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Anorak | Arsenal: ‘Arsene Who?’ and what else they said of the man who came from nowhere to take over at Highbury

Arsenal: ‘Arsene Who?’ and what else they said of the man who came from nowhere to take over at Highbury

by | 1st, October 2013

PA-199632

ARSENE Wenger marked 17 years as Arsenal manager with a Champions’ League win over Napoli.  When he arrived at Highbury in in 1996 a few eyebrows were raised and nails bitten at the man from Japan:

Nick Hornby:

“I remember when Bruce Rioch was sacked, one of the papers had three or four names. It was Terry Venables, Johan Cruyff and then, at the end, Arsène Wenger. I remember thinking as a fan, I bet it’s fu*king Arsène Wenger, because I haven’t heard of him and I’ve heard of the other two. Trust Arsenal to appoint the boring one that you haven’t heard of.”

The Evening Standard created the headline: “Arsène Who?”

Tony Adams was the Arsenal captain:

“At first, I thought, what does this Frenchman know about football? He wears glasses and looks more like a schoolteacher. He’s not going to be as good as George Graham. Does he even speak English properly?”

Lee Dixon recalls that first meeting:

“The players filed in and in front of us stood this tall, slightly built man who gave no impression whatsoever of being a football manager.”

Sir Alex Ferguson was unimpressed:

“They say he’s an intelligent man, right? Speaks five languages. I’ve got a 15-year-old boy from the Ivory Coast who speaks five languages.”

Wenger banned Mars Bars and put the team on a better diet:

“We were travelling to Blackburn and the players were at the back of the bus chanting ‘we want our Mars bars!'”

Said Wenger in 1999:

“When I think retrospectively, that is the biggest surprise to me. Because at that time, what Arsenal did, you needed to be a little bit crazy. Crazy in the sense that I had no name, I was foreign, there was no history. They needed to be, maybe not crazy, but brave. I can show some articles where people tried to prove that the foreign managers can never win an English championship. That has changed. There was a history and belief in England that the foreign manager could not be successful. Now you have a different feeling, now you think only foreign managers can be successful. That is wrong as well.”

Arsene knows…



Posted: 1st, October 2013 | In: Sports Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink