‘The club was brave to appoint me’

Arsene Wenger

Arsene Wenger was in expansive mood with the media on Friday as he discussed his 20 years in charge of Arsenal.

He arrived at the club as a relative unknown and started work on October 1, 1996. But what the reaction like to him? He reveals all below:

on the club taking a gamble…

It was a big gamble because I was one of the first foreign managers who came to England. I think before me you had Venglos, who had not worked out at Aston Villa. So there was a belief that a foreign manager could not work in England. So at that time I would never have imagined 20 years later I would still be here.

on the reaction in England…

There was a resistance,of course. There was a belief that a foreign manager could never win a championship in England.

on whether there was any inside the club…

Maybe from some players, but I can understand that. When I arrived here Arsenal was a very traditional club. When I first came here on January 1st, 1989, the women were still in different rooms to the men. The wives of the directors were in a separate room. That was really a traditional club. To be brave like they were to take a foreign manager who was unknown on top of that, was of course a massive gamble. It made it hard because the scepticism was higher. You had to convince people that you know what you talk about. And I still have to do the same today.

on whether he has changed English football…

I don’t know. I was happy to have an opportunity to show I could do well in England and after that you stick to your ideas and if it works or doesn’t work you accept that. I think it’s always good to have a mixture between local people and foreign people because it brings new ideas.

on whether he wants to go out on a high…

I am not obsessed by that. Would Sir Alex Ferguson have not have gone out on a high after the history? Time makes a difference with what the guy has done. He would still be the same great manager had he not gone out on a high. You don’t just keep the last year.


on what factors will affect his decision…

One of the factors is that the club and supporters still want me and I still want to stay. What will make me want to stay is that I feel I can give more to the club. People know that if things go well my priority is this club. After I have to accept as well that if things don’t go well maybe I do something else.


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