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Happy Anniversary Arsène

It was thirteen years ago today,
Arsène Wenger taught the team to play
They've been going in and out of style
But they're guaranteed to raise a smile

Among a number of achievements setting a record as Arsenals longest serving manager shouldn`t be uppermost in people`s minds when looking back on the Wenger era but in a game that demands instant and continuous success it isn`t an unremarkable feat.

Other managers have won more trophies and appear more successful as a consequence. If achievement is only measured on that basis then Wengers success has to be qualified by that measure. But if you take a broader measure of achievement, the extent to which a manager has entirely changed the view and status of the club on a global scale, then there a few that have accomplished as much.

Without neglecting George Grahams contribution to raising the club from its long slumber of mediocrity Arsène Wengers impact in turning a middle ranking club into one of the top 5 in the world, both financially and competitively, doesn`t have too many parallels. Herbert Chapman left a similarly indelible impression on the club not just because of the trophies won but in setting the style of the club from its iconic kit through to the clubs very own Underground station. Wengers contribution has to be regarded in that context.

The first nine years brought trophies, doubles and much acclamation culminating in winning the title in an unbeaten season, a feat that hadn`t been matched other than in the very early days of the game. A number of records have been set including the league`s longest unbeaten sequence and all while transforming boring, dour Arsenal into one of the world`s most exciting attacking flair sides. Many would claim we have gone backwards since then though the flair is still evident. Certainly the trophies have dried up but in its own way what has been achieved since our FA cup win in 2005 has been even more remarkable. With a budget constrained by the finances needed to complete the move into the new stadium we have still managed to compete - and in style. Two losing finals and some semi-final appearances seem meagre fare in comparison to earlier achievements but the value of continuous qualification for the CL is an important part of the clubs ability to sustain a challenge for trophies now and in the future. Indeed few clubs, even those with greater resources than we have been able to garner over the last 5 or 6 years, have matched the 12 years continuous participation in the competition.

The move to the new stadium was a necessary part of the step change in the clubs status. The list of clubs that have suffered under the yoke of much smaller development projects is there for all to see. The achievement in being able to compete, even if qualified by the lack of trophies, while doing so will be seen in time as one the pivotal points in the clubs history.

Within all the changes that have taken place the professorial air of Arsène hasn`t been able to disguise a sharp wit and his infamous one liners from observations about pretty wives at home to the capacity for success to make stupid people more stupid will be recounted for as long as the game survives. Just as 'I didn`t see it` has now become part of footballs catalogue of clichés. One that Wenger could even mock himself when asked to comment on an incident in a recent game by claiming that his hearing wasn`t too good either.

The Wenger era isn`t over yet, there are still many achievements to be had as a club, but the legacy has already been rooted deeply. In some ways this legacy may prove to be a burden for those that came to the club only in the time that Wenger has been with Arsenal. Those of us that followed the club with just as much affection, but much less reward before Wenger came along, know that these are the good times. Some others have yet to realise it.

Happy Anniversary Arsène !

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The Journalist

Writer: Amos Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday October 1 2009

Time: 11:03AM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
Happy Anniverary to Le Prof. Love, love, love the man. There is NO ONE in the game, living or passed on, that I esteem more highly than Arsene Wenger. Wouldn't swap him for anybody.
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01/10/2009 11:29:00

Respect for the man. Well written piece, Amos.
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01/10/2009 11:34:00

Agree with every word. Wenger has his weaknesses, as everyone does, but he has significantly fewer than most.
Little Dutch
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01/10/2009 11:57:00

Thank you very much AW for the football that I have witnessed during your 13 year reign. I will forget about the players that you sometimes made me watch : Alberto Mendez, Stefan Malz, Remi Garde, Nelson Vivas, Igor Stepanovs, Kaba Diawarra, Pascal Cygan, Richard Wright, Francis Jeffers, Danilevicius, Raami Shabaan, Juan, and the brilliant Amaury Bischoff.
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01/10/2009 12:15:00

To date, I still think Herbert Chapman has made more of an impact on Arsenal’s history, he was a truly visionary man, but Arsene Wenger hasn’t finished yet. The next couple of years are crucial for him to be able to be the true “Mr Arsenal” and the Champions League is probably the key. Happy anniversary Arsene and here’s to the future!
Sir Henry
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01/10/2009 13:53:00

