London (AFP) – Arsene Wenger admitted Wednesday that the timing of his departure from Arsenal after more than two decades as manager was not his call.
The 68-year-old Frenchman — who guided the Gunners to two domestic doubles and masterminded the 2004 “Invincibles”, as well as winning a record seven FA Cups — will hand over the reins to a new manager after this season.
Wenger announced on Friday he would be stepping down a year before the end of his contract after another failure to sustain a Premier League title challenge.
The club, in sixth place in the league, are desperate to win the Europa League as a way back into the Champions League next season.
Wenger, speaking to the press ahead of Thursday’s semi-final first leg against Atletico Madrid, made it clear he had not been in charge of his destiny.
“The timing was not really my decision,” said the Arsenal boss, who added that he did not envisage retiring from the game.
“At the moment I do my job, keep my routine and focus on what I have to do every day,” added the Frenchman, who is targeting his first European trophy.
“At the moment I work like ever. You are never sure you do the right thing, but life is interesting because you have to deal with different situations. People want to know what the future is about, for me that is completely normal.
“I honestly don’t know what I will do. Will I take a little rest? I will continue to work, that is for sure. At the moment I’m not ready to commit to anything else.”
Wenger said he would have no say as to who succeeds him but spoke highly of former Barcelona coach Luis Enrique.
“I don’t want to influence the next manager, but of course I have a high opinion of Luis Enrique.”
Wenger, who revealed former rival Alex Ferguson called him on Tuesday, said he wanted a Hollywood-style ending for the players more than for himself.
“Is there a perfect goodbye? I don’t know. I just want to do as well as I can,” said Wenger. “This group of players deserve something special and I want to do it for them, to achieve something with them.
“My biggest satisfaction would be to be successful with the players we have.”
Wenger will go into his final European home game as Arsenal boss with the boost of having Mesut Ozil, Jack Wilshere and Petr Cech available.
The trio missed the weekend win over West Ham with minor problems but all trained on Wednesday.
Wenger is also hopeful that Henrikh Mkhitaryan could recover from a knee injury to feature in the second leg in Madrid next week but Mohamed Elneny is out for the rest of the season.