When Arsene Wenger is asked how it feels to be on the cusp of a record-breaking 811 Premier League games in charge, he smiles and says simply: ‘Like an eternity!’
It has been more than 21 years since the Frenchman’s first game, at Ewood Park on October 12, 1996 - so how has English football changed since then?
“The league has changed completely because modern life has regrouped the elite in a few number of units,” Wenger said. “It’s less unpredictable and you have a small number of teams now who have huge ambitions. All the rest have one ambition: to stay in the league.
“I’ve spoken to people today and I think the mercenary aspect has become bigger as well. People have their own plans for their careers and if their own club doesn’t suit them anymore, they move on.
“I believe the pressure is on the owners now - you have seven, eight or even nine clubs who are scared of going down. I spoke to an owner and he told me, ‘I sacked the manager, I’ve appointed one and I know I might have made the wrong decision but we cannot afford to go down’.
“That pressure on every single club is just to save what can be saved, and it’s become absolutely huge. You need to be stronger than before. When you look at the rotation of managers inside the clubs, we have changed six out of 20. That 30 per cent nearly and we are halfway through the season. That means the destabilising factor has become much stronger.”
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