Arsenal balls: Wenger says he’s a Gunner until he dies
The Mirror leads with news that Paris Saint-Germain are “anxious” to hire Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager.
Darren Lewis says PSG have Wenger on a shortlist. Other names on this list are, we’re told, David Moyes, Steve Bruce and the great Eddie Howe. No, of course not. Lewis, as with all journalists, just trots out the names of the usual suspects: Jose Mourinho, and Pep Guardiola.
The story contains not a single word from PSG. We do hear quotes from Wenger that he would never coach another English club if he were sacked from Arsenal before his contract expires in 2017 – and that “my attachment to Arsenal will remain until the end of my days… I do not see today I could have a managerial career elsewhere.”
Someone should tell the PSG list-makers to remove one name from it.
What’s odd about the Mirror’s story is that such palpable balls should feature ahead of a genuine news story. Inside the paper, Lewis has two more pages on Wenger, all based on an interview the manager did for L’Equipe Sport.
Although the Mirror cannot resist the urge to present the interview as if it were its own:
Wenger is quoted:
“I’ll give myself merit for one thing: I’ve always treated Arsenal as if it belonged to me. I have sometimes been criticised for it — because I am not enough of a spender, not carefree enough. I credit myself for having had the courage to apply my ideas and fight for them. Aside from that, I can understand why people might not agree.
“My great pride will be to be able to say the day that I leave, that I am leaving behind a good team, a healthy situation and a club capable of performing in the future.
“I could have said to myself: ‘I am here for four or five years, we win everything’, [then] I leave and leave the club on the verge of bankruptcy. For me, consistency at the highest level is the true sign of great clubs.”
Arsenal fans are blessed to have ben led by a man of talent, vision and belief.
What does he not like?:
“To be, after every single defeat, despite the consistency that we have put into our work at the highest level, questioned about everything that has been done; the ‘Everything down the pan’ reaction. A balance must be found between your masochistic capacity to put up with what you are forced to endure and your delight in accomplishment.
“Expectations have become much more important. The philosophical definition of happiness is when what you want and what you have align. And what you want changes as soon as you have it — always more, always better, to the point where it becomes difficult to satisfy.
“An Arsenal fan, when you finish fourth, will tell you, ‘Hey, for 20 years now we have been in the top four. We want to win the league!’ They don’t care that Manchester City or Chelsea have invested 300 or 400 million Euros. They just want to beat them.
“But if you finish fifteenth for two years, they will be happy if you finish fourth after that.”
And a word for those clubs who only chase the big names:
“To have arrived in London facing such great scepticism. My first championship title, my first Double. From ‘Arsene who?’ to he who became a pioneer — the first non-British manager to succeed in England.”
You’ll miss him when he’s gone.