Arsène Wenger changed the face of English football in 1996. A controversial view, but undoubtedly the statement contains some truth. The Frenchman was one of the first successful foreign managers in the country. He can be credited with the introduction of a unique footballing philosophy which persists to this day, complemented through added nuances after years of experience at the top of the world game.
But what of the past? Much is made of the fact that Wenger managed a young Thierry Henry at AS Monaco, or that he managed Nagoya Grampus Eight in Japan, but there is little widespread coverage of his time prior to Arsenal, what he achieved, and his playing style, apart from the obligatory Wikipedia entries, and cursory histories.
Wenger was not at all well known on being appointed AS Monaco manager in 1987, after leading AS Nancy Lorraine to relegation from the first division in his third and final season at the small French club.
At Monaco though, his impact was immediate. Wenger led Monaco the league title in 1988. During his time at Monaco he managed an all star squad containing the likes of George Weah, Glenn Hoddle, Youri Djorkaeff, and Jurgen Klinsmann.
At the Stade Louis II, Arsène developed a reputation for playing a 4-4-2 formation combining flowing football with pace, and promising youth prospects; Weah and Djourkaeff among them. It was also during his time at Monaco that he became acquainted with David Dein at Arsenal, a moment which would have colossal implications in subsequent years.
The Article Series
Throughout this month we will be running a series of articles based on the pre-Arsenal career of Arsène Wenger, focusing on his time at AS Monaco in the late Eighties and early Nineties.
The aim is to incorporate my contributions with that of you the reader, which I’m sure will be able to create a rich and unique historical view of Wenger’s career. The pieces can focus on any aspect of Wenger’s career, specifically his time in France. Get involved in the project and send me your article pitches or Tweet @arsespeak.
What’s coming up? Tactical analyses and archive footage of games with AS Monaco from the 1980s and 1990s, as well as live blogging games (a la Retro MBM) for one or two classic Wenger matches with Monaco. There’s also some discussion of Wenger’s early managerial style, and an overview of his career.
The call is out, expect the first articles from Monday, and above all – we want to hear from you. If you’ve an interest in football history, French football or just love the game, contribute to Arsespeak by emailing or tweet @arsespeak and we’ll make it happen. Quality footballing history.
Continue Reading the series – Wenger: The Beginnings, Strasbourg, Cannes, Nancy, Monaco and more