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AU REVIOR ARSENE: A Tribute to English Football’s Longest Serving Manager

When Arsenal signed Arsene Wenger in 1996, the Frenchman was literally a nobody from the Japanese J League club Nagoya Gramps Eight. Armed with a degree in Economics that soon earned him the name Le Professeur, the skinny lad soon transformed English football.

In his first season, he changed Arsenal’s entire set-up, pre-match preparation and style of play. He introduced new compulsory dietary habits and in a way brought a new sense of professionalism that was lacking in England.

The changes soon paid off, and he did the double in the 1997-1998 season as they won the Premier League and FA cup while playing eye catching football. The next few years were some of the most exciting for Arsenal and English football.

Before Wenger joined Arsenal, they had last won the League in 1990/1991, the FA cup in 1993 little did they know Le Professeur was about to embark on a revolutionary transformation of the club.

Wenger’s 22-year legacy can be broken down into three different stages. The first stage was where he was seen as a pioneer, a genius and a wonderful manager with a sharp keen eye for talent. His emphasis on attacking, high possession football with the outright aim of entertaining the crowds had never been seen in England.

He had an incredible eye for talent and on more than one occasion turned unknown names from obscurity into remarkable World class legends. The list is endless, Thiery Henry, Robin Van Persie, Cesc Fabregas, Hector Bellarin, Freddie Ljugberg, Laurent Koscielney were mostly un-known but became truly brilliant players under Wenger.

He led Arsenal on a 49 games unbeaten run from May 2003 to October 200, breaking Nottingham Forest’s previous record of 42 set in 1977under Brian Clough but that was to be the highest point in his career.

The second stage started in the mid 2000’s, he was still good but extremely stubborn and refused to change his style of play with the changing world of football.

Other teams embarked on spending sprees to strengthen their squads but as usual a stubborn Wenger refused to part with anything more than his valuation. Despite not spending lots of money to buy player, he somehow managed to keep his side in contention for Europe and won the FA cup and community shield a number of times.


His failure to spend saw Arsenal’s squad dwindle over the years and the third stage kicked in. In 2011, he at one time had to rely on mediocre squad that had Djourou and Squillaci in defense, Emmanuel Fropong and Benayoun in the middle, as Chamakh led the front line.

He couldn’t compete with the rising money giants Manchester City and Chelsea who were buying players no matter the price. With such a line up, troubles started for the French man. He couldn’t keep up with Europe’s elite, and Arsenal soon became a feeder club not only to European giants but also to rivals something that infuriated the fans. Year in year out, Arsenal was embarrassed in the champions league, and he did nothing to strengthen the squad, something that didn’t sit well with the fans.

Things worsened when Arsenal failed to qualify for the champions League last season and fans all-over the world  started carrying ply cards calling for the manager’s sacking. Some fans went to an extent of carrying these banners in basketball, cricket, and tennis matches but the board still stuck with their man and added him a two-year contract.

After another disappointing season, Wenger yesterday 20th March came out to announce he’s stepping down. According to Arsenal’s chief executive Ivan Gazidis yesterday, he was not forced to step down and thanked him for giving them an early heads-up to find a suitable replacement.

Arsene Wenger is a true Arsenal Legend, perhaps their greatest manager. He will be remembered as one of the finest to grace English football despite disappointing in his last 8-10 years.

After announcing he will step down, fans, even the Wenger Out campaign leaders came out to show their support for Wenger. Personally, as a die-hard Arsenal fan, yes we were a bit frustrated with the results, but we all respected and deep down loved the man for sure.

Every Arsenal fan has at one point loved him and proper fans despite the circumstances have always respected him. He will be remembered as someone who put his club first, a man that advocated for values, and loved good football.

With chief executive Ivan Gazidis promising that the board has decided to be “open minded, brave and adventurous”, one can’t help but wonder who the next gaffer will be.


Wenger’s Career in Numbers.

3- Premier Leagues

7- FA Cups

7- Community Shields

15- Manager of the Months Awards

3- Manager off the year Accolades

86- He’s Won the most Champions League Matches despite not winning the trophy.

1- World Manager of the Year

49- Arsenal went a record 49 games unbeaten from May 2003 to October 200, breaking Nottingham Forest’s previous record of 42 set in 1977under Brian Clough.

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