London (AFP) – AFP Sport picks out ten Arsene Wenger quotes after the 68-year-old Frenchman announced he would be stepping down at the end of the season after almost 22 years in charge:
– On the ‘Invincibles’
“To remain unbeaten in a championship like the English championship now is really unbelievable. I want to win the Champions League but, really, this is more important. It is something amazing, something special. How can you do it?”
— A justifiably proud Wenger after his ‘Invincibles’, including French stars Thierry Henry and Robert Pires, went through the 2003/04 Premier League season unbeaten, only the second side after Preston North End in 1888/89 to achieve that feat.
– On the British diet
“What’s really dreadful is the diet in Britain. The whole day you drink tea with milk and coffee with milk and cakes. If you had a fantasy world of what you shouldn’t eat in sport, it’s what you eat here.”
— Wenger, used to the healthier diet of Japan, where he coached before taking over at Arsenal, lashes out at British dietary habits.
– On Mourinho’s ‘voyeur’ jibe
“He’s out of order, disconnected with reality and disrespectful. When you give success to stupid people, it makes them more stupid sometimes and not more intelligent.”
— Wenger has had fiery relationships with Jose Mourinho and Alex Ferguson, eschewing the tradition of having a drink with his opposite number after the match. Here he reacts furiously to Mourinho remarking in 2005 that Wenger was a “voyeur” for constantly talking about Chelsea.
– On women
“A football team is like a beautiful woman. When you do not tell her, she forgets she is beautiful.”
— Renowned for his team’s attractive style of play, Wenger draws a parallel between his side and beautiful women.
– On being a scapegoat
“I’m ready to take the blame for all the problems of English football if that is what he wants.”
— Wenger sarcastically hits back at Alex Ferguson’s criticism in 2007 that Arsenal had few home grown players.
– On his holistic approach
“We try to go a different way that, for me, is respectable. Briefly, these are the basics. I thought: We are building a stadium, so I will get young players in early so I do not find myself exposed on the transfer market without the money to compete with the others. I build a team, and we compensate by creating a style of play, by creating a culture at the club because the boy comes in at 16 or 17 and when they go out they have a supplement of soul, of love for the club, because they have been educated together. The people you meet at college from 16 to 20, often those are the relationships in life that keep going. That, I think, will give us strength that other clubs will not have.”
— Wenger reveals his team-building philosophy in 2006, reluctant to splash the cash like rival clubs as the Gunners invested in the construction of the Emirates.
– On ‘parking the bus’
“I don’t know what you mean by parking the bus. I don’t know who created this expression but it has not a lot to do with football.”
— Wenger rejects out of hand any suggestion he would ever revert to a defensive strategy.
– On Nicolas Anelka
“No matter how much money you earn, you can only eat three meals a day and sleep in one bed.”
— Wenger on turbulent striker Nicolas Anelka, who engineered a big-money move to Real Madrid aged just 20. Anelka was to stay just one season in Spain and later said he wished he had remained at the Gunners.
– On Mourinho, again
“It is fear to fail.”
— Wenger’s verdict on Mourinho’s unwillingness to talk up Chelsea’s title chances in February 2014.
– On his gardener
“I said ‘Good afternoon’ and he replied, ‘I’m your gardener at your house’. I didn’t even know him. I do have a big garden.”
— Wenger talking about an incident last season when he was serving a touchline ban and ended up sitting beside his gardener at Stamford Bridge.