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

UEFA Cup for Flamini and Diarra

Mathieu Flamini left Arsenal for Milan because they are a big club, and they are paying him loads of money. He won’t be in the Champions League next season though!

If anything though he seems to have taken a step back right now. He is not guaranteed first team football there, Gattuso the fans’ favourite plays the same role, and when Fiorentina won 1-0 they sealed fourth place, leaving Milan in fifth.

This means that next year the ‘big club’ will be playing in Europe’s second tier. Who would you rather play for, the third placed team in England, with a young squad full of hope, or an aging fifth placed Italian team?

Diarra, another ex-Arsenal central midfielder will also be playing UEFA Cup football next season with Pompey after winning the FA Cup.

There’s no doubt this guy has talent, but he has to be one of the most obnoxious players to have ever played for us.

He is already looking to use Pompey as a stepping stone after leaving Chelsea and Arsenal because the competition for places was too intense.

Tony Adams had this to say:

“I know why Arsène let him go but I’m not going to say, have you asked Lassana?”

“You have to think outside the box”

This suggests that there were other reasons for Diarra’s departure other than a lack of games, maybe the fact he is a bit of a shit-stirrer. Good riddance Arsene!