Arsene Wenger has revealed that the long farewell to his reign as Arsenal manager has not been a completely enjoyable experience.
The Frenchman will take charge of his final Arsenal game when his side travel to face Huddersfield on Sunday, bringing down the curtain on almost 22 years at the helm.
The club announced he would be leaving back on April 20 with the Gunners still in the Europa League semi-finals and with five Premier League games remaining. Since then, the Europa League clash with Atletico Madrid was lost 2-1 on aggregate while the club are still without an away league point in 2018 following defeats at Manchester United and Leicester.
Home victories over West Ham and Burnley, the latter followed by a special on-pitch presentation to Wenger to mark his final match in charge at the Emirates Stadium, have been high points but the outgoing 68-year-old conceded the drawn-out exit has also had negatives.
“I enjoyed some aspects of it, yes — and not all,” he said.
“It was not always easy to cut slowly with what you do everyday and always you want to do it as well as you can and you don’t want to forget to thank people who deserve it.
“There are some people here who I employed 20 years ago who did fight for me every single day so it is not easy to say goodbye.”
Wenger has signed his past two Arsenal contracts amid supporter unrest over his continued leadership — but on both occasions the deal has not been agreed until the end of the campaign.
The 68-year-old said he would have liked the same situation to occur this time as he prepares for his final game.
“Yes, of course,” he replied when asked if part of him wanted to wait until the end of the season.
“Because there was more questioning as well, you do not feel the same adhesion to what you do and when you stay here for such a long period you question yourself ‘is it time now to go or not?’ We live in a society where people want quick change and that has changed in recent years.”
Wenger has been keen to keep talk of his achievements and his impending exit down to a minimum and appeared almost embarrassed when presented with the commemorative golden ‘Invincibles’ Premier League trophy as his parting gift following the 5-0 thrashing of Burnley.
While there have been some infamous touchline bust-ups over his stay, Wenger admits he has had to “control the animal” inside him throughout his managerial career and that he is looking forward to rediscovering himself away from the game.
“I’m very passionate and at a very young age, I realised that if I wanted to survive in this job, I had to get control of my emotions or I wouldn’t survive,” he said.
“I don’t know if you can imagine, but at 33 years of age, I was responsible for a top team in France. I’m 68 today and I’ve never stopped.
“There’s a long learning process of controlling who you really are. Control the animal that is inside you. That helps me a lot.
“I went through some fantastic periods in my life, and as well some more difficult periods. The fact that I managed to keep control of my emotions and my reactions helped me a lot to do my job.
“Now, after I finish here, I can re-connect a little bit and be a bit more who I am really.”
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