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Arsène Wenger

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Arsène Wenger

Full name Date of birth Place of birth Height Playing position Current club Years 1973-1975 1975-1978 1978-1981 1984-1987 1987-1994 1994-1996 1996-present

Personal information Arsène Wenger October 22, 1949 (age 58) Strasbourg, France 1.91 m (6 ft 3 in) Defender Club information Arsenal Senior clubs1 Club FC Mulhouse Vauban Strasbourg RC Strasbourg Teams managed AS Nancy AS Monaco Nagoya Grampus Eight Arsenal

App (Gls)* 39 (7) 80 (20) 11 (0)[1]

1 Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only. * Appearances (Goals)

Arsène Wenger OBE (born October 22, 1949 in Strasbourg) is a French football manager. He is currently the manager of Arsenal. He is the club's most successful manager in terms of trophies and the club's longest-serving manager in terms of matches played (over 600 as of March 2007).[2] Wenger is the only non-British manager to win the Double in England, having done so in 1998 and 2002. In 2004, he became the only manager in FA Premier League history to go through the entire season without a loss. Wenger has a degree in Engineering and a master's degree in Economics [3] from Strasbourg University and is fluent in French, Alsatian, German and English; he also speaks some Italian, Spanish and Japanese.[4]


2.2 As a manager  6. May 1. 2007 . he obtained a manager's diploma and was appointed the coach of the club's youth team. He only made twelve appearances for the team.[hide] • • • • • • • • • 1 Playing career 2 Managerial career 3 Accomplishments 4 Awards 5 Controversies 6 Honours o 6.1 As a player  6.1.2 Nagoya Grampus Eight  6.2.1 RC Strasbourg o 6. his only taste of European football. and played once in the UEFA Cup in the same season. where he completed a masters degree in 1971.2. He began as a defender for various amateur clubs while studying at the Institut Européen d'Etudes Commerciales Supérieures de Strasbourg of Robert Schuman University. Wenger turned professional in 1978.3 Arsenal 7 Managerial statistics 8 References 9 External links [edit] Playing career Wenger's playing career was relatively inauspicious.[citation needed] In 1981. making his debut for RC Strasbourg against Monaco [5] . [edit] Managerial career Wenger thanking the crowd after the final home game of 2006/07 season.1 AS Monaco  6. including two as they won the Ligue 1 title in 1978-79.

[9] After Bruce Rioch resigned in August 1996. as his assistant. Though he had previously been touted as a potential Technical Director of the Football Association.[11] Even before he formally took control of the team. whom he had met during the 1993 match-fixing scandal involving Olympique de Marseille. He won the league in 1988 (his first season in charge) and the French Cup in 1991. Gérard Houllier.[6] only to be fired after a poor start to the 1994-95 season. and teenage striker Nicolas Anelka. the national cup competition. and he officially took up the reins on October 1. His first match in charge was a 2-0 victory over Blackburn Rovers on October 12.[10] Arsenal confirmed his appointment on September 28. Wenger turned down approaches by Bayern Munich and the France national team out of loyalty for Monaco. League team Nagoya Grampus Eight. Wenger had started to shape the Arsenal squad. with whom he won the Emperor's Cup. they lost the Premiership title to Manchester United by 1 point on the final day of the season. In 1999. he hired former Valenciennes manager Boro Primorac. The following few seasons were comparatively barren with a series of near misses. the future World Cup winner finished joint top goalscorer in Ligue 1 (with 20 goals) during Wenger's final season in France. His managerial career took off when he became the manager of AS Monaco in 1987. In his second season in charge (1997-98). Nigel Winterburn.[7] He moved on to a successful 18-month stint with the Japanese J. Wenger resolved to bring new players to the squad. 1996. Arsenal won both the Premiership and FA Cup. it came after Arsenal made up a twelve point deficit on Manchester United to win the League title with two games to spare. [8] Wenger had in the meantime become a friend of the then Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein. George Weah and Jürgen Klinsmann. and signed high-calibre players such as Glenn Hoddle. Nancy finished 19th and were relegated to the Ligue 2. He also signed 23-year old Youri Djorkaeff from RC Strasbourg. Steve Bould. Marc Overmars. he would remain Wenger's "right-hand man" for years to come. This was followed by losing the UEFA Cup final to Galatasaray on penalties and the 2001 FA Cup final to Liverpool 2-1. but he enjoyed little success there: during his third and final season in charge. Key to the success was the inherited defence of Tony Adams. Wenger was Arsenal's first manager from outside Great Britain or Ireland. the second Double in the club's history. and United also eliminated Arsenal in extra time of an FA Cup Semi Final. 1996. after the two had met when Wenger attended a match between Arsenal and Queens Park Rangers in 1988.[6] At Grampus. the then technical director of the French Football Federation. having requested that the club sign French midfielders Patrick Vieira and Rémi Garde a month before he took charge. Lee Dixon and Martin Keown.Wenger's first senior management job was at Nancy. along with striker Dennis Bergkamp as well as a blend of Wenger's new midfield signings: Emmanuel Petit. Patrick Vieira . recommended Wenger to David Dein in the summer of 1996. which he joined in 1984. at the time Wenger was a relative unknown in England. He also took the club from the bottom three to runners-up position in the league. with the .

