Arsène Wenger: The Nancy Years

You’ve heard the story of Wenger’s time at Monaco and some of his transfer tales. Now prepare for the latest in Wenger: The Beginnings, on his days at AS Nancy from Andrew Gibney.

Today Arsène Wenger stands as one of the most respected managers in football. When he moved into the Arsenal hot seat in 1996 no-one could have predicted the influence he would have on not just the Gunners, but the whole of English football.

His managerial career hasn’t always been full of praise and plaudits though. Pundits will always quote his time and France as the seven years he spent at Monaco from 1987, winning the league and cup and the appearance in the UEFA Cup Winners Cup final, but the story starts years earlier.

Arsène Wenger as a young coach, interviewed in 1984 on taking the job with AS Nancy. Interview and translation.

Before being handed the reins at the principality club Wenger had gone through a tough initiation. Starting as RC Strasbourg’s youth team coach in 1981, he spent two years there before joining AS Cannes as an assistant manager to Jean-Marc Guillou in 1983 (later of KSK Beveren). After just a year in Cannes it was time for Arsène to take his first senior job, at AS Nancy-Lorraine, after being offered the job by a certain Aldo Platini.

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Do Arsenal have the worst defence to lead the Premier League at this stage?

The Premier league has a new leader. On Saturday Arsenal ascended to the top of the table thanks to a misfiring Chelsea and a frozen pitch in Blackpool. Everyone knows about Arsenal’s fantastic attacking options providing the goals; Samir Nasri in particular is in the form of his life. But the most problematic, often criticised area is a defence which can give way too easily.

Image courtesy of Ronnie Macdonald. Under Creative Commons Licence.

On Sunday night, Robbie Savage was asked on Match of the Day 2 whether the Arsenal defence are the worst to top the league at this stage. Robbie’s answer was a definitive yes.

The question is – is this claim true? And whether it is or not – what is the relative state of the Arsenal backline compared to seasons past?

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