By Tony Attwood
Arsène Wenger has confirmed that he was has offered the chance to manage Paris Saint-Germain multiple times, in the interviews leading up to tonight’s game.
PSG has long been thought to be after Mr Wenger and L’Equipe said yesterday that Mr Wenger was offered the job in 2011, 2013 and 2014. Mr Wenger of course is famously one of the few managers in the game who never breaks a contract (he even stayed in Japan to see the season through as champions, before joining Arsenal with the season already started) and who is keen to show that he can not only win doubles, and then keep the club in the top four while funding the new stadium, but also build another great team to match those of the earlier period of his managership.
In an interview Mr Wenger said that he stayed at Arsenal, “because I love where I am. I know well the owners at PSG, but I feel always I remained loyal to Arsenal Football Club because I think it’s a club that has the qualities I love. And, that’s why.”
Mr Wenger has also turned down the possibility to manage England this year and previously rejected approaches by Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Manchester City and the France national team. Indeed he has opted to stay at Arsenal even with some “fans” objecting to his presence at the club.
At the moment of course we don’t know if he will stay with Arsenal after the end of the current contract next June, but he has said several times now that he feels he has never had more strength in depth. Indeed this is the point made in earlier Untold articles where we noted that for the first time all 25 slots in the first team allocation have been taken up, while Chelsea, by way of example, have significantly smaller squads. (Although before anyone shouts we are all still waiting to see what the implication is of having Sanogo in the 25).
What is interesting in all this is that Mr Wenger is setting up a scenario where he is saying that he expects to succeed adding comments such as, “It’s the most mature squad I’ve had for a long time, because they are men. They are not 19 or 20 years old, they are 24, 27, 28 and the whole squad is quite mature. It’s the first time for a long time that I’ve had a team of what you can call men ready to compete.
“I was used to playing with my younger squads when you build a stadium because you don’t have the resources. Now I have a team with more experienced players. The squad is between 24 and 30. That’s where you have a good combination of physical strength and experience.”
He also has said that the early defeat and draw came about because of so many Arsenal players reaching at least the semi-finals of the Euros. And of course two of the players in the squad have only just arrived and are having to adjust to the speed, aggression plus the eccentric refereeing behaviour to be found in the premier league.
There has also been a lot of talk about Laurent Koscielny whose cost of £8.45 million in 2010 looks laughably small for a player of such stature now. But that is a typical Wenger ploy and allowed Mr Wenger to say, “Laurent has taken on a new status with us – I think he’s one of the best in the world.” “Mentally we are ready; physically we are not quite ready so far.”
Of course positivism is not the natural status of commentators looking at Arsenal in Europe despite year after year of qualifying beyond the group stages – something Man U and Chelsea can only dream of. Mr Linekar called Leicester’s draw “beautiful” (close by and no big clubs to play), but suspected that Tottenham will have problems playing at Wembley. (He seemed in interviews to be quite unaware Arsenal had trodden this ground years ago – but then research was never his forte).
His analysis of Arsenal is hardly worth bothering with, but then since many people say that of most of my writing, here it is anyway.
They are lovely to watch, great on the eye. On their day, they’re wonderful. But Arsenal cannot always dig out a result, and have not necessarily got presence. They have not got a [Sergio] Agüero or a [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic – or even Harry Kane if you like – one of those prolific goalscorers, and they have always been a little bit flimsy at the other end.
And then he was back to Leicester
I think Leicester will get cheered on in Europe more than any of the other English clubs because people have enjoyed the story and because people really, really, really like Claudio Ranieri. People will always follow their own team, but whereas generally we don’t like other teams to do well, I think Leicester will be a bit of an exception.
The latest team news is the Koscielny will play and Giroud will start. Granit surely will play having had a rest at the weekend.
- PSG v Arsenal – the early team news
- Is the PGMO trying to clean up its act or is it just slipping press releases to the Guardian?
- The fans: We are the dead, blindfolded, walking backwards into the darkness, led by those who treat us with contempt
- Are State Aid Utd getting into trouble? The difficulty with a new stadium you ain’t paid for.
From the Arsenal History Society
Arsenal in the 1930s – Probably the most detailed analysis ever published.
Recent series now completed…
- The First League Season, including a review of each player who played in that season
- Arsenal in the 1970s – the complete review of every game and every transfer
- Arsenal in the summer – the transfers, the friendlies, year by year
- Arsenal anniversaries – nearly 5000 entries
The full index to all the series is on Arsenal History Society Web Site