It’s a comment that will have tickled the backbone of many Arsenal fans up and down the country this weekend. Yet, for the man in question, it won’t have made him blink twice.
In an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live, Joey Barton said that rival managers have Arsene Wenger ‘on toast’. A lot of truth in that you may say, after all, Wenger’s Arsenal have picked up just one win against the top five sides away from the Emirates in the last five seasons.
Not one of Wenger’s proudest moments to reflect on, especially in the same week we mark his 18-year reign over the Gunners. But hang on; let’s not get carried away…
After all, Wenger isn’t exactly a stranger to the critics. So why would a 32 year old sub-standard player be anyone to stand in his way. Joey Barton has taken the same view of a primary school child, that just because he hasn’t won on the pitch, he is and overall ‘rubbish manager’.
Well no, that’s wrong. Wenger has done something only a couple of managers in history could ever have done.
No, I’m not talking about the Invincibles. Nor am I talking about the 13 major trophies he’s picked up.
Wenger went 10 years between 2002 and 2012; in that time he spent £9million net. After the sales that included Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and even Thierry Henry, Arsenal looked like a club on the rocks. Check again.
In that time, Wenger has steered the football club to a brand new football stadium, without the use of council funding. The debt of that stadium has now been fully payed off after moving in back in 2006.
And yet, with the sales of those big players, Wenger has made it into the Champions League a stunning 17 years in a row, still looking like a guy ‘on toast’?
I maintain that Wenger has frustrated me over the seasons; I think we can all admit to that! But that’s why we secretly love him so much.
After signing a 3-4 year contract, I feel like that could be the last time his signature graces the dotted line. But stop and look, he will leave the club having given them a new stadium, a squad that is all but there on a Premier League leaders platform, and profit coming in from lucrative long term deals from sponsorships such as Fly Emirates, Jean Richards, and of course, Puma.
Wenger is a visionary, and all of the above prove that. He is a man that doesn’t just run a football club; he has made it his life’s work.
Quite frankly, I’d have him for another 18 years.