Arsenal’s French manager Arsene Wenger / AFP PHOTO / Paul ELLIS /
Arsene Wenger has compared being a football manager to entering the priesthood as both jobs involve making all-consuming personal sacrifices.
The 67-year-old Frenchman has been at Arsenal for 20 years and is hoping to extend that stay with a new contract at the end of the season although there have been calls for him to leave with the Gunners facing the likelihood of no silverware.
Wenger, who brought the last of his three Premier League titles to the north London club in 2004, made the comparison about the priesthood when asked about Barcelona handler Luis Enrique’s decision to step down at the end of the season and the stamina needed to coach a top club.
“I think everybody experiences that in a different way,” said Wenger.
“What I can say, yes, it’s very demanding. It’s a sacrifice of your life. You have nothing else happening in your life.
“Basically you get 90 per-cent aggravation and 10 per-cent job satisfaction and you have to give everything in your life for that. You have to be ready for it.
“That’s what I always say to all the young people who want to go into this job. ‘Are you ready to sacrifice your life?’ It’s like a priest. You’re a football priest.”
Wenger, who was plucked by the Arsenal board from relative obscurity coaching Japanese side Nagoya Grampus Eight back in 1997, said football management had its down sides but for him it had improved himself immeasurably as a person.
“I am a specialist in masochism,” he said. “I believe as well it allowed me to get to the next level as a human being, to develop my strengths in what makes a human being great as well.”
Wenger faces perhaps a pivotal few days with regard to his future.
On Saturday, Arsenal play Liverpool and on Tuesday will try to overturn a 5-1 deficit from their Champions League last 16 tie with Bayern Munich.