Interview

‘Like every fan… I just want Arsenal to win’

Arsène Wenger was rightfully named a 'Legend of Football' at the annual Nordoff Robins charity award dinner on Monday.

Our former manager was joined by a number of club icons that he coached during his 22 years in charge, including Robert Pires, Freddie Ljungberg and Ray Parlour, to celebrate his incredible contribution to the sport.
 
We caught up with Wenger on the red carpet. This is what he said:
 
Arsène, good to see you again. When you spoke to the fans after your last home game you said, 'I am like you, I am an Arsenal fan'. So how has it been to be an Arsenal fan?
Ups and downs, like for every fan! I don't judge too much, I just want Arsenal to win and play well because for me, winning is the consequence of the quality of the game, of the quality of the football you play. So I am more attentive to how the players develop, how the young players come up and how we play football.

How often do you get to see Arsenal and where are you watching from?
I've watched them on television until now, I've not been back to the Emirates and overall I might one day go again to watch it, but I had two distinctive periods. One at Highbury was a big love story as well and after as well, preparing the future of the club. That was at the Emirates, where we had of course this idea to extend the potential of the club and I think today the club is financially in a very strong position.
 
You talk about the development of players at Arsenal, one of those is Matteo Guendouzi. What do you think of his potential both at Arsenal and international level with France?
He looks to be a good potential. I think there are many other players who have fantastic potential, who played already with me, like Joe Willock and you have Reiss Nelson. You have many players who come out and have a big potential and Guendouzi is one of them.

You must recognise a lot of the youngsters that are now breaking into the first team, so how proud does it make you to see Arsenal continuing that tradition?
It's part of our DNA at Arsenal. It has always been part of it, to give a chance. I think when you are manager and you can give a chance to a young boy, it's always fantastic. And when they can play at such a high level like Arsenal, it's even better.

You said at your final home game that you would miss Arsenal, but what are you finding time for away from the pitch that you couldn't when you were manager?
I have more time available, you know, I managed football clubs for 35 years without stopping for one minute. I never had one month off. I discovered that the freedom is not so bad! And sometimes, to have a bit more time to think about what you want to do and what you did is good as well.