Wenger and his European Dreams by Sumo
“I can’t imagine finishing my life(career) without winning the European Cup”
-Arséne Wenger, to L’Equipe in 2003.
What is the most disappointing portfolio Arsenal has which makes you go mad
and want to bite them when fans of other club mentions/taunts you with it-
Selling best players. [Thank god we can put it to rest now]
B) One(two) trophy in 9 years.
C) No UEFA Champions League.
For me, the last one generally does it. When its mentioned by rival fans, I get bitter and most of the time walk away.
If that’s my state, can you imagine our manager? Yes, Mangers are professionals and masters of emotions, and sentiments can’t supersede their judgements. But listening to our manager week in week out, I feel I can comprehend some of the things said. I strongly believe that UEFA Champions League is the only trophy that Wenger wants the most, yes, even more than the Premier League.
Now I don’t claim to be a face reader, but believe in a pattern. Many of you may already know this but let me show you a pattern today.
To distinguish lets make assumption of Highbury Days(1996-2006)and Emirates Days(2006-present).
We will only talk of European results.
1996-97: UEFA Cup, went out in 1st round.
1997-98: UEFA Cup, went out in 1st round.
1998-99: Failed to make it out of the group stage in the UEFA Champions’ League.
1999-00: Failed to make it out of the group stage in the UEFA Champions’ League(UCL). But Runners Up in the subsequent UEFA Cup losing to Galatasray in penalties.
2000-01: UCL Quarter Finals
2001-02: UCL 2nd group stage
2002-03: UCL 2nd group stage
2003-04: UCL Quarter Finals
2004-05: UCL Quarter Finals
2005-06: UCL Runners Up
So in 10years (1996-2006) despite being domestic champions thrice
Quarter Finals- 3times
Finals- Only once
Not getting out of group- 6times
2006-07: UCL Round of 16
2007-08: UCL Quarter Finals
2008-09: UCL Semi Finals
2009-10: UCL Quarter Finals
2010-11: UCL Round of 16
2011-12: UCL Round of 16
2012-13: UCL Round of 16
2013-14: UCL Round of 16
So in 8years (2006-2014) despite doing badly in domestic competition and not finishing in the top two
Round of 16- five times
Quarter Finals- twice
Semi Finals- once
Not getting out of the group- Zero
Now for the tuff explaining part:
During the Highbury days the players were generally characterized by Strength and Power. And very loyal bunch of players.
But i feel Wenger understood that Strength and Physicality cannot win you the UCL as characterized by our final in 2006 [we were leading 1-0 despite being a man down] and poor showing in Europe during the Highbury days.
Even during our Invincible year we didn’t have a good showing in Europe.
Today Arsene Wenger is 64. After his three years contract expires, he will be 67. And I have a hunch this is his last contract. I feel in this 3 years, he will put full effort to win the UCL. And i believe our team shows exactly that. If you pick each and every attacking player from our team, you will see that they are all very technical players.
Mikel Arteta signifies the importance of my saying. Like how many times in a day do we say we need a beast of a DM. Yet Wenger persists with Arteta due to his technical abilities.
I think in this 3years Wenger will win us the UCL with his brilliant collection of Technical midfielder.
Wenger had already made the team ready in 2008-09 when a bunch of school boys reached the semifinals of the UCL until the players slowly started showing their gritty faces to the boss. Of that team not even one player plays in our squad today.