Arsène Wenger is 66 years old and nearing the end of his current contract with Arsenal. The bell is starting to toll— and Wenger thinks it may be tolling for him.
“My contract runs until the end of the season. What I will do after will depend a little bit on how the season goes,” the Arsenal manager said in an interview with BBC Radio.
This comes on the heels of comments made earlier today at the Premier League’s media day ahead of the opening weekend. Speaking to reporters, Wenger said he felt “regret and guilt” over losing the Premier League title to Leicester City. He’s come under tremendous pressure from fans over the past few seasons in light of the club’s failure to produce another league championship in more than a decade, and the fact that a scrappy outfit like Leicester were able to barnstorm their way to a title did nothing but amplify that criticism.
Wenger, of course, is perfectly aware of this.
”Who expected Leicester to be champion last season? Nobody. So you would say today to take into account seven or eight teams who can win it. There is always a surprising team, and then you have six or seven big clubs who have the ambition to win it. All the big clubs experienced last season a regret and a feeling of guilt but that would take something away from Leicester, who had an exceptional season. [...] [There is] guilt because you would not have predicted Leicester win the league, so all the other teams would say: ‘We should have come in front of Leicester.’ You would understand you could lose against City, United, Liverpool or Tottenham – not Tottenham! – the other big clubs, but you should beat Leicester. But they had an exceptional season and you have to congratulate them.”
The Frenchman was linked with the England job earlier this summer. It was ultimately handed to Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce, who’s under contract until at least the 2018 World Cup. If Wenger does leave next summer, it’s unclear where he would go next, or, indeed, whether he would remain in football.
He had previously characterized his ties to football as an addiction and indicated he would want to leave football (or at least Arsenal) before it became too difficult to do so. He mentioned having a drink with Sir Alex Ferguson the season after he retired and asking the legendary United manager if he missed being on the touchline, to which Fergie answered “not at all.” He said he couldn’t understand feeling that way, and that he can scarcely imagine life without football.
“It’s been my life and, honestly, I’m quite scared of the day. The longer I wait, the more difficult it will be and the more difficult it will be to lose the addiction.”
Wenger’s potentially final season with Arsenal kicks off on Sunday when the Gunners host Liverpool.