Wenger – The game changer
> Arsenal aren’t the only ones to have thrived under the Frenchman - English football will be forever indebted to him <
night, after Arsenal’s impressive 2-0 win over Basel in the Champions League, Arsene Wenger said something odd.
“I like history but not especially my history. I’m more interested in what is in front of me and when you get older what is in front of you gets shorter so it is even more important.”
Philosophical, rational, self-deprecating – only Wenger would come out with such a line. But such a statement encapsulates the spirit and mentality which the Frenchman has stayed so true to throughout his time as Arsenal manager.
To keep on pushing forward and breaking new boundaries has remained Wenger’s raison d’etre for nearly 20 years now – all the while remaining respectably, though some would say frustratingly, grounded.
This sort of mentality has borne numerous fruits, not just for Arsenal but for the English sport as a whole.
But when Wenger was officially unveiled 20 years ago on Saturday as the Arsenal manager, the decision was greeted with a general sense of bemusement.
“Arsene who?” was the question that ran on the front of the Evening Standard as fans and neutrals alike reacted with perplexity to the appointment.
went one better, remarking: “Football’s experience presents a contrary proposition – that foreign coaches are the problem. Those few who have tried to transform the manly virtues of our national game into something more aesthetic have tended to disappear up their own intricacies while their teams have disappeared down the table.”
But Wenger has done anything but disappear. Contrary to predictions, the Frenchman has indeed transformed the previously “manly” qualities of the English game into “something more aesthetic”.
Since his appointment 20 years ago, Wenger has slowly set about building a legacy at the club which, as cliched as it sounds, has revolutionised the game.
From dietary restrictions to training sessions, Wenger turned the English approach to football on its head and introduced a degree of professionalism that has now become second nature to the way of the sport.
Speaking nine years ago, Wenger recalled: “I remember my first day at Arsenal when we were travelling to Blackburn and the players were at the back of the bus chanting, ‘We want our Mars Bars!’ They used to eat them before the game but I took them away.
“Food is like kerosene. If you put the wrong one in your car, it’s not as quick as it should be.”
This attention to detail has embodied Wenger’s footballing philosophy. From plyometrics and osteopathy to dieticians Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger holds both the League and the FA Cup trophies at a victory parade in London on May 17 1998.