Wenger Launches 'Impassioned Defence' Of His Arsenal Leadership At Press Conference
Arsenal coach ARSÈNE WENGER launched an "impassioned defence of his 16-year reign" at the club during a press conference Monday, according to Matt Hughes of the LONDON TIMES. Wenger "reacted angrily" to reports that he is to be offered a new two-year contract at the club, which he dismissed as a "cynical attempt to cause more unrest among supporters" leading up to Tuesday's Champions League clash against Bayern Munich at the Emirates Stadium. The Frenchman "lost his temper on several occasions during a heated press conference," which was dominated by his "repeated assertion that he deserves to be treated with greater respect." Wenger said, "I am not a conspiracy theorist. I am 30 years in this job and if I was paranoid you would know it already. I just think that when I worked for 16 years in the country I expect a certain respect. You can criticize me and say I am doing a bad job, but manipulative things when they are wrong, I don’t accept" (LONDON TIMES, 2/18).
HEATED PRESS CONFERENCE: In London, Jeremy Wilson wrote Wenger then asked why one of the journalists present was looking at him, to which the reporter replied "because it's your press conference." Wenger believes his team have been "insulted by anyone deeming them as a second string." Wenger said, "I've been accused of not taking the FA Cup seriously. I've won it four times. Tell me who has won it more than me. Tell me, one name" (TELEGRAPH, 2/18). In London, Olley & Rice reported Wenger looked at a journalist in the press conference and said: "I look at you not because you give information, I do not know if it is you. This is a pre-match conference for the Champions League. If we can get some questions about the game, that would be very nice." The summer transfer window “will arguably be the most pivotal transfer window in the club’s history” with the board prepared to back Wenger with £70M ($109M) as a new Emirates shirt-sponsorship deal kicks in. The payment structure of that deal was front-loaded, meaning Arsenal can expect a £30M ($47M) windfall from that tie-up alone this summer. The Gunners have cash reserves of around £150M ($233M), but after deductions for contingency planning -- including a season without Champions League football -- and running costs, Arsenal still has around £40M ($62M) available "to spend on players" (INDEPENDENT, 2/18).
STAYING PUT: In London, James Olley reported it remains unlikely that Wenger "will leave the club this summer despite planned protests by fans and regardless of whether Arsenal fail to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in his 16-year tenure." Club CEO IVAN GAZIDIS said in September that the club was "happy to extend Wenger's contract but talks were yet to be held and that position has not changed." Majority shareholder STAN KROENKE and Gazidis "remain staunch supporters of Wenger's philosophy, believing their policy of self-sustainability will finally reap dividends this summer" (EVENING STANDARD, 2/18).