Sept 1996. Arsenal were in search for a new manager, some famous names were suggested Terry Venables, Johan Cryuff. David Dein, the then Arsenal vice- chairman did a very Arsenal thing and brought in a relatively unknown from Japanese club Nagoya Grampus Eight that even prompted the London Evening Standard to run that famous headline ‘Arsene who?’ The first ever foreign manager of Arsenal was an unheralded French man. The man was Arsene Wenger and he isn’t named after the club.
The club was in transition when he arrived, derided for the negative or boring football and the training ground facilities were shoddy for a top club.Arsene reinvented Arsenal, changed the philosophy of the club, introduced new diet methods, recruited players from lands unknown to humans and developed them to world beaters. The Arsenal as we know now is the brain child of Arsene Wenger. In short he revolutionised English Football.
He won the double in his first full season and Arsenal posed a serious threat to the Manchester United hegemony. Arsenal and United’s history will not be complete without their intense rivalry. Wenger was the first to really challenge Ferguson and their rivalry is legendary. Their competitiveness formed the theme of the English Premier League and until the mid 2000’s there were only two clubs really competing for the top honours. Arsenal won the title at Old Trafford in 02/03 season and also clinched the FA cup. Arsene’s greatest ever achievement was The Invincibles. 49-0. Title won at White Hart Lane.I will stop there.
Then followed our move from the iconic Highbury to the state of the art Emirates . The stadium costs meant we were financially handicapped, the landscape changed when Abrahmovic bought yes I mean it bought the league and later Mancity entered the fray.
Arsene had his flaws too, he dismantled the Invincibles prematurely and sure the transition could have been much smoother. His post 06 teams were too youngish and they didn’t have that experience when it mattered the most. That’s where Arsene could have done better. However we haven’t dropped out of Champions league places in those testing times. I would rank that as an achievement and the vision he had for Arsenal is nothing short of extraordinary.
He has built a legacy that will outlive his less glorious times. He has always been an Arsenal man and an excellent ambassador of the club on and off the pitch. He ain’t Mourinho to poke opponent coach’s eyes. Would you trade Mourinho for Arsene? I wouldn’t entertain such a thought even. You can’t buy class. Some times success takes a back seat and there are more important things in life. Arsene Wenger is one such and for me he is the club’s greatest ever signing. Congrats on 1000, Arsene. Thanks Dein Thanks Arsene. “It came to me during that game of charades,” recalled David Dein “It was like a bolt of lightning. Arsene for Arsenal. It was written in the stars. It has to happen one day.”COYG