Interview

‘We try to dominate this animal but we can’t’

Whether it’s your first game as a fan or your 811th as a Premier League manager, football has an enduring ability to thrill and surprise.

And that’s what keeps Arsene Wenger coming back for more.

Those moments - from cup-winning headers and emotional comebacks to a three-goal burst in five minutes - are what football fans live off. And there’s no bigger fan than the boss.

“That’s why it’s never boring,” he told Arsenal.com as he prepares to break Sir Alex Ferguson’s Premier League record at West Bromwich Albion on New Year’s Eve.

“No matter how long you are in this game you cannot predict what will happen and that’s why we come back for more. We try to dominate this animal, but we never manage to do it completely.”

Wenger hasn’t spoken to his old rival about eclipsing his mark of 810 games as a Premier League manager. But there’s no doubting their mutual respect.

“I have not been on the phone with [Sir Alex], we had other things to do!” said Wenger. “I saw that he was at the Manchester United game this week, but it is always a pleasure to meet each other now.

“We don’t compete anymore and it was always a big rivalry of course, but overall I believe that we tried to have a positive attitude towards the game and to get our teams to play in a positive way.

“We have a similar passion, different personalities of course, but I respect and admire Ferguson for what he has done and for his high desire to win. That is why is is an achievement to have lasted for such a long time, similar to what he has done.”

Lasting for a long time is not a label you can attach to many top-flight managers these days. So does Wenger see himself as a rarity?

“Yes,” he said. “We always come back to the same thing: I feel that the most important thing is that competent people and technical stability is absolutely vital for a club. You need people to carry the values of the club for generations.

“If you change all the 20 managers in the middle of the season, you will still have three teams who go down and only one champion.

“We see now the pressure is on every club to change their manager very quickly and then people sit there but who [comes next]? You can see most of the time they turn to managers who have been sacked somewhere else, so it is a problem.

“The most important thing today is to be strong inside clubs to resist that kind of pressure and stress.”

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