From “Arsene who?” – To “you know Unai” – The many Arsenal revolutions….

From “Arsene who?” – To “you know who” by Charles Veritie

The date is Saturday 17th August 1996. Gooners not on holiday are gathering at Highbury for the first match of the new season and its against Taxpaidfor aka ‘wet spam’ aka West Ham.

The BBC are there to greet them for there is fun to be had at their expense. They interview the fans and get this gem. “This club is going nowhere it’s got a youth team coach for a manager (Pat Rice). How did that come about?

Before the start of season 1995 – 96 Bergkamp and Platt arrived at Highbury. In the last game of the season, in the last few minutes of the game, they both scored and won us a place in the UEFA Cup. In the league we finished 5th

Just another ordinary season of going nowhere. Well not quite ordinary for you see before the season we hired Bruce Rioch and after the season we fired him.

Mobile phones were ‘Brick Phones’, too big, too heavy and too expensive.
The internet was limited to universities and their professors.

The day’s bubble gum pundits were confined to the terraces, press, TV and radio.

Despite all the speculation the dawn of the new season arrived and we were managerless which is how it was we had a ‘Youth team coach’ for a manager!

The bubble gum pundits were at Highbury to revel in the Gooners despair, as then as today!

In our frustration at going nowhere we could not have known what one man in the inner sanctum of the club, new. That is, The Boardroom had morphed into a bedroom. Out voted once, he was determined to get his man, the second time round. Looking back, the rest is history back then looking forward the rest was a mystery.

In 1996 the Premier League was still in its infancy.

For news of football outside of England you needed a highly magnified spyglass to read the small print, if you knew where to look for it.

In the eyes of football’s blue suits and the English media ‘Johnny Foreigner’ was and for many still is ignorant on all matters football.

So it came as a shook to the system to learn of a Frenchman being hyped as the new manager.

But before we go any further lets take a look at the Cup Final that took place on the 16th May 1987.

Spuds v Coventry. I was on honeymoon that Saturday afternoon, so as we tramped the streets of a town in Crete for a bar showing the match I was constantly reminded ‘its not Arsenal’ She didn’t understand that constantly hearing its not Arsenal was as much as an irritation to me as my wanting to watch the game was an irritation to her. Saturday night proved to be a lonely night.

What we didn’t know then was that game was to be spuds Saint Glen Hoddles’s last game for them for he transferred to Monaco, where he went on to win a cup final and a league winners medal.

I thought Monaco a flea bit club in southern France, why? My limited research led me to discover the name of the manager – Arsene Wenger. From then on I followed the fortunes of Arsene Wenger the man who took St Glen from spuds. ‘Merci Arsene’.

Back to 1996 the season underway and ‘going nowhere’ Arsenal buy two French players. We feasted our eyes for the first time on Patrick Vieira. Then the Arsene Wenger hype became a reality.

Remember ‘Arsene who?’ St. Glen, could have told them, he knew what was coming. We didn’t.

Revolution One.
At Arsenal the refrain was ‘win or lose we are on the booze’ and much of football was the same. Planned drinking sessions were replaced by the Arsene diet revolution.

Revolution Two.
Training and coaching went from hit and miss to professionist detail with nothing left to chance.

Revolution Three.
After Arsene had won the Double in 1998 David Dein said ‘We hoped to win the league in three seasons but never this.’ It wasn’t that we won a gong, it was how we had won a gong. It was the revolution on the pitch we had gone from the dour defense of George Graham to dream, dream Arsene goals.

These Arsene revolutions gave us the success we craved.

Revolution Four.
This one focused on the youth training, which was revolutionised.

Revolution 5
This Arsene revolution proved to be the state of the art training facilities and medical center.

Revolution 6
After 93 years at Highbury, ‘Home of football’, we left home. But for the money we moved to, The Arsene Wenger Stadium.

In 2008 a new chief executive officer was needed and so it was that in January 2009 known only by those in the inner sanctum, Ivan Gazidis found his place. Number 2 at the helm of Arsenal.

Life after the Arsene revolutions was proving a little difficult.

Into the big world surrounding Arsenal had come the closed shop PGMOL controlling the game’s referees and led by Mike Riley, the ref of game 50.

The first billionaire interfering in team affairs had arrived at Chelski, more were to follow.

The club needing a new owner chose a man who true to Arsenal tradition would not interfere with the team. They got their man, who keeps his money to himself.

