After struggling to make it through the full three minutes of the opening round of the inevitable media ding-dong after Wednesday night, yesterday Arsene Wenger came out for round two swinging.
The chin was high, his guard back up, and the Arsenal manager even managed a few carefully delivered punchy barbs of his own.
Whether Arsenal want to ditch him or not, there is no way he is about to let one stinging left hook from Bayern Munich drive him to throw in the towel.
Guus Hiddink, Sir Bobby Robson and Sir Alex Ferguson were all managing in the Premier League at 71. At 67, Wenger is a mere whipper-snapper. With plenty of whip and an abundance of snap.
So having announced his intention to fight on somewhere at least next season the rest of the conference became all about showing he still has plenty of contests left in him.
Arsene Wenger is refusing to throw in the towel at Arsenal
Arsenal were humiliated by Bayern Munich in the week
One thing was for sure: Wenger was not about to allow the 5-1 hammering on Wednesday night become any sort of knockout blow.
“You do not stay somewhere for 20 years to then walk out after a defeat like that,” said Wenger. “It is difficult to take, but I have the strength and experience to respond to that.
“On a night like that, of course I hate defeat and I hate to lose games. I want to do extremely well for this club and I feel a big responsibility.
“The main emotion is that everybody after a big disappointment regroups and focuses on what is in front of us – the next game – and to take care of the consequences a disappointing result can have on everybody’s spirit inside the club and to make sure that we bounce back and focus on the next game. That’s what life is about.
“Let everybody judge and criticise. We have to deal with that, with the media, and focus on what is our job.
Inside Arsenal's changing room for away clash at Sutton United
Mon, January 30, 2017
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Arsenal face a trip to non-league side Sutton United for their fifth round FA Cup clash and this is the changing room they'll use…
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“It’s always important not to look for the wrong excuses in life. That’s what it is to be professional.”
On the eve of his 67th birthday in October, I asked Wenger if the prospect of retirement frightened him. “Yes, of course, because I would miss what I love,” he said. “Nobody who lives a whole life by being motivated by the next game, stops suddenly and goes to church every day.”
Subsequently, he knows of no other way to respond after the 5-1 defeat in the Allianz Arena than to try to get Arsenal back where he wants them – securely in the top four of the Premier League and, with non-league Sutton on Monday standing in the way of a place in the FA Cup quarter-finals, perhaps with some silverware to garnish it.
That may no longer be enough for the majority of fans any more but in a season when six clubs have Champions League participation as a minimum objective, being assured a place as one of the four will appease the board.
If Arsenal can claim their berth in Europe’s elite competition for an 18th year in succession, there will be envious eyes cast in his direction from two of the boardrooms at Liverpool, Tottenham and the two Manchester sides.
Arsenal face Sutton in the FA Cup fifth round on Monday
Nobody at the club wants to see him leave – ever, if that were possible – and Wenger feels it is up to him to show that having shrugged off Wednesday’s hammer-blow it is still business as usual.
He scoffed, as ever, at reports of a dressing-room row in Munich. He admitted enigmatically he liked to speak to the board “at every opportunity”. Then he cautiously confirmed that this week he had said he would be making his final decision over his future in “March or April”.
Alexis Sanchez’s dash to the continent was easily explained by a court appearance in Barcelona for an ongoing tax fraud case and he will be back in training today as all focus is turned on Sutton United and Gander Green Lane.
Wenger, for now, was back in control. All the rest of the speculation can wait.
“I think what is important is that the club makes the right decision for the future,” he said. “I do not work here for 20 years not to care about this club.
“It is very important that the club is always in safe hands, whether that is me or someone else. And I am sure it will be.”