At Monaco. Milan. Arsenal were compensated with a FA Cup win in 2003. who later became FIFA World Player of the Year with A. and the following season made history by winning the 2003-04 Premiership title in 2004 without a single loss. attacking football with pace and visionary skills. Manchester United overhauled the Gunners in the latter stage of the season to win the title.[15] The Deal is thought to be worth £4 million a year. the first time in club history. Roy Keane referred to this game as "men against boys". [edit] Accomplishments Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Arsène Wenger Wenger has a reputation for unearthing talent. After an incredible start to the 2002-03 season. in all. However. Arsenal had looked as though they were going to retain the Premiership crown for the first time in their history. which they lost 2-1 to FC Barcelona.[14] Wenger's future as manager was thrust into question when David Dein left the Arsenal board on April 18. The crowning moment was the second to last game of the season. Wenger agreed to sign a new three-year contract at Arsenal. Arsenal have won three Premier League titles and four FA Cups under Wenger. However. against Manchester United. The team contributed and combined some irresistible.Arsenal won 1-0 in a game.[13] Former Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein has said Wenger has a "job for life" at Arsenal. from . Thierry Henry and Robert Pirès.C. However on the 6 September 2007. Wenger had been derided for saying it was possible Arsenal could go unbeaten in an entire season. A year earlier. The new signings would help Wenger's Arsenal would achieve the double once more. and had planned to offer Wenger a role on the Arsenal board once he has retired as a manager. 2007. the closest Arsenal have come was when they reached the final in 2005-06. and comes as a big relief to Arsenal fans who thought that he would leave at the end of the season when his contract ran out. Arsenal went the whole season unbeaten away from home and scored in every single premiership game that season. making him Arsenal's most successful manager in terms of trophies. the first topflight team to manage this feat since Preston North End in 1888-89. he brought Liberian George Weah. [12] With another FA Cup win in 2005. the UEFA Champions League title still eludes him. as Arsenal threw away a two-goal lead against Bolton Wanderers to draw 2-2 and then surrendered the title at home to Leeds United. which Arsenal are seen to have generally outplayed Manchester United.controversial signing of Tottenham's Sol Campbell as well as first-team players such as Fredrik Ljungberg. In October 2004. he signed a contract extension that would keep him at Arsenal through the 2007-08 season.

