Arsene Wenger says he has 'no doubt' about his motivation to lead Arsenal
Arsene Wenger insists his motivation to manage Arsenal is stronger than ever, seemingly dismissing suggestions that fan disgruntlement could make him consider stepping down after 20 years in charge.
Wenger enters Wednesday's Champions League game at Barcelona under huge pressure after a string of disappointing results have left Arsenal facing the prospect of a trophy-less season.
Some British newspapers reported on Tuesday that while Wenger still has the full backing of the Arsenal board, the 66-year-old is concerned that the growing unrest among supporters could affect the team if he stays for the final year of his contract.
But Wenger, who is the longest-serving manager in Europe's major leagues, said he is determined to keep going and defended his record at the club.
"I have no doubt about my huge motivation. I just think I built the club in the way I did it, with hard work, without any external resources," Wenger told a news conference at the Camp Nou.
"If you compare the club at the moment I arrived and the club where it is today, we have moved forward. And without any money from anybody, just the money produced by the quality of the work.
"And I'm even more motivated than the first day I arrived. And I feel more the pressure and the responsibility to keep this club moving forward. But when you're a long time somewhere, you're always questioned about duration.
"I personally don't question my dedication, it's absolutely 100 percent. And I think I give more time to my club now than when I arrived."
Arsenal have just one win in their last seven games and have to overturn a 2-0 deficit against a Barcelona side that hasn't lost since Oct. 3. This game comes after the Gunners were knocked out of the FA Cup by Watford at home -- having won the competition the last two years -- and with them currently 11 points back in the Premier League title race.
The slump in form has led to increasing calls from fans for Wenger to step down. But the Frenchman said he didn't want to comment on the mood among supporters, "because it can always be interpreted in both ways."
And he also brushed aside suggestions that he could be tarnishing his legacy by overstaying his welcome.
"I just think I'm honest enough to know that one day I will say I gave my best," Wenger said. "The image, I'm not too much an image person. I just want to think I give my best for this club, and I'm absolutely determined to do that. After, what people think is something different. I've never been a fan of that. I believe honest dedication and total commitment is what is the most important."
Wenger's longevity was also praised by his Barcelona counterpart Luis Enrique, who said it would be "impossible" to match the Frenchman's 20 years in charge.
"Wenger is a very good coach. Only the chosen ones can be there for a long time. For me it is impossible," Luis Enrique said. "I don't have a deep knowledge to assess the situation of Wenger but ... it is difficult to be there 20 years, which shows you Mr. Wenger has done a good job."
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him @MattiasKaren.