Arsène Wenger dug his heels in here at the Nou Camp on Tuesday night saying that, in spite of mounting pressure for him to call time on 20 years in charge of Arsenal, he has more desire than ever to stay at the club he built into what it is today.
“I have no doubt about my motivation,” he said. “I built this club with hard work and without any external resources. If you compare the club when I arrived and how it is today, it is moved forward – and without any help from anybody. There was no money from anyone. Now I am even more motivated than the first day I arrived. And I feel even more pressure and responsibility to keep this club moving forward.”
It will not be what many Arsenal supporters, tired of Groundhog Day seasons, want to hear but an FA Cup exit, a collapse in the league and the growing voice of discontent among former players have done nothing to change the manager’s rhetoric.
There were hints of the beginning of a long goodbye when he said: “I’m honest enough to know that one day I will say I did my best and the people around me will realise that.”
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But Wenger was as defiant as he was relaxed, despite leading a team attempting to overturn a two-goal deficit against the tournament favourites and defending champions, Barcelona.
Wenger added: “My dedication is 100 per cent. I just want to give my best for this club.”
When asked about the dissent from fans and former players, he said: “I don’t want to get into that discussion because it can be interpreted two ways.”
The Barcelona coach, Luis Enrique, had earlier done his best to defend Wenger, although his comments merely ended up highlighting the fact that the further you travel from North London the stranger Wenger’s prolonged reign seems.