relatively unknown players such as Patrick Vieira. reached his peak under Wenger's management. who had been signed by the north London side a year before Wenger joined. the Arsenal defence that set a new record after going ten consecutive games without conceding a goal en route to the UEFA Champions League 2005-06 final against FC Barcelona. Thierry Henry. Wenger had a direct input into the design of the Gunners' new Emirates Stadium and its move to a new training ground at London Colney."[16] A notable example of this ability was the purchase of Nicolas Anelka from Paris St Germain for only £500. . to a world class player. according to Peter Hill-Wood. Wenger has also reformed the training and dietary regimes. Robert Pirès and Sylvain Wiltord. Wenger initially was planning to replace them but later realized that he did not need to. which are seen repeatedly on banners displayed by Emirates Stadium crowds. Wenger stood by captain Tony Adams after the latter admitted his alcoholism in 1996. since he's been with us. Dennis Bergkamp. supporters showed their appreciation for the manager by choosing "Wenger Day" as one of various "Themed Matchdays" proposed by the club in celebration of the team's move away from their historical ground. Notably. and helped their transition into becoming world-class players. £4m to £5m a year net. Wenger Day was held on his 56th birthday on October 22. Nowhere has this sentiment been characterised more than by the popular saying among Gunners supporters "Arsène Knows" and "In Arsène We Trust". likely extending his career by several years. ridding the club of its drinking and junk-food culture. who all played a significant role in the Double of 2001-02 and the league title win of 2003-04. and saw him become Arsenal's all-time top scorer and captain. Wenger has signed young. Francesc Fàbregas and Kolo Touré. cost Arsenal less than £5m to assemble. As well as bringing in younger and relatively unknown talent to the club. the club's fans having demonstrated tremendous faith in the manager and his vision over the long term.3m. Wenger's support was factored into Adams' rehabilitation and return to form. during a match against Manchester City.000 and his subsequent sale to Real Madrid just two years later for £22. The money was used to buy three players — Thierry Henry. He enjoys a great deal of support from among Arsenal's fanbase. Wenger also had a hand in elevating his former protégé at Monaco. 2005. Although Wenger has made some big-money signings for Arsenal his net spending record compares favourably with that of some other leading Premiership clubs.Cameroonian side Tonnerre Yaoundé. In his time at Arsenal. Lee Dixon and Martin Keown.[17] Wenger reached his landmark 10th anniversary at the club in October 2006. For Arsenal's valedictory campaign at Highbury in 2005-06. Wenger has also seen a few of his veterans have their careers rejuvenated at Arsenal. "Arsène's basically spent. Arsenal chairman. Wenger's training and dietary regime may have also prolonged the careers of the other members of Arsenal's back four: defenders Nigel Winterburn.

in 2004 and 2005 Wenger's Arsenal won the Premier League's Fair Play League tables for sporting behaviour.David Dein. we have seen football from another planet. Wenger and his club Arsenal. He's turned players into world-class players. has described Wenger as the most important manager in the club's history: "Arsene's a miracle worker. Arsene Wenger was granted the honour of having an asteroid named after him[20] by the astronomer I. Griffins. Cesc Fabregas.[22] However. He's revolutionised the club. [edit] Controversies Wenger has been embroiled in a number of controversies.[25] . similar to the earlier version of Herbert Chapman."[18] On October 18th 2007. Also on November 21st 2007. by the board of directors of Arsenal FC.P. earned the prestigious English Premier League 'Manager of the Month' award and a 'Player of the Month' award for the Gunners' sensational midfielder. He was the second foreign manager to be inducted to the Hall of Fame.[23][24] In 2006 Arsenal finished second. Wenger was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in recognition of his achievements as a manager in the English game. the Légion d'Honneur. along with fellow Frenchman and then Liverpool manager Gérard Houllier. who claims Arsenal FC is his favourite football club[21]. Since he has been here. after Italian-born Dario Gradi of Crewe Alexandra. at the club's Annual General Meeting [19] [edit] Awards Wenger was awarded France's highest decoration. He was awarded an honorary OBE for services to British football in the Queen's Birthday Honours List of 2003. A commissioned bronze bust of Arsene Wenger. Wenger's sides were often criticised for their indiscipline. In September 2007. behind Charlton Athletic. receiving 52 red cards between 1996 and 2003 although many of these were hotly disputed. In 2006. former vice-chairman of Arsenal FC. in 2002. was unveiled as a tribute to him.

