Arsene Wenger believes he has figured out the highs and lows of football management after Barcelona’s ecstasy and his team’s agony — by coming up with his own secret formula.
The Arsenal boss remains under huge pressure after a run of five defeats in seven games and with questions still being asked over his future at the Emirates Stadium.
Wenger’s contract expires at the end of the season and he insists he has yet to make a decision on whether to sign a new deal or leave the club he has managed for over 20 years.
Fans protested over his continued leadership ahead of Tuesday’s 5-1 Champions League thrashing at the hands of Bayern Munich, a result which saw the Gunners knocked out 10-2 on aggregate.
Barcelona then stunned the footballing world 24 hours later, overturning a four-goal deficit of their own to beat Paris St German 6-1 and advance into the quarter-finals along with Bayern.
Barcelona boss Luis Enrique had announced he would be leaving the Camp Nou at the end of the current campaign after coming in for criticism. While Wenger is yet to follow suit, the 67-year-old reckons he has boiled down football management to mathematics, though he would not show his workings.
“I feel all right, I feel very strong, very motivated, ready to give my best,” he said, when asked how he felt compared to Enrique, who had said he will be tired by the end of his tenure at the Camp Nou.
“It just sums it up that two weeks ago he (Enrique) was an idiot and everyone said: ‘You have to leave’, so he said: ‘Okay, I go’.
“Today he is a hero. That sums up the job. In fact I made an equation because I am a mathematical fan that I will give you one day. It’s not the right moment (to share it). I am sure you will enjoy it. It is an equation about a manager’s job. I made a formula.”
Wenger watched the record-breaking Barcelona comeback and admitted even he was left perplexed.
“I watched Barcelona. It was quite poor!” he joked. “I stayed there (watching it) because it is interesting on a psychological front to see how they respond. I looked more at it from a tactical point of view, what is going on mentally in the head of the players. At the end of the game even when you have been so long in football you sit there and think: ‘How could this happen?’.”
Wenger’s side had taken the lead on Tuesday as they looked to pull off their own mission improbable, but after Laurent Koscielny was sent off, the writing was on the wall. Despite leaking further goals to lead to their heaviest defeat at the Emirates, Wenger maintains he felt it was right to push on in the hope of achieving a miracle.
“I take that on myself,” he said when asked about the manner of Arsenal’s performance as they shipped four goals in 17 minutes.
“When you are 1-1 and down to 10 men and have to score four goals, you could sit there and think: ‘I could put three defenders on now’.
“But even if you put three defenders on you can still lose 5-1 when you are down to 10 men and the team knows you have no chance to score any goals. Or you have one chance in a million and you still try to play so that at least the people that come and watch you see you try to play football.
“I went for the second option. Yes I got slaughtered because it finished 5-1, but that is what I decided and I stand up for that.”
Wenger will take the opinion of ’s fans on board when deciding his future, with chairman Chips Keswick saying any decision will be a “mutual” one.
Keswick released a short statement on Arsenal’s website, acknowledging the discontent of some supporters, while insisting a knee-jerk decision on Wenger’s future would not be made.
“We are fully aware of the attention currently focused on the club and understand the debate,” said Keswick. “We respect that fans are entitled to their different individual opinions but we will always run this great football club with its best long-term interests at heart. Arsene has a contract until the end of the season. Any decisions will be made by us mutually and communicated at the right time in the right way.”
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