Legendary former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has tipped the Gunners to break into the top four this year. He said this in an interview with The Guardian.
The Frenchman believes the North London club can be the surprise package of the season. He points to the fact that they have strengthened their defence and retained the key players who were already there. In his opinion, the Gunners have all the required ingredients to succeed and no significant weaknesses.
He hailed Mikel Arteta’s grip on the team and believes there is a good team spirit at the Emirates. He has gone one step further and said the Gunners can finish even higher than fourth place.
On being asked to give Mikel Arteta one piece of advice, he said:
“To continue to have a grip on the team, as he has at the moment. And to go to the end of his beliefs. I think there is a good team spirit and they have a good chance to do well. I believe it will not be very difficult to improve on the number of points they got last season. But I’m convinced Arsenal can be in the top four, if not more. Why not more? They can be the surprise package for me this year: they bought well, they strengthened the defence well. And they kept the players who were already there. In my last year I bought [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang, they kept him. They have every ingredient and no real weakness.”
The 70 year old said he wanted to cut his links with Arsenal completely after his departure because that’s what the club wanted as well. He decided not to go back to the Emirates to watch games but still follows Arsenal with the same passion.
On being asked about whether he felt he was leaving his life’s work when he departed Arsenal, he said:
“Yes, of course. It was the end of a love story. And when you cannot speak any more to the loved person, you can’t go to the training ground, you can’t go to the stadium. You just have to stay where you are. And I never did that [before] in my life. You do 22 years and then suddenly you stop. It was very difficult.”
“I wanted to cut my link with the club completely, because the club wanted that as well. So then I decided not to go back [to the stadium to watch matches]. But I still support Arsenal with the same passion. You work hard, you do as well as you can. And after you don’t cry, you don’t complain and you get on with it. Suffer in silence, and that’s what I did!”
His autobiography, My Life in Red and White, will be available soon and one thing that has been noticed is that he hasn’t mentioned his long time foe Jose Mourinho. He said he wanted the book to be a positive experience of life and didn’t want to make it about revenge, frustration or injustice.
On Mourinho not featuring in his book, he said:
“I didn’t want it to be a book of revenge or frustration or of injustice,” he says. “I didn’t want to show: ‘Well, he did that to me’ – all these things. But you know what happened in your life and you have to rise above that. I wanted it to be a positive experience of life. You cannot have the life I’ve had until now and be negative.”
Interestingly, Jose Mourinho sent in a question for the former Arsenal manager during his interview with The Guardian.
Mourinho: “I had the opportunity to get to know you at Uefa and Fifa meetings and dinners. With your culture and vision, I believe you have the qualities to be a top exec, such as a CEO or director of football, at a club. Would you have ever considered such a role at Arsenal or was your desire always to remain on the pitch?”
Wenger: “No, I would have considered being on the board at Arsenal as an adviser. I believe that honestly there is a deficit of knowledge in the big clubs of top, top-level competition and games of top-level sport. And I believe we have seen recently that there are many ways to be successful in football. For example, there’s the Bayern [Munich] way, where the whole success and continuity relies on people who know the values of the club, and they transfer that from generation to generation: Beckenbauer, Hoeness, Rummenigge. Or there are models in England of quick money and quick success. Both can work. I like the fact that a club is first an identity and has knowledge that is transferred from generation to generation. So that’s why I saw things that way.”