Arsene Wenger exclusive: Arsenal boss on his future and what's going wrong
By Geoff Shreeves
Last Updated: 01/04/17 11:19pm
Arsene Wenger sat down with Geoff Shreeves to discuss Arsenal's poor form, the rest of the season and his future ahead of his side's clash with Manchester City, live on Sky Sports on Sunday.
Wenger goes into Sunday's clash against Manchester City firmly in the spotlight.
The under-pressure boss has said his future "has not been sorted completely" as he prepares his Arsenal team for the Super Sunday clash.
A run of six defeats in their last nine matches has seen Arsenal eliminated from the Champions League and facing a battle to finish in the top four of the Premier League, sparking renewed protests from fans against the manager.
Read on for the thoughts of Wenger ahead of one of Arsenal's most important games of the season…
How concerned are you about the tail spin you are in right now?
I'm concerned because we've had bad results and we are not where we want to be, but especially with the last game because we didn't produce the performance you need to produce if you want to play at the top of the Premier League. When you are responsible you are concerned because the confidence drops off quickly and you need belief to play well in football. It's important to recreate and rebuild quickly the desire and the confidence.
How easy is that to do?
It's the first time it's happened to us and the team are not used to dealing with that. I believe it's down to our desire, our mental strength and when you are men you want to take care of your future. Our future depends on how well we finish the season and it's a good opportunity to show that we have that quality.
You say it depends on the future, obviously the future are words you hear a lot...
Not my future, the future of the club.
Are you absolutely convinced that you or the club not announcing the decision about your future is having no affect on results?
Yes, because it would be an easy excuse. Whether I stay two years or 10 years I have exactly the same commitment and the same desire to win the next game. I believe we are in a position where we do not have to find easy excuses. Our job is to perform. Can you perform despite that? To be professional is to perform on the football pitch and not look for excuses that are not really problems off the pitch.
You may say that but you've been long enough in the game to know some players don't need much of an excuse and you have created instability. There's a question mark about you...
The worst you accuse me of, having done 20 years at the club, is creating instability. If I have created anything it is stability. The situation is not sorted out and I believe it's important we focus on what is essential. You know my attachment to this club and at the moment it is as it is and I do not see any escape route to have less responsibility because of that. You have to be men and focus on what matters and what is our job.
Again, that's you. You know what players are like. It creates a question mark. Surely that can't be healthy?
I don't know. I don't believe so but we can have a difference of opinions. You do not need to concede a corner because I have not signed a five-year contract. You defend on a corner no matter if your manager is has a one month or 10-year contract. We have to look at ourselves and believe in our qualities because if you look at our offensive numbers they are very positive in the league. We need to defend better and that's why we've lost some big games. When I say defend better it's not just the defenders it's the team as a whole.
So what's gone wrong?
What's gone wrong? We don't defend well enough and that's what's gone wrong. We can still have to turn this around by the end of the season. It's a strange season because we played 20 games unbeaten and then you slip slightly away in one game, two games and suddenly it becomes a problem.
Do you need to make wholesale changes now?
We have 11 games to go in the Premier League and now you cannot change completely the structure of the team. The same players have won games and the same players have lost games. I have tried many changes in the last five or six games and it does not always come off. I have to come back to the strength of the team as much as I can. That is basically our attacking potential and we also have to focus on our togetherness and our desire to prepare our future.
But even the goals are drying up right now. It's six in the last five compared to 12 in the previous five...
It's linked with confidence as well. We had 70 per cent of the ball at West Brom and didn't create a lot. That is obviously a concern so we have to come back to being more creative, playing with more flow and more freedom as well because when the results go against you play with the handbrake on.
Have you become too predictable in the way that you play?
No matter how you play you have to be efficient with the way you play. I don't think it's the way you play it's how well you play the way you play. At West Brom we did not play well in the way we wanted to play.
With the question marks surrounding the mental attitude of the players, how difficult does that make your quest to make the top four?
When you are in my job or the players' job it cannot always be easy. You cannot want to say you are exceptional as a player and not face difficult situations. A career is made of ups and downs and when you are going through a difficult period you respond. That's down to the big players.
Have the players got to stand up and be counted?
We have to stand up and be counted all together. I do not especially look at one or the other one. As a group, as a unit Arsenal needs to be together. We are in a difficult situation together and we have to respond together. Life is a great opportunity to fight and when you have that turn up and go for it. Show that you can fight, that for me is what is interesting in life. It's not always a motorway because sometimes it's a bumpy way and you still need to get to the destination.
Just clarify a couple of things for me. You've said whether you finish in the top four or not won't affect the decision about your future, is that correct?
You also said you will make a decision very soon after the West Brom game?
No, I said I know what I want to do.
But then you were asked and you said "very soon"...
Then it depends on what soon means to you and what soon means for me.
You've talked about reinventing yourself. What does that mean? Is it just you or is it wider than you?
It's just me. When I say that, I just behave everyday with the desire to improve and to get to the next level. That's normal for me because I've done it for 30 years.
As long as I am here I'm ready to fight and give absolutely everything to the club I love. Not only because it's Arsenal but for its values and what this club means to people all over the world
It's not been a good season, has it?
No, it's not been a good season. It's not gone in the way we expected but it can still be an acceptable season. Do we respond well? We still have a good chance to finish in the top four and we are in the semi-final of the FA Cup. It's never good enough if you do not win every single game in the season but we cannot go the way people want us to go.
Which way is that?
It's all negative.
Do you get fed up with that?
I'm long enough in this job to know how it goes. That's the way it is in life. When you are in it are you ready for the fight or you are not in it and you accept the situation as it is. I'm ready for a fight. I'm ready to fight to try and win the next game no matter what people say and think. That's my desire and I will always be like that.
You sound like a man who is ready for a fight next season and the season afterwards at Arsenal?
Don't try to make me announce today something I don't want to because I'm not in a position to do it. I've at least shown one thing in my life at Arsenal, I've shown loyalty. I was in a very difficult position sometimes and I've always chosen Arsenal but one day it will stop. Is it today, is it tomorrow, is it in two years or is it before? I don't know but as long as I am here I'm ready to fight and give absolutely everything to the club I love. Not only because it's Arsenal but for its values and what this club means to people all over the world. This club has become a world brand, not only for its consistent achievements but also for its values and I'm ready to fight for that. I have always done in my life what I think in football is right and when I am wrong I stand up and I say sorry because I'm not perfect.
Understandably, you say all that with a great deal of pride. Again, it sounds like…
A great deal of pride because I know how the club has gone from when I arrived to what it is today. I am quite critical with myself but as well I have done some things right here.
Again, you don't sound like a man whose work is finished here?
Take the conclusions you want Geoff, I just focus on the next match.