10 talking points from Arsene Wenger’s interview with Ian Wright

To promote the ‘Arsene Wenger: Invincible’ Movie, out in select cinemas and available on Amazon next week, Arsene Wenger sat down with Ian Wright for an interview on behalf of Ladbible TV.

I don’t understand how any true Gooner can tire of hearing our greatest ever manager advertise a film which documents our most successful season …. but one thing I don’t understand ……

The title tells you what the article is about. If I didn’t like the subject, I wouldn’t bother clicking read more, let alone reading the whole thing and then commenting on the piece.


Here are the main take aways when Mr Wenger met Ian Wright…


Who he regretted not buying?  Part 1

Not just did Mr Wenger regret missing out on this player, he had a deal agreed.

The player had been to the training ground, talked to the Frenchman and accepted terms.

Wenger says Arsenal were guilty of dawdling on finalising the deal.

This allowed Man United to also negotiate with the youngster.

If the Gunners hadn’t decided to wait for the end of the week to secure his signature, it would have been too late for Sir Alex Ferguson.

The player in question? A certain Cristiano Ronaldo!

Imagine how different the history of the sport could have been had we not hesitated?


Who he regretted not buying? Part 2

Many of our fan base wonder why we didn’t buy Kante after he lifted the title with Leicester.

In reality we could have bought the midfielder before he went to the King Power.

Mr Wenger had a friend who worked as an agent. He phoned one day to inform his buddy he had a client who was a free agent and couldn’t find a club.

He was driving Kante around France being turned down by several teams, only deemed good enough for their third division.

He went on to win two Premiere League’s, the Champions League, Europa, FA Cup and World Cup

Like Mr Wenger said, his story could be a movie.

According to one reader, Maitland Niles is better! This remains my favourite comment on this site…


Best signing

Mr Wenger would earn a reputation for finding gems on the cheap and turning them into superstars, either winning trophies or making money for the club.

The Frenchman feels Vieira was the most important because it reassured Gooners that their new manager, unknown at the time, could spot talent.

Vieira officially was signed before Mr Wenger arrived in England.

Knowing he was joining (working his notice in Japan) one of the first things the boss did was tell David Dein to snap up the 20-year-old.


The Invincible defence cost less than 10 million

One of the biggest myths within our fanbase Is Mr Wenger was lucky to inherit a world class defence and couldn’t build his own.

Simply not true!

Of the defenders who went a season unbeaten, only Keown was around before the manager, and he only featured 10 times in the League in 2003-2004.

The 72-year-old has too much class to point he built a back 5 which didn’t lose a single League game but does point out how cheap they were.

Lauren 8 million, Lehmann was approx. 1.5 million, Kolo Touré was half a million, Campbell was free, Cole was from the academy.

Not bad for a man who apparently only inherited a defence…



Asked about the most underrated players he’s worked with Mr Wenger mentioned that Gilberto Silva never gets mentioned.

Watching Brazil lift the World Cup in 2002, Mr Wenger noticed how everything started with the midfielder breaking up play.

One of those players you noticed when they were not playing


Favourite Trophy

Mr Wenger feels the first Double was the most important.

It appears he was well aware of the perception of him when he arrived in England and that the quicker he was successful, the more it would prove that be belonged at this level.

He claims the open top bus parade in 1998 was the first time he grasped just how big Arsenal were.

He was used to 38,000 inside Highbury every other week.

Celebrating our first ever Premiership and the FA Cup, he estimates 230,000 Gooners were in attendance.

Hence the argument that we needed a bigger stadium.


Worst defeat

It is not a shock to hear that the Champions League Final was the most painful defeat of his career.

Knowing that he would be breaking up his squad there was a sense of it was now or never for Arsenal to win the European Cup.

It was also how we lost.

We hadn’t conceded a goal in the entire knockout stages and had to play against Barcelona with 10 men.

Against the odds we were 13 mins away from immortality.

Even with a man deficit we had the chances.


Wenger Was Collateral

Your opinion on Mr Wenger’s legacy comes down to what you believe regarding off the stadium debt.

When arranging a payment plan, the rumour goes that bank insisted that Mr Wenger sign a 5-year contract extension to give them assurances that Arsenal were serious about finishing in the top 4, guaranteeing much needed revenue.

Wenger qualified for the Champions League every year till the stadium was paid off, despite having to sell his best talent.


Job offers

In his final months as our boss Mr Wenger promised one day, he would tell the world the offers he had to walk away.

As highlighted in the film, Mr Wenger was courted three times by Real Madrid, PSG, Juventus, France and England.

The Frenchman felt that having been part of convincing board members to invest over 400 million in building the Emirates, it would be wrong to abandon ship when the club were in a financially uncertain future.

At the time he viewed keeping Arsenal in the top 4 on a tight budget his most impressive piece of work.

