By Chris Harris
It's official: Arsène Wenger is stressed. But why wouldn't he be when his team is fighting for the Premier League title?
That was the Arsenal manager's response when he faced the media at the training ground on Friday after a week in which he has appeared increasingly agitated on the touchline.
Wenger remonstrated with officials after the 1-1 draw with Liverpool last Sunday before going through a gamut of emotions during Wednesday's pulsating 3-3 draw with Tottenham.
Another nail-biter could be on the cards at Bolton this weekend as Arsenal try to close the six-point gap on leaders Manchester United. And Wenger is not at all surprised that the title battle has created tension in the technical area.
"I’m stressed of course, you cannot care about things and not be stressed," said the manager. "And your stress as well is linked with the uncertainty level, and in football, the uncertainty level is very high.
"So that creates, of course, a tension, but I’m perfectly happy in my job. When I see my team play football on Wednesday night, I cannot be enjoying the game.
“I’m not as much prisoner of the whole tension created by the media. I can take a distance with that quite easily. Yes [I've had more to do this season] because we have been more under pressure because of the recent disappointments, but I’m not a victim of that.”
The stress of football management is high on the agenda after Gerard Houllier was taken ill and admitted to hospital in midweek. The Aston Villa manager is said to be "comfortable" but his condition is a reminder of the pressure on every top-level boss.
Wenger is well aware that football can be bad for your health but, like many others, he could not imagine doing anything else for a living. Even after seeing what it has done to his friend and compatriot.
"Houllier had a special accident already at Liverpool, you know, and he has chosen to come back into it," said Wenger.
"That means he knows as well that was not ideal for him, and I spoke with him about that. But, we are addicted, we have addictive personalities. I can't switch off - when you wake up at night it is there.
"But it would be more unhealthy to do nothing," he added. "The real stress is to have no stress. You choose between two evils.
"I never lived in a different way so it is very difficult for me to assess whether it is healthy or not healthy. That is my personality and how much does it damage my health? I don't know. Nobody knows."Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 22 Apr 2011