Arsène Wenger has a managerial record to be proud of – but that doesn’t mean he’s satisfied.
The Frenchman takes charge of his 1,000th game at the Arsenal helm on Saturday having won 579 of the previous 999. That record has brought him seven major trophies over 17 years in north London but, for Wenger, it’s the 197 defeats that leave more of a mark.
“Satisfaction is not one of my greatest qualities,” he admitted.
“I cannot classify the moments of happiness and of sadness but what is for sure is that every defeat is a scar in your heart that you never forget.
“The happiness you forget quickly because you find it normal, because that’s what you work for. Unfortunately there is a lot of suffering as well in 1,000 games and what you want is the next moment of happiness.
I have shown loyalty and have turned many things down, and accepted to work with restricted potential
“You’re always expecting the next game and the next game hopefully will be a moment of happiness.”
Wenger has given plenty of happiness to Arsenal’s global fanbase since he moved to England as a relative unknown in September 1996. In that time he has transformed the Gunners, influenced English football and seen the game evolve into a very different beast.
“The game itself has become, maybe, more physical, faster, quicker, but especially the environment has changed and the pressures,” he said.
“The importance of football has become bigger, the multiple comments on every single event that happens in football has been multiplied. The pressure of the environment is of course bigger because we live in a society where we have more opinions, and maybe inside the club today you need to be stronger to resist all that, than when I arrived.”
Wenger accepts that Arsenal took a chance on him when they chose their successor to Bruce Rioch all those years ago. But Wenger in turn has shown unflinching loyalty.
“This club has given me a chance but I think as well, at an important period of the lifespan of this club, I have shown loyalty and have turned many things down, and accepted to work with restricted potential, knowing that I had to stay at the top of the game,” he said.
“I would just say I did that with full commitment. We are all only human beings, that means I certainly made mistakes, but I still think the consistency of our achievement shows that we have not made too many.
“I think as well when you come in as a manager you have to adapt and respect the tradition and the values of the club. As well try to bring your own style. What I met here at Arsenal was the freedom in work, the trust of people and I think I knew that and I rate that.
“The most important thing when you love a job is to wake up in the morning and be happy to go to to your job. I always had that here even when we had more difficult periods. That is why I always stayed here.”