Arsene Wenger has confirmed he will decide whether to stay at Arsenal in March or April – and if he does leave after 21 years in charge then he will manage another club rather than retire.
Wenger’s position at the club has been under intense scrutiny in recent weeks and the midweek 5-1 defeat to Bayern Munich has only served to bring things to a crescendo, with some reports in Friday’s papers claiming the Frenchman is ready to quit.
Speaking at his weekly press conference, ahead of Monday’s FA Cup match away at Sutton, Wenger said a decision will be made before the end of the season on whether he will sign the two-year contract on offer from the club.
“Yes, I will decide future in March or April, but I don’t know when,” he said.
“I speak to the board but I don’t want to speak about how they view my future. What’s important is the club, not my future.”
But in a possibly telling comment, Wenger openly contemplated the possibility that, with retirement not on his agenda, he could be in charge of another club at the start of the 2017-18 season.
“I will manage next season whether it is here or somewhere else,” he said.
Wenger also said he would leave the club in a good state if he does decide against extending his deal.
” It is important for the club to make the right decision for the future. I did not work here for 20 years not to care. I had many opportunities to go somewhere else but I care for this club and its future. It is important to be in safe hands. “
Wenger defends Arsenal record
In the face of extreme criticism from the media and fans this week, Wenger defended the consistency he has brought to Arsenal.
” As long as you don’t win everything, there is always something wrong. You have to accept that. In the last 20 clubs in Europe, only three clubs have played every season in the Champions League – Arsenal, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid. If everything is not perfect, not everything is wrong. “
No row after Bayern game
Arsenal’s Chilean striker Alexis Sanchez reacts during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 match against Bayern MunichAFP
Wenger also shot down reports that Arsenal players had bickered with each other after losing to Bayern, with The Sun claiming assistant manager Steve Bould had also thrown a water bottle in the dressing room.
” No. Not at all. Everyone was of course deeply disappointed and effected…there was sadness and disappointment. What is important for us is to focus on the next game and let everyone else criticise. We have to focus on what we can influence, and that is our next game. We need to keep our confidence and belief in how we play. We need to stick together.”