Arsene Wenger celebrated 20 years as manager of Arsenal this week and he opened up to former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry about his memories, accomplishments and even some of his more memorable failures.
Wenger began by reflecting on his greatest moments as manager of the soccer team, noting that it’s difficult to ever forget the team’s first title with him at the helm, according to Sky News.
“The best moment is maybe when we won our first title and after that the Invincible year because I think the dream of every coach is to make a spotless year. The 2004 season was exceptional because you had everything. The players had individual quality, we were a team and we had natural collective spirit. It was just exceptional. A moment you never have in your career, basically.”
— Sky Football ⚽️ (@SkyFootball) October 2, 2016
The French manager told Henry that the team’s loss to Manchester United last year was one of the worst moments of in his career.
“It was the moment where you felt the championship is lost. It was a game we couldn’t afford to lose and not to turn up on the day, you wonder ‘what did I do wrong there? What didn’t work?’ It was a game we were expected to win, absolutely. We had to win it but I felt, more than losing the game, we were just not at the races on the day.”
Wenger acknowledged that his first ten years of glory have helped to make up for his second decade of struggle, noting that there were several factors that contributed to the lean years, including the construction of a new stadium. With finances tight, the team was forced to sell some of their best, and highest paid, players to free up funds to pay for the expensive new stadium.
“The second one was big investors came in at the same time. It was Chelsea first and then Man City after, who were hugely ambitious and we were not the club anymore who could basically compete with them on the financial front.”
Thierry asked his former boss what has kept him going for 20 years despite the stress and pressure that comes with being the leader and frontman of the Arsenal team. Wenger responded that it is his “passion for the game” and his “optimism” that sees him through, adding that he has a “good resistance to stress.”
“I’m a little bit of a dreamer. I always think the next game is going to be perfect. We are in a job where you always wait for the next game.”
— Mirror Football (@MirrorFootball) October 2, 2016
According to the BBC, there are four reasons why Wenger has lasted two decades as the Arsenal “boss,” including his unparalleled record of wins compared to any other Gunners’ coaches. He’s won three Premier League titles and six FA Cups.
Despite the fact that fans are critical of Wenger, he is well-liked by his players, the BBC notes, and he knows how to develop talent.
At one point, he was asked about buying popular players and said, “We do not buy superstars, we make them.”
Finally, Arsene Wenger’s longevity as Arsenal’s manager can be attributed to his ability to spot potential. The BBC notes that eyebrows were raised when he bought Henry from Juventus for $14 million. At the time, Henry was struggling but Wenger moved him from winger to center forward, from which Henry would score 228 goals.
For now, Wenger is looking forward and say he has confidence in the current team.
“I believe we are more mature, we are better equipped, we have a squad that’s not made of kids anymore but a squad made of mature players, who have experience. It comes down to how consistent we will be and that is down to producing the performances every three days now.”
[Featured Image by Matt Dunham/AP Images]