This time is October 1996 and Arsenal have announced a French manager coming from a Japanese league to take over the club. It was a strange decision to many that time and not many believed it was the right call by then chairman David Dean.
The club took their decision on Wenger and the 68-year-old ensured he put Arsenal among the elite clubs competing year in year out. At the end of his first full season with the club, Wenger won the premier league and it was a big victory for the gunners.
Looking at how Arsenal have performed under Wenger from both side of the spectrum will make us see more than its being peddled around.
In Wenger’s first 10 years at the club, the French gaffer won three league titles and got to two European finals, the Europa league final in 2000 and the champions league final in 2006 where he lost both to Galatasary and Barcelona respectively.
This was the period Arsenal under Wenger were more known for playing physical football than the passing football. It was the time many know Wenger for buying tough players with character and players that have mental strength to take any break down. The likes of Vieira, Gilberto Silva, Henry, Lauren, Toure and many more exemplifies what the team stands for.
The likes of Fabregas and Pires added technicality to the playing styles and the ever important Henry and Bergkamp always provide the needed goals up front.
The success in those early years was less of the money spent but the types of players Wenger goes for. Looking at Wenger signings since moving to the Emirates, despite being on low budget, they have been more of players with flair than physical abilities.
You hardly will pin point a player in the last 12 years that Wenger have signed and have shown the kind of Vieira attitude or Henry’s commitment or Gilberto leadership in the middle of the park.
The likes of Metersacker have shown signs of great leadership and Sanchez gave the club a bit of fighting spirit which eventually became toxic and he left on a bad note. So one of the reasons why Arsenal have not been the alpha and omega they were in Wenger’s early years were not just money but also type of players.
The argument that those players are either expensive or not available again is false. The likes of Vincent Kompany who moved to City when Arsenal could have gotten him went on to become a leader or Fabregas that Wenger could have allowed to return but was not given the opportunity and many more.
Wenger has had an illustrious 22 years at Arsenal but it will be inappropriate not to admit that the team could have down better under him despite he still remaining as the best manager in Arsenal history. So the Europa league this season will definitely be a very great way to bow out on a high if the club can cross the hurdle of Atletico Madrid.