By Richard Clarke

If you want to waste some money today then bet on Arsène Wenger to be next Premier League manager to leave his job.

Paddy Power,'s official betting partner, rate that particular option at 100/1. That is the longest odds for any top-flight boss. However, in reality, you could probably add a good few noughts to that ratio given that Wenger's vibrant young side will reclaim top spot in the table with a two-goal victory at Reading this evening.

However it was not always this way. The Arsenal manager feels the best piece of luck he had in his career was NOT to start at a big club and, he argues, the only relegation of his coaching life taught him much.

"It is always difficult measure how lucky I have been," he said. "To start as a youth team coach in a low first division club [in France] and finish here? Certainly with bad luck it doesn't happen but it's difficult to compare the situations.

"Don't think anybody came to me and said 'here is the red carpet for you into a special job' and gave me a big club straight away. I know the biggest luck I have had is that I didn't start at Arsenal, I had to fight."

Wenger certainly had to battle at Nancy, his first job in management. The small side from the Lorraine region plucked him out of Cannes youth set-up in 1984 and were immediately rewarded when he guided them to a healthy 11th place in his first season. In his second season they finished third from bottom and survived via a play-off but, a year later, they succumbed to the seemingly inevitable demotion. However his relative success had alerted the attention of Monaco.
"Yes, I experienced [relegation] when I was quite young," said Wenger. "It was a good learning process as I was on my own completely without any assistants.

"The pressure at the bottom is different to pressure at the top. At Nancy we made miracles every year because we where always favourites to go down. When I left they offered me the chance to take over at the club completely. They offered me a contract of five years. But at the time I was only 36 and I decided then to go to Monaco. It is a miracle I had big clubs to go to. But that still happens now, big clubs always look for good young managers."


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Richard Clarke 12 Nov 2007