The years rolled on. It became clear that despite the odds attacked (yes I mean attacked) against us we are still capable of winning a cup but the league championship needed a new approach a new revolution. So Ivan Gazidis, began his Arsenal revolution.

Unlike the 1996 revolution, the 2018 revolution has come from within the club, each step carefully noted and unseen by most until the club announced ‘Merci Arsene’

So Arsene’s departure was like his coming, a big surprise to all but a few.

We blinked and into our eyes came Unai Emery and we knew. The ignorance of the 1996 summer is in contrast to the knowledge of the 2018 summer. The anticipation as to who the players will be, how the team will play and hope is in contrast to the despair of the managerless 1996 summer.

The two revolutions have taken us from ‘Arsene who?’ to ‘you know Unai’. Yet like 1996 was, the rest is a mystery.

Bring it on, bring it on, bring it on.

Copyright Charles Veritie. 22.6.2018.


  1. Sammykit says:

    How dare me say; this is the best article i’ve read in months. I want more… More!!!

    1. gotanidea says:

      Yes, a great article by Charles Veritie. Wenger was a revolutionary manager, then he ran out of ideas

      Wenger’s system is obsolete, but he left Arsenal as a more popular and richer club, thanks to his football style

      I hope Emery can make another groundbreaking system that would bring Arsenal to the top again

  2. Stan says:

    Copyright? hahaha.
    Sorry but this is terribly written, which is a shame because it’s a really nice piece.
    Just proof read in future!

  3. LUCKYVILLE says:

    Nice article… Really caught my attention, got lost reading it that I forgot everything happening around me. Thumbs up.
    Let the season begin plsssssssss….. F*ck, I really had the wait.

    1. LUCKYVILLE says:

      Hate the wait I mean

  4. Break-on-through says:

    Sing it back to me (sing it back)
    Bring it back (sing it)
    Sing it back (sing it)
    Bring it back (sing it)
    Sing it back to me (sing it back to me)

  5. Uzi Ozil says:

    Call my name… Unai Emery.

    Say what? Unai Emery…

    Come again…. One Arsenal!

  6. Hez says:

    Wonderful article!
    You know what you are doing sir

  7. auba arsenal of lagos says:

    Be prepared !!!!
    Its a new dawn!!!!!!!
    Arsenal 3- 0 man city

  8. ger burke says:


  9. RSH says:

    iwobi doesnt even start for nigeria now… oh boy.

  10. Ozziegunner says:

    The article didn’t explain the loss of defensive competetence developed under George Graham and continued in the first part of Arsene Wenger’S managerial tenure, the change from tall strong physical combative players able to intimidate the opposition in the tunnel to small wimpy players attempting “Barcelona light” and the demise and expulsion of David Dein by the board and its effect on Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal.

  11. Juhi McLovin says:

    Charles Veritie! The last name in my native language means ‘blood road’!

  12. Midkemma says:

    Very nice article, I think it could have been better if Charles went into a bit more detail about the politics at the club and stretched this over two articles…

    David Dein done a lot to get Wenger even before Wenger signed, Wenger basically told Dein to sign Vieira if he wanted him and Dein got the deal done, fast! During their reign together they would often share meals and talk about football, this communication lead to us winning.

    Gazidis arrived and AFC transfers went from signing players for respectable amounts to splitting up that respectable amount and gamble on 3-4 players from the transfer kitty, example is Nasri and Arshavin (Gazidis arrived but only been at club a short while), following season, Gazidis 1st full season in charge and we see us act like Stoke in the transfer market.
    This was happening while the old board was making promises about not selling us to a single owner who is foreign, British pride and all the BS…. Until the share prices went up enough and ca-ching! Sold. Was it to some British investor though after the promise to not sell to a foreign investor? No, it was a yank.

    While Wenger declined it took our CEO nearly a decade to finally do what he should have been doing from day one… Yet again this has been overlooked because he is finally acting.

    This revolution isn’t going to come from Gazidis, he only hired people to do his job and it will be those people that we need to hope do a good enough job, Gazidis is only good at boosting share value. Proof? Look at reality. Our share prices have increased even though we been slipping on field.

    So happy we got Sven and Raul, looking forward to seeing how they will guide us forward.

