Arsene Wenger’s 20-year reign as Arsenal manager was capped off with a 1-0 win away at Burnley prior to the international break, and the Frenchman has expressed his desire to remain with the club after his contract expires at the end of the season. Wenger has also gone on to back Gareth Southgate to succeed as England manager amidst rumours of Wenger himself potentially ending up managing The Three Lions.
“What will decide whether I continue or not is whether I feel people want me to be there, that my club wants me to be there and my conscience that I’ve done well,” he said. “That will be a decisive factor, ‘Have I done well? Have we achieved what we want to achieve with this team?’ That will be at stake.” His intentions surrounding his future were made clear when he described his appetite for the game, saying, “I’m not at the end of my knowledge or desire to do more and become better.”
The Arsenal manager has lifted three Premier League trophies and six FA Cups in his spell with the club, but endured a much criticized barren run of nine years without a trophy. That ended in 2014 with an FA Cup victory, before going back-to-back in 2015, but The Gunners are without a Premier League triumph since the 2003/04 season. Truth be told, Wenger has never been too far away from criticism, even from the club’s fan base, with many Arsenal fans keen to voice their discontent over the Frenchman’s methods.
Wenger also calmed down thoughts of being England’s next manager, going from “why not?” when asked about taking the job to highlighting the importance of the next manager being an Englishman. He also opted to praise Southgate’s appointment as interim manager, believing a manager should not be overlooked because of a perceived ‘lower-profile’.
“That is the difficulty in England, that there’s always the demand for the big names. What is most important to me is the competence of the person and if a person is competent then he can make a name for himself,” said Wenger.
Wenger has also stressed the importance of keeping right-back Hector Bellerin, dismissing interest from Barcelona, the player’s hometown club, and Manchester City. Bellerin only recently signed a 40-thousand per week deal last summer but the club is now willing to double that figure in order to retain his services. Arsenal welcome Swansea to the Emirates on Saturday and it looks likely that they will remain without Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey.