WHEN Arsene Wenger finally stood down as Arsenal boss last May, he confidently predicted he would return to football within three months.
A year later, he is no longer quite so certain.
It’s not that he has not had any offers, because he has had plenty.
But after 40 years without a break, the Frenchman is not sure if he is prepared to put himself through the managerial wringer any more.
Five months short of his 70th birthday, Wenger has relished his self- imposed spell in the shadows.
In his first major interview since clearing out his Emirates office last year, he admitted: “When I left Arsenal I thought ‘do I go straight back into that heat again?’
“Because once you go into that, you know there is nothing else.
“So I thought I’d take a bit of time out. Two months . . . three months . . . and now I have a problem to get back in again!
“But I will go back into football for sure. The appetite and the desire is still there. So now I have to decide whether I return as a manager or in another role.
“In 40 years of management, my toughest competition was always with myself. As long as I am on this earth my basic question will always be ‘what is my next level?’
“That will never change. But now I am at an age where I have to fight not to go down.”
Wenger pointed to the floor as he made that final comment, joking it might not be too long before he is six feet under.
Yet he could hardly be in ruder health, still pencil-thin and noticeably more relaxed after a year away from management’s remorseless pressures.
He said: “I’m not as fit as I was when I was 20, but I still run ten kilometres every day and my joints have survived, so that’s not so bad.
“I have enjoyed getting away from the stress. I have discovered the freedom of time in front of you and that’s a good feeling.
“For example, if I have an interesting lunch, now I don’t have to get up and leave early because I have some other commitment.
“I read a lot, I’ve travelled a lot, I do lots of different sports, some charity work and I have attended many conferences on football, on management, on motivation and on the meaning of life, although I still don’t know what that means.”
That long-promised autobiography is also finally underway and Wenger has also been an occasional commentator and analyst for beIN SPORTS.
Yet he has steadfastly stayed away from the Emirates and explained: “I don’t comment on Arsenal because everything I say will be interpreted in a certain way. But I enjoy the analysis when the game is interesting and you can speak about the quality of the play.
“We live in a society now where only the winner gets credit and all the others are rubbish.
“But life is not like that, so sometimes when you are on TV it helps to say ‘OK, they won, but they could have lost’.
GUNNER AVOID IT
“You feel that if you are not the best then you are Mr Nobody.
“Now I feel I do things with less intensity. I have a better perspective of what is going on because I see the mistakes which managers make and I don’t pay the price for them.”
Another project which has kept Wenger occupied is with data analysis experts playermaker. He has invested both his time and money into the Israeli-based company, which has developed a revolutionary footwear-based motion sensor to provide all the technical information a modern-day coach requires.
He said: “I think I was the first coach in England to use technology to measure the distances covered by players on the pitch.
“I believe science can help us to understand the world around us and this is the most accurate system I have seen. There are so many development possibilities because there is so much data available.
“Now you can compare and measure anyone against the best player in the world and see where they need to improve. When I was playing, some players would go into the forest and hide behind the trees and waited until the rest of the team came back.
“Now that is not possible. Basically, you can’t cheat any more when you practice.”
STATS NOT ALWAYS THE CASE
Yet even Wenger acknowledged that the appliance of science can sometimes go too far and said: “If you only take the physical data, you’d never play Messi.
“So you still need the manager to make the right decisions because if the managers are not strong enough the science has too much power inside the clubs.
“For example, you have meetings with the scientists who tell you that this guy is tired and needs to rest. But you might know that is because he has spent the night in the disco, not because training is too hard.
“At the end of the day, the player is a very intelligent animal who can take advantage of the weakness of people.”
It is that inside knowledge of all those old tricks of the trade which convinces Wenger that he still has a contribution to make in football.
He added: “You cannot walk away from 40 years of management and not miss it and now I have come to the conclusion that I want to share what I have learned in my life.
“Whether that will be just by winning football games or in another way, that’s what I still have to decide.
“But that decision will come very quickly.”
Wenger Baku pain
ARSENE WENGER fears Wednesday’s Europa League final in Baku will be “a nightmare”.
And the former Arsenal boss says the row which rules out Henrikh Mkhitaryan should never have been tolerated by Uefa.
Wenger said: “It’s the fans who have the problem as Baku is as little bit of a nightmare.” Wenger is unhappy with the arrangements for both Arsenal and Chelsea supporters ahead of the 5,700-mile round trip to Azerbaijan.
Speaking about the game for the first time, he added: “For the two teams it won’t affect their preparations. A final is a final and it’s the same for both sides.
“The players and coaches live in ideal conditions, they have a private jet and nice business seats. The fans have the problem.”
Wenger, 69, has not attended an Arsenal game since being replaced by Unai Emery a year ago. And he will not be in Baku to see if his successor can succeed where he never did by winning a European trophy.
But the man who reigned at Arsenal for 22 years is unimpressed Mkhitaryan does not feel safe enough to travel to Azerbaijan because he is Armenian.
He said: “You cannot play a game politically. That is something which should not happen in the modern world or football.”
Source: Read Full Article