Wenger says Arsenal’s Europa League final in Baku ‘a little bit of a nightmare’

Former manager disappointed that Mkhitaryan feels obliged not to travel because of safety concerns

Former Arsenal’s manager Arsène Wenger: he feels for supporters who have abandoned hope of attending the final because travel has proved so expensive. Photograph: Getty Images

Former Arsenal’s manager Arsène Wenger: he feels for supporters who have abandoned hope of attending the final because travel has proved so expensive. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Arsène Wenger has described Arsenal’s predicament in heading to Baku for the Europa League final as “a little bit of a nightmare”. The club’s former manager, who left last summer after 22 years, expressed disappointment that Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who signed under Wenger, feels obliged not to travel because of safety concerns.

Armenians are not ordinarily welcome in Azerbaijan because of the dispute over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, and Mkhitaryan has spoken of his hurt to miss such a showpiece occasion.

“That’s something that should not happen in football, in the modern world, that politically you cannot play a football game,” Wenger said.

He also feels for the supporters who have abandoned hope of attending the final because travel, rather than tickets, has proved so expensive and complicated. It is an unusual situation for clubs of this stature and fanbase not to sell out their allocation for a final. Arsenal have sold 3,500 tickets and Chelsea 2,000.

“The teams do not have such a problem, they live in ideal conditions, they have a private jet; it’s the fans,” Wenger said.

He will watch from the background, as he has for all of this season under Unai Emery, so as not to cast a shadow on his successor.

“I support Arsenal and that will be forever. They are my club. I have given my life to this club, but I managed quite well to focus on something different. I watch them like a fan. I don’t judge. I’m happy when they win and not happy when they don’t play well. But after that I try to really take a distance with it.”

Wenger, who has turned down several job offers, is ready to return to the game.

“I will go back into football for sure. In what position I don’t know, whether as a manager or not. The appetite, the desire, is still there. Originally I said I want to manage straight away again. After that I thought maybe I take a little distance. Football is still my passion.”

– Guardian

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.