Wenger’s European heartbreak: Two European Campaigns with AS Monaco

Arsene Wenger is a fantastic manager, and he has a great record at Arsenal, but one constant in his career is underachieving in European competition. This doesn’t sit well with Wenger, and I can see why, he clearly deserves a European trophy and he has come close on several occasions, not least in 2006 when we were 10 minutes away from winning the Champions League.

This article is a bit of Wenger history. It’s interesting to try to look at some of the more distant past to understand what Wenger has been through in his career, and why he is the man he is today.

His first major managerial post was at AS Monaco from 1987 – 1995. He won Ligue 1 in 1987/88, his first season, got his first taste of the European Cup the following year, reaching the Quarter Finals, but losing to Galatasaray 2-1 on aggregate, the team who were to beat Wenger’s Arsenal in the 2000 UEFA Cup Final.

The matchday programme, from Estadio de Luz, Porto
The CWC 1992 Final programme

Wenger then won the French Cup in 1991. This led to his first European final the following season in the 1991/1992 Cup Winner’s Cup. His Monaco side played well beating teams such as Swansea City, Feyenoord and AS Roma, who we are facing in this season’s Champions League. Monaco faced Werder Bremen in the Final.

The Final was marred by news of the collapse of a temporary stand in Bastia’s French Cup semifinal with Marseille which left 13 dead and hundreds injured.

Otto Rehhagel, who later led Greece to their 2004 European Championship win, was the Bremen manager, and his side won by 2 goals, even though Monaco dominated possession. Wenger had players such as Petit, Djourkaeff, Thuram and George Weah in his side that day.

Wenger went on to a UEFA Cup Final with Arsenal against Galatasary in 2000, which we lost on penalties (I was crying) and a Champions League Final against Barcelona in 2006, which could have been so different.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that Wenger has had a great career, but until he puts his name on a European trophy he will not feel like he has achieved his potential. He has had the chances and come close, and this must be frustrating, I’m sure he still remembers these times.

Wenger is a competitive guy, and this season he will want to put right his awful record in European finals and bring the Champions League to Arsenal.

References:

UEFA CWC 1992 Final Page

European Cup 1988/1988 Campaign

Cup Winner’s Cup Campaign 1991/1992 Wikipedia

Sidebar image from N. Macca, under Creative Commons Licence

What is Platini thinking? Get him out!

Michel Platini, President of UEFA has admitted he was a little harsh in criticizing Arsene Wenger over Arsenal’s youth policy.

Platini, who seems to have a long term hatred of English clubs, especially Arsenal had told the press:

“I am talking about football, he is talking about business. Please stop with Wenger and the others. All that interests Arsene is looking after number one,”

Referring to the Cluj’s CL win over Roma he said:

“That is what makes football beautiful. That is what people like Wenger do not want to see, minor teams beating major ones, because they only want their business,”

Click here to read that article at Reuters.

He was implying that Wenger cares little about football, or the players he manages, just winning, and only big teams winning.

I see no reason for these type of comments, it’s outrageous that Wenger should be targeted like this.

Of course Wenger wants Arsenal to win, but he cares just as much about football as a whole. What is Platini on about. The best teams in football normally do win, thats how it always has been – but everyone loves a good giant-killing, and I’m sure Wenger does too.

From the beginning of his time as UEFA President Platini seems to have been out to target the Premiership and Arsenal in paticular.

Wenger responded diplomatically:

“I am a supporter of good management of clubs, for financial equilibrium, and UEFA must equally support this idea. I am fighting for the future of the game and of football.”

Now Platini has come back and said this:

“I have been too harsh with Arsene,”

“I got told off by my daddy, who made him (Wenger) start his career (at Nancy).

“But when I speak about business, I mean I do not like him seeking 13 or 14-year-old kids. I cannot stand it.

“My plan is to work with the football family to fight for the kids’ education in order that the Arsenal people do not come and pick 13-year-old Bordeaux kids for example.”

This guy doesn’t know what he’s on about.

Firstly – what’s up with the ‘Daddy’ comment? Why be so petulant?

Secondly – there’s nothing wrong with signing up talented young players and giving them a chance to fulfil their dreams, in a great environment.

Thirdly – Clubs like Chelski are much worse – pumping young players full of hype – paying exorbitant sums and then leaving them to rot. At least our rejects do good – e.g. Sidwell (until he went to Chelsea), Bentley (England International & di*khead), Pennant – Liverpool First team.

Fabregas is a product of this system – he joined Arsenal at 15. He was talking about the Sheffield Utd game and his comments seem very relevant to this issue:

“Arsene doesn’t care how old they are and it is amazing. He is the best for doing that and is not scared to play anyone. I don’t think anyone else would be able to do it. That is why so many of our young players are so good and this is the policy of the club. I think it is fantastic.

“When you see the big teams buy all the best players, we all guess where the future players will come from? I think Arsenal is the club that gives the chance to the players to show how good they are.

“Maybe they won’t make it at Arsenal, but another team will see them play and they will have another opportunity to play in The Premier League straight away instead of going to the second division.”

(Read full Fabregas article here)

This is my point exactly, Fabregas knows Wenger’s methods work and he knows that a player who comes through the Arsenal ranks has more chance than any of making it big a top level club!

I just don’t get Platini. He should not be UEFA President, and he shouldn’t be allowed to target Wenger in this way. Just because he has been so successful with young players, and has brought a lot of French talent out of France.

Get him out I say.

Click here to watch the highlights of Arsenal beating Sheffield Utd 6 – 0 in the Carling Cup, and see what Fabregas is talking about!

Arsenal Transfer Rumour – Clichy wanted by Roma and Juve

Hello all you Gooners, anyone heard anything about this Clichy rumour? Roma and Juve are both interested, the papers claim.

The evidence lies in two quotes, neither of which really link them directly, all they say is that they think he is a good player, so don’t get too worried by this rumour!

Firstly, Roma manager Luciano Spalletti:

“Clichy is an excellent defender of international class. He is also still very young, so has plenty of football improvement left in him. Certainly it would please me a great deal to see Gael Clichy in a Roma shirt. We will have to wait and see what develops.”

Secondly, Claudio Ranieri (ex-Chelski) Juve manager:

“Having worked in England with Chelsea, I know the Premier League players very well and I have to admit that Gael Clichy is one of the most impressive players right now. He is an important player, above all, because of his versatility. I believe he can play anywhere down the left and across the defence too. He could come to Juventus.”

It strikes me that these quotes are both from interviews where journalists may have just asked ‘do you think Clichy is good?’ These sort of quotes just mean that they think Clichy is a good player, and who doesn’t after seeing his performances last season, of course he is in demand.

He is loyal, so I don’t see him going anywhere!