EPL

Wenger not ruling out return to management as he defends final years of Arsenal reign

By Sports Desk September 21, 2021

Arsene Wenger is not ruling out a return to management in the future after feeling harshly treated following his departure from Arsenal.

The Frenchman left Arsenal in 2018 after 22 years at the club and is now working as FIFA's chief of global football development.

He won three Premier League titles with the Gunners and the FA Cup on seven occasions, while also reaching the Champions League final and famously overseeing the Invincibles side of 2003-04.

Arsenal failed to mount a serious title challenge after moving from Highbury to Emirates Stadium in 2006, though, and there was an increasingly vocal "Wenger Out" brigade near the end of his tenure.

But Wenger believes he deserves more credit for what he achieved in his final years in north London, with Arsenal finishing fifth in the Premier League and then eighth in back-to-back seasons since he left.

"I think people are quite harsh about the last years," he told The Telegraph. "In 2016, we finished second in the league. Leicester won, but other teams were behind Leicester as well and Leicester only lost three games. 

"In 2017, we did not qualify for the top four for the first time in 20 years, but we got 75 points.

"People don't realise. We won the FA Cup against Chelsea, who had just won the championship. In 2018, we lost the League Cup final against Manchester City, we lost in the semi-final of the Europa League against Atletico Madrid, by one goal.

"Arsenal will be in my heart forever, but I focus on my next life now.

"I gave the best years of my career to develop what I think is important – the stadium, to pay it back and put the club in a position where it was capable of facing the future and had the potential to do well. 

"At the end of the day, above all, we won and what I am most proud about is putting the club in that position."

Wenger has been linked with a number of jobs at club and international level since leaving Arsenal a little over three years ago.

Despite turning 72 next month, the former Nancy, Monaco and Nagoya Grampus Eight coach has hinted he may be tempted into another managerial position.

"Overall we have to accept that our days come to an end at some stage," he said. "But I don't rule it out.

"There are always people who say 'You are too old', so at the time maybe I thought they were right, but I am in good shape and I have not completely decided not to do it anymore."

Related items

  • Cafu: If Brazil don't win the World Cup it will be a failure Cafu: If Brazil don't win the World Cup it will be a failure

    Brazil legend Cafu believes anything other than winning the World Cup in Qatar will be deemed as a failure for the Selecao.

    Tite's side breezed through World Cup qualifying as they topped the South American group after going unbeaten through their 17 games, winning 14 and drawing three.

    The world's number one ranked side and five-time winners have been labelled by many as favourites to lift the World Cup come December.

    Brazil, who boast the likes of Liverpool pair Alisson and Fabinho, along with Paris Saint-Germain duo Neymar and Marquinhos, have been drawn into a group with Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon.

    However, the Selecao have not appeared in a World Cup final since 2002, when they won the competition, with the last four editions seeing European teams triumph.

    Cafu – the only man to appear in three consecutive finals, winning in 1994, losing in 1998 and captaining in the 2002 win – believes it is time for Brazil to claim a sixth World Cup.

    "Every competition that Brazil steps into there is the pressure to win it. They are a huge country in the world with a huge history," Cafu told BBC Sport.

    "The pressure to win is always there in any game, not just the World Cup. We have a very good generation of Brazilian footballers coming through so the expectation is there as usual.

    "It is about time we won, it is clear if we don't win the World Cup it will be a failure. We all have the expectations and hopes that we can do it."

    Gareth Southgate's England must negotiate a group with Iran, the United States and one of either Wales, Scotland or Ukraine.

    England are on the opposite side of the draw to Brazil, meaning the two sides cannot meet before the semi-final stage.

    Cafu, who is his country's most-capped player after making 142 appearances, suggested a meeting between the two nations would be a dream for Brazilian fans.

    "For the Brazilian people it would be considered a dream final because of the historical weight of the two nations in football," he said.

    "This match would carry huge emotion and it would be beautiful not only for the fans of England but also for football in general."

  • Cafu labels Alexander-Arnold 'one of the best right-backs in the world' as Brazil great hails England Cafu labels Alexander-Arnold 'one of the best right-backs in the world' as Brazil great hails England

    Brazil great Cafu feels he and "one of the best right-backs in the world" Trent-Alexander Arnold share many similarities, while he heaped praise on England's transformation under Gareth Southgate. 

    Alexander-Arnold remains in contention for an unprecedented quadruple with Liverpool, who have already won the EFL Cup and FA Cup and face Real Madrid in the Champions League final next Saturday. 

    Jurgen Klopp's side also head into the final day of the Premier League season just a point behind leaders Manchester City, requiring a win against Wolves and hoping Pep Guardiola's side falter against Aston Villa. 

