Thursday, September 28, 2006

10 Years of Wenger

If you can't tell already, I'm an unabashed Gooner, easily noticed from the way I seem to orgasm whenever Arsenal beats somebody who isn't in the bottom third of the EPL.

So, while I'm sitting here, watching a scintillating Palermo v. West Ham (The UEFA Cup coverage is so crap, I do believe Setanta does film through gauze, as some guy on the Guardian Weekly Podcast pointed out), I thought I'd compile a few viewpoints on our favorite myopic Frenchman. I reckon if the Beeb is letting Kevin Nolan write a column , I can get away with this.

TEN YEARS OF ARSENE ABOUT (excerpted from today's Fiver)

Today is the tenth anniversary of Arsenal Wenger replacing Bruce Rioch as Arsene manager, so it's a day of wild celebration for Gooners. Which, given that two fans were ejected from the Emirates Stadium last Saturday for the grotesque crime of singing, probably means gathering around a turned-off iPod and whispering "for he's a jolly good fellow". Still, it would be churlish of the Fiver not to mark the occasion by listing the Frenchman's impressive achievements.

Since arriving at Highbury in 1996, Wenger has led the Gunners to three Premierships, four FA Cups, two European finals and 4,768 red cards. More than that, he has transformed the team from a boring bunch of grinders into a sensational amalgam of gifted artists, elite athletes and Justin Hoyte. In 2003-04, his side was the first to go a whole season unbeaten in over a century, and they built on that by finishing 12 points behind Chelsea the following year.

Some of these feats were pulled off despite stringent financial constraints imposed by the club's switch to a new ground, and this is where the economics graduate's famed mastery of the transfer market came into play. Ingenious bargain buys include Nicolas Anelka, Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Freddie Ljungberg and Cesc Fabregas, not to mention Nelson Vivas, Pascal Cygan and Franny Jeffers. No seriously, not to mention them. That's exactly what the man everyone thinks is Arsenal chairman but actually isn't, David Dein, didn't do today, when he again hailed Wenger as a hero and said he'd have a job at Arsenal for life. "We want him for the rest of his career," gushed the media-hungry vice chairman. "If he wanted to give up the tracksuit he'd be invaluable in the boardroom in a technical role."

All of which means that even Lahn's Lahn Evenin Stannah, who famously greeted the Frenchman's arrival from Nagoya Grampus Eight with the headline 'Arsene Who?', must agree that Wenger is the greatest thing to come from Japan since beer-pumping robotic chopsticks with built-in coffee-maker and skis. Or something.

The Fiver [Guardian Unlimited]

Is Roy Keane looking for a job at Arsenal? [State of the game]

Arsene Wenger's decade at Arsenal [BBC Sport]

Wenger marks 10 momentous years at Arsenal [Yahoo! Sports]

Dixon on Wenger's 10 years at Arsenal [BBC Sport]

The best 10 years in this clubs' history [Gunnerblog]


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