Arsene Wenger may have established his own catchphrase with “I did not see it” – but that certainly wasn’t the only time he amused or entertained in charge of Arsenal.
Wenger was never afraid to speak his mind during his 22 years in the Premier League, at times upsetting both Arsenal and opposition fans, but certainly never the appreciative media.
We’ve revisited some of the best comments over the years, splitting them into eight categories ranging from quips at fellow managers to philosophical musings on life.
In response to Mourinho complaining that Manchester United cannot compete with Manchester City financially: “I have been in that position for 21 years, so I will not start to complain now. There is always one team, sometimes four, who were richer than I was, so I learned to cope with that and to deal with that.
“I think what is most important is you deal with your own situation as well as you can and, yes, Manchester City are richer than us; yes, Chelsea are richer than us and Manchester United are richer than us but I still believe we have to find a way to be successful.”
An absolute zinger from 2005: “He’s out of order, disconnected with reality and disrespectful. When you give success to stupid people, it makes them more stupid sometimes and not more intelligent.”
In response to Ferguson suggesting his third-place Manchester United were better than his title winners in 2001-02: “Everyone thinks they have the prettiest wife at home.”
Things got a little out of hand in 2005: “Ferguson’s out of order. He has lost all sense of reality. He is going out looking for a confrontation, then asking the person he is confronting to apologise. He’s pushed the cork in a bit far this time.”
From the same year, there were mixed messages: “He doesn’t interest me and doesn’t matter to me at all. I will never answer to any provocation from him anymore.”
Wenger gets on the right side of Arsenal fans in his first press conference as manager: “I tried to watch the Tottenham match on television in my hotel yesterday, but I fell asleep.”
“It is well known the referees are protected very well like the lions in the zoo so we have to live with their decisions.”
After being beaten at Manchester City earlier this season: “I would say overall once again the referee made the decisions today with a soft penalty and offside goal. But we are used to it when we come here. Last year we had two offside goals against us [in a 2-1 defeat] and once again. I feel they [referees] don’t work enough, the referees don’t work enough because their level drops every season at the moment. Overall it’s unacceptable what happens.”
“What is unbelievable is that I am in a position where people reproach me for making a profit. The people who lose money – nobody says a word.”
On hoovering up young talent: “If you have a child who is a good musician, what is your first reaction? It is to put them into a good music school, not in an average one. So why should that not happen in football?”
“(The rule I would change would be) maybe to play throw-ins by foot. Why not? I think it would make the game quicker.
“For example at Stoke, for Rory Delap it is like kicking the ball. It is a little bit of an unfair advantage. He is using a strength that is usually not a strength in football.”
“I think in England you eat too much sugar and meat and not enough vegetables.”
“The biggest things in life have been achieved by people who, at the start, we would have judged crazy. And yet if they had not had these crazy ideas the world would have been more stupid.”
Wenger tackles religion in an interview with L’Equipe from 2015: “The only moment of possible happiness is the present. The past gives regrets. And future uncertainties. Man quickly realised this and created religion. It forgives him what he has done wrong in the past and tells him not to worry about the future, as you will go to paradise.”
“Religiously, it is said that God created man. I am only a guide. I allow others to express what they have in them. I have not created anything. I am a facilitator of what is beautiful in man.”
On his critics: “I am not on Twitter. I don’t invite anybody to go out to dinner and be nice with them. I work and work and work and work. If it’s not good enough someone will tell me one day. That’s all I can do. I do not worry what you say about me or what fans say about me. I try to do my job in a proper way and with full commitment. After that everybody has the right to have an opinion.
“You do not make a decision if I continue my job or not. What I find just boring is always sitting here after 19 years to face, ‘Do you think you are good enough?’ If I am not somebody will tell me.”
Arsene Wenger on great form this morning. Tore into… the erosion of the idea of 'expertise' in British society in the last 20 years. https://t.co/vW9JSwz3Rh
— Jack Pitt-Brooke (@JackPittBrooke) December 27, 2017
On modern life: “There is more suspicion now. You go to a doctor and he is more questioned than he was 20 years ago. 20 years ago, you go to a doctor, he says ‘you have that’, you say ‘OK, I will go home and do that.’
“Today, when you go to see the doctor, you have read before on the internet. And he has to convince you that you have not necessarily what you think you have. So that basically means that you are questioned more. In every single job, people are questioned more.”
“The second thing I believe, what is the most important thing that people never talk about, is to believe in human beings. Despite all this, when you’re such a long time in the job, you’re not naïve. You know all the strengths and weaknesses, and how sometimes people can be selfish or mean. But you still have to believe that there is a light in every human being that you can get out.”
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