he's always talking about us . defended Wenger. several prominent English players in the Premiership were developed at Arsenal.[36] Following the Carling Cup Final 2007. He was later fined for again calling van Nistelrooy a cheat. a replay of their FA Cup 4th round game immediately after the match had finished. not about passports. due to the controversial circumstances in which it was won. demonstrating that he firmly believed his claim.[26] Ferguson. Wenger became embroiled in a war of words with then Chelsea manager José Mourinho. he was again criticised for fielding few English players by his old rival Sir Alex Ferguson. widely accepted to be a master of mind games. he went as far as labelling Wenger a "voyeur".[29] During October and November 2005. Matthew Upson and most notably Ashley Cole. Jermaine Pennant. Wenger responded by pointing out he was only answering journalists' questions about Chelsea. he called a linesman a 'liar'. leading to heavy criticism.[28] Both managers have since agreed to tone down their words in an attempt to defuse the rivalry.[32] Wenger saw the issue of nationality as irrelevant: "When you represent a club it's about values and qualities. had resulted from Kanu failing to return the ball to the opposition after it had been kicked into touch to allow a Sheffield United player to receive treatment for an injury. and described Mourinho's attitude as "disrespectful".In 1999. West Ham United's former manager Alan Pardew said that Arsenal's Champions League success was "not necessarily a triumph for British football".[30] and was quoted as saying.[33] Other pundits. as Arsenal and United were arch-rivals for the Premiership and FA Cup throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s. More recently.[34] Additionally. particularly in the Champions League. After the match a member of the Arsenal side allegedly threw food at the opposition in the tunnel. scored by Marc Overmars. Mourinho accused Wenger of having an "unprofessional obsession" with Chelsea. Mourinho has since been quoted as saying that he regrets the "voyeur" comment.[31] Wenger has often been criticised by other Premiership managers for not fielding many English players. in November 2007. including David Bentley. Chelsea".it's Chelsea.[35] Wenger has also been involved in controversial statements about referees after matches in which decisions did not go his team's way.".000 for calling United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy "a cheat" in a post-match television interview. Arsenal went on to win the replayed game 2-1. Chelsea. an FA investigation[37] and a £2500 fine and a warning about his future conduct. the FA's Director of Football Development. and Wenger has accepted his apology. This rivalry reached its culmination in the infamous "Pizzagate" incident at Old Trafford in October 2004 after a controversial penalty resulted in a 2-0 defeat and ended Arsenals 49 game unbeaten permiership run. including Trevor Brooking.[38] . He is also well known for his rivalry with Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.C. is arguably agreed to have met his match in Wenger. "He's worried about us. Arsenal's winning goal. Brooking noted that a lack of English players in one of England's most successful clubs was more of a reflection of the talent pool in England rather than Wenger himself. Wenger offered Sheffield United F. Steve Sidwell.[27] Wenger was fined £15. Chelsea.

He remains an enigma . to have caved in. but then winning the much-eroded FA Cup is perhaps only a quarter triumph after the devastation of the preceding weeks. Then he goes and sits down again. Then he applauds. His team. Bergkamp twists and clips the ball back inside to Freddie Ljungberg. United score first. incomprehensibly. its marked lack of passion. does his familiar celebration. Thierry Henry receives the ball on the edge of the penalty area. Sweden. fists clenched and pumping discreetly. in Wenger's prediction.players. they blew their lead. France. for one last time before the sun sets on another year. Holland. Arsenal. And then they blew it. the beauty and the beat.the metre and the rhythm. . The first sign of erratic behaviour is when United come to Highbury one Wednesday night in mid-April. was sprinting south. but before a minute has passed Ryan Giggs. at once intensely involved and perfectly excluded. when Wenger's world seems slowly. coaches. The passage of play switches dramatically. then Arsenal fluke an equaliser. For months Arsenal had played what may even have been the best football ever produced by a British club. 2003 The Guardian Arsene Wenger sits on the bench at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff one Saturday in May. then Henry is clearly offside as he gives Arsenal the lead. media-shy Frenchman who neither looks nor behaves like a football manager. and Manchester United. But now he is probably the most influential figure in the English game. the blending of skill and athleticism and intuitive awareness that the players have of one another's movements. their third in as many seasons. His is only a half -celebration. it is as if Wenger had a personality transplant in the spring of 2003. defined by its restraint. There is no other word. Jasper Rees talks to those who know him best .Who is he? Few people had heard of Arsene Wenger when he came to Arsenal in 1996. whose near-post shot bounces off a defender and into the path of Robert Pires. and the people of the village in Alsace where he grew up Monday August 18. remorselessly chased Arsenal down. To anyone accustomed to his body language. In the first of two extracts from a gripping new biography. As the ball crosses the line he springs up and. Power.a cultured. elbows at his side. On the bench Wenger watches. waits for Dennis Bergkamp to make the run outside him on the right before sliding a pass into his path. with Sir Alex Ferguson urging them on like a whip-happy charioteer. Out on the pitch his players are at it again. walking towards the pitch. It is poetry . are contesting another FA Cup final. France.

