September 22 will always remain an important milestone in the history of Arsenal, the Premier League and world football in general. It marked the beginning of a love story between Arsenal and Arsene Wenger. From “Arsene who?”, a term coined by the London Evening Standard when he first arrived even though the headline was not eventually run, to “Arsene knows”, and nowadays a mix of “Wenger In” or “Wenger Out”. He has taken it all in his stride, two decades on he’s still at the helm; the longest-serving league manager by a decade!
He is elegant, classy and intelligent, with a wonderful sense of humour: a true visionary who revolutionised English football. Rarely has a single individual had such an impact on a football club, both on and off the field. He has transformed everything about the club – the style of play, its academy, training, the Stadium, transfers; the list is endless. Arsene represents the last in a breed of super-managers, going extinct in this rapidly changing football environment. He exudes confidence and charm, always carrying a certain aura around him. His quotes alone are filled with life lessons on how to manage attention and the world & success in general.
Football is many times a numbers game where all kinds of statistics come into play. However, with him it has always been about something more; an identity, a legacy, a larger than life approach to the beautiful game, which exposes his philosophical nature. Those who have had the privilege of working with him will tell you he is an intelligent, passionate and respectful individual, a pleasure to work with. He is highly regarded within the game, a testament to the great work he has done in winning people over with an exciting brand of football, and establishing Arsenal firmly amongst the modern elite, with an ever increasing fanbase worldwide. It is also reflected in the fact that he has regularly been sought by various football organisations, and he has received a number of job offers, throughout his time at Arsenal, all of which he turned down numerous times. Ask Florentino Perez, one of the most powerful men in world football, he’ll tell you a thing or two about rejection. Rejection from Arsene Wenger. There simply is no denying his impact at Arsenal, football in England and the world as a whole.
For someone who has been in the spotlight for so long, he remains an extremely private man. He has made great effort to ensure that he makes the headlines for footballing reasons only, and it is only fair to say he has done a good job at that. October 1st 2016 made it twenty years since he officially became the manager at Arsenal, and he has received a lot of deserved plaudits, even though he has had his fair share of disappointments, but what is life if it isn’t a journey of crests & plateaus. A journey this long is not without bumps on the road, and I am certain that his desire would be that his twentieth anniversary would not be the most significant aspect of this season, and Arsenal’s excellent form would culminate in significant silverware at the end of the season.
Love him or hate him, one thing is certain: he is one of a kind. World Football will never get another Arsene Wenger.
When Sam Allardyce was appointed England manager he would have been desirous of making an indelible mark and a lasting impression. To a large extent he succeeded, albeit for all the wrong reasons. The dream is over and he has been awoken to an ugly reality. On Monday September 26, 2016, the Telegraph published the results of an undercover investigation that showed him negotiating a fee of £400,000 to represent an overseas firm that was hoping to profit from Premier League transfers. By the following day, he had left his post by ‘’mutual consent’’, bringing a disappointing and premature end to a journey barely begun.
For me this raises many questions. Why big Sam? Why now? Was it because of suspicions of previous wrong doings on his part? Or was it due to his new role as England manager? Why tarnish your image and ruin your reputation? You would think that a manager with this level of experience would know better; the drinks he was rumoured to have had probably didn’t help matters. He lost a dream job, a job that took him sixty-one years to lay his hands on in sixty-seven days. He has also suffered damage to his reputation. Others have been implicated but his remains the highest profile case, and this has exposed corruption in the English game, which has long prided itself on its transparency and integrity. It is easy to understand the position of the Football Association; condoning corruption in the sport can easily make it lose its appeal, a situation that happened in athletics with Russia as the main culprit, and now has to rely heavily on the heroics of Usain Bolt and a few other icons to attract an audience.
Can he bounce back from this incident? Time will tell, but I strongly doubt its possibility. The Sport could be quite forgiving, who knows?
On a lighter note though, it appears that the Daily Telegraph reporters are the “Football Einsteins” Jose Mourinho was talking about, and they definitely know what they are doing.
A final thought: all that glitters is not gold