    1. jon fox says:

      Midkemma, I must salute you. You have said precisely what I also think. Many do not or have not the life experience or sufficient years supporting us to understand the catastrophic stupidity of forcing David Dein out. Our decline started the very year he left. I could almost say that very day. That we now have the power mad(for himself) Gazidis trying but failing ,big time , to fill DD’s phenomenal boots is something of a bad joke. As you CORRECTLY say, it took almost a full decade before ghastly Gazidis took action , and then only prompted by massive fan unrest which he knew would unseat him too, unless immediate changes were made. So he made them. But only to preserve his own smarmy skin. Some of us who have been round the block more than once fully recognise this truth. Well posted! It sickens me to see youngsters who know little or nothing of politics in our club a decade and more ago, are now showering the oily Gazidis with undeserved praise for instigating changes. What about the decade of drift in which he stood idly by? Counting his obscenely undeserved salary!

      1. Phil says:

        Sorry guys but I have to disagree with you over Ivan Gazidis.David Dein leaving Arsenal was a bigger disaster for Arsenal Football Club than the Board continually renewing Wengers contract for the last 10 years of his reign.This was a man who lived and breathed Arsenal Football Club.He WAS Arsenal Football Club.Wenger owed everything to him.
        Sure they were the perfect partnership and the two of them revolutionised Arsenal together.I have often wondered why Wenger did not stand up for David Dein when the unforgivable decision to remove him from the Board was taken.Bit the salaries Wenger continued to pick up and the way he took FULL control of the Club after Dein was removed no doubt had something to do with it.
        Help me out here.Was it not Keith Edelman who was CEO prior to Ivan Gazidis coming to the Club?Now that was a Chairman’s lapdog if there ever was one.
        When Gazidis did arrive we had NO money.There is no disputing this.The Stadium had to be paid for and we were not able to compete for the quality players we were able to under Denis stewardship.Gazidis was aware of the situation and I doubt anyone could have done the type of work that was needed any differently than he done.But when the funds were starting to become available again Wenger was given the money to spend.I cannot believe for one minute it was Gazidis who scouted and bought players of the Calibre of Mustafi Xhaka etc.This came from
        Wengers total control and NOT Gazidis.Ot was only when Wenger was proven incapable of arresting the continuing slide that Gazidis slowly began to wrestle the control away from Wenger and implement the changes that we are now beginning to see bear fruit.He told us there was a Catalyst for Change about to dawn and he has been proven to be correct.It is reported Gazidis was against Wenger getting a new contract two seasons ago and it was Gazidis who oversaw the sacking of Wenger.That alone should warrant the respect of ALL Arsenal supporters.
        So I cannot agree with any critisism of Gazidis and would instead offer the CEO total respect for the chances that he has fought to bring about.

  13. Uchman says:

    Awwwwwww what n amazing and wonderful article, hiring wenger remains the best thing that have ever happened to arsenal FC, well written bro

    1. Phil says:

      Signing Dennis Bergkamp was the best thing that happened to Arsenal in my 62 years.It all started when David Dein brought him to the Club pre Wenger.

      That’s a great Headline Topic for someone to pick up on.
      What is the BEST thing that happened at Arsenal Football Club?Different era’s.Different thoughts.Different priorities.

      Jon Fox will be moving from Woolwich to Highbury.(Yes he IS that old).
      Ken 1945 will be the FREE Merci Arsene T-Shirts at his final match at the Emirates ( which to this day he still hasn’t taken off I understand).
      Kenny Rolfe will be watching Geordie Armstrong
      Kev will be promotion to Head of Transfer news

      1. Ozziegunner says:


  14. jon fox says:

    This article, albeit of interest, OMITTED to mention the greatest calamity at Arsenal since Walsall beat us 2-0 in the FA CUP IN 1933; the crazy own goal of our club sacking visionary and dynamic vice chairman, who effectively ran the club (not the team though), a certain David Dein. How any true article can omit this major catastrophe in our recent history is beyond rational understanding. It is easy to learn facts but it takes nous and life experience to fully understand the significance of some facts. Not to even mention them is bonkers!

  15. Uchman says:

    For David dein to hire wenger, he’s a legend

    1. Ozziegunner says:

      The tragedy is that Arsene Wenger didn’t reciprocate and support David Dein by threatening the board to leave with him. This may have changed the history of the club for the better.

  16. PIRES says:

    Unai for me is a younger Wenger.Hope he will have the same early succes as Arsène had.

  17. Yasef says:

    The article is quite short and comprehensive. Keep it up Charles

  18. big g says:

    Great article, we are at the beginning of a new chapter, i hope we are aiming for the league in 3 years time.

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