Arsène Wenger


So aren’t you going to give wenger credit for the invincibles backline?

Since you heap praise on George Graham so much.


Unless he breaks the habit of a lifetime, the first thing that Arsène Wenger will do when he boards the Arsenal coach for the final time, in Huddersfield tomorrow, will be to ask the driver to put Levante v Barcelona on the television. The Frenchman may indulge himself with an Italian meal at the Cocorico Italiano restaurant in Totteridge when he gets home a few hours later, but not if Arsenal have lost his 1,239th and final game of a remarkable reign.

“He won’t go out after a defeat, and even if people come round to his house he won’t talk,” a long-serving colleague explains. “He will pore over the game finding excuses for the defeat, until two days later he finally acknowledges that the opposition were the better team.”

Those who know Wenger best paint a fond picture of a man who has essentially lived the same day over and over again for his entire 22 years at Arsenal, a groundhog day existing with the only slight variety coming on match-day, which even then is dictated by the team’s results. “He’s a football hermit,” explains a close friend. “His car would be the best second-hand car to buy in London as it doesn’t go anywhere. It goes from his house to the training ground every day, and then once a fortnight to the stadium.”

Wenger’s daily life has run as smoothly and efficiently as the best of his Arsenal teams over those past two decades, with his dedication to football matched only by his commitment to maintaining his own health and fitness. At 75kg the 68-year-old’s weight is exactly the same as it was when he joined Arsenal in 1996, the result of a rigorous exercise regime and strict diet, with small portions of salad enlivened by the occasional glass of red wine and a single chocolate for dessert. “When he gets up every morning the first thing he does is put on his stopwatch,” another regular visitor to the Wenger residence says. “He’s like a Swiss clock, everything is timed to perfection.”

Wenger’s day always begins with a 45-minute workout in his home gym, which is supplemented by a swim or a bike ride in summer when the weather permits. The Frenchman’s cycling around the leafy lanes of south Hertfordshire was briefly interrupted last summer when he was knocked off his bike, although thankfully he was not seriously injured, with the driver responsible for running the Arsenal manager off the road getting more of a shock than he did when he rose to his feet to reveal his identity.

Such is Wenger’s desire to start the day with a dose of exercise and fresh air that during his early days in London he developed the habit of sneaking into the nearby Totteridge Tennis Club before it had opened to hit some balls, although this practice had to end when he stopped being “Arsène Who?” and became more famous.

Wenger leaves home at 8.30am on the dot, arriving at Arsenal’s training ground in London Colney just before 9am to begin work. The serious business starts with a staff meeting in which he outlines his plans and goals for that day’s training, which begins at 10am with the manager a very visible, hands-on presence. A long-serving member of Wenger’s backroom team claims that he has never missed a session in 22 years, such is his dedication to the cause.

“The boss sets the session up, walks out with a purpose and always watches the whole session,” he says. “He doesn’t leave things to the other coaches. As the session goes on, he’s walking around and you can feel him watching players, asking questions. He’s always out on the pitch.”

After lunch Wenger watches a recording of the entire training session and has meetings with his staff and players, who are welcome to drop in at any time. The door to his office is open most of the time with the manager conscious to make sure he is accessible, although, rather than holding formal meetings, many of his conversations with the players take place as they are walking out to train or during the session. In recent years Steve Bould, his assistant manager, has held most of the team meetings, with Wenger preferring to offer his guidance one to one.

Wenger was responsible for lobbying the club to build the new training ground 20 years ago, as well as being instrumental in the construction of the Emirates Stadium, and his pride in the place and respect for all the staff remain obvious. His gift for diplomacy is such that he has managed to stay on good terms with all the competing factions at Arsenal, including Stan Kroenke, the majority shareholder, and Alisher Usmanov, his great rival, who sends Wenger several hampers every Christmas, the contents of which he gives to workers at the training ground.

“He makes a point of walking around the training ground checking everything is immaculate,” a staff member says. “When they planted some new trees recently he was always talking to the groundsmen, asking them how they were doing. He gets on very well with the head groundsman and they have a laugh and a joke, with the boss asking him how many tractors he buys every year. He has got a real human touch. He talks to all the security staff and gets on with everyone.”

Wenger also makes a point of making himself available to all of Arsenal’s academy coaches, who are based at a different site, at Hale End, as well as welcoming back former players such as Thierry Henry and Freddie Ljungberg who are looking for guidance on how to develop their own coaching careers. Such is his enthusiasm for talking football that he has frequently had to be ushered away from an informal chat with a group of youth-team coaches because of his first-team duties.

