He’ll be looked upon in the future as an absolute legend
Burnley face Arsenal tomorrow at Turf Moor and that means a date with their boss Arsène Wenger who will be taking charge of what will be the first game in his 21st season as Arsenal manager.
Later this month, Sean Dyche will have been with us at Burnley for four years. That’s no mean achievement these days and, when you look at the list of longest serving managers, only nine in the Premier and Football League’s are ahead of our boss in terms of longevity.
Paul Tisdale at Exeter is in second place; he completed ten years in charge of the League Two club during the summer, so Wenger’s twenty years really is exceptional and with Sir Alex Ferguson now over three years into his retirement he stands so far ahead of anyone else.
As football fans, we get greedy at times; the more we get, the more we want. I recall one Burnley supporter, quite sensibly, on us winning promotion under Stan Ternent in 2000, suggesting in a television interview that he’d be happy to see us establish ourselves in what is now called the Championship with a few cup runs thrown in. We’ve had that, and much, much more, in the sixteen years since but the nature of the supporter is never to accept what you’ve got but to demand even more.
I know Arsenal haven’t been champions for some time now. indeed not since 2004, losing out even to Leicester last season. I’m not a Gooner and so I don’t know the ins and outs of everything but for the life of me I cannot understand the, at times, over the top criticism of their manager.
I look at his style of play, I look at some of the players he’s taken to Highbury and the Emirates during his tenure. It’s not bad is it for a manager no one had seemingly heard of on the day he arrived looking more like a university professor than someone involved in football?
This week he’s been linked with the England job. I’m not one who believes the England manager has to be English and if there was a chance of getting Wenger then I would move heaven and earth to get him into the job. I doubt it will happen and I do think he’ll remain with Arsenal for as long as they want him even though his current contract comes to an end next summer. Mind you, if I was an Arsenal fan then I would want those in charge of the club to be moving heaven and earth to keep him there longer.
Wenger is a bad loser, and for that reason he makes enemies. One of them, Alan Pardew, spoke in glowing terms of him yesterday. It’s clear that, despite the touchline spats, those in the game, other than the Portuguese at Old Trafford, have the greatest respect for him. Sean Dyche certainly spoke very highly about him yesterday.
The usual calm looking Wenger, speaking to his club’s website yesterday, said. “I have learnt to master the pressure because I believe I can focus on what’s important in the difficult moments and keep calm. That was always one of my strengths and has been since I was a kid. People say I am cool under pressure but maybe I am not as cool as I look sometimes.”
Ahead of his press conference yesterday he was shown a video of his greatest moments and he did admit though, that on his 20th anniversary: “It’s very emotional because I’ve seen all my special moments from my time at Arsenal. You see the players who have had a special impact on the history of the club, all the special moments they’ve produced. You see yourself starting at the club as well, and a few wrinkles later you’re still here and still capable of fighting. It’s a privilege. It’s my life.”
Arsenal reported that should he continue for another 100 games and lose them all, he would still have the best win percentage of any Arsenal manager in history, but Wenger said: “You’re only as good as your last game.”
That means, on Monday, Arsenal will, in his own words, only be as good as their performance and result at Burnley. He’ll tell them how good they are before the game of course, he once said: “A football team is like a beautiful woman. When you do not tell her, she forgets she is beautiful.”
Looking forward to the game, he said of us: “Burnley have been very efficient at home and they are a team who are very well organised with their style of play because they have had a consistency from the manager.
“Sean Dyche has been there for a few years now and he knows the Premier League. It looks like he has adapted his style efficiently. I watched their last game against Watford and their commitment was absolutely superb. We have to prepare for a battle mentally and I believe it will be a very important and very interesting game as well.
“I think Burnley are ready to suffer. They are ready, because against Liverpool they had not a lot of possession, but they were very efficient as well because they have strong points. They are strong on the counter attack, they are efficient on set piece and that’s why they get results.”
Speaking about Wenger, Dyche suggested that he could be the last manager to hold a position at a club for so long. “I think the reality of football is we all demand change and want it yesterday. We all want it quicker and cheaper.
“I’ve had one of the rare cases where the club and myself have been aligned with what the club is, what it needs and how to move forward, we’ve had solidarity within that. In the last Premier League campaign people could have said ‘well you need to change the manager’, but they said ‘no, we understand the market we’re in’. There’s still a bit of reality here.
“I don’t think it will last forever. We have a solid board and solid fans and they believe in me and the team, but it still gets questioned and stretched at some point. We’re probably above the line of where the club thought it was going to be when I took over.”
He added: “Arsène’s had massive foresight in what the club could be. The business model’s amazing and continues to be. His moral standing on things like transfers and wages seems to be as strong as it’s ever been. They do spend big money, but not the type the others spend.
“And the development side. There was a time when he was questioned on a full foreign eleven. He’s moulded it back towards a lot of young English players, but he never comes out and tells the world about it, he’s morphed it into his beliefs.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for him. He’ll be looked upon in the future as an absolute legend of the game, on and off the pitch, for what he’s done for the club.”Follow UpTheClarets:
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