Arsene;Even I will miss you!

  • ASIF M D HAJRA
  • Publish Date: Sep 10 2018 3:47AM
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  • Updated Date: Sep 10 2018 3:49AM
Arsene;Even I will miss you!File Photo

The day I swapped cricket with football (being in fashion) as my favourite sport, I have been an Arsenal FC (nicknamed ‘The Gunners’) fan. And to me, Frenchman Arsene Wenger who is credited with revolutionizing football in one of the biggest British football clubs during his 22-year stint as manager, is the best among the contemporary crop of football managers globally (despite the fact that I copy Diego Simeone’s style on field). 

Over this managerial tenure, Arsene is credited with helping in transformation of English domestic football culture both on and off the pitch, through expansive tactics (a refined appreciation of technical aspects of the game) and better diet and nutrition plans delivering Arsenal fans three English Premier League championships including ‘The Invincibles’ season and many domestic and European finals. Moreover, over this period, he has either out-performed expectations of all the club’s stakeholders or at least, met those expectations.

Nicknamed Le Prefesseur ('The Professor' in french) by fans and media for his studious demeanour, Arsene possesses the distinctive feature of being a tactical genius, a shrewd scout with an extensive scouting network and money wise. On interpersonal skills Arsene speaks six different languages – French, German, English, Spanish, Italian and Japanese.

Born in Strasbourg, Arsene was introduced to football by his father, then the manager of the local village team. As a professional footballer, Arsene joined a third division side Muztig in 1969 where he developed a special relationship with Mutzig’s manager Max Hild which made sure that Arsene moved wherever Hild did. The future manager befriended his manager and resultantly, inculcated the basics of football management. In his final years of professional football, Arsene played with RC Strasbourg with whom he won the League 1 title in 1978 and retired soon at the age of 32.  Already having a degree in Economics from University of Strasbourg, Arsene got his coaching from the Centre de ressources, d’expertiseet de performance sportives (CREPS) in Strasbourg.

As a budding football manager, Arsene paved the basics in France with spells at Strasbourg, Cannes and Nancy before earning a move to France’s premier division Ligue side AS Monaco. As a manager, he won the French League Championship in 1988 after which the then young manager moved to Japan for a 18-month stint with Nagayo Grampus. 

On 22nd September, 1996 Arsene was appointed as the Arsenal’s manager but he officially assumed the role on October 1st, 1996 after being sacked by FC Monaco at the end of 1994. One 'sacked one' replaced another as Arsene took charge of the team of the Arsenal team after the then gunners boss Bruce Rioch was sacked. Rioch had lasted just a season for team’s inconsistent performance. 

After joining Arsenal in 1996, Arsene did not take much time to adopt to English style of football and guided Arsenal to their first EPL title in the season 1997/98 for which he was chosen as the ‘Manager of the Season’. Arsene guided the gunners to win EPL second time in 2001/02 before making history in the season 2003/04, as Arsenal (‘The Invincibles’) went unbeaten throughout the entire league campaign on their way to sealing the 3rd and the last (till date) EPL crown.        

Look at the statistics. Starting season 1996-97 under Arsene Wenger, the gunners have ranked 1st (EPL winners) thrice [1997-98, 2001-02, 2003-04], 2nd (runners-up) six times including a hatric [1998-99 to 2000-01] and 3rd (2nd runners-up) four times. Besides, Arsene as manager positioned his club among the top 4 teams in the English Premier League for twenty consecutive seasons (1996-97 to 2015-16).

Against 810 matches of Sir Alex Ferguson who is the most successful manager in British football history, Arsene holds the record for the most Premier League matches (828) with 476 wins, 153 losses and 199 draws. His managerial career includes 3 Premier League Championships (seasons 1997/98, 2001/02 and 2003/04) with Arsenal and during the same league championships, he was chosen as the ‘Manager of the Season’. Arsene has also been awarded ‘Manager of the month’ 15 times over this period. Moreover, under Arsene’s management, the gunners have won 7 FA cups and 7 Community Shields. Arsene may rank second to Sir Alex who has won EPL 13 times with 11 ‘Manager of the Season’ awards, but in absolute terms, his record is phenomenal.       

Interestingly, ‘33179 Arsènewenger’ is an asteroid named after the Arsenal manager, the only asteroid named after a football manager. The asteroid was discovered on March 29, 1998 by Ian P. Griffin, who is a fan of Arsenal Football Club.

Given the performance over the last two seasons when Arsenal steadily dropped from 4th to 6th place in the EPL, the pressure was building around for him to part ways with the club and this year on 20th April Arsene Wenger announced that he would step down as manager of Arsenal at the end of the season. 

Although Arsene’s last season with gunners may have ended with the disappointing Europa League defeat at Athletico Madrid, yet with thumping 5-0 win over Burnley at Arsenal’s home Emirates stadium on 6th May, 2018, he was able to secure a top-six finish for the club in the last EPL season.  

At the end of his last game as Arsenal’s manager, Arsene delivered his emotional farewell speech and bid adieu to the club with which he has had an incredible journey of joy and frustration. At the end of the speech Arsene said, “I would like to finish in one simple sentence: I will miss you.”  

An Arsenal fan and Arsene admirer for years now, I have this to say, “Even I will miss you Arsene”.