Belfast Telegraph

Monday 29 December 2014

Wenger: I want to stay forever

Arsene Wenger has no intention of leaving Arsenal
Arsene Wenger has no intention of leaving Arsenal

Arsene Wenger believes he was right to turn down the likes of Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Paris St Germain and even the England job to stay on as Arsenal manager for 17 years - and would welcome ending his coaching career at the Emirates Stadium.

The Frenchman, who will turn 64 next month, has received the full backing of owner Stan Kroenke as his young team look to deliver a first trophy since 2005 with the London club embarking on what they hope will be a new chapter backed by increased financial resources, which helped secure the record £43million signing of Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid.

Following the disappointment of an opening-day 3-1 home defeat by Aston Villa, Wenger has since guided Arsenal safely into the group stages of the Champions League, to the top of the Barclays Premier League table and on Wednesday night saw the next generation come through a penalty shoot-out in the Capital One Cup at West Brom.

Wenger remains relaxed about his own long-term future, but made it clear he would have no issue with signing on again for the Gunners.

"Yes I turned many offers down because I rate what I've got here and I always thought that this club is special on that front. In our job it is important to know what you want and I rated the qualities that this club has always shown," said Wenger, who takes his side to Swansea for Saturday afternoon's late kick-off.

"I am very grateful to this club because during the 17 years we had ups and downs. They have always shown a big faith in me and they always let me do the job like I thought it had to be done, and if I am still here today it is because I got that consistent support from inside the club.

"Honestly, I would love to be here forever because that would mean I would be immortal! I am (though) not naive enough to believe that. What I would like to do as long as I am here is give my best for this club because I love this club, of course."

Wenger added: "I am very honoured to have the support of Stan Kroenke. That he thinks I can help the club is a huge confidence vote. That is something for me that is very positive."

On the continuing negotiations, he said: "(We will do it) when we find time. I don't think that is the most important problem at the moment.

"The good thing with me, if I have one quality, (it is that) you don't need a lot of talks to extend the contract I have.

"I want to focus on the quality of our season.

"I want to feel that I do well and then the question of me staying will be secondary after that."

The arrival of the relatively unheralded former Monaco and Nagoya Grampus Eight coach was met by headlines of "Arsene Who?" when he succeeded Bruce Rioch in September 1996.

Wenger, though, has no intentions of revelling in a bit of nostalgia ahead of what is set to be a testing encounter at the Liberty Stadium.

''Our job has a good advantage - you just look forward to the next game," he said.

Arsenal head to Swansea looking to stay top of the table after four straight league wins.

Former Cardiff midfielder Aaron Ramsey is set to have a fitness test on a thigh problem, as is Mathieu Flamini (shoulder).

England forward Theo Walcott, meanwhile, faces more than a month of rehabilitation after a minor procedure on an abdominal problem.

Last season, Arsenal battled to a 2-2 draw at Swansea in the FA Cup third round, before going through on a replay, and then won 2-0 in Wales when the home side had just celebrated winning the Capital One Cup.

"Swansea are a team now where the level of expectation is higher than the year before, so of course everybody wants them to be performing in the top seven or eight, what I think they have the quality to do," said Wenger, whose side were beaten 2-0 at home by Swansea in their Premier League game on December 1.

"Overall they buy well, they play attractive football. Swansea is a very, very good team."

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