Arsene Wenger: The Story of Mr Arsenal

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Arsene Wenger may enjoy an illustrious reputation as the most successful manager in Arsenal’s history, but the man himself enjoyed a much more inauspicious playing career before joining the London club in 1996.

Born in Strasbourg, France, Arsene Wenger began playing football for the nearby village football team of FC Duttlenheim before being recruited to play for regional amateur side AS Mutzig. While studying for a Master’s degree in Economics, Wenger played for several amateur football sides before turning professional in 1978, where he played for RC Strasbourg. His career as a professional player was short-lived, however, and upon attaining a manager’s diploma he was appointed coach of the club’s youth team.

His first senior managerial post came in 1984 when he was appointed manager for AS Nancy where he spent three seasons before moving to French team AS Monaco in 1987; winning Le Championnat in his first full season in charge. He stayed with the club until the 1994/95 season, rebuffing advances from Bayern Munich and the French national team, but was fired after a poor start to that season. After Monaco, he moved to Japan to coach J-League side, Grampus Eight where he enjoyed a successful eighteen months.

Wenger returned to Europe in October 1996 where, after becoming friends with then Arsenal vice-chairman, David Dein, he took over the reins at Highbury and has continued through the club’s move to the new Emirates stadium. Wenger had replaced the Scottish manager Bruce Rioch and in his first season led the London side to third place in the English Premier Division, missing out on Champions League qualification on goal difference. The following season, Wenger and Arsenal won both the Premiership and the FA cup, thus achieving only the second double in the club’s history. However, despite some high-profile signings, Arsenal would be trophy-less until the 2000/01 season where they would once again capture the League and FA Cup double.

Following on from this, the club won the FA Cup again in 2003 and the Premiership in 2003/04; the latter achieved without a single defeat. Another FA Cup win followed in 2005, but despite a measure of success in domestic competitions, Arsenal have failed to successfully crack the European stage. The closest the club have come was a 2-1 loss to Barcelona in the 2005/06 final.

Wenger now enjoys a reputation as one of the best managers in the modern game, and is renowned for his talent of unearthing and nurturing unknown players of potential. Wenger is credited with discovering players such as Liberia’s George Weah who later became FIFA World Player of the Year with AC Milan and has brought young, raw talent to Arsenal in the shape of Thierry Henry, Nicolas Anelka, Patrick Viera, Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie among others. But while Wenger has made occasional big money signings – most notably the recent signing of Russian international, Andrei Arshavin – his net spend when compared to other Premiership managers pales in comparison, and has been estimated at around £5million per season since he joined the club.

As well as a talent for spotting and bringing in young talent, Wenger can also be credited as resurrecting the careers of veteran footballers, such as Dennis Bergkamp, who enjoyed his best years under the Frenchman, while his support of Tony Adams in 1996 has been lauded as a key factor in the player’s rehabilitation and return to form after alcoholism. His dietary and training regimes have also been credited for prolonging the playing careers of defenders Nigel Winterburn, Lee Dixon and Martin Keown over the years.

With an abundance of young talent at his disposal, such as Mexico’s Carlos Vela, England’s Kieran Gibbs and Theo Walcott, and backed with established professionals such as William Gallas, Gael Clichy and Emmanuel Adebayor, Arsenal and Arsene Wenger will continue to be a threat to all in the Premiership for seasons to come.

Victoria Cochrane writes for a digital marketing agency. This article has been commissioned by a client of said agency. This article is not designed to promote, but should be considered professional content.



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