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One of the most decorated managers in English football, Arsene Wenger has claimed that staying at Arsenal for 22 years was perhaps the biggest mistake of his managerial career.
In an interview with French radio network RTL, Wenger was asked about the biggest mistake of his managerial career. The 68-year old replied, “Perhaps staying at the same club for 22 years. I am someone who likes to move around a lot, but I also like a challenge. I’ve been a prisoner of my own challenge at times.”
Wenger also said that stressing Arsenal’s on-field development had an adverse effect on his personal life. He said, I regret having sacrificed everything I did because I realise I’ve hurt a lot of people around me. I’ve neglected a lot of people. I’ve neglected my family, I’ve neglected many close ones.”
“Deep down though, the obsessed man is selfish in his pursuit of what he loves. He ignores a lot of other things. But it’s a bone to chase at the same time. Often, I’m asked if Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira will be good managers and I always answer yes. They have all the qualities; they’re intelligent, they know football, they have excellent skillset, but do they want to sacrifice what needs to be sacrificed. It’s an obsession which bounces around your head day and night.”
“You wake up at 3am thinking about team selection, tactics, formation…” Wenger also revealed that he turned down offers to manage the French national team. “Yes, I’ve had the opportunity numerous times to be France manager. I’m not sure if it was before or after Domenech,” said the Frenchman.
Arsene Wenger also said that at present, he is thinking about his options including going into international management and will make a call on his future in the coming few months. He said, “It is a question I’ve been asking myself, if I should become a national team manager. A national team manager takes charge of ten games per year. In a club, you take charge of 60. My drug is the next match, so…”
Arsene Wenger came to Arsenal in 1996 and won three league titles. Regarding Arsenal’s dream run in 2003-04, Wenger said, “Effectively we were unbeaten for a year and a half. 49 games. It’s an interesting detail because when we won the title in 2002 I told the press my dream was to win the title unbeaten.”
“I got lambasted as pretentious, arrogant etcetera. We lost the title the next season to Manchester United. In 2003/04, I asked the players why we didn’t win the title. They said, ‘it’s your fault’. I asked why.
“They said: ‘you put too much pressure on us.’ And it’s interesting because I told them the only reason I said it was because I truly believed it. And then they did it. Which proves two things. “One, sometimes we don’t put the level of ambition high enough. We don’t dare, we’re scared. But you must set the bar as high as possible. Two, sometimes you must plant the seed and wait for it to grow.”