Arsene Wenger admits the outcome of Arsenal’s clash with Middlesbrough on Saturday will determine the mood of his 67th birthday celebrations.
The Gunners boss insists his family have learned the futility of celebrating the occasion knowing the effect a poor result might have on any plans so instead he will watch a match at home on TV or go for a run.
Wenger’s birthday is on Saturday, the same day Arsenal host Aitor Karanka’s side, but the Frenchman insists his attitude is one which would be shared by all managers.
“The result is 99 per cent of my birthday celebrations. Our happiness is linked to our result, not our birthday, and that’s what a manager’s life is about,” he said.
When asked if he feels silly that as a 67-year-old winning is still so important, Wenger replied: “Somewhere, maybe.
“If God exists and one day I go up there, he will ask me if I want to come in what have I done in my life and the only answer I’ll have is that I tried to win football games.
“So he will say ‘so is that all you’ve done?’. And the only answer I’ll have is that it’s not as easy as it looks.”
Wenger is now the second-oldest manager in English football behind Cardiff’s Neil Warnock, but he views age as irrelevant to his ability to do the job and admits he does not like the ‘retirement’ word.
“I’d prefer to be the youngest manager in the league but that’s part of life,” Wenger said. “I believe you forget your age if you’re in good health and inside you is a love for competition and a love to improve every day.
“They’re the most important things and after that age is age and you have to live with that. I focus on doing well against Middlesbrough, not on my age. I never liked the retirement word because we are here to be active and to fight.
“In life there is no other issue than to fight until the last day as much as you can. It’s like for a player. If you have a bad game, people think you have to go. That’s why the demands are higher than before because your age becomes a psychological excuse to quickly get rid of you.
“I live in a competitive world and it’s what I produce that has to be judged. Age should not interfere with that. If we don’t do well then age quickly becomes the problem.”
Wenger’s current Arsenal contract expires at the end of the season but he refuses to speculate on his long-term future.
He remains in good health due to a fitness regime consisting of daily runs but admits he is frightened by the idea of stopping work.
“I don’t know, at the moment I feel good. I’m passionate and angry as before. If you lived with me every day, you’d understand I don’t feel like [an OAP],” he said.
“If all professional footballers live like I do, they’d be in good shape for 10 months of the year. Since I was a kid I always wanted to compete. I don’t know where that comes from – you are like that or you’re not. I think I will die like that.
“I started managing at the top level at 33 years old. I’m one of the few managers in the world who has not stopped at all. I have worked every day of my whole life because I love it. Of course I’ll be frightened of stopping because I’ll miss what I love.
“Nobody lives their life by being motivated by the next game then stops suddenly and goes to church every day.”