The messiah, Arsène Charles Ernest Wenger. The French maestro has been at the helm of Britain’s most attractive football club for the best part of 15 years to date. He’s brought unrivalled success, taking Arsenal to the pinnacle of the Premier League, FA Cup and even had flashes of success in Europe. When the google-eyed Frenchman joined from the relatively unknown in 1996 following management spells in his homeland with Nancy and Monaco, and a year long stint in Japan with Grampus Eight, it was never expected he’d be up to half of what he’s achieved.
This season, The Gunners have had a relatively poor campaign by the Londoner’s standards. But how have Wenger’s former clubs faired since the departure of Arsène, and in particular in 2010/2011?
Wenger left AS Nancy in 1987 after three years at the helm, learning his trade in the dugout. The club in its current form was only formed in 1967 so is relatively young in terms of its French counterparts. Following the retirement of current UEFA bod, Michel Platini, Nancy were in free-fall and were eventually relegated in the 86-87 campaign.
The demotion only lasted 12 months however and they were back in the top flight, spending the next decade hopping up and down the league structures like a kangaroo on hot coals.
The club had a happy stint in 07/08 when they made it into the Champions League. The success was in keeping with tradition however, and they were relegated again in 08/09. Again, they bounced straight back and were expecting a tough fight to halt the reoccurrences this term. However, with just a few games left in the French top flight, Nancy are sitting perilously close to the drop, third from bottom. With luck clearly not on their side, it is hard to see them surviving.
After leaving Nancy, Wenger was snapped up by the trendy AS Monaco. It was here where Wenger really started to make strides in his management career, guiding Monaco to the Ligue 1 title, the French Cup and a Cup Winners’ Cup runner-up spot. He spent seven years at the King Louis II Stadium.
He was head hunted by German giants Bayern Munich but Monaco refused the Frenchman permission to talk. Instead, he left just a few weeks after Bayern filled their position and took up the rather bizarre route to Japan.
Monaco were blessed with many greats of the game thanks to Wenger. He signed Djorkaeff, Weah, Hoddle and Klinsmann in a bid to revitalise the elegant club, while heralding unknown youth players, Petit, Thuram and a certain Thierry Henry.
Monaco have flirted with success in relative short batches since Wenger left in 1994, winning just two league titles and the odd Champion’s League run. This year has been fairly similar really, as they battle it out with Wenger’s other former team, AS Nancy at the wrong end of the table. They sit just a point ahead of Nancy with three games remaining.
The Japanese FA Cup, more delicately named The Emperor’s Cup, was Wenger’s major achievement during his 18 months managing in Asia. He led the Japanese club to the trophy in 1995 followed by a Japanese Super Cup in 1996. His other major achievement has to be taking the club from the bottom three, to second in the league all in the space of just one season.
He left Grampus after befriending Arsenal Chairman, David Dein who offered him the helm at Arsenal. The rest is history as they say.
Grampus’ second place finish under Wenger remained their highest ever league finish until 2010 when Dragan Stojkovic led them to their first ever league title. Stojkovic thanked Wenger upon winning the title for his words of advice, crediting the Frenchman for his influence on the Japanese game during his short time in Asia.
This season, the champions have just kicked of their campaign and sit mid-table after just half a dozen games. With just one win though, they will be hoping to improve fast as they look to retain their mantle, while they’ll also be hoping to push on in the Asian Champion’s League.
Simon Bourne (Site Editor)