" . But he gets this one. Arsenal. "it is often necessary to suppress your own personal feelings. a club with a reputation under Hild's stewardship for playing the best amateur football in Alsace. The truth is that Wenger chooses." he says in it. not to reveal his character on the touchline. and his antithesis." This is why Mark Hateley. In fact that's not quite true. Graham would be his predecessor. He is actually incandescent. "and playing for his village.unchallenged. I can't remember the score but we won." says Hild. Wilson his goalkeeping coach. he was as close to being an unknown quantity as it is possible for the new Arsenal manager to be. a native of Alsace. He turns to his assistant Pat Rice and starts shouting bitterly and gesticulating in the most florid Latin fashion. Giggs never scores with his head. he doesn't even reveal it in the dressing room. the ones who still have hope. I have become accustomed to not showing my personal feelings. At Old Trafford in the cup. On Fridays they serve rosbif The young Arsene Wenger. told me. who scored the goals that won Monaco the championship in Wenger's first season there." Concealment is integral to Wenger's character. Rice would later be Arsene Wenger's assistant. "That was the first time I noticed him. "You'll never figure him out. He is aided." The neighbouring team was AS Mutzig. The espoirs were the kids. by the lack of an even half-remembered playing career to act as his calling card. According to him. "He was a midfielder. when he arrived in 1996. was discovered by Max Hild one spring in the late 1960s. Indeed. Our espoirs were playing against Duttlenheim. The feelings of the team must take priority. It's like watching someone completely lose it in the street . He is flummoxed. I was coach for the neighbouring team." says shocking you don't want to look. has headed an equaliser. It was so long ago that England were world champions. He made such an impression that I got in touch with him and the next year he came to play for Mutzig in the third division. "He was 18. It is the most craven of mistakes. I have made it a habit to think always about the team. these days he almost never scores. and Arsenal won. Bob Wilson and George Graham. The result is that very little is known about him. where possible. It was a Wednesday evening. with a team containing Pat Rice. of course. he missed the mother and father of all open goals. "As a manager. and on the touchline Wenger is distraught. He played very well. would not win the double for another couple of seasons. but you can't pull your gaze away. He wrote a book called Shosha No Esprit for the Japanese market. The idea is that this was uncharacteristic behaviour. In England.

"A" in this instance stands for Alphonse. The place looks pretty much as the Wengers left it more than 20 years ago. and the after-effects. Never in a rush to volunteer much about himself. and the name Duttlenheim has been around since at least 992." says Hild. "It's further down the road that he actually had compassion for it. they call it here. "He saw a lot of people drinking. he inherited a captain in the early stages of recovery from addiction to alcohol. Arsene Wenger's father Alphonse ran an automobile spare-parts business in Strasbourg." recalls Adams. "When he was little he was in La Croix d'Or all the time. "Later on. He talked about being brought up in a Strasbourg pub and observing the way alcohol changed people. It feels as if some of its buildings have too. There are yards with neatly-piled firewood and museumpiece agricultural instruments. or even to let alcohol touch your lips as a player. We get in Max Hild's car and head for Duttlenheim.neat. We turn off the motorway and are soon ambling along a main drag flanked by a mixture of solid modern houses and charming older structures. It must once have been a residential house and at some point transmogrified into a watering-hole. it says above the door. Within its four walls Wenger imbibed one of the central tenets of his footballing philosophy: that it is an offence to be drunk in charge of a football. A settlement has been here since Roman times. just by the crossroads. Later in the afternoon it will fill with the smell of cigarettes and choucroute and beer and the chatter of Duttlenheimers whose families have . and a couple of tractors. It is a freezing Saturday morning in February and the city. On Fridays they serve rosbif. So says the current owner from under his thick grey moustache. but he and his wife Louise also owned and ran La Croix d'Or.with a steep sloping roof and a large conifer on the front lawn. along with his older sister and brother." At Saturday lunchtime it is empty.Hild is a small trim boyish man of 70 who meets me at the station in Strasbourg. the effect the drink had on people. Next door to it is a house . On a blackboard outside the dishes of the day are listed. the designated capital and centre of Europe. Perhaps imbibed is the wrong word. who at the end of a long career as an amateur in the lower divisions had his first drink of beer at 36. It was in this building that the future manager of Arsenal grew up. The plate on the letterbox says "A Wenger". when Wenger was revealed as the new manager of Arsenal. In one courtyard is an old wooden farm building. A bistro. is quiet. is a restaurant. for better or worse. modern and impeccably bourgeois . La Croix d'Or. Further down on the same block. down the line he shared things with me." In 1996. it took Wenger two years to open up to Tony Adams and pool his memories of the alcohol abuse which. helped to plump the family coffers.

