• Champions League

Wenger exit hint: You'll miss me when I'm gone

ESPN staff
February 19, 2013
Watch Arsene Wenger flip his lid at journalists

Arsene Wenger opened the door to his possible exit from Arsenal after he claimed, "You will miss me when I'm gone", as his latest press conference appearance continued to create explosive headlines.

Wenger caused a storm with his confrontational approach towards the broadcast media section of his press briefing for Tuesday's Champions League game against Bayern Munich and continued to shoot from the hip when he sat down with the written media moments later.

After losing his temper with reporters who asked whether reports of him signing a new contract to extend his historic reign as Arsenal boss were true, his response to questions from newspaper reporters gave the broadest hint yet he will not stay at the club beyond the end of his current deal, which runs out next year.

"I am sure you would miss me when I am gone," said a sarcastic Wenger. "When we lose to Blackburn at home, I am not sure that is your first worry.

"My contract ends in 2014. I will have completed 30 years without interruption at top level. While I may not be quality, I have commitment for sure. One day I will give you the list [of clubs] I have not signed for and you will see that I am committed to this club.

"You can criticise me and say I'm a bad manager. I'd never come back to you on that. When you criticise [our position in the table] then it is true. I can only say I am sorry, you are right, we are far too far away from Manchester United.

"We are of course criticised for that, but we are not the only ones. Some clubs have invested more money than us for years and they are behind as well. We accept that kind of criticism. I just think that when I worked for 16 years in this country I expect a certain respect."

Wenger's on-screen rant a few moments earlier was viewed by many as a sign that the pressure is beginning to tell on the 63-year-old Arsenal boss, who has come under sustained attack by fans and media alike after Saturday's FA Cup defeat at the hands of Blackburn.

Yet as his briefing with the written press continued, it was clear that Wenger was harking back to increasingly distant glories in a bid to cover up his current failings.

"We are the only team in England who have played the season unbeaten. It's very difficult to do," he protested, recalling the achievements of his magnificent team from the 2003/04 season.

"In Europe, we have beaten everybody, which is what people forget and we are the only team that has gone into a Champions League final without conceding a goal (in 2006), despite the fact that we have never had a good defensive record.

"Only two teams have qualified from England for the Champions League [last-16] so many would swap with us now. We have a good team. I believe in their quality and they will show that one day.

"We fight the whole season against everybody hunting here [in press conferences]. 'The players are not good enough, buy players and all that', but one day, you will realise this team has fantastic qualities. I want to protect the players to make sure they go into the game in good conditions."

Wenger went on to challenge his players to defy their critics and turn in a winning performance against runaway Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich, but it remains to be seen whether the Arsenal boss who was once famous for boasting an ice cool temperament remains fully in control of his emotions after a day when the world saw him reacting like never before.

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