Arsene Wenger takes charge of a record-breaking 811th Premier League game today when Arsenal visit West Bromwich Albion, and the Frenchman has said that the unpredictability of football has kept him coming back for more.
The clash at The Hawthorns will see Wenger pass the mark previously set by Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, and give the Gunners an opportunity to strengthen their push for a top-four spot.
“That’s why it’s never boring,” the 68-year-old – who is going into his 22nd year as Arsenal manager – told Arsenal.com, referring to his team’s three-goal burst in five minutes in the 3-3 draw against Liverpool last week.
“No matter how long you are in this game you cannot predict what will happen and that’s why we come back for more. We try to dominate this animal, but we never manage to do it completely.”
Wenger added that he has yet to find time to have a friendly chat with Ferguson about breaking his record, but he has utmost respect for the Scot.
“I have not been on the phone with him, we had other things to do,” said the Arsenal manager.
“But it is always a pleasure to meet each other now.
” We don’t compete any more and it was always a big rivalry of course, but overall I believe that we tried to have a positive attitude towards the game and to get our teams to play in a positive way.
“We have a similar passion, different personalities of course, but I respect and admire Ferguson for what he has done and for his high desire to win.
“That is why it is an achievement to have lasted for such a long time, similar to what he has done.”
In modern football, not many managers can boast of a similar 20-year resume at a single club and Wenger insisted that the secret is a mutual understanding between club and manager.
“I feel that the most important thing is that competent people and technical stability is absolutely vital for a club. You need people to carry the values of the club for generations,” he said.
ARSENE WENGER , Arsenal manager, bemoaning today’s sacking culture.
“We see now the pressure is on every club to change their manager very quickly and then people sit there but who? You can see most of the time they turn to managers who have been sacked somewhere else, so it is a problem.
“The most important thing today is to be strong inside clubs to resist that kind of pressure and stress.
“That’s why there is a kind of harmony between us, and I hope that the next manager will find a club that’s in good health, and that he’ll be faithful to the values that are dear to the club.”
Former Arsenal star David O’Leary has said that Wenger’s feat will never be repeated.
“To do 20-plus (seasons) as a manager… it’ll never happen again at Manchester United, Sir Alex was unique, and it’ll never happen at Arsenal, Arsene’s achievement there is unique,” the former Aston Villa manager told the Daily Star.
Meanwhile, West Brom defender Jonny Evans could play his last game for the club against his prospective employers today.
Arsenal and Manchester City are reported to be interested in the 29-year-old since the summer and, with the transfer window opening tomorrow, West Brom might not be able to reject a big-money offer.
“We will be the last to know, probably. I’m pretty confident he will play this game and the West Ham game. After that, let’s wait and see,” manager Alan Pardew said.