Former Arsenal legend Ian Wright has recently released a fantastic new autobiography in which he goes into real depth about life behind the scenes with the Gunners and what it was like playing for Arsene Wenger.
It’s clear that Wright is a massive fan of the French manager and, in discussing the pressure Wenger has faced in recent years, the former Arsenal striker goes to great lengths to explain just how much the ‘professor’ has done for the club.
Speaking about the club’s stadium move from Highbury to the Emirates, Wright explains just what a feat Wenger managed to achieve in keeping Arsenal in the top four during that period.
He also explains that, although Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho have won more in English football, he is certain that they both look to Arsene Wenger as their superior and feel aggrieved.
Check out Wright discussing all of the above along with an explanation for why, at times, his protective side made the player’s feel like he was some sort of ‘Jesus Christ’ in the two excerpts below;
I know there’s been a lot of fuss made by people saying and writing derogatory things about how Arsène thinks the top four is a trophy in itself, but they don’t realize what an achievement it was to finance the stadium and stay in the top four. Tottenham will find that out when they build their stadium, but there’s the difference between them and us – we had to be in the top four. They could be tenth and it doesn’t matter because they haven’t got the same ambitions as us.
Spurs may not be in the top four and it won’t be news; if Arsenal don’t get into the top four, that news goes around the world…
Arsène Wenger was genuinely doing what he could to win the games. At no point did he do anything else or have any other agenda, and despite the financial issues, he kept Arsenal in the top four. I understand that now, and I’ve got no problem with it. In fact, I think it’s a mark of how much he loves the club: knowing what he knew at the time, he never came out and said anything about anything. He just took it, took all the crap that was thrown at him in the press and by the fans, so the club didn’t have to.
It’s almost like there was a Jesus Christ thing about him, where he held his arms out and said, ‘OK, I’m going to take on all this abuse and protect everybody, because I’m the manager and this is what I’ve got to do.’
That’s why I know I couldn’t be a manager!
Arsenal, the whole club, is in the image of Arsène Wenger in the way it’s set up and the way it functions – very intelligent, very calculating, whatever happens there’s no kneejerk reaction, nothing rash … That’s exactly how he is. Look how the media has been constantly trying to gee him up, always having a little dig, but he’s on a different level and he’s not even bothering himself. Sometimes, I see that going on and think, ‘The only thing you lot can really criticize him for is he’s too intelligent for you.’ He’s just got too much.
He came through the barren years with his dignity and his pride intact – that’s why Mourinho cannot deal with how Arsène Wenger is, why Ferguson couldn’t. He winds them up without even saying anything. Look at Ferguson and what he did at Man United, but he would still look across to Arsène and feel aggrieved for some reason. Mourinho’s won more and done more than us, but he’ll still look at Arsène and feel aggrieved, because Arsène is the embodiment of his own legacy. He is football. He’s what it’s all about, He’s why any of us do this. He’s all about the game in its purest sense, and what he wants to bring out of his players is part of that game. It’s not about personal stuff or individual awards: it’s about his players doing the best they can. He’s not just a great man, he’s a really great bloke too.
He has got a sense of humour, and he’s got a great way about him when he does joke. He’s got a lovely smile and my wife absolutely adores him. She loves the way he is, thinks he’s just a wonderful guy. There’s so few flaws there that when I saw those pictures of him on the bench at Monaco, I think, smoking a cigarette, I found it so strange – Arsène Wenger smoking! It seemed so beneath him. But then I’ll admit that I enjoyed thinking, ‘So, there is a weakness! You’re not the all-seeing all-knowing all-strong sage kinda guy! You’re smoking a cigarette.’Really, though, I feel very fortunate to have been able to play under him and one of the few things I regret is that I didn’t get more time with him.