Arsene Wenger turns 67 on Saturday, but do not expect any fanfare from the phlegmatic Frenchman.
The Arsenal manager’s focus is entirely trained on the Middlesbrough match, although he does admit that each passing year makes him think about what the future holds.
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“It’s like being a player. Once you get to a certain age, you have a bad game and [the critics] think ‘you have to go’. That’s why the demands are even higher than before,” Wenger said.
“Your age quickly becomes a psychological excuse to get rid of you. I live in a competitive world and it’s down to what I produce that has to be judged. My age should not interfere with that. But if you don’t do well, the age quickly becomes the problem.
“I believe that you forget your age [yourself] if you are in good health and all the rest inside you is a love for competition and a love to improve every day. That is the most important. After that, age is age. You have to live with that.
“I focus on Middlesbrough and how to win the game. I do not focus on my age. I never liked the retirement word. We are there to be active and to fight. Life is no other issue than to fight until the last day of your life as much as you can.”
Wenger says Saturday’s result is central to how he will remember his birthday,
“The result is 99 per cent of my celebration!” he said. “I have nothing planned. Watch a game at night. Our happiness is linked with our last result, not with our birthday. That is what a manager’s life is about.
“I said that if God exists and one day I go up there, he will ask ‘Do you want to come in? What have you done in your life?’ And the only answer I will have is, ‘I tried to win football games.’ He will say, ‘Is that all you have done?’ and the only answer I will have is, ‘It’s not as easy as it looks!’”
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