In a world where football club managers are often blamed for their team's every failure, it's uncommon for one person to stay at the head of a club for more than five years. It's even more rare for a coach to stick around for a whole decade, and managers who last for longer than that are in a truly rarified air. Two recent examples spring to mind Arsene Wenger 19 years at Arsenal, and of course, Alex Ferguson. Alex Ferguson was the man behind much of Manchester United's Premier League success over the past two decades, he coached at the club for 27 and a half years, from November 1986 to May 2013.
Then there's Arsene Wenger, who has been at the helm of Arsenal football club for 19 years and counting. Next fall, on September 30, 2016, he will celebrate two decades with the team-presuming he's still in his current position after the 2015 2016 season. Based on Wenger's consistent, sure-handed management record since taking over as coach for the Gunners, there's little reason to expect that he won't be.
Consistency over FlashÂ
The general trend in modern soccer is this: a manager comes aboard at a new club after the sacking of a predecessor for unsatisfactory performances. Either the new manager turns things around quickly and starts winning games, or is sacked. Once the manager's team is winning games, they're expected to keep winning games-and start contending for titles-and if they start losing, the manager gets sacked. Once the team wins a domestic title, they're expected to be a contender every year, and if they fall below third or fourth place, the manager gets sacked.
As you can see, the common thread here is that "the manager gets sacked." It doesn't even really matter if the club in question is still doing very well by virtually any benchmark. This past spring, Real Madrid's Carlo Ancelotti got sacked because his squad didn't win the Spanish La Liga-never mind that Ancelotti had gotten the club their 10th Champions League title the year before and coached a runner-up La Liga squad in 2014 2015.
Arsene Wenger, somehow, has managed to subvert this common thread. His teams haven't all necessarily been winners, either. On the contrary, Wenger has only coached three Premier League-winning soccer squads: in 1998, 2002, and 2004.
What Arsenal have lacked in flashy championship victories, though, they've made up for in consistency. Since Wenger took over during the 1996 1997 season, the Gunners have never finished outside of the Premier League's top four. No other squad in England has been as consistent; no other team has so frequently qualified for the Champions League; all other clubs have had off years in the past 19 years. Even Man United, who finished in the top two 10 years running (from 1992 to 2001), eventually hit a snag.
It's tough not to credit Arsenal's consistent success to Arsene Wenger. He might not rival United's Alex Ferguson in terms of titles (though he has coached six FA Cup-winning teams, more than any manager in English football history), but Wenger gives the Gunners the foundation they need to hold strong when everything else is shifting.
Developing New Talent
So what's the secret to Wenger's success? Perhaps it all lies in his philosophy that great soccer teams should be built from developing young talent instead of spending fortunes to bring in pre-developed talent. He observed this philosophy at AS Monaco-one of his pre-Gunners clubs-and brought it to Arsenal. Since then, Wenger has played a major role in developing some of the greatest football players in recent memory, including Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie, Patrick Vieira, and countless others.
In recent years, Wenger has seemed to shift his philosophy a bit, paying heftier transfer fees for the likes of Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, Calum Chambers, Danny Welbeck, Santi Cazorla, Mathieu Debauchy, and Petr Cech. Will the extra investment help the Gunners to win a Premier League title in 2015 2016? Or does the strategy, of buying developed players instead of focusing first and foremost on developing young talent, betray what has made Wenger unique enough to stick around at Arsenal for nearly 20 years?
Only time will tell, but you can root for the football team today, with a new Arsenal shirt 2015 2016 from Soccer Box.