Following David Dein’s call for Arsenal to bring Arsene Wenger back to the club, Wenger has explained that he’s stayed away to avoid becoming a distraction.
Earlier this week, former Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein urged the club to bring Arsene Wenger back in some kind of role, but Wenger says he’s stayed away to this point to avoid becoming a distraction.
“After 22 years, maybe I arrived at the end of a road and people wanted change,” Wenger began. “I was always loyal to the club and turned many, many clubs down because I felt my life was definitely linked with the club.
“The club has chosen a different direction, but I can understand [that] completely. Sometimes you need to change completely, to have a new start. My presence there could have been a problem.
“So I thought I’d stay away completely and give the club a chance to rebuild a new connection with the new manager.”
Dein had suggested that Arsenal owed Wenger more than they offered him, and they should have made a more concerted effort to keep him around.
“I thought the club owed Arsene a duty of care, at least a discussion,” Dein said. “We need a change but how do you want this to be done? Do you want to be involved? What can we do? Would you like a different role, would you prefer to exit elegantly? You must have dialogue.
“It didn’t happen in my case, didn’t happen in his. And that really hurt him. I would have done it differently.
“Look, you don’t find a brain like his every day of the week. He’s an Arsenal man, 22 years at the club. Wasn’t his knowledge worth cultivating? Look at where he is now.
“He should have been used by us surely, his knowledge, his skill, his encyclopaedic awareness of players. He’s got to be used.”
After spending the best part of 22 years with Arsenal as their manager, Wenger has taken a hands-off approach to the club since leaving.
He isn’t involved in the day-to-day activities, and he hasn’t taken up a position on the board. More notably, he hasn’t even returned to watch games from the stands, and at one point he stated he doesn’t intend to.
But Mikel Arteta certainly seemed open to the possibility of a return when he spoke about Wenger last year.
“I would like him to be more present at the club,” Arteta said. “I think the players would love him, benefit, and be inspired to have him around and I think for the club it would be a huge boost.
“It was so intense for him for over 20 years and you need to get away a little bit, but I think it would be so beneficial for all parties to have him more present.”
For the time being, Wenger is working for FIFA and doesn’t appear to be close to a comeback.