On the bar is a copy of Alsace Foot. while drying a glass. The FA Cup final was the first foreign football he clapped eyes on. ("Perhaps our grandparents were cousins. "One of you took the Citroens.000 registered players in Alsace. the big city outfit. on the one television set in the village in the school . in which FC Duttlenheim plays. But after school. The results of the Ligue d'Alsace.the HQ." says Hild. You could cram perhaps a hundred spectators in there. the other took the Renaults. pass the mairie. Wenger later compared it to a kibbutz. It is hemmed in by the road on this side and the backs of houses on the other.5 million. We were together the whole time. antiseptic worlds which Wenger would later try to create at each of the clubs where he was made coach: smoke-free. Toyota's team in Japan. they couldn't always keep an eye on their children. But it was a Catholic kibbutz. "Back then no one went away on holiday. You can't imagine an environment more alien to the clean. are noted in the back half. alcohol-free. fat-free. The young Wenger put his ." The front page of Alsace Foot is usually devoted to Racing Club de Strasbourg. And yet it was the siège of FC Duttlenheim . but further in the font size gets smaller and the games more local. There wasn't a lot else to do in Duttlenheim in the 50s and 60s. at weekends." Because the Wengers ran a restaurant." he says vaguely. out of a population of only 1. There are 80. and more barns and bungalows until we turn right down a track that leads to a small football pitch. There is no seating. a weekly newspaper that gives some idea of the local passion for the game. as the russet-cheeked barman says. who may or may not be a relative." remembers Claude Wenger. but you'd have to put the tall ones at the back. in the holidays.where the talk was all of football. no rudimentary terrace. The children would count the cars which occasionally passed through the village.known and intermarried with one another in this small community for centuries.) Everyone knew one another. where the game leaked into the marrow of the young Wenger and stayed running the prince's team in Monaco. Village football was truly a humble launchpad for the journey that followed ." Hild's car turns right at the solitary traffic-light and treads gently through the village. No the late 50s. and on to the most traditional old club in the country that gave football to the world. Wedged in between the houses and the touchline is an open-sided stand of the kind you might erect to give horses shelter in a windy field. or watching football. there was football. "Alsace has always been football country. "It's been the number-one sport since I was a boy. "Arsene really is a hero of Duttlenheim. We pass the ugly 19th-century bulk of St Louis (Catholic. the head office . It was on this ground that Wenger learned how to play football. of course). He would have seen Tottenham win one half of their double in 1961. It was a village where everyone took care of the young.

but someone who oversaw the session. "Even at 12 he was a very calm. He runs up. When he shot up. Most people seem to agree with Claude Wenger. to whom these gifted young charges profess in interviews to owe absolutely everything. When he wasn't praying." says Claude Wenger. he came up against him throughout their teens. While they're at it. He was already getting his ideas across. Not that. decides to take a few penalties. Wenger would spend the whole week assembling a team. he was rounding up boys to play in the game. The same age as Wenger. In Alsace they remember him as longiligne . there is mockery. And yet as far as they are aware. you do this. he still didn't use his head much. Claude Wenger says he was "quite slow". Bergkamp. you do that. Otherwise they'd have to play one short." No one is watching There is a standing joke at London Colney. who played for Mutzig. Arsenal often thrive when one of their number has been sent off. it wasn't easy getting 11 together in one age group. at the age of 12. Pires. as you needed these to combat numerically superior teams. He was also short enough to have earned a humiliating nickname. The squad contains some of the best players in the world. Hild says the player he later spotted was "quite quick". 'You do this. "Arsene wasn't the captain and yet he was. But as a young teenager they called him petit: titch.' He was the leader. you do that. If he misses.long-limbed . he could muster much in the way of pace or power. He summons the club's travel manager and shoves him in goal. and struggle. On the pitch. a carthorse. or two. the strategist of the team. on Wednesday evenings. Then they called him Windows because he wore glasses. the Arsenal training ground outside St Albans." says Jean-Noël Huck. le patron. He'd be in church reciting from his prayer book when the team were playing on Sunday. a Robin Reliant. Training was once a week. a trundler. which by no means flatter a spindly man in his 50s. He addresses the ball. more or less. The players are warming up. by contrast. It was. "He was always the technician. Wenger. Henry. Perhaps he is wearing shorts. He is always trying little tricks.but those limbs have now dwindled into pipe-cleaners. there is . "He was virtually. even as the youngest player in the team. When he arrived at Arsenal they called him Clouseau because there was something haphazard and clumsy about him (plus he spoke English with a hilarious French accent). with the slow lope of a giraffe. He would pray for them to win. There was no coach as such to instil tactics and skills. Perhaps it was in the early 60s that he began his love affair with pace and at the service of the team. there is derision. In such a small village." Wenger was going through a growth spurt when he got into the FC Duttlenheim first team at 16. he was a nothing player. or at least not in the air. very lucid player. but calmly. Wenger was in charge. when they are playing against 10.

