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Ten Years of Arsene

Ten Years of Arsene

And what a ten years it has been. When Monsieur Wenger arrived at Arsenal I was a wide eyed twelve year old, the question pressed onto my lips was in unison with the now notorious Evening Standard headline, ARSENE WHO? The trophy laiden years of George Graham had met an abrupt conclusion and the Gunners seemed to be meandering, a club devoid of direction. On the last day of the 1995/96 season, Arsenal scraped into fifth place and a UEFA Cup slot, remember how you felt that day? Like we'd won the World Cup wasn't it? To put Arsene into perspective, that means that upon his arrival we were in the shape that Tottenham Hotspur is currently in. Anyone willing to wager they will be Champions League Finalists in 2016?

Given my reputation for turning a simple match report into something Tolstoy would baulk at, I have decided in the interests of time, space and sanity to simply list my ten favourite things about the great Arsene Wenger.

1.Revolution- Simply he has turned this football club upside down. Not just in terms of our style of play (more on that later). Wenger's has been an all consuming, obsessive vision to metamorphosise Arsenal from domestic also rans to European power house. The justified 'boring Arsenal' tag has been usurped so totally that Arsenal are widely recognised as the most attractive side in world football. Gooners of around my age and particularly older Gooners will tell you just how incredible this is. The brisk, passing total football we see today is such an astounding contrast to our past that one can only deduce that modern day Arsenal is built ENTIRELY in Arsene's image. A new stadium, an academy that has nurtured the finest young talents in world football, a change in the Arsenal drinking culture, his dietary regimes and revolutionary training techniques (which has had a knock on effect for English football in general) have all turned Arsenal into Champions League regulars. We are now a club revered in all of Europe. Zagreb manager Josip Kuze said this, 'A.C Milan and Chelsea are first class, but Arsenal are deluxe class.'

2.Trophies- Wenger's tenure has bought us three league titles and four F.A Cups, (including two domestic 'doubles') an impressive haul. We were within a whisker of the Champions League Final and became the first side of modern times to complete a season unbeaten. But the truly remarkable thing is the manner in which we have achieved it, with a pyrotechnic brand of football that is the envy of the world.

3.Eye For Talent- Little did we know when Arsene signed Patrick Vieira that he was just flexing those razor sharp retinas. He has plucked the best players from all corners of the globe and bought Africa to the attention of the world as a footballing goldmine. Patrick Vieira, Emmanuel Petit, Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas, Kolo Toure, in fact, oh sod it, the entire current Arsenal squad. An exciting crop of youngsters have been plucked from the trees of the world's noneties and are bearing fruit in our current first team. Prior to his Arsenal stint, Lilian Thuram, David Trezeguet and George Weah owe much to Arsene.

4.Changed Perception of Foreigners- The cynicism and derision which his arrival was met was largely due to a genuine lack of cosmopolitan influence on the game. Foreigners were considered mercenaries (some unfortunately maintain this attitude) prior to his arrival. He has preserved the traditions of our institution (notably our 'Bank of England' image) and changed our club inestimably for the better.

5.The Players' Coach- Try and dig out a player with a bad word for Arsene Wenger. Give up? His influence is most neatly chrystalized by George Weah (whom Wenger took into his home to aid his development), who dedicated his world player of the year trophy to Wenger. He sticks up for his players no matter what (for which he is ridiculed mercilessly). In turn, his players respect him. I've always loved the fact that the players call him 'Mr. Wenger.'

6.Dignity- While he is oft criticised for comical bouts of myopia, Arsene is a man who carries himself with dignity. In fact, to the point that he has been so uncomfortable with gushing prose such as this in recognition of his ten years. The departures of Anelka and C**e would have been met with a deserved tongue lashing by most, but Arsene maintained a dignified silence. I have a picture at home of the Arsenal players cavorting with the Premiership trophy, Arsene is in the background, tucking his medal into his pocket and smiling towards his players. Pictures tell a thousand words.

