I will stay at Arsenal for life, says Arsene Wenger
Published 23:00 19/10/09 By By John Cross
Arsene Wenger celebrates his 60th birthday on Thursday - but has vowed never to retire as Arsenal manager.
Wenger insists the current team keeps him young as the Frenchman admitted he is ready to sign a new contract when his current deal expires in 2011.
Gunners boss Wenger, whose team have won seven games in a row, is likely to face a very different shareholders meeting at Thursday’s AGM after the frosty reception he got from some supporters at the end of last season.
But Wenger believes his young team will give him a very successful future and that is why he has no intention of standing down while he is still able to work as a top flight manager.
Wenger said: “I’d never want to go anywhere else. Touch wood, as long as I have my health, I would want to work as long as I live but adapted to my potential.
“It doesn’t always need to be physical work, it can be more intellectual. You cannot be 75 and on the pitch, although someone like Trapattoni has done well.
“I am in a job where you always look in front of you. Unfortunately, the older you get, the less distance there is in front of you.
“But football is exciting because when you have a team like I have now, it is absolutely exciting because you know that there is potential in this team and it’s down to me to get it out.
“This team keeps me young. I believe as well, it’s a state of mind. People at 40 can be young physically but old mentally.
“This job helps you because you never have any certainty, you always question things and you always have to question yourself and I believe that’s the basis of staying young in your head.
“As you get older, everybody will tell you there is a big contrast, massive contrast, between how you look and how you feel.
“I have to, from now on, assess myself every two years because in this job, with the way I work, it’s very hands-on. You cannot delegate a lot so it is hard work.”
Wenger will be entitled to a free bus pass for his birthday. But his only indulgence will be a bottle of fine red wine and will just stay at home to watch one of the Europa League games on TV.
But Wenger admits he does expect an easier ride at the AGM than he got from a shareholders’ meeting in May after a fourth season without a trophy.
Wenger said: “I’m convinced that the fans believe we have a chance this season, and that was not the case last season. It’s always better to have an AGM at the start of the season.
“My birthday will be very quiet. I have the AGM and we have a big game on Sunday again and Thursday night is the Europa League with the fifth referee system. They (referees) are responsible for my ageing so I have to watch that!”
Wenger has yet to start discussing a new contract and will probably only do so next season but Arsenal are certain to want to keep their most successful ever manager.
Sir Alex Ferguson is still going strong at 67 while Wenger clearly believes he is on the brink of a new era of success.
At the centre of that bright future is Robin van Persie who has already committed his long term future and Wenger yesterday likened the in-form striker to Dutch legend Marco van Basten ahead of tonight’s Champions League clash.
Wenger, who has made van Persie his main striker after the departure of Emmanuel Adebayor, added: “Robin much stronger physically now. I think he’s a Van Basten type, by which I mean he’s a technical centre-forward.
“He has that classy first touch, sharp movement and a short back-lift. I always thought he was more a main striker than second striker.
“I love him there I must say, because he has a brain, he can play others in and he can score. His movement is intelligent around the box and if we score a lot of goals a big part is down to him.
“Look at the goal we scored on Saturday against Birmingham. You can say it was a bit lucky, but you need a specialist soft touch to control the ball in that situation.
“With a normal player the ball goes five yards away, but with his second touch he puts it straight back on his left leg and scores.”