To me it is incomprehensible that a modern day manager can last a thousand matches; and it remains to be seen whether anybody will ever do it again at a top club. It is a shame that Arsene’s 1000th game has to be away at Chelsea: the cauldron of disloyalty and classlessness. Of course, it would be very, very sweet if we were to beat them on Saturday, but given Maureen’s record at the Bridge, our current injuries and lack of attacking thrust in recent games, this is unlikely to happen, unfortunately.
But, whatever the result, nothing will take away the significance of managing our beloved club for 1000 games. Wenger has won 572 from his 999 in charge, a win percentage of 57.26. Alex Ferguson, who managed the Mancs for an unbelievable 1500 games, has a win percentage of 59.67. Given that the club has reached a new era now, with a strong financial basis and being fully able to both hold on to our players and buy quality additions, what is the bet that, if Arsene – eight years the junior to SAF – were to manage the club for another 500 games, he will equal or even improve the Scotsman’s win percentage?
Whether Arsene will stay for that long, or even beyond this season, remains to be seen. The secret of a long life is knowing when it is time to go; and I hope he will strongly consider his ongoing health status when deciding on the future. Bob Crow’s, RMT’s General Secretary, sudden death last week has made me realise again what demands are put on people who combine idealism and passion with high work demands and expectations by themselves and others. There are not many people left like Wenger, especially not in football, and, whether you are a Gooner or not, they need to be cherished and protected. Something that does not happen enough.
Even if Arsene was to stop at the end of the season, his legacy would easily be as big as Ferguson’s. He might not have won as much as the Scot, but he has introduced a style and quality of football that brought an enormous beauty to these shores, which is now copied by a number of PL clubs, most notably by Pool and the Northern Oilers. He was able to win heavy silverware with this style of football, which was all epitomised by the 49-games unbeaten run of the Invincibles. In twenty, forty, sixty years from now, true footie lovers – Gooners and non-Gooners alike – will still remember Arsenal under Wenger; you can bet on that.
He also stuck with the club when it would have been a lot easier to go somewhere else, where money is no object and life is a lot easier. He saw us through a very challenging period, which was made a lot, lot harder by the arrival of the Oil-For-Cups era. In stark contrast, Van Gaal left Ajax soon after the new stadium was completed, back in 1997; and although they have done okay domestically – which is not that hard – they appear to have lost the battle for European silverware for good (despite the odd peaks in performance).
Whether Arsene is still the right man to take us one step forward again is open to debate, but whatever lies in the future, we should be very thankful for what he has done for our club in the last 999 games, both on and off the pitch and in terms of laying the foundations for our long term position among the domestic and European elite. Everything is in place to make that step and let’s hope that Arsene makes the right decision, as it is up to him; this he has earned.
But from Saturday onwards it is one game at a time (OGAAT) again: for ninety plus minutes we’ll forget about our past and future and fight for every ball. Come on You Rip Roaring Gunners – Victoria Concordia Crescit!
“Real generosity towards the future lies in giving all to the present.”
Written by: TotalArsenal.