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The day Lee Dixon took the tube to Highbury

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Eleanor Oldroyd Eleanor Oldroyd | 06:00 UK time, Thursday, 22 October 2009

So when was the last time you saw a major Premier League footballer on public transport? It's probably as rare a sighting as Elvis in your local Tesco.

But if you happened to be on the Piccadilly Line travelling to Arsenal station for Lee Dixon's testimonial game against Real Madrid on 8 November 1999 and the bloke in a smart suit sitting opposite you looked vaguely familiar... well that's because it was in fact - Lee Dixon.

This surprising revelation came as the former Gunners and England right-back and I were took a nostalgic walk from Highbury to the Emirates as part of 5 live Sport's birthday tribute to his old boss - Arsene Wenger at 60.

Waiting for the bus on my way to meet Lee, I was asking myself how many footballers were sufficiently in touch with their roots to get out of their Mercs and Range Rovers and travel the way the fans do. Did any of them know what an Oyster Card was? Or did they think it was something you used to buy a new Rolex?

As Lee and I strolled past Arsenal tube station, I asked him that question. And it turns out that on the day of the game 10 years ago, he and the chairman of his testimonial committee decided that the traffic in North London was likely to be horrendous - so Dixon suggested taking the public transport route.

"He went: 'Are you mad?'. I said: 'No, it'll be a right laugh'. So we took the tube to my own game, then walked up Avenell Road with all the fans. It was amazing," he told me.

"A lot of them on the tube were saying: 'No, that can't be him - why would he be on a train going to his own game? It doesn't make sense.' So I got left alone on the tube, but as soon as we got out onto the streets....well, I got there a bit late, but I didn't miss the kick off!"

It's not often you get the chance to indulge in unashamed nostalgia with a man who won four league titles (and of course two doubles) for your favourite club.

Arsene Wenger and Lee DixonLee Dixon enjoyed plenty of success as part of Wenger's first Arsenal team

Lee hadn't been back to Highbury since wrecking balls replaced footballs in the summer of 2006, and Arsenal moved just over the railway line to the Emirates. He thought it would upset him too much.

But walk down Avenell Road, and it's as if nothing has changed. Add the scent of frying onions and horse manure, and it would feel like a match day. The old shell of the East Stand is still in place, even down to the art deco lettering to either side of the old main entrance. And up the steps and through the main doors, the famed marble halls, with the bust of Herbert Chapman proudly on its plinth to greet all visitors, are beautifully preserved.

Herbert Chapman was the man who made Arsenal great in the 20th century. He built a side which brought trophies to Highbury, including two league titles in 1931 and 1933, but he also rebuilt the club, developing the stadium with the construction of the East and West Stands, introducing floodlights for the first time, even taking control of details like the design of the turnstiles and scoreboard.

He was a tactical innovator, he was big on fitness and diet, advocating the use of physiotherapists and masseurs, and he was one of the first managers to try to buy foreign players.

Sound familiar? It's surely no coincidence that Wenger drums into all new players the importance of respecting the past, even as he takes the club to even greater levels in the 21st century.

Lee Dixon was one of the old guard who were in place when Wenger first walked into the marble halls as manager in 1996, along with Tony Adams, Steve Bould, Martin Keown and Nigel Winterburn.

Dixon would be first to admit that he was probably at the wrong end of his career but when Wenger promised him that with the right diet and fitness regime he could play on into his late 30s, he jumped at the chance.

With the Famous Four at the back, Patrick Viera and Emmanuel Petit joining Dennis Bergkamp in the foreign legion, along with Marc Overmars and Nicholas Anelka, Wenger brought the double to Highbury in 1998 - his first full season in charge.

When I spoke to Emmanuel Petit on the phone from Paris, he told me his move to Arsenal, and the influence of Arsene Wenger, probably turned him into a World Cup winner with France just a couple of months after he'd become a double winner.

Then came another double in 2002, and the famous 'Invincibles' season of