Arsene Wenger has admitted for the first time that he is considering roles other than management when he returns to football. A year has passed since Wenger left Arsenal, and the Frenchman initially felt he would soon be back in a dugout elsewhere.
The 69-year-old has had offers from all over the world during that 12 months, with Ligue 1 side Lyon the latest in a long line of clubs linked. Yet Wenger’s focus has shifted considerably since his emotional farewell from the Emirates.
“I worked for 40 years in management. You cannot say you walk out and you don’t miss it,” he said. “Originally I said I want to manage straight away again. After that I thought maybe I’ll take a little distance. I came to the conclusion that I want to share what I learned in my life. Because life is only useful if at some stage you share what you know.”
“I will go back into football for sure. In what position I don’t know, whether that is as a manager or not. The appetite, the desire, is still there. I know what kind of life I have in front of me so I have to decide that now.”
In London to announce a new venture with leading international football-tech company PlayerMaker, Wenger looks as fit as a fiddle – he runs 10km every day – and is enjoying his occasional stints as a TV pundit, although never Arsenal “because everything I say will be interpreted in a certain way”.
Wenger revolutionised coaching when he arrived at Arsenal in 1996, breaking new ground in technology, diet and sports science.
So it seems appropriate that he should be investing in PlayerMaker’s new in-boot motion sensor which tracks all technical, tactical, biomechanical and physical movements of players, on and off the ball.
“Science can help make players stronger when used with data well – you can measure everything, after that it’s about how you use it,” he said. “I believe that PlayerMaker is the best available solution to measure performance.”
Still immersed in football, Wenger now watches the Gunners “like a fan”. He added: “I support Arsenal and that will be forever. They are my club. I have given my life to this club, but I managed quite well to focus on something different.
“I don’t judge. I’m happy when they win and not happy when they don’t play well. But after that I try to really take a distance with it.”
Like most, Wenger is unimpressed that Arsenal and Chelsea, and their fans, have to trek all the way to Baku in Azerbaijan for next week’s Europa League final, and that Gunners midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan felt compelled not to travel for security reasons.
“That’s something that should not happen in football, in the modern world, that politically you cannot play a football game,” he said. “It’s a little bit of a nightmare. It’s the same for both teams, always. A final is a final. I don’t think it will affect them. The teams do not have such a problem, they live in ideal conditions, they have a private jet, they have nice business seats. It’s the fans.”