Arsene Wenger believes the uncertainty over his future should not be an “excuse” for any underperformance at Arsenal, and instead seemed to set a mental test for his players by saying that the circumstances should actually highlight who “can focus on what really matters”.
The 67-year-old again refused to publicly declare whether he is going to sign a two-year contract extension, but did give another hint he is likely to stay by stating he is “very clear in my mind” and that the reason there hasn’t been any announcement is because the situation is “not completely sorted out”.
As that goes on, Arsenal are currently in the worst run of results of Wenger’s entire time at the club, having lost four of their last five in the league. The manager denied that his future had anything to do with that, or is causing any instability, ahead of a tough fixture at home to Manchester City this weekend.
“No,” Wenger responded when asked whether his situation is affecting form. “The priority in life is always to focus on what is important and not to look for excuses. At the moment our results are not going the way we want, but as well we have to make sure that the priority for us is what happens on the pitch. Being professional is to perform on the football pitch and not to find escape excuses where I think there are not.
“Their job is to perform and for me to help them to perform and to develop as players. That is, for me, what matters really. Intelligence in life is to focus on what is important and that’s why I believe what is important for a football player is to perform on a football pitch and give absolutely everything to help the club and the team to perform. Especially in difficult periods, you need to see the difference of quality between people, with those who can focus on what really matters and what really matters at the moment is to stick tighter and show that we care about the end of our season, about this club and about our values that we stand up for.”
Wenger was naturally asked when he will announce what will happen with his future and, having joked about the amount of times that is brought up, did add a little more intrigue by stating that there are still details to finalise. Given the way he was speaking and stressing the clarity of his own mind, as well as the fact that him leaving would be more straightforward in terms of issues to “sort”, it was difficult not to infer this was another hint that he is likely to sign the contract extension.
“I’ve always been very clear in my mind. I will remain like that. I think it’s a subject that at the moment is not sorted completely out.”
Pressed on what that meant, Wenger said: “I have nothing more to add to that… I would not like to answer that debate again. There’s been press conferences about that and it’s not, at the moment, the most important subject at the club.”