Arsenal’s French manager Arsene Wenger (C) takes his seat in the stands for the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Hull City at the Emirates Stadium in London on February 11, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Glyn KIRK
Arsene Wenger insists he is not preparing to end his long reign at Arsenal despite Ian Wright’s claim the Gunners boss is on the way out.
Wenger’s future had been questioned in the wake of defeats against Watford and Chelsea that effectively killed off their Premier League title hopes.
Wenger’s side returned to winning ways as Alexis Sanchez’s double secured a 2-0 home victory over Hull on Saturday.
But after the game the Frenchman was quizzed on his future, with his current contract expiring at the end of the season and a minority of fans turning on the manager for recent results.
Former Arsenal striker Ian Wright had fanned the flames by claiming on Friday that the 67-year-old had told him he was “coming to the end” of his time after 20 years at the helm.
“I was with the boss last night, and if I’m going to be totally honest, I get the impression that that’s it,” Wright told BBC Radio 5 live.
“He actually mentioned when we were talking that he’s coming to the end. I’ve never heard him say that.”
Yet Wenger countered by saying any tiredness stems from his commitment to the job and that Wright must have misunderstood any conversation.
Asked whether he had given Wright the impression he was leaving, Wenger replied: “No, no. Mark (Gonnella, Arsenal communications director) was with me as well on Thursday.
“It was questions and answers. I could be tired because I get up early in the morning and I finish late at night, so I am tired, yes. But I didn’t give any indication about my future.
“There were many people there. We (he and Wright) had a little dinner before but it was not the two of us. There were four or five.”
Asked if Wright could have misinterpreted any comments, he said: “Yes. You know I appreciate very much that you want me to rest, absolutely. But I am not ready for that yet.”
If Arsenal had not won against lowly Hull, it would have ramped up the pressure on Wenger to depart.
Although not at their best, Wenger was pleased to put the recent defeats to bed ahead of a trip to face Bayern Munich in the Champions League last first leg next week.
Sanchez’s opening goal was controversially allowed to stand despite the forward handling the ball on its way into the net.
The Chilean wrapped things up with a late penalty following a handball by Sam Clucas that earned the Hull midfielder a red card.
“It was more about the mathematics than about the brilliance today because we had absolutely to win,” Wenger said.
“So overall I felt that we started well until we led 1-0. After we became a bit more protective to protect the result.
“We were playing a bit more to not concede a goal and that’s what the game was about because we knew that was absolutely vital to win today.”
Hull defender Andy Robertson claimed after the game that referee Mark Clattenburg apologised to Hull’s players for not ruling out Sanchez’s first goal.
Although Tigers boss Marco Silva was unsure on the details of the apparent apology, he was pleased with his side’s efforts.
“They started the game better than us and after the story of the first half they score with handball. We didn’t deserve this result,” he said.
“The most important thing is the result. It was a very good second half. We had control of it and caused Arsenal problems.”