Arsene Wenger believes uncertainty over his Arsenal future should not affect his current squad or potential new recruits as doubts continue to surround his plans.
The 67-year-old could still walk away from the Emirates Stadium when his contract expires in the summer as supporters continue to protest against his reign.
Wenger, who celebrated 20 years in charge of the Gunners in October, has increasingly split the fan base in recent months, especially following a run of six defeats in nine games.
That slump included a 10-2 aggregate defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League and two of their three wins in that time came against non-league sides Sutton and Lincoln in the FA Cup.
Wenger has never finished outside the Premier League’s top four in any full season at the helm but Arsenal now sit sixth, with another protest planned ahead of Sunday’s visit of Manchester City.
He revealed after the recent 3-1 loss at West Brom that he has made a decision on whether he will stay or go at the end of the season – but admits he has had to start preparations for next year as if he will remain at the club.
Asked if he was planning for next season, the Frenchman replied: “Yes, of course.
“But that again, I told you, do I stay two months or 10 years, I plan. I do my job exactly the same. Of course you can do that.”
If Arsenal do finish outside the Champions League positions, there is likely to be an overhaul of their squad during the summer.
But planning ahead is crucial if a club is to avoid missing out on key targets and Wenger insists top players will be attracted by the lure of playing for Arsenal, regardless of who the manager is come the start of next term.
“Yes of course,” he replied when asked if transfer targets will ask if he will be at the club.
“But we are always honest and when you speak with people you are always honest. Arsenal is a world brand today, respected all over the world.
“The Arsenal name is bigger than my name and coming to Arsenal is more important – you don’t come to Arsene Wenger, you come to Arsenal.
“But we are at the moment not in a transfer mode. We analyse what we have to strengthen but we are not in contract negotiations at the moment with players.”
Wenger also feels that his current players should not be using the uncertainty over his future as an “easy excuse” for the recent run.
“It would be an easy excuse and I could be out of contract and I am at the end of the season and still perform,” he told Sky Sports News.
“For me whether I stay three years or 10 years I have exactly the same commitment and the same desire to win the next game.
“I believe as well we are in the position where we do not have to find easy excuses. Our job is to perform – can you perform despite that?”
He also called for his players to “be men” and concern themselves more with performances on the pitch rather than any uncertainty off it.
“I personally believe that, to be professional, is to perform on a football pitch and not look for excuses that are not real problems outside the pitch,” he said.
“The situation is not sorted out and I believe at the moment we probably focus on what is essential.
“My attachment to this club, at the moment, it is as it is and I do not see any escape route to have less responsibilities because I might not be here. We have to be men and focus on what matters and what is our job.
“If the worst you can accuse me of in 20 years at the club is to create instability (because of the contract uncertainty)…. I think, if I created something, it is stability.”
Meanwhile, a prominent Arsenal supporters’ club has called for Wenger to leave as the majority of their members believe he is no longer the right man for the job.
The 1,000 members of the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust (AST) were sent a survey which included the question: “Do you support Arsene Wenger signing a new contract and remaining as Arsenal manager?” Only 15 per cent said “yes” and 78 per cent of respondents said “no”.
The handling of Wenger’s contract situation drew even more negative replies, with 86 per cent responding “no” when asked: “Do you think the way that the Arsenal board have dealt with Arsene Wenger’s contract is in the best interests of Arsenal Football Club?”
It remains to be seen what level the protests will reach on Sunday but Wenger will hope to at least address matters on the pitch with victory over a direct Premier League rival.