Arsene Wenger's first and last programme notes

Arsène Wenger's first and last programme notes

Compare what the boss wrote to our supporters before his first game as our boss in 1996, and his final one in 2018

OCTOBER 19, 1996

Arsenal v Coventry City

We had a good win at Blackburn. They were a difficult team to play against. They moved well, had individuals with good technique, and never gave up. Our all-round organisation pleased me. Our success was the result of the attitude of the team who all worked hard to help each other.

Our defence was solid and we were dangerous on the counter-attack. Ian Wright scored at the right moment, early in each half, which added to our confidence. It is a useful habit, to score at such important moments! They were two good assists also, from John Hartson and Patrick Vieira.

In the first half we made problems for ourselves sometimes because we lost the ball too quickly. In the second half we kept it much better. We will work on our passing. When you have won the last game, you always have a good basis to work on.

It's well known that I like a 4-4-2 formation. But the system must be suited to the players.

They look comfortable with the system we use now, so I will try to improve our coordination within that pattern.

Whatever the system, we must be constantly aware, with or without the ball. That is the basis of my training exercises. I try to mix technical and tactical work. I have also introduced stretching exercises - more than the players are used to - because I also want to improve physical ability.

Pat Rice is a very helpful assistant. He's a very positive guy, and has a close rapport with the players.

Our fitness situation is optimistic. Dennis Bergkamp is back in training and all the rest of the squad are fit. It's not always so in mid-October! I hope that situation continues because we have to play several important matches in a short time.

I think the squad is a little short in quantity. But I will not rush to buy players. Will I look in England? Will I look in Europe? I answer that the quality and mentality of the player count most, not where he was born.

Players who join Arsenal must respect the spirit of the club. Patrick Vieira and Rémi Garde, for instance, have discovered that solidarity and have become part of it.

I know of Coventry through watching English football on TV. I watched closely on TV again when they played Southampton last Sunday. They were dangerous in the second half when several individuals showed their technical ability.

It's Arsenal's way to focus totally on the game ahead and we must be concentrated again this afternoon. Pat and the players tell me how well the supporters have backed the team. I experienced that support at Blackburn. I am sure it will be the same today.

The supporters have been very nice to me. It feels like thousands have wished me good luck. I know that you are sincere and that you care about the club. I will do all I can to make you happy.

MAY 6, 2018

Arsenal v BURNLEY

Personally I expect today will be dominated by sadness. It's the end of a long story for me at Arsenal. But I will also feel grateful for having led this club - that I cherish so much - for such a long time. I tried to commit completely, for so many years, to make people happy and I wish just that people who love this club will be happy in the future and get what they really want and love.

I've met people for whom I am the only Arsenal manager they have known, so now this is a good opportunity for the club to have new people and new ideas and to continue to move the club forward, which is what I've tried to do my whole life.

I've met so many fans, so many nice people on a daily basis who really appreciated what I tried to do, or what I did, so today is also an opportunity for me to thank all the people who have been so faithful. I had the luxury to manage for 22 years in a sold-out stadium. That's a real luxury in life when you are in my job.

I've also had the privilege of managing so many great players. First of all they were great people, and after that they were as well great players. Most of the time the two co-habited together. That's a privilege and I think many people had a positive experience at Arsenal.

I'm very proud that over decades we could maintain an identification of players to the club. The players have a special attachment. Part of life as a player is to experience a special place, and that's Arsenal. I've always wanted to create that by the way we play football, by the way we behave, by the mentality and spirit we have in the club. And I think honestly, I can't remember one player who didn't try to call me or try to come back. It's part of the pride that Arsenal should have as well, to think we should leave a special print in the mind of the players.

We have had players from all over the world. Sport can contribute to understanding of people who come from different cultures, and as a club we've contributed to that. It's not only me because there has been no real reluctance inside the club to it. They let me do it, and maybe that is why Arsenal is loved and cherished all over the world.

The board always encouraged me to buy foreign players, as long as they are good!

That’s the most important thing. People want to win games and want to see quality.

I'd say what has linked all my teams through the years is the desire to play as a connected team at a high pace, and to make the players reach a complex form of collective football. That means involving at least three players in every move, to express your talent, and make people feel that when football is expressed in a collective way and with a high understanding, it's art.

What I will miss most about this job is the competition itself. The collective feeling, the sharing of emotions with people you work with on a daily basis, the desire to feel something together and the target you always have in front of you. I will miss the intensity of it all, because that's all I have known in my life.

What I'll miss the least is certainly the huge disappointments and huge suffering you can get. The loneliness you can experience when things don't go well. In this job you get too much praise when things go well, and you get too much negativity when they don't. You are always in an excessive world. So that's why it's always important to be balanced, to have your feet on the ground and take a little distance from the situations to keep completely normal, because you can quickly lose ground.

I am not involved in who my successor will be, that's not my job, but what I would say to him is he should follow what he thinks is right for the club. Have a good assessment of the team because I think this team has quality, and move the club forward with your own ideas. Don't be struck too much by what happened before, just do what you think is right for the club.

I have been guided, in my whole life here by one thing: is that good for the club or not? You have to think and act for the club like you own it. That is the advice I'd give to him, you have to prepare to have that strength to fight every day to do the best possible for Arsenal.

My final message to you all, the fans, is first of all thank you very much for all your support down the years. Continue to stand behind and support the club that is so special to all of us. No matter what happens in future, keep faith in what the club is doing. Like you, I will continue to support Arsenal for the rest of my life.

See Full List

Fixtures & Results

Premier League
Ticket Info