me out’ headlines in 3, 2, 1…

Matt P

I’m going to get pissed on for this, no doubt: while I love Wenger, some of these statements kind of sum up how he has lost me (and much of the fan base) over recent years. I think the fanbase was pretty tolerant for a long time – but when there is year after year of under-performance, and a total inability to turn around some of the problem areas, what does he and the club expect?
After all, it was he and the club hierarchy that set such lofty goals.


Have to agree with this. Some people are acting like us having the same manager for 22 years is a sign of our general lack of patience instead of acknowledging the fact that most people who wanted change a long time ago continued to support the club through some pretty bad periods.


All the interviews with Wenger I’ve read or listened to have left me inspired. This more than any of the others. He talks about football but the way he does it can be applied to almost any walk of life.


Todays Times Headline ” Wenger:fan protests forced me out. I am annoyed. Richard


I wanted him to leave at the end of 2013 season. But I never disrespected him or called him names as some others do, due to his achievements and dedication to the club. I wish him all the best for the future , he is truly the last greats of his time. Having said all that, I think its worrying that he alludes to fan unrest as one of the potential reasons for him leaving, not recognising the underlying reason for that, from the paying fans. Totally disagree with his reasoning here. Mind you he did not do this just… Read more »


..and please for the love of everything that is good, no Brendan Rogers.
Patrick Vieira to me looks a good one, especially as he looks one of the few names bandied about who seems capable of lighting fire under the players arses and god knows our players need that before almost every game.


Of all the names bandied about Rogers must be the most unsavoury. I’d take almost anyone but that boring, BORING twat!

Whocter Do

We won 3 FA Cups in 4 years since you first wanted to fire him (possibly his greatest run since the Champions League final v Barca). I am not sure how I will react if we win the Europa, because that would be be Wenger’s biggest trophy and yet his departure from Arsenal is already confirmed.


True, but that too me is not progress.
Personally I dont compare against teams who are in a lower standing than us, as again that is not progress.
In my view we stopped progressing a long time back under him and thats my pet peev.

Whoctor Do

The kind of progress you want (spending on new players like the Manchester clubs and Chelsea) isn’t going to happen unless Pep or Jose take charge (which, irrespective of my and your feelings about them, isn’t gonna happen this summer). Anyways, I’ll see how the #WengerOut brigade feels about the new manager in a year, if they can be half as honest in their evaluation then!!


in a years time we’ll be crying for wenger to come back. new manager with 50 million to spend will be gone by March.

Whoctor Do

And which teams will you say have a higher standing than us?? I can probably guess what you’ll say, but I’ll let you reply before saying anything else.


AW’s replies to the three questions on what made him decide to go, when he decided it was time to go and respecting contracts leads me to think that either he was asked to leave (ie sacked) or that he wanted to leave at the end of last season but was persuaded to stay on until new structures were in place to support a new head coach and that now they are there and that on the pitch things haven’t improved he took the open exit door.

Guess we will have to wait for the book.

Arsene's Micki

“After that I had a feeling a little bit to see life at my funeral …because people speak about you, how you were. It was a little bit interesting on that front, so I don’t need to die anymore”.

hahaha One Arsene Wenger! I’ll miss his witty responses and funny one-liners. Merci Proffesour!


Already started with lets blame the Board (now that Arsene is gone) I see


Yeah, he was totally sacked.

Teryima Adi

Summary of the whole interview: the tension in the club created by the presence of Wenger as a manager was creating a divisive spirit in the club worldwide. Wenger knew he was the cause and he had to step down with a gentle prod from Gazidis and the rest of the board. A win win situation for everybody I guess. This is just a notion anyway.

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