In 1996 when I had my first view of Arsene on TV, while living in London, I thought "that's a football coach???" When I first saw him at Highbury, he seemed to peculiarly out of place, a tall shy geek with glasses. Then, when I saw how he handled the media so brilliantly after some spuds smeared him with a vile rumor, that ended all doubts about the man's ability to endure the rough and tumble football culture in England. Over time I gew to love him unlike any other public person I've ever admired or respected. Despite my criticisms of him, despite the times he's made me furious, I find it impossible to stay angry with Arsene. And there have been times that I've tried. The larger picture of what he's done, everything I've read about him in all his biographies, all his interviews I've read, the many quotes I've read from people who've worked with him....the extraordinary work he's done at Arsenal which I believe is entirely unique and unmatched by any other club, manager in any sport...all of that looms far far larger than the other stuff. Besides, all I have to do is watch one of his press conferences (and I watch/read religiously all interviews and press conferences of his), listen to one of his mischievous witty comments and I forget all the fury I felt. I really don't think anyone in the UK or Europe quite understands how remarkably unique Arsene is when viewed from over here in the US. There simply is no one like him over here. Ferguson and other managers (successful or not) have their counterparts over here in various sports in terms of their style, achievements, manner, background, education, vision (or lack of), etc. But we simply don't have anyone here in any sport like Arsene -- not in the entire history of American sport. I really do think only Europe could've produced him, to the great credit of that continent. I've said this many many times and will continue to: every single gooner should read as many biographies of the man as possible, at least one (the one by Xavier Rivoire is a terrific start). But it's not just gooners who should read them -- I think any football fan or any sports fan who can put aside their petty prejudices and club tribalism should read about him. He's led an extraordinary life and he simply does not fit into the typical sportsman's career or personality. In particular, what he had to endure at Monaco during the shameful chapter of Marseille's corruption of the French first division--and how he endured it--demonstrates the man's class and integrity beyond any measure. It's something the UK media never picks up on or appreciates. It's a story every gooner should familiarize himself with. I've always likened Arsene to those artists who are truly great but never get the full recognition they deserve, while lesser artists get constant recognition. You know, people like Hitchcock and Donald Sutherland who've never won an Oscar while Julie Andrews gets an Oscar for Mary Poppins. I know this is cold comfort for a lot of gooners but Arsene elevates the sport to something much greater than what it is supposed to be. And that sort of thing just doesn't get the kind of recognition it deserves. And here's one entirely shallow, personal point of appreciation: contrary to the Clouseau/Basil Fawlty stereotype, I've always been riveted by the sight of Arsene's tall, elegant figure standing on the touchline with his hands on his hips. There've been a lot of awkward camera shots of Arsene but images like this are the ones that stand out. For me, no other manager looks as good as this.
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01/10/2009 14:45:00

Top post Jaelle. Apart from the Mary Poppins bit ;)
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01/10/2009 14:54:00

Perhaps you would like to read a Spurs perspective of the great man?
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01/10/2009 15:32:00

oxford--unless it's a reasoned assessment without insults and cheap shots, I'm not interested. Criticism up to a point is fair but not the sort of stuff I've heard from spurs supporters down the years.
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01/10/2009 16:55:00

Actually jaelle, I read it and it's very good. No cheap shots. (In fairness, that's not the way oxfordspur operates- he's generally very balanced on all counts).
Little Dutch
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01/10/2009 16:56:00

apologies, oxford, I decided to take you up on your post and went over to VitalSpurs. You wrote a nice piece, fair play to you, much appreciated. Some of the comments were fair too.
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01/10/2009 16:58:00

yeah, LD, I just realized that about oxford. Spoke too soon.
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01/10/2009 16:59:00

I admire him so much that I think this is almost like a kind of daughterly love. I'm pretty sure I quote him or use his philosophy as an analogy more than my own dad's in conversations. :D Happy anniversary Arsene!!
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01/10/2009 17:27:00

Yes Jaelle agreed with everything you said. Xavier Rivoire's book is a good read.
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01/10/2009 17:29:00

Really great post Jaelle. Made with a great deal of heart and from a perspective of genuine passion.
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01/10/2009 18:38:00

Thanks, Amos. Arsene does that to me. :-)
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01/10/2009 20:32:00

Can someone jog my memory? Before Arsene's record of an unbeaten season, he was the first to have an unbeaten record of away games since Preston North End in the 19th century, correct? He still holds that record, doesn't he?
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01/10/2009 20:38:00

I think the PNE record was for an unbeaten season but Arsenal does still hold the record for longest unbeaten sequence of away games - 23 (From 18 Aug 2001) which beat a record of 22 previously held by Nottingham Forest. The Arsenal site lists all such records here:
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01/10/2009 20:54:00

Thanks, Amos.
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01/10/2009 21:59:00

Straight from the heart, jaelle. Fair play to Le Prof. He often makes me steaming mad but at the end of the day, i wouldnt swap him for anyone in the world.
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02/10/2009 13:23:00

Nice post Jaelle. You always hear about what a great human being Arsene is and makes you wonder just how great it would be to know him so that you could learn about life from him, not just football. I'll never forgive him for not signing Kaka and Messi when they were 10 years old though :-)
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03/10/2009 09:55:00


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