    Alexander-Arnold has again been one of Liverpool's stars this campaign, with his 120 chances created far ahead of any other defender in Europe's top five leagues – David Raum in second has 88. 

    The England international also leads the way for assists in the same group this term, with his 18 putting him three clear of Liverpool team-mate Andy Robertson. 

    Former right-back Cafu, who played most of his career in Serie A with Roma and Milan, was quick to hail the progress Alexander-Arnold has made. 

    "I have been following Alexander-Arnold and the campaign he has had at Liverpool," he told BBC Sport. "His progress over the last few years has been amazing and for sure is one of the best right-backs in the world. 

    "He is young, strong and has developed hugely considering his age. He also has a lot of experience and I see a lot of similarities between him and myself. 

    "We both had a will and commitment to attack, to go forward and have the boldness to shoot and to put the crosses in. The diagonal movements he makes on the pitch are also similar to what I was making as a player." 

    Alexander-Arnold will hope to carry his club form into international duty in the Nations League with England before aiming for World Cup glory in Qatar in November and December. 

    Southgate's side made their first major final since 1966 by reaching the Euro 2020 showpiece and Cafu credited the changes the England boss has overseen. 

    "I have been following England and the evolution of their national team has been very good under Gareth Southgate," he added. "Along with Portugal, I consider England as the team to have evolved most on the pitch in the last few years. 

    "They have a very strong squad with individual players who are performing at a very high level for their clubs. This helps the national team and the progress they have shown with their players means they have a good chance to go far in the [World Cup]. 

    "If the England players listen to their coach as a group, then they have a better chance of winning." 

  • 'We do not enter this equation' – Barcelona never in the running for Mbappe or Haaland, says Xavi 'We do not enter this equation' – Barcelona never in the running for Mbappe or Haaland, says Xavi

    Xavi has insisted Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland were never realistic targets for Barcelona, though he is confident he will have money to invest in the squad. 

    Barca wrap up what has been a turbulent season against Villarreal on Sunday. 

    The Blaugrana will finish second in LaLiga, a testament to the work done by Xavi since he replaced the much-maligned Ronald Koeman earlier in the campaign. 

    However, they were knocked out of the Champions League in the group stage and fell to a defeat to eventual winners Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League quarter-finals, while there was no success in the Copa del Rey either. 

    The 2021-22 season came on the back of Lionel Messi's shock departure, as Barca grappled with financial issues that saw the superstar leave for Paris Saint-Germain. 

    Ferran Torres, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Adama Traore arrived to bolster the squad in January, though the latter two were on a free transfer and a loan respectively. 

    Barca were linked with moves for Mbappe and Haaland. However, Mbappe is weighing up offers from Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid while Haaland is joining Manchester City, and Xavi has claimed there was never any chance of the Blaugrana having the financial capability to sign such players. 

    "Ask me another question," he told a news conference on Saturday. "Mbappe, let him do what he wants, let him be happy.  

    "We do not enter into this equation. I do not understand the question. 

    "We cannot put a lot of money in. The economic situation is what it is. We did not enter the bidding of Haaland or Mbappe but that is what we have inherited. 

    "There is no need to look back. You have to carry on. We have to compete and win titles again, we need to be competitive from now on. 

    "The president transmits confidence to me and that we will be able to invest in our squad. We have made a plan and we will try to execute it.  

    "The economic situation is serious but it is not my turn to talk about money. I'm here to talk about football. The economic problems are what they are, but let's talk about football." 

    One player who has been heavily linked is Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski, who plundered 50 goals in all competitions in the 2021-22 campaign. 

    No player across Europe's top five leagues has scored more goals than the Poland striker this season, but he has told Bayern he wishes to leave and will not be signing a new contract, with his deal ending in June 2023. 

    However, LaLiga president Javier Tebas on Friday cast doubt on Barca's ability to be able to afford the 34-year-old. 

    Asked about Lewandowski, Xavi said: "It is one of the possibilities that may come. He has said it himself.  

    "There are some negotiations involved. It will not be easy with Bayern involved." 

    One possible outgoing at Barca who could free up funds would be Frenkie de Jong. Both Manchester clubs are credited with an interest in the Netherlands international who joined from Ajax in 2019, though it has been reported the 25-year-old is in no rush to leave the Camp Nou. 

    "Here we go back to talking about the economic situation," replied Xavi when pressed on the De Jong speculation.  

    "He is, for me, a great player who is very capable and very dominating, he can help us a lot, but we go back to talking about money and I don't want to do that." 

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.