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The most successful manager in Arsenal’s history has turned 61 today. The manager has revitalized the previously boring style of play of Arsenal since joining in 1997 by introducing the free flowing, slick one touch passing game that we love to see every week; a style which is almost unmatched in Europe. With the beautiful football, Wenger has managed to win the Premier League thrice and the FA Cup and Community Shield four times each during his 13 years as Arsenal’s manager. The Frenchman reached a career high when he led his side, which came to be known as ‘The Invincibles’, to an unbeaten season in the 2003-04 season.
Lately though, he is going through a bad phase. 5 seasons without winning any silverware has led his critics to believe his time as a top manager is up citing his stubbornness to stick to the seemingly failed youth project and his stinginess in the transfer market as the main reasons. Another trophy-less season could be one too many. Till then, he is the leader at Arsenal and the fans should stay behind him through thick and thin.
As a tribute to the witty Frenchman, here’s a few of his memorable quotes throughout his career at Arsenal:
- [On Emmanuel Adebayor's stamp on Robin van Persie] “I watched it when I got home and it looked very bad. You ask 100 people, 99 will say it’s very bad and the hundredth will be Mark Hughes.”
- [On how long Tomas Rosicky would be ruled out for at the start of his 18-month recuperation] “Days not weeks.”
- [After Martin Taylor snapped Eduardo's leg in half] “The guy should never ever play football again.”
- “We do not buy superstars. We make them.”
- “For me, when you change more than three players in a team, you always take a technical risk because you change the deep structure of the team and the deep balance of the team, mentally and technically.”
- “Nobody has enough talent to live on talent alone. Even when you have talent, a life without work goes nowhere.”
- “At some clubs success is accidental. At Arsenal it is compulsory.”
- [On Arsenal's recruitment policy] “If I give you a good wine, you will see how it tastes and after you ask where it comes from.”
- “If you do not believe you can do it then you have no chance at all.”
- “What’s really dreadful is the diet in Britain. The whole day you drink tea with milk and coffee with milk and cakes. If you had a fantasy world of what you shouldn’t eat in sport, it’s what you eat here.”
- [On Ruud van Nistelrooy in 2003] “He can only cheat.”
- “Any man who concentrates his energies totally on one passion is, by definition, someone who hurts the people close to him.”
- [On losing the lead of the league in November 2004] “It’s like a child who is used to having ice cream whenever he wants. When it doesn’t come when he asks he tends to get confused and nervous.
- “Gerard is an open-minded and passionate man. I am the opposite: stubborn and stupid. But sometimes stupid behaviour makes you win.”
- [Wenger's strong views on International matches] Gerard Houilier’s thoughts on the matter echo mine. He thinks that what the national coaches are doing is like taking the car from his garage without even asking permission. They will then use the car for ten days and abandon it in a field without any petrol left in the tank. We then have to recover it, but it is broken down. Then a month later they will come to take your car again, and for good measure you’re expected to be nice about it.
- [On Reyes's departure] “Despite the global warming, England is still not warm enough for him.”
- [Upon being asked if he had received the apology that Sir Alex had announced he had sent to Wenger] “No. Perhaps he sent it by horse.”
- “Ferguson’s out of order. He has lost all sense of reality. He is going out looking for a confrontation, then asking the person he is confronting to apologise. He’s pushed the cork in a bit far this time.”
- “He [Ferguson] doesn’t interest me and doesn’t matter to me at all. I will never answer to any provocation from him any more.”
- “Ferguson should calm down. Maybe it would have been better if he had put us against a wall and shot us.”
- [In response to Sir Alex Ferguson's claim that he possessed the best team in the league despite Arsenal winning the title in 2002] “Everyone thinks they have the prettiest wife at home.”
- “If I asked you who was the best team in the world you would say Brazil. And do they play good football? Yes. Which club won everything last year? Barcelona. Good football. I am not against being pragmatic, because it is pragmatic to make a good pass, not a bad one. If I have the ball, what do I do with it? Could anybody argue that a bad solution like just kicking it away is pragmatic just because, sometimes, it works by accident?”
- “There is no better psychological education than growing up in a pub when you are five or six because you meet all different people and hear how cruel they can be. You hear the way they talk to each other like saying ‘You’re a liar.’ And from an early age you get a practical psychological education into the minds of people.”
- [Arsene Wenger explains his football philosophy - something about not stifling creativity and taking away a player's flair] ”When you’re dealing with someone who only has a pair of underpants on, if you take his underpants off, he has nothing left – he’s naked. You’re better off trying to find him a pair of trousers to complement him rather than change him”
- “The biggest things in life have been achieved by people who, at the start, we would have judged crazy. And yet if they had not had these crazy ideas the world would have been more stupid.”
