After 20 years in the manager’s seat and nearly full control over the team to boot, it has widely been thought that Arsene Wenger, should he ever retire, would have a hand in picking Arsenal’s next manager. Having built and rebuilt the side for so long, one could understand the want to protect the legacy Wenger has made.
However, in an interview with beIN Sports, he insisted that isn’t true:
"I think it is very important in the club that everybody does what he is paid for.
"My job is to be the manager of the club and to be responsible for the style of play and the technical policy of the club. The board's responsibility will be to choose the next manager -- that is not my job.
"If they ask my opinion I will give it in an honest way, but it will not be me to choose the next manager. I'm not in their position, I am in my position.”
Wenger has often been described as pragmatic, but it is still a bit surprising there is no wish to guide Arsenal a little further than his contract. The board will likely ask his opinion and it will carry some real heft but this is a clear sign of respect Arsene has for the board of directors, likely a reason he has persisted so long.
It could also be an indication that Wenger is not thinking of leaving any time soon.
"I think I'm moving the club forward, and the way it is managed forward -- I'm quite confident on that.
"What will decide me to continue or not is the fact I feel people still want me to be there, the club still want me to be there and my conscience that I have done well or have not done well.
"That will be a decisive factor -- have I done well? Have we achieved what I wanted to achieve with this team? That will be at stake."
The sense of achievement for Arsenal have been a shifting thing. Four years ago, it was a drought from team that wasn’t good enough to meet expectations and looked to be left behind. A few FA Cups later, it is a team on the cusp of returning to the top if only they could add strength where they need it. They then blew a golden chance by joining 19 other teams in flubbing away a wide open title that ended up in Leicester City’s hands.
Now, Arsenal have opened the transfer funds, are renegotiating very competitive salaries and find themselves cruising on a rich vein of form. Arsene Wenger is definitely getting results that suggest the Frenchman isn’t done with success at the club. A contract extension for him seems more likely than ever before.
“I like to do what I do. Will I do something else one day? I don't know. But I'm not at the end of my knowledge or desire to do more and become better.
"The only thing that drives me on is I want to be a better manager [tomorrow] than I am today. As long as I have that, I don't want to stop my career. Even if I feel I don't do well [at Arsenal] I will manage somewhere else maybe. The disadvantage when you're getting older is that everyone asks you always, when will you stop? I don't know. I just try to do well and enjoy what I do."
As hard as it is to think of Wenger in another managerial role, it does seem even more impossible to think of him not managing at all. For now, there really is no reason for him to stop.