If he knew some would base everything on medals won, he would have gone elsewhere.

‘Subconsciously I would say no’

While not guaranteeing anything, Mr Wenger says he doubts he would return to club management, but would be open to helping anyone in an advisory capacity.

He wouldn’t rule out a short-term international job.


Be Kind in The Comments


WATCH This week’s Just Arsenal Show – Dan Smith wants to see proof of Arteta’s progress at Anfield

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  1. “At the time he viewed keeping Arsenal in the top 4 on a tight budget his most impressive piece of work.” – this is unique and only Arsene can do it, not even Alex Ferguson – the most successful Club Manager in Europe or even in the World.

  2. Good article with many good points.

    Just some facts for the record:
    In Wengers final 10 years we were 4’th in nett spend on transfers.

    1. I have no time to dispute your previous article as I’m busy with work. You never give an objective yearly breakdown of spending but lump the whole spending together. You can get the data from transfermarkt.com for yearly breakdown. As what Gunners4life commented, he spent money in his last 4 years.

      Why some money-loaded clubs spending less is because their sale of players bring in money while Arsenal’s sale of players brought less money.

      What so special about Arsene is the he can manage average players and make them become “top 4” teams. You can research on his players after they left Arsenal, most of them perform worse than their time in Arsenal.

      His last 2 years are worst years of his Arsenal’s career. Anyway, he is gone and is in Arsenal’s history. Let live in present and pray for MA’s success with this young team. I hope for a draw today.

  3. Wenger said he didn’t want to approve such event, because he doesn’t like to talk too much about the past and he is more focused about the future. His friend finally convinced him to do it

    I agree with him, we should keep moving forward with our young manager who’s been more updated with modern technology and systems. Unfortunately, the giant clubs in La Liga aren’t willing to take a risk by hiring Wenger after Zidane and Koeman left

    1. We should move forward with MA and respect what Arsene had done for Arsenal. For those who hate Arsene, please find your gang and hope that you can learn how to appreciate and be grateful to people in your remaining lives.

  4. Great read, though personally I am more interested in NOW than in reading yet another piece , however interesting it was, and indeed it WAS, about Wenger, as great as he was.

    Not criticism Dan but just me giving my personal thoughts on what most matters to our club right now.

    And what MOST matters, my fellow Gooners, is that we should ALL get right behind our young and honest young manager and give HIM every chance of emulating at least some of Wengers success.

    There are far too many , even now who have no faith in ,MA and that piles unfair pressure on him, esp when some names – you all know who they are – cannot let a day go by without calling for his sacking.

    Some even continue to believe that he holds grudges , rather than doing what he genuinely believes best for our club and team.


    Though I do note that a number are very quickly repositioning themselves now to avoid further egg on their faces.

      1. A slaveto the league position only DAN, with all other considerations , shades of grey and nuances totally ignored. And from a presumed thinker like you too.

        An odd position for a bright fan to take, I’d say!

        1. I meant League position as in 8th
          That’s where the criticism would come from
          Of course if he finished 4th I’ll say well done
          Have to wait and see

    1. I have learned that when my posts disappear, as they usually do, it is best just to put my email , name and then write nothing at all, to get my original post to reappear.

      Hence my “a” above and it worked ! For some reason posts do not appear for me until I send in another one no matter how paltry!

      I can see that other GOONERS ALSO HAVE THIS TROUBLE but Ad Pat seems not to know why, so hey ho , thats life!

  5. Disagree with Mr Wenger on the most underrated player – he may have been somewhat underrated, but Gilberto’s nickname of the invisible wall did stick and I think most are aware of his importance, even outside of the club (he was a world cup winner after all).
    Most underrated imo was either Lauren or edu as both were big contributors in making us hard to beat (and remain invincible) but are talked about relatively little. Edu wasn’t a starter but could play with either Vieira or Gilberto to the extent that missing either didn’t weaken us as much as you’d expect.
    Lehmann is another who was brilliant but more remembered for his mad moments than his ability and contribution.

    1. Also wiltord – played different positions for the team and scored important goals. I think that season he was less influential but still, underrated

    2. Yes, DAVI, I can agree on LAUREN, who was much underrated.
      Less so on Edu, who was a fine player certainly but not perhaps a key Invincible
      .I also agree that, at least by Gooners, Gilberto was not at all underrated . He was IMO A PROPER GREAT!

      I actually thought some players in that period somewhat overrated, notably KANU, who IMO was not as overall effective as many, esp from Nigeria, would have us believe. Also Toure was a very good player butwhen compared to CAMPBELL, NOT A GREAT AT ALL. Great bloke for sure but not as a player.

      Kanu was a great man but not IMO A REAL GREAT PLAYER, but merely pretty good.

      Lehmann too would not be in my best ever five Arsenal keepers since 1958, when I started attending.

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