- [After the success of the Great Britain team at the Olympics] “I didn’t know the English were good at swimming. I have been in this country for 12 years and I haven’t seen a swimming pool.”
- “If I go into a season and I say, ‘For fu*k’s sake, if we don’t win anything, they will all leave,’ I have already lost. The problem of the media is always to imagine the worst. The problem of the manager is always to imagine the best.”
- “When you represent a club it’s about values and qualities, not about passports.”
- [After the departure of Sol Campbell to Portsmouth] “It is a big surprise to me because he cancelled his contract to go abroad. Have you sold Portsmouth to a foreign country?”
- [In response to Sepp Blatter's accusation that big clubs were guilty of 'child slavery] “If you have a child who is a good musician, what is your first reaction? It is to put them into a good music school, not in an average one. So why should that not happen in football?”
- “A football team is like a beautiful woman. When you do not tell her, she forgets she is beautiful.”
- [On Jose Mourinho after the then Chelsea boss accused him of being a voyeur] “He’s out of order, disconnected with reality and disrespectful. When you give success to stupid people, it makes them more stupid sometimes and not more intelligent.”
- [In 2003] “It’s not impossible. I know it will be difficult for us to go through the season unbeaten. But if we keep the right attitude it’s possible we can do it.”
- [Arsene Wenger responds after Sir Alex Ferguson has a dig at Arsenal for their lack of homegrown players] I’m ready to take the blame for all the problems of English football if that is what he wants.
- [On the qualities of Dennis Bergkamp] “Intelligence and class. Class is of course, most of the time linked to what you can do with the ball, but the intelligence makes you use the technique in an efficient way. It’s like somebody who has a big vocabulary but he doesn’t say intelligent words, and somebody who has a big vocabulary but he can talk intelligently, and that’s what Dennis is all about. What he does, there’s always a head and always a brain. And his technique allows him to do what he sees, and what he decides to do.”
- “I tried to watch the Tottenham match on television in my hotel yesterday, but I fell asleep.”
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Arsenal started the season as well as any fan would have hoped for. But it hasn’t lasted. It’s turning into another season of disappointment. They have only managed to win 3 from their last 8 games; clearly not the sort of form that can win you trophies. Now Arsenal lag way behind the top 2 who seem to be battling for the League title and out of the Carling. A lot of the frustration Arsenal fans are enduring can be attributed to the Gunners’ below par away record so far this season. The record so far is as follows:
Wins – 6
Defeats – 5
Draws – 3
That’s not good enough. Period. Arsenal have refused to turn up in a lot of these games. The last three defeats have been pathetic performances. The draw at Burnley was the nth time Arsenal were complacent. They took the lead at United, then gave it away. They took the lead at West Ham, then gave it away. Same at Alkmaar, at Burnley. Yet after each one of those occasions they say they’ve learned the lesson now. But no, they haven’t. Time and again they have given points away needlessly. One week they make you feel yes, the Arsenal that can win the League is here. And then next week you see depressing performances like the one on Wednesday night.
Ok, Arsenal are still in the title race but how many of you honestly think they can win it? And I mean honestly. Deep down most of you know it’s not possible, not with the players we have available at the moment. Buy more quality in January and maybe, just maybe, we will have a chance. Lets face it, with Almunia in goal we are not going to many keep clean sheets! So what we need to do is outscore our opponents. To do that we need quality finishers. Right now only Fabregas and Arshavin seem like getting the goals. Walcott is hopeless. He’s got pace, that’s it. Can’t pass, can’t shoot, can’t cross, can’t dribble! Bendtner and van Persie are out. Vela and Eduardo only seem to score for their countries and not Arsenal. Vela looks like he can only score from chips. Eduardo’s finishing has gone to sleep. We need quality and we need it quick! Arsene Wenger admits it and he’s got to open his chequebook. I think even a cup tied player will do because it’s clear we stand more chance of winning the Premier League than the Champions League. Especially since Wenger has so much faith in his current squad just let them continue their run in Europe and buy someone world class to re-start our Premier League title challenge. I don’t usually do negative articles and I haven’t been writing for quite some time but I felt I have to get my feelings out. For now let hope for the best. We’re not out of the title race mathematically so we can win it. Just need better, more aggressive and fighting performances from the players not the uninterested performances that we have seen too many of already.
*This article was supposed to be on Arsenal’s away form but I guess I took out far more frustration than just that!
Fulham manager Roy Hodgson is now resigned to the fact that he might not be able to keep his star centre back Brede Hangeland, particularly fearing Arsenal could take him away from Craven Cottage.
Manchester United didn’t want to lose (Cristiano) Ronaldo and they did, Liverpool didn’t want to lose (Xabi) Alonso.
“There comes a time if you’re Fulham, or even Manchester United or Chelsea that things have to be looked at in the cold light of day and you have to take things into account.