Melvyn Bragg with his at another. was published at the height of the George Graham era.hooting and baying. They have somehow alchemised their mediocrity as players into a managerial will to win. these European Champions. a small-town club from north-eastern Italy. and a lot of grinding football characterised by hair-trigger offside traps and domineering one-nil wins. It was the story of his life. I bet it's fucking Arsene Wenger. about the psychopathology of the football fan. he didn't just have to prove himself. But then if they haven't. he doesn't come. an assortment of agents. girlfriends. After midweek home fixtures an entire aristocracy of Arsenal fans convene here to chew over the game and generous bowls of pasta. Graham Taylor (at Watford in the 1980s). In every new job. a trattoria in Highbury.000-strong. that is. and possibly Patrick Vieira. Wenger was so distraught at the defeat he locked himself in his office and. the name Arsene Wenger meant absolutely nothing in north London. Hornby's bestselling book Fever Pitch. Arsene who? In August 1996. despite Dein's entreaties. plus wives. The biggest crowds he tended to come across were no more than 2. The walls of the restaurant are adorned with the black-and-white regalia of Udinese. Arsenal had just lost at home to Auxerre. This is the dining-room of the Arsenal establishment. It is now accepted in Britain that the extraordinary coaches are just as likely to have been ordinary players. It turned Hornby into. Hornby sits at one table with his crowd. Cruyff and then at the end Arsene Wenger. Ron Atkinson. directors and sundry others from the footballing shadows. not even when they baked him a cake for his 53rd birthday. to take their seats on the other side of the room." says Nick Hornby. and the Arsenal fan in particular. See also Alex Ferguson. But these World Cup winners. I remember thinking as a fan. one of the papers had three or four names." Hornby is sitting in San Daniele. have turned their backs. the best-known Arsenal fan and the . by some distance. wouldn't come out. for applause. There is silence. When Wenger enters they stand up and give him a 10-second ovation. because I haven't heard of him and I've heard of the other two. "Arsene Who?" ran the Evening Standard headline that greeted his appointment. from the moment he took charge of his own team at Nancy 12 years earlier. If Arsenal have won. But if he curls the ball into the top corner he turns round for a reaction. "It was Venables. Wenger played out his career as a footballer in something like silence. The book saw in two league championships. he had to introduce himself. They are all tucking in by the time David Dein arrives with Wenger. up the hill and round the corner from the famous old ground. "I remember when Rioch was sacked. for the acclamation he never had as a player. Trust Arsenal to appoint the boring one that you haven't heard of.

and one of his closest friends. But at least in France one of these rumours was in fact old hat. When they met. "What rumours?" No one spoke. This was an act of considerable bravery. it was made clear to a distraught Wenger that in England he could not simply sue the newspapers for libel unless they specifically published the charge made against him. rapidly take on board. and here was a confrontation before he had taken charge of a single game. Instead. Why no other book?' I said.' 'And it's OK? You can live from writing?' I said. "During the seven years we were here we were always together. No sooner had Wenger set foot in England than a grotesque rumour swiftly mushroomed on the internet that the new saviour of Islington had a highly deviant sex life involving not only women. According to one eye-witness. not even just men. he went outside onto the steps of Highbury's famous old marble hall and confronted them. 'No no. he asked them why they were there. For all the press knew. whose own first day in the job this was. Fans were gathering outside the stadium. other news reporters. 'I have written some other books since. published in French as Carton Jaune (or Yellow Card). Without repeating the content of the rumour itself. There was a home game for the reserve team that day. who decided they could paint on it what they wanted." Arsenal went for a man with no other life outside football. Wenger had actually heard of both writer and book. The journalists. feeling hampered . things are going fine. 'Ah! You wrote Carton Jaune. Wenger was "incandescent with a white-hot rage" when he heard about it. except at night. and to the alarm of the press officer Clare Tomlinson. his assistant coach at Monaco. Wenger said. but also children. and a television news team . He did.some football writers. According to Adams. there were those. when it was explained to him. he was about to resign. When someone referred to unspecified rumours. Wenger "hates confrontation". Wenger was a hermit whose altar. usually thought to be Tottenham fans scared out of their wits. Against the advice of Dein. But because his personality presented such a blank canvas. and people thought we were homosexuals!" says Jean Petit. that he could sue for slander if any of the reporters outside could be persuaded to put a name to the rumour in front of witnesses. inside.who were waiting outside the stadium for an official comment from within the club.most widely read football author in Britain. "He said. Meanwhile. however. and they congregated around a group of press . was a large flat-screen television on which he'd watch a never-ending flow of matches deep into the night.' It was beyond his conception that you would want to write anything other than a football book. once he'd settled into his new detached home in Totteridge. newspapers passed on the fact that a rumour of a plainly damaging nature was in circulation.

"He arrived unnoticed at the training ground.' It was quite the presence of the fans. the players filed in and in front of us stood this tall. don't worry. Graham's crowning achievement was to win a championship in 1989.) Did he know anything about Wenger? "No. asked if they could come inside the stadium and have a private press conference. and we didn't have the second wave. "A meeting was called. Good man on his way. He wasn't an English top-of-the-tree coach with proven experience.a George Graham. They were awful. Wenger had killed the story stone-dead." Lee Dixon recalls. one Saturday two weeks before his arrival. Er." "George had a fantastic group of youngsters that he controlled and we achieved great things. It was an enormous effort. He wasn't an Alex Ferguson. It was so dismal watching that team 20 times a season. "There was a feeling of who the fuck is he and what is he going to do? What is he?" says Adams. "That squad broke up in 92-93. Rioch had been sacked. "With George everything was predicated on winning. I personally was not able to . "If they weren't winning anything." says Hornby. Nothing at all. who first heard tell of Wenger when he got a call from the club chairman. They should have played it in the dressing room too. a Monday morning. He wasn't a renowned manager of that time . the press slunk away. with a side impressively crammed with graduates from the youth team. he met the press on September 22 and took official charge on September 30. Be patient. famously in the dying seconds of the season." Wenger's appointment was announced on August 20. That team was ready to bust. work-rate and fantastic defending. Wenger appeared by live satellite link on the video screens at Highbury. very average squad we won the European Cup Winners' Cup with a fantastic attitude. Tomlinson refused. Like Hornby. ringing from New York. Peter Hill-Wood. "I got a call from the chairman along the lines of. rally the troops. there was absolutely nothing to watch." Adams says that Wenger wasn't a George Graham. It was one thing for the club's most famous fan not to have heard of Wenger." (It's a toss-up which is dodgier: Adams's Etonian accent or his Alsatian one. That was precisely why the club hired him." Literally the name meant nothing? "No. Adams didn't know the new man from Adam. 'I hear the shit's hit the fan back there. With a very. quite another for the club captain. slightly-built man who gave no impression whatsoever of being a football manager. recalls the captain. caretaker manager Stewart Houston had left for Queens Park Rangers and Adams and Rice were "kind of just getting on with it". 'We were all ready to jump ship' Because they didn't know who he was. Facing the realisation that they had nothing to go on." says Adams.

The club was pretty much going nowhere. It's entirely because of Wenger.99)." It was an extremely precarious moment in Arsenal's history. It's not in the natural order things." · Wenger: The Making of a Legend by Jasper Rees is published by Short Books. With Manchester United now dominant. We were all ready to jump ship." says Hornby. I was at my lowest point.kick another ball. "There was no reason why we couldn't have turned into Spurs after Rioch. To order a copy for £12. Arsenal had become entirely dependent on an impregnable defence and the goals of Ian Wright to keep them in contention. .99 plus p&p (rrp £14. "People seem to think it's part of the natural order of things that Arsenal and Man U are one and two in the Premiership more or less every year now. call the Guardian book service on 0870 066 7979.

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