Wenger: Why I said no to Real
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admits he rejected the chance to manage Real Madrid this season because leaving the Emirates Stadium would have been a betrayal.
Wenger was offered the Bernabeu job before the Spanish team launched their massive close-season spending spree, which included world record deals for Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo. The opportunity to work at one of the world's biggest clubs tempted Wenger but he didn't want to walk out on Arsenal after beginning a rebuilding process with the a group of young players who have yet to fulfil their potential.
"I want to go to the end of my job here. I built this team, I want to deliver with this team and I feel that if I left I would in some way have betrayed my beliefs," Wenger told the Daily Mail. "It is nothing to do with what Real Madrid have done. It was about Arsenal.
"I knew what Madrid were about to do, but I have a project here that I started four years ago and I wanted to reach the end of. I just couldn't see leaving this team at this stage of their development."
Wenger also conceded that he has protected his players by claiming he hasn't seen incidents to avoid publicly criticising any member of his team. Asked if he had ever been economical with the truth, the Frenchman said: "Yes, because you are thinking, 'Why has he (a player) done that?' and you know you cannot explain it.
"At times I saw it, and I said I didn't to protect the player, because I could not find any rational explanation to defend him. This is a job where you have to have an optimistic view of human nature or you become paranoid. You always have to think that a guy wants to do well. A coach is there to help. He must think that if he helps in the correct way the players will respond. You cannot be suspicious."
After four seasons without a trophy, Wenger could be forgiven for becoming disillusioned but he insists Arsenal's lack of success provides him with an incentive to work harder. "The worst is to have no target," Wenger added.
"Imagine you get up in the morning and you do nothing. You enjoy one minute. Then there is another minute. But what do you do next? Can you dedicate your whole life to this? Somewhere within us is the desire to feel that we are useful and that we have some quality."
Wenger's determination to play entertaining football at all costs has led some critics to claim he needs to be more realistic about the tactics required to win trophies. But he added in The Times: "I ask you: who is the most successful team in the world? Brazil. What do they play? Good football. Who won everything last year? Barcelona. What do they play? Lovely football.
"I am not against being pragmatic because to be pragmatic is to make a good pass, not a bad pass. It is as simple as that."