Arsene: Arsenal’s knight of the realm

by CARL ELDRIDGE Arise, Sir Arsene Wenger. Ok, Her Maj may not be bestowing a knighthood on our leader any time soon but on the day when he becomes the longest-serving manager in Arsenal’s history we the fans should herald him as such.

This morning’s papers are awash with features on SAW, charting his successes over his 13-year tenure and the transformation of the club commercially and above all its footballing philosophy.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Kevin Garside opines: ‘He has built three championship-winning sides, one of which, the ‘Invincibles’ went a season unbeaten in 2003-04.

‘He has done this without the resources available to his rivals. He has done this through sharp husbandry and sharper coaching. No team in the British Isles has played better football than Wenger’s Arsenal across the piece.

‘Even now, despite losing twice in Manchester in three weeks, Arsenal have arguably hit greater highs than many. For 45 minutes at Old Trafford, Arsenal embarrassed the Premier League leaders. In the opening 20 minutes at Eastlands, City appeared crude by comparison.’ The same paper reports SAW’s top ten buys, check ‘em out for yourself here.

Gael Clichy, the last surviving member of Wenger’s ‘Invincibles’ team of 2003-04, marks SAW’s historic occasion by providing a revealing insight into the legendary Frenchman’s character in the Sun this morning.

Full-back Clichy speaks in detail about Wenger’s work ethic, philosophy, how he treats players, boosts their confidence and overcomes anger at any failure by trying to help his team improve.

The Sun also says that the Frenchman’s time at Highbury an The Emirates has seen an unprecedented amount of silverware won. Wenger’s reign has seen three Premier League titles and four FA Cups — including two doubles and the famous ‘Invincibles’ season of 2003/04 and the paper provides a pictorial journey of his time at the club which is worth a gander.

Meanwhile, Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood has also has his say in the Daily Mirror and hopes SAW remains as  manager for another decade, past his 70th birthday.

“He seems happy in his job here, it is very fulfilling for him,” Hill-Wood said. “I can see him doing it for another 10 years, but of course that is up to him. He is showing no signs of slowing down, he’s perfectly fit and he knows my feelings about him.

“I don’t want him to leave, but he is very much his own man. I don’t think any amount of sweet talking from me will make any difference. He has a nice job here. He is well paid, no interference, he is allowed to get on with his job.”

Over in the Daily Mail, they ask: ‘Arsene Wenger says he doesn’t need to spend all of the £50million at his disposal, but is he right? Simon Cass takes a look at what he feels Arsenal need, who they could afford and identifies some typical Wenger targets.

As we stroke our chins and gaze in wonderment at the bust of SAW that no doubt adorns every household in which a Gooner lives, let’s not forget the business end of proceedings.

The Times reports that Stan Kroenke increased his holding in Arsenal to 28.7 per cent yesterday, 1.2 per cent short of the mark that triggers a mandatory takeover bid.

The American spent £680,000 on 80 shares — paying about £1,000 above the market price for each one — to edge close to the 29.9 per cent mark. Under Stock Exchange rules, Kroenke would then be forced to make a formal offer to other shareholders.

 


Arsenal fan for 40 years. Schoolboys, North Bank, Clock End then East Upper. Then Emirates. AFC dream team: Wilson, Dixon, Sansom, Adams, Pates, Brady, Williams, Pires, Bergkamp, Henry, Wright. Subs: Seaman, Eldridge, Wilshere, RVP, Ball. Manager: Arsene Chapman.