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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