Last Updated: 31/05/17 2:49pm
Arsene Wenger has pledged his future to Arsenal following months of speculation, signing a two-year contract extension.
The Gunners confirmed the 67-year-old’s new deal on Wednesday, with majority owner Stan Kroenke describing Wenger as the “best person” for the job.
Wenger ended a turbulent campaign on a high by defeating Chelsea 2-1 in the FA Cup final on Saturday and has since give this exclusive interview to the club’s website after signing his new contract…
Arsene, you and the club have signed a new two-year contract. It’s a big moment, how are you feeling about it?
I’m happy and excited. Happy because I can work where I love to be. As well because this club cherishes the values I love. I’m excited because I believe that our end of season is a big springboard to go for more. We have created a dynamic that is very positive and we want to build on that and transfer that positive end of season [form] to the new season.
In the end, was it an easy decision or a difficult decision?
For me it’s always easy on a loving affair because I identify myself so much with the club. When you can be where you love to be, that’s easy. It’s difficult because you want to respond to the demands of all the people who love this club. This is of course a job that demands 100 per cent commitment and you want to be at that level to make sure you can make everyone happy.
What’s your message to the fans after signing up for two more years?
The message to the fans is in aid of the club. Let’s be together to support our players, to support the club and all give our absolute best to be at the level that we want to be. We can move up to the next level, I’m convinced of that, by having faith in the way we want to play football and by supporting the players we have already. Of course we’ll try to strengthen our squad to be stronger next season, but we want to be faithful to the way we want to play the game. We want to support this way [of playing] all together.
What’s the owner said to you about our ambitions?
They are of course unlimited, our ambitions. We live in a very competitive world where you need the support of the owner as well. He’s highly ambitious and supportive as well so, on that front, we are all united with exactly the same targets.
When you look back at the 2016/17 season, how do you view it as a whole?
As a whole, I think the first part of the season was very positive. We went 20 games unbeaten, including the Champions League, and we finished top of the group in the Champions League. After that, the turning point was maybe the Everton and Manchester City games where we dropped our level away from home a little bit. We were unbeaten away from home for a long, long time.
The negative side and other turning points were certainly the Bayern Munich games where we had very positive results at half-time but at the end of the game we were very frustrated. [It was] under very special circumstances but it deeply affected the confidence of the team. I believe the outside uncertainty over my situation had an impact on the team as well, and after that I think we regrouped.
We could have been divided but we have shown great resilience and were united to bounce back very strongly. We finished the season in a very convincing way. We won 10 of our last 11 games and that is absolutely difficult. We played against all the difficult opponents, so we finished the season in a very strong way with a very strong dynamic. That’s why I told you that we want to transfer that into the new season.
In terms of the playing squad, what changes do you expect this summer?
First of all, we have a very heavy squad at the moment so maybe we might lose some players. We want to keep the strength we have and build on that. We will work very hard to find the additions of top, top quality. I believe that our squad is very strong and we will only look for top-class people who can strengthen our team now. The basis is there so we need the additions who will make a real difference.
What must Wenger change?
Arsene Wenger will be staying on as Arsenal manager – but how can he improve the team next season?
Are you looking at any particular areas of the team?
First of all, we look at the top, top quality available. We have seen in the recent games against Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United that we are a very strong team. For us it’s very important that we only consider the players who can really make a difference, no matter where it is.
What other changes do you expect? Maybe on the non-playing side for example…
On that front, we always want to be better. We live in a very competitive world where everybody tries to get better. We look to be stronger everywhere. We want to perform better in every department, so of course we want to have the best team around the team. We look at everything. We forget that we have top-quality people already and, if you look closely at the players who left us, every player who came here became a better player. We have a very good record with the team and the improvement of the players here. We have to continue that but we are also looking everywhere to become even better.