On 16th of September, 1996, one Arsène Wenger was appointed as the manager of Arsenal. Back then, in the pre-Google times, the general reaction was “Arsène who?”. And here we are 20 years later, with the same Frenchman still overlooking one of the best teams that England has ever produced, and there probably isn’t anyone who’s the least bit into football who wouldn’t know his name.
It took Wenger 20 years to travel from a no-name in English football to a legend who will always be remembered – even by those who would rather see someone else overseeing the Gunners. He spent these years well and Arsenal has fixed a place up top for itself. Has the team made history? It remains a questions, but what’s clear is that it definitely went through one heck of a revolution.
Back then, it was very unusual to have a non-English manager to say the least, especially one who has also spent his own football career outside of the British Isles. Of course, it meant Arsène would without a sliver of doubt renew the way his team was playing – and his style became as befitting as his name is for managing Arsenal.
During his years, Wenger had the Gunners win Premier League three times in 97/98, 01/02, and 03/04. In addition to that, they came in second six times, finished third five times, and still managed to grab the fourth place another six times, which means it’s been 20 years since Arsenal didn’t make it to the Top 4.
Now anyone can agree that nothing can quite beat the time when Arsène had Arsenal win the first full season he managed, or the season of 03/04 when the Gunners haven’t lost a single match. The odds aren’t looking as well as they did back then, sure – for example, a UK-licensed bookie TonyBet has Wenger’s team as a distant fifth favourite to win the League – but it doesn’t mean that this fire-cracker of a manager can’t think of new tricks.
The fans learnt to love the attacking way of gameplay he commends, and the way that Arsène likes to present football on the field. His lads are pretty much always entertaining to watch - of course, they’re also notorious for getting copious amounts of red cards, totalling to a 100 between September 1996 and February 2014. On the other hand, Wenger has an eye for young talent, so his mark will be felt on the team for a long time to come.
During these years, Arsène Wenger was loved just as much as he was hated. The Professor is just as familiar as the rain in England, and his reign has been a colourful and glorious one. However, it is also not over yet. Can we expect another miracle? Well, it depends on what’s your definition, really; but one thing’s for sure – Arsenal is in very good hands that moulded it into the force of nature that we get to see on its best days.