Wenger would like to hand over hotseat to former player

After spending 22 years in the spotlight as Arsenal manager there is a great sense of intrigue as to what comes next for Arsene Wenger.

Indeed just as people are wondering about what life will be like at Arsenal post-Wenger, it is hard not to consider what Wenger will be like after Arsenal.

It was a topic put to the Frenchman as he prepares for tonight’s crucial Europa League semi-final first leg with Atletico Madrid.

Wenger has revealed he may take a break before making his next move, describing himself as a man who plays Russian roulette every week but has now had his gun taken away.

It is a glimpse into the level of pressure the 68-year-old has been under during his time in north London, which in recent years has been dogged by fan unrest.

However, while some time away for reflection may be on the cards, a year’s sabbatical — like Luis Enrique and Pep Guardiola have had in the past — seems unlikely.

“I had no break for 35 years. In our job, you can look around, that doesn’t exist,” said Wenger.

“I don’t know now how addicted I am. I am a bit like a guy who plays Russian Roulette every week and suddenly has no gun anymore.

It’s long - a year, 365 days. I don’t know. I leave myself a little bit open and freedom to decide what I want to do with my life.

“At the moment I am focused on tomorrow. My job goes to May.

“Then I will go to the World Cup and see England win the World Cup. On penalties,” Wenger added with a smile.

“The timing was not really my decision,” Wenger said when quizzed as to why the announcement of his departure came at this point of the season.

“You’re never sure you do the right thing, but life is interesting because you have to deal with different kinds of situations. Until now, I had a life that was full of different experiences.

“Some were very difficult to deal with, but I always did it. That’s another one certainly I will face one day.”

When it comes to replacements for Arsenal’s most successful manager, there is no shortage of names being linked with the post and the candidates span a broad range of ages and nationalities.

The former Bayern Munich and Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti, who will be 59 in June, has been mentioned.

However, so have the young German pair of Domenico Tedesco and Julian Nagelsmann - both are under 33 years old.

Former Arsenal players such as Mikel Arteta and Patrick Vieira are said to be on the club’s shortlist too, while there is also the Italian and Spanish contingent of Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri and Luis Enrique.

“You will not be short of candidates. That shows you as well that the place is a good place,” said Wenger.

“Green outside, nice trees, good grass. Fantastic. No pollution. Until the press conference starts.”

The question is who will Arsenal turn to as they look to appoint their first manager since 1996.

Back then, the Gunners were incredibly bold as they plucked the then unknown Wenger from Japanese football and placed him in charge.

It was a gamble but one, even given the dip in form over recent years, that paid off handsomely.

Wenger will have no say on who replaces him, but he has told the club to not be afraid about being brave in their appointment again.

“They need to make the right decision, even if you have to be bold,” he added.

“That’s not exactly the same, so that’s what I wish, personally. Is it former people that worked here? That is even better. But there are many players who had qualities. Some of them are in the job. I don’t influence that choice but I will stand behind the decision.”

Tonight is set to be Wenger’s last ever European game at the Emirates and given that he has never won a European trophy at Arsenal, despite reaching two finals, it promises to be an emotionally charged affair given everything that has transpired over the past week.

However, the Frenchman is determined to not let emotion get in the way of what is a crucial game for the club.

Winning the Europa League would guarantee Arsenal a spot in next season’s Champions League and, even if he is leaving, Wenger wants to leave the club in as strong a position as possible.

“I wish that all goes well. You do not give 22 years of your life for something and you go away and want things to collapse. Not at my age,” Wenger said.

“Maybe when you have a big ego at 40 you think the world without you cannot live.

“At my age you understand that when you go, the world continues and you wish that it continues better. At least I think that the guy can work in a positive environment.

In my job, if there is one quality - you live always in extreme situations and you learn to dominate your emotions.

“When I started, I thought I would never survive in this job but I learned to keep control of myself.”

Wenger may want to take the emotion out of tonight’s tie, but the prospect of him lifting the Europa League trophy in Lyon next month as he walks away from Arsenal is as close to a fairytale ending as you can get.

Especially when you compare it to the alternative of a dead rubber away to Huddersfield on the final day of the Premier League season.

“Is there a perfect goodbye? First of all, I don’t know,” said Wenger.

“I tell you something: If we have to win the European Cup at Huddersfield I am ready. Huddersfield, I don’t mind.

“My whole life, I try to win football cups. European cup, championships, it doesn’t matter.”


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