7.Wit- Wenger is not often credited with his keen wit. My favourite Arsene gem has to be his response to Ferguson's assertion that Man USA were the best side in England, 'everybody thinks he has the prettiest wife.' Class. Another favourite is his Swiss Tonyesque quip, 'A football team is like a beautiful woman, if you don't tell her she is beautiful, she forgets.' And most laughably of all, 'I think we can do a season unbeaten.' AS IF!!!

8.Records- 49 Premiership matches without defeat, Scoring in 55 Consecutive League Games, First Foreign Manager to win 'The Double', 10 Consecutive Clean Sheets in the Champions League, Old Trafford 2002, White Hart Lane 2004, the first English side to win in the Bernebeu, 5-1 in the San Siro, Most Black Plyers in the starting line up of an English side (nine) and more controversially, forst English side to play with an all foreign 16. Trailblazer, record breaker and liberal icon.

9.Footie Obsession- The guy just lives and breathes the game, resulting in an encyclopaedic knowledge of world football. My particular favourite in this category is how he came to sign Brazilian full back Juan. He saw him when he was watching beach football on TV at 2 o'clock in the morning!!!

10.Fell Asleep Watching Spuds- A subtle and most hilarious way to get onside with your fans right from the off. Upon his appointment, Arsene was asked about his knowledge of English Football, he commented that he'd tried to watch Tottenham v. Leicester but fell asleep. Don't worry Arsene, us lesser mortals have stumbled that particular hurdle too!

So there you have it, not a dry in the house as I grapple to come to terms with the divine entity that is Arsene. A day for grovelling sentimentality and nostalgia. Cheers Arsene and here's to the next ten years. LD.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Writer:Tim Stillman
Date:Thursday September 28 2006
Time: 11:33AM


i believe arsene is a good manager and he changed a lot in arsenal's football and team tech but arsenal is an english team so why there are no english player in 1st 11?
28/09/2006 12:10:00
what would world football be without mr. wenger. sometimes i think i may actually be a wenger fan as in if he goes ill follow (maybe). we are truly a one man team and that has always ever been arsene wenger. hes the best manager of all time and i think you put it best when you said he is "the real special one." thats a title you cannot give yourself mr moaninho it must be awarded by football enthusiasts and we unanimously (spell check please) select wenger
28/09/2006 12:10:00
there would be english players if they were quality. you people behave like arsene doesnt want to sign english players. He just looks for the best players for the team and if they happen to be albino eskimo midgets i really dont care. Just ask yourself who you would sign if you were in his shoes. the criteria is Quality first, attitude second and nationality NEVER
28/09/2006 12:14:00
Couldn't have said it better myself mish, if they're good enough theyplay, simple as. Let us not spoil this outpouring of thanks by debating such trivial matters that really have nothing to do with Wenger (i.e the coaching of English youngsters at grass roots level). Vive l'Arsene, king of N5.
Little Dutch
28/09/2006 12:17:00
question which english player should he replace one of our quality stars with????? answer me that question with a player who will strengthen the side and ill eat my shoe...its smelly too
28/09/2006 12:17:00
im with you LD long live wenger. thats the real topic today
28/09/2006 12:18:00
If one is to look at the history of this club and it's legacies, it can be put simply that Herbert Chapman was phase one, Arsene Wenger is phase two.
Little Dutch
28/09/2006 12:29:00
i feel I have to contribute even as a spurs fan. Arsen whenger has transformed the Arse into a team form boring football to the standards of attractive football like the liverpools utd and Spurs. Unbeleivable record of developing youngsters and has shown his skills when he has had to rebuild the team on several occasions when some players are moved to bigger teams for great profts. Financially he has been a genius. The real test is now, challenging for the title and making sure ashburton is a fortress and full every game.Still has no European trophy!! And dealing with a small problem of 262.1 million debt. Watch this space.........
28/09/2006 13:18:00
"On behalf of arsenal vitalfootball, I would like to thank cockeril for his contribution to our message board. His hilarious rants have been the source of great amusement to us gooners. We wish him all the best in the future and wish him the greatest luck in escaping the asylum."
Little Dutch
28/09/2006 13:22:00
Nice to see you talking a bit of sense there cockeril. But where do you get 261.1 mil in debt from? Sad
28/09/2006 15:34:00
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