Is Arsene Wenger the most underappreciated manager in the world? by JH
May 15th, 2004.
After a surprisingly edgy afternoon, Arsene Wenger had in his hands a the Premier League title, It was the single greatest and dominant season in English Football history, Arsenal had won 26, drawn 12, lost precisely Zero.
I believe Arsene Wenger described it as “immortality”, how right he was, every season since then a team that has started well has been asked if they could be the next Invincibles. Having gone a full season unbeaten, being undeniably the best team in the country for a whole year, you could forgive everyone for perhaps believing that this was the start of Arsenals Premier League dominance.
How was Arsene Wenger to know that he would not touch this trophy again for over a decade. At the same time, not far down the road, work was beginning on the Emirates stadium; Arsene Wengers True legacy.
Arsene Wenger was instrumental in the move to our new home, he recognised the need for superior finances in football as money became more and more of a factor. He also agreed to stay at Arsenal through the repayment process, knowing full well that he would need to sell our greatest players to generate income to pay off the stadium quicker than expected, all the while he knew that despite selling our star players each and every year, he had to keep Arsenal in the top four.
Arsene showed his loyalty to Arsenal and his vision for the club, he turned down Real Madrid and his home nation France on more than one occasion along with rumoured rejections of PSG and Juventus.
“This club gave me a chance. But I think as well at important periods I have shown loyalty and turned many things down and have accepted to work with restricted potential,” Wenger said.
“And that was knowing that I had to stay at the top. I did that with full commitment.
“Today we can fight with the top clubs financially again. I believe the club is in a very strong position today”.
Don’t get me wrong, we all know he has been well paid for these services, but I can’t say that is why he stayed, Would Mourinho have stayed to see his name dragged through the dirt, be ridiculed? For 8m a year? Even further, could Mourinho have maintained our to p4 place despite selling his top player every year? I doubt it…
Arsene has stayed with this club through the tough times, he has stayed through the criticism from the fans (some of it simply abhorrent) even though he didn’t have to, he could have left for Real Madrid numerous times, bought who he liked, won what he wanted.
But he had a vision.
Don’t for one second believe Arsene Wenger didn’t know things were going to be hard, he knew. Arsene Wenger was asked last week that in previous years had he gone into the season knowing Arsenal would not mount a serious title challenge. His response: “Of course. Why? Because when you lose your best players it is impossible.
“And you see opponents strengthen their squad, and they are already stronger than you”.
Some say that these last 10 years have destroyed his Arsenal legacy, I couldn’t disagree more, He has revolutionised what it means to be Arsenal Football Club. One-nil to the Arsenal no longer holds any water, Arsenal are renowned for playing the best football in England, one of the best in Europe. He arrived with Arsenal playing at Highbury with an average attendance of 37000, in the season previous to Wenger joining, we finished 12th in 1994/95, then 5th in 95/96, scoring just 52 and 49 goals in those seasons. We had the reputation of a dull brand of football. Since the season Wenger took over we have averaged 71 goals a season. Now Arsenal play with style and technique. Now we play arguably the best football in the country, in front of an average of 59000 fans.
Arsene Wenger has taken us on a journey from mediocrity, to greatness, through poverty, and finally we are at the other side, Arsene Wengers financial handcuffs have been removed for 2 seasons, during which time we have won 2 trophies and bought our 2 most expensive players ever, Mesut Ozil, and Alexis Sanchez, £42million and £35million. True superstars of the game, at Arsenal. All of a sudden the queue at the exit has vanished.
And Arsene can relax and search for the next superstar he wants to bring in, this year Petr Cech became available, a huge upgrade in our GK department, and a born winner. All noting AW as the key reason they joined Arsenal.
Our recent recruitment drive of the likes of Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Yassin Fortune, Donyell Malen, Vlad Dragomir, shows Arsene has not forgotten about the future, the implementation of Andries Jonker shows that preparation for the future is happening, and AW is overseeing said developments.
This is Arsene Wengers project, and I believe he deserves a couple of years to use the money he has made our club.
What Arsenal have is a Manager who runs a club with the club’s best interests in mind, no care for his own legacy, no ego that dictates he must win everything no matter who with or how, but a pure and simple desire that he leaves this club better than he left it.
One day in the future, Arsenal will line up for their first game of the season, and Arsene Wenger will not be there. It will be difficult, and also very strange. But Arsene Wenger is working to make sure that his successor has the best stadium, the best finances, the best staff, the best prospects, the best squad and the best chance possible.
What do you think, do we appreciate Arsene Wenger for what he has done for us? Or should the Board give up on Wenger and turn to someone new??