Wenger wouldn’t swap Emirates for silverware

Arsene Wenger insists he would not swap the Emirates Stadium for winning more silverware, arguing the club had no option but to leave Highbury.

Wenger wouldn’t swap Emirates for silverware

The Frenchman will take charge of the Gunners for the final time after almost 22 years at the helm when they travel to Huddersfield on the last day of the Premier League season tomorrow.

In what has proved the worst season under the 68-year-old since he took charge in 1996, Arsenal will finish sixth and without a trophy as Wenger exits empty-handed.

Wenger described the period after the move to the Emirates, when finances were especially tight, as the time when he did his “best job” for the club.

And even though the relocation possibly cost him the chance to leave Arsenal with even more silverware, he admits it was a move that had to be made.

There is no club that can turn people who wanted to attend the game down. At the time I thought we were a bit too ambitious with 60,000 (capacity) but at the end of the day it worked,” he said.

“It’s not really happened because other clubs have used outside resources. We had a double handicap. We had to pay back the debt and had to face the competition where clubs have even more resources than they usually have.

“I believe Highbury had a special spirit. It’s a cathedral, a church. You could smell the soul of every guy that played there. So it was special. It will always be special for me.

“The Emirates for me was like buying a new house. It took us a while to feel at home there.

“It’s a fantastic stadium — but there was something special at Highbury that you could never recreate when you build something new.

“I would say personally from 2006 to 2015 it was certainly the period where I needed to be the strongest and did the best job,” he added.

“I personally feel I did my best job in that period. Not the most glamorous maybe, but the most difficult.

I signed for five years accepting it will be more limited resources. When you have that you have less good players.

Paying tribute to Wenger, Huddersfield manager David Wagner said: “Words don’t describe enough how big this achievement is, what he has done for his football club and football in this country.

“I’m so happy that we are able to host him in his last Premier League game after 22 years, that we are able to host him in these circumstances.

“We really can give him all the honour and all the attention he deserves.”

Meanwhile, Arsenal have suspended of two of their academy coaches pending an investigation into allegations of bullying.

The pair, whom the club have not named, are widely reported to be U23 team coaches Steve Gatting and Carl Laraman.

An Arsenal spokesperson said: “We have suspended two coaches and launched an investigation following complaints from some players.

“These are private matters and we will not discuss any further detail.”

Arsenal’s U23 team won this season’s Premier League 2 title but were beaten by Porto in the International Cup final at West Ham on Tuesday night.

More in this section


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox