Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has admitted he is ‘quite scared’ of retiring, and doesn’t understand how managers such as Sir Alex Ferguson have managed to cope so well with life after football.
Wenger has been in charge of the Gunners for almost 20 years, with his contract set to expire at the end of the season.
But the 66-year-old does not seem ready to quit quite yet, comparing his love of the sport to an ‘addiction’.
‘It’s been my life and, honestly, I’m quite scared of the day,’ Wenger admitted when interviewed by Alan Curbishley for a new book, Game Changers. ‘The longer I wait, the more difficult it will be and the more difficult it will be to lose the addiction.
‘After Alex 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 will be hoping to guide Arsenal to what would be his fourth Premier League title before he ends his career, but he has been reluctant to spend big to improve his squad this summer.
And the Frenchman has insisted that is because a manager should treat the club’s money as if it were in their own account.
‘I personally believe the only way to be a manager is to spend the club’s money as if it were your own because if you don’t do that you’re susceptible to too many mistakes,’ he added.
‘You make big decisions and I believe you have to act like it’s your own money, like you’re the owner of the club and you can identify completely with the club. Because if you don’t do that I think you cannot go far.’
Wenger also believes that overpaying players too early in their career can ‘kill the hunger’ before youngsters have proved themselves at the highest level.
‘I’ve fought all my life for footballers to make money but when you pay them before they produce it can kill the hunger. 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.’
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