“He comes to life when us old boys come back in, you can see the spark in his eye,” one former player says. “He just loves talking about football and always tries to help people out.”

Wenger’s evenings are similarly set in stone and revolve around watching football, with the odd documentary or political programme thrown in. With his eye always on the future, his house is not the footballing museum that one would imagine and there is no trophy room, with Wenger’s nostalgia limited to having a few photographs of old teams in his study, with one of The Invincibles most prominent.

“He generally arrives home at 6.15pm, when he’ll make himself some salad or go to the local Waitrose,” a friend familiar with his routine explains. “At 7.45pm he’ll settle down to watch the first game, and afterwards he’ll catch up with highlights from all the others.

“For the first ten years I went to his house I only ever saw him watching football. It’s always on. He has a massive screen in his lounge, flicking between games. He watches the games for pleasure, but will also analyse them. When the football is all over he will watch a political programme or read a biography.”

Wenger’s appetite for football is such that once one game is over his immediate instinct is to find another one, even after Arsenal have just finished playing.

“As soon as we get on the coach after an away game the first thing he says is, ‘Get the Spanish football on’,” a member of his team says. “It’s football, football, football. I’ve never brought up a game that he’s not watched, or a player he doesn’t know. Sometimes the staff try to test him by talking about an African game or scoreline and he says, ‘Yes, I watched that’. His knowledge is remarkable.”

Despite what is clearly an obsessive approach to the game, Wenger is well read and knowledgeable about a wide variety of subjects, particularly politics and economics.

While he gives little away about his own personal politics, friends characterise him as a liberal whose natural home is on the centre left, and he made a point of dashing back from a game to the French embassy in London at the end of last season to ensure that he could vote against Marine Le Pen, the National Front candidate, in France’s presidential election.

“He talks about politics a lot,” an Arsenal colleague says. “He doesn’t give a lot away, but I think he’s a socialist. He talks about animal rights, geography, finance. He must read a lot and watch a lot of documentaries. He follows the stock exchange quite closely and seems to know a lot about the financial markets.”

Wenger is an atheist but, despite this, was profoundly moved by meeting the Pope while refereeing a so-called peace match in Rome four years ago, insisting on fulfilling his commitment to attend even though it clashed with the final day of the transfer window when Arsenal were negotiating the purchase of Danny Welbeck from Manchester United.

He also enjoys travel and gets regular invitations to speak at events all over the world. He receives offers of non-executive directorships from global companies and is particularly fascinated by China. On one trip to Beijing he was asked to have a go at karaoke with Jackie Chan, but politely declined.

Such is Wenger’s commitment to work that his only regular holiday is a two-week break in the south of France each summer, often with his ex-wife Annie. The pair remain extremely close with Annie attending his final match at the Emirates last Sunday with their daughter Lea, who is studying veterinary science at Cambridge University, followed by a dinner for 40 close friends. His personal circle is relatively small, with most of his closer friendships stemming from his time in Strasbourg and Monaco. Despite generally shying away from large social events, Wenger hosts a meal for his back-room staff at the team hotel during pre-season, as well as having Christmas drinks on the day the players go out for their Christmas party. Typically he does not venture far, with the festive celebrations limited to a few glasses of wine at the training ground. “Arsène has lived in London for 22 years but couldn’t drive from his home to Piccadilly Circus,” is how one friend puts it.

A whole new world will open to Wenger from tomorrow evening, never mind just this country’s capital city, but as he attempts to re-organise his life, his first instinct will be to get back to work.


What is this man’s life? :joy:


I want to see Wenger & Jackie Chan(2 of my favourite people) together :frowning:


First training session and final training session :heart:


looks almost the same apart from lighter hair and no glasses


Still can’t believe it is happening. I thought Wenger was immortal at Arsenal.


Early morning bike rides, Italian meals, socialism, and voting against Le Penn; what a man :heart_eyes:


Feels so weird. When I started to watch football, I naturally assumed Wenger founded Arsenal and named it Arsenal because it almost matches his name.

Will be so weird when he is gone.


Should get elected for the Labour Party, as the leader is a die-hard Arsenal fan :mustafi:


Not getting the defence job though.



Are they not going to let us end his contract or something.


“Debated”? I’d love to see Theresa May v Jezza on this subject

While they’ll at it, if they could use their resources on a public inquiry into our away form, that would be fantastic :ok_hand:


A huge waste of time no?

Westminster… :facepalm:





Last hours for Wenga as Arsenal manager :sob:


Find someone who looks at you like Dennis Bergkamp looks at Arsène Wenger