Fru­gal Wenger scared to re­tire

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport Starts Here -

CAPE TOWN — Arsene Wenger has re­vealed he is “scared” of re­tir­ing while ex­plain­ing his pref­er­ence for scout­ing in the lower leagues in search of play­ers hun­gry for suc­cess.

Much has been made of the Arse­nal man­ager’s seem­ing re­luc­tance to spend the club’s money, with the debt in­curred by mov­ing to the Emi­rates Sta­dium the rea­son for the French­man’s ap­par­ent in­abil­ity to com­pete with the likes of Manch­ester City and Chelsea in the trans­fer mar­ket.

But de­spite a num­ber of high-pro­file sign­ings in re­cent sea­sons, in­clud­ing record-sign­ing Me­sut Ozil for £42.5 mil­lion and Granit Xhaka for £33m this term, fans feel Wenger has been overly pru­dent, lead­ing to con­sis­tent calls for his exit.

Wenger, who last won the Premier League ti­tle in 2004, has just one more year on his cur­rent con­tract, hav­ing been at the club since 1996, but is not look­ing for­ward to the time he has to call it quits.

He told the Guardian: “It’s been my life and, hon­estly, I’m quite scared of the day. The longer I wait, the more dif­fi­cult it will be and the more dif­fi­cult it will be to lose the ad­dic­tion.

“Af­ter Alex [Fer­gu­son] re­tired and we played them over there [at Manch­ester United] he sent a mes­sage to me to come up and have a drink with him. I asked: ‘Do you miss it?’ He said: ‘Not at all.’ I didn’t un­der­stand that.

“It’s an empti­ness in your life, es­pe­cially when you’ve lived your whole life wait­ing for the next game and try­ing to win it.”

Wenger also re­vealed that the re­cent sea­sons have taken their toll on him as he tried to jug­gle man­ag­ing the club’s bud­get with en­sur­ing his team qual­i­fied for the Cham­pi­ons League each year.

“We had to pay back the debt. We knew we had lim­ited money and we had to be in the Cham­pi­ons League to have a chance to pay off the debt,” he added.

“That was the most dif­fi­cult pe­riod for me. For a while it was very bad, but to­day the club is fi­nan­cially safe.”

Wenger also ex­plained that it is his pref­er­ence to scour the lower leagues for tal­ented young­sters ea­ger to make it in the game.

“I’ve fought all my life for foot­ballers to make money but when you pay them be­fore they pro­duce it can kill the hunger,” he said.

“I’m scared we now have play­ers un­der 17, un­der 18, who make £1m a year. When Ian Wright was earn­ing that, he’d scored goals, he’d put his body on the line. Now, be­fore they start, they are mil­lion­aires - a young player who has not even played.

“What I think will hap­pen is that you will have more and more play­ers com­ing out of the lower leagues who have had to fight their way through.

“Com­pare that with a player who has been ed­u­cated here, who has had Cham­pi­ons League for 17 years, who has not known any­thing else. It’s not a dream [for that player], it’s nor­mal for him.

“But if you play for a team in the lower leagues and watch Real Madrid or Barcelona on Wed­nes­day nights you think: ‘I’d love to play in games like that.’

“I’ve said to our scouts to do the lower leagues be­cause the good play­ers are there now. Don’t for­get we have many for­eign play­ers in the Premier League, but good English play­ers have to go down to de­velop.”— Sport24.

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