After 22 seasons and 1,128 games, Arsène Wenger is calling time on his career with Arsenal.
How much of that decision has been influenced by ownership and recent relative mediocrity is up for debate. But over the course of his career, the man dubbed ‘The Professor’ has been a dominant force in English football.
Let’s walk down memory lane as we brush past the recent forays of ArsenalFanTV and their wailing outrage over score draws and narrow wins.
It was the best of times…:
Wenger opened his account as the Gunners’ manager with a 2-0 win over Blackburn Rovers, both goals coming courtesy of Ian Wright.
The first half of his time at Arsenal was his most fruitful. Roughly 65 per cent of the trophies won during his reign came during his first decade with the club; all his Premier League titles came during this time period as well.
Speaking as a fan of a different club, I can remember the disbelief that accompanied a point against Arsenal during this time. They were tough, yet silky. Patrick Vieira marshalled their midfield, while Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp notched goals with precision.
Wenger’s accomplishment of having his team go undefeated for 49 games – still a record – is an incredible achievement in modern day football. Don’t let the man screaming into the ArsenalFanTV microphone fool you otherwise. Wenger was ahead of the curve, and a winner.
…it was the worst of times:
Sadly, the Gunners’ 2006 run in the Champions League appears to be where the wheels fell off. Jens Lehmann was sent off in the final, and the Gunners fell to a Barcelona side at the start of their football-changing era.
It wouldn’t be until 2014 that the Gunners next won a cup final, beating Hull City 3-2 in the FA Cup. Wenger appeared to take solace in winning a trophy that had been poo-pooed by managers such as Sir Alex Ferguson. He finishes his time in North London as the manager who has won the FA Cup the most number of times.
Wenger by the numbers:
Wenger’s winning percentage has largely remained the same over the course of his time at Arsenal. During the first 10 years, he posted a winning percentage of 57.6 per cent; in the past 12 years, it’s been a surprisingly similar 57.1 per cent.
He comfortably holds the record for most games coached as a manager in England’s top flight – 823 to Ferguson’s 810 – and has been in charge of one club longer than any other serving manager in the Premier League.
The emphasis he placed on free-flowing, attacking football – over the possession based tiki-taka of Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona side – was incredible to watch when it was in full flow. Think of Bergkamp’s flicks, Henry’s feints, and Robin van Persie’s powerful shots.
The memes and the taunts will fade as time goes by. The numbers of Wenger’s career show just how much he’s achieved, and how lucky Arsenal fans have been.
- 1,128 games as Arsenal’s manager
- 823 games managed in the Premier League
- 5 per cent winning record, second only to Alex Ferguson
- 49: Games unbeaten, a domestic record
- 21 years, 6 months: how long he’s been in charge
- Five: Five players have scored more than 100 goals for Arsenal under his stewardship
- Seven: FA Cup wins