Wenger: Tainting a Dynasty

When Arsene Wenger came into the English game he was a relative unknown although he had success in France with Monaco and had also managed in Japan.

What he then went on to do was revolutionary.

From changing the drinking culture that loomed over Highbury to making Arsenal one of the most cultured sides in European football.

Wenger implemented training sessions, diets and even match day tactics that were revolutionary seeing his side play a quick, high tempo counter attacking football which swept all that lie ahead of them.

When Wenger came into the English Premier League in October 1996 he was one of two foreign managers in the league, along with Ruud Guillt. had The difference, Guillt had previous playing experience in the league.

This set him apart, not only did Wenger have no playing experience in the English leagues, he had hardly any playing experience whatsoever. This paved a new way for managers who were not exceptional players and also the influx and belief in foreign managers.

The impact of this is still seen today, with the likes of Andre Villas Boas arriving on the scene but also further back Gerard Houllier, Jose Mourinho and Rafael Benitez.

Wenger had unprecedented success becoming the first foreign manager to win the Premier League in 1998, also doing the double that season.

Then of course there was the 2003-04 campaign. The pinnacle of his Arsenal career, forming a side that went the entire season unbeaten and more reaching 49 matches unbeaten, an achievement that has looked unrivaled since.

Add to his three Premier League medals four FA Cup wins and he is the most decorated foreign manager to grace English football.

However since his last FA Cup triumph in 2005 the club has failed to lift any major silverware, something that has been much publicised and has led to pressure mounting over the future of Wenger at Arsenal.

What is it that has changed for Arsenal and Wenger, or has he just overstayed his welcome?

Since the club’s last trophy Arsenal have moved to their new state of the art home Emirates. Another factor for Wenger has been the departure of David Dein from the Arsenal board in 2007.

These two factors have played a massive role on the fortunes of Arsenal Football Club. Firstly with the move to the new stadium the club has focused on balancing the books and getting rid of the debt of the new stadium as quickly as possible, something the club has recently announced it has been able to do.

By trying to balance the books it has meant Wenger has cut back on spending, although he has always been wise when it comes to opening the cheque book.

The club could possibly have not had a better man at the helm during this time. With a degree in economics he’s implemented a tight wage bill and not been caught out in the transfer markets like others have.

During this time, due to Wenger ‘s control of the wage bill he has seen many players leave including Theirry Henry, Ashley Cole, Mathieu Flamini, Cesc Fabregas, Emmanuel Adebayor and recently van Persie and Alex Song as well as Samir Nasri, the list goes on.

These players though had also left in a hunt for medals. Although Arsenal have had chances with the Champions League in 2006, the Premier League in 2008 and the League Cup in 2007 and 2011.

With the quality of players leaving that have, Wenger’s quick counter attacking football he became renowned for has slowly ebbed away.

With the departure of Dein Wenger lost a companion on the board, the man who bought him to the club and who helped him bring in talent like Vieira, Wiltord, Ljungberg, Overmars, Anelka, Pires and Henry. All of which were vital in successes Wenger had in the early days.

Wenger was also helped with the foundations that were at the club when he arrived with a sturdy defence and goalkeeper and of course Dennis Bergkamp up front as well as players who gave everything for the cause like Ray Parlour.

Perhaps his inability to recreate a defence who can both play football and defend is something that is and could ultimately cost Wenger his job and perhaps his legacy, as well as replacing his most powerful signing, a man who arrived at the club before him, Patrick Vieira, the captain of the invincibles.

One thing that is for certain is that Wenger is godfather of the foreign manager in English football and has not only revolutionised Arsenal but the whole English game, from tactics, diets and training but also with recruitment, bringing players in from abroad and managers even with the English National side employing foreign coaches.

The coming summer will be the biggest test for Wenger.

The club is reported to have a war chest of money to spend and he’ll be in the last year of his contract.

He will have to act now though.

The club is chasing 4th, currently in 5th four points behind rivals Tottenham, to secure Champions League football something he has never failed to do.

Then come the summer rebuilding job to spend in order to strengthen the team and take them back to where they were in his first decade in charge.

Otherwise this great manager could be remembered for his fall from the top when he leaves the English game rather than how he revolutionised our Premier League.


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