“It annoys me when fans say things like ‘it’s ridiculous to get him go’ because to say that you have to know all the facts.
“It’s no surprise he’s been linked with clubs because really good quality centre-halves are always at a premium.
“When a club like Arsenal – or Manchester City or Liverpool – when they lose a player the attention will always turn towards who the other good centre-backs are in the Premier League and who they could be looking at.
“Arsenal have done their business very quietly and they keep things to themselves. We’ve had no contact with Arsenal and whether there’s an interest only Arsene knows.
“When I see him interviewed he says he has enough centre-halves and is not in the market for one. Only he knows what his true feelings are.”
Arsene Wenger is finding it hard to cough up any more than £6m for Bordeaux striker Marouane Chamakh but according to Real Madrid’s special advisor Zinedine Zidane, the Arsenal manager has bid a staggering £17m for unwanted Real Madrid forward Klass-Jan Huntelaar.
But despite the huge offer Zidane said the Dutchman is nearing a move to AC Milan instead. I could not find the exact comments anywhere so I am not exactly sure about the authenticity of this story.
Arsenal players took on the Crossbar Challenge at the Arsenal’s Memeber’s Day. But the competition did not yield a winner! Alex Song came closest to winning but his attempt could only hit the post. Unsurprisingly Arsene Wenger’s attempt was the worst of them all!
So Wenger has admitted he will think about signing Patrick Vieira. Some fans will say he is exactly what we need. A holding midfielder who is a strong leader as well. And as he is a legend of this club so most fans would love to have him back too. He could also help in the development of Song and Denilson into the sort of holding midfielders we hope they will one day turn into.
But then he is 33 now. And his recent years have been plagued with injuries. So some would say he can’t play week in week out and even when he does he won’t be able to complete 90 minutes easily.
So the question is how many fans are from the first category and how many from the second; and how many are least bothered about whether he joins or not.
Arsene Wenger is in search of a striker to replace the departed Emmanuel Adebayor and has talked to Bordeaux’s president regarding the possibility of Chamakh joining Arsenal.
Arsenal fans would feel Arsenal need a holding midfielder or even a centre back more than a striker considering the long list of top quality strikers that Arsenal has despite Emmanuel Adebayor’s departure. But Wenger, it seems, thinks otherwise and is looking for a striker.
This is what Bordeaux president Jean-Louis Triaud had to say:
“Wenger has called me.
“He told me he has a list of forwards and Marouane is one of the names on it.
“However, I expect this could be a complex case which could become a soap opera.”
The last sentence makes one fear this could drag down till the deadline. So hopefully Wenger goes for Huntelaar instead because considering Real are desperately looking to offload him, it shouldn’t take that long and hence Wenger can make moves for some holding midfielders.
Tottenham Hotspurs boss Harry Redknapp has been trying to earn the wrath of Arsenal fans by attempting to lure Arsenal legend Patrick Viera to Spurs. But since the reported entry of Arsene Wenger into the chase, Viera is most likely to have a reunion with his old boss. And Harry Redknapp feels the same; that if Arsenal are in it then surely Viera would opt for them:
“It’s surprising but I had heard nothing about it,”
“I’m sure he’ll be a good signing for whoever gets him.
“He belonged to Arsenal. He was fantastic there so if an opportunity to go back came along, I’m sure he would take it.”
If the Frenchman does return, Arsenal will again have a player of the “Invincibles”. The last of those remaining at Arsenal, Kolo Toure, left for Manchester City yesterday.
Arsene Wenger is not interested in Brede Hangeland. At least not yet. Gunners have once again been linked with the Fulham centre back as a replacement for the departing Kolo Toure.
But as on most occasions, it is just false speculation. Fulham boss Roy Hodgson has outrightly denied any formal contact by Arsenal:
“We read the speculation about Brede, but you only get concerned when a club contacts you.
“I’m not bothered about it. If Arsenal wanted one of our players and could afford to entice him away, like Manchester City are, we would have to deal with that situation.
“But it’s only speculation brought about by people seeing that Arsenal are losing a centre-back and saying ‘if I were the Arsenal manager I’d go for him’.”
There is still time, just over a month to go till the transfer season ends, so Wenger has sufficient time to buy the two or the players needed. Will Hangeland be one of them? Doesn’t seem so anymore.
Arsene Wenger spoke about the possibility of Kolo Toure leaving in an exclusive interview to Arsenal TV Online and suggested something might happen in the next 24 hours:
“We’ll see what’s happening in the next 24 hours … we have many centre-backs, seven centre-backs and I’m in a position where we have to play some in midfield… but of course Kolo is a very good player – we’ll see what happens in the next 24 hours.”
So one can say negotiations are taking place and with the money that Man City have, it’s hard to see Kolo staying now. But still lets hope he doesn’t turn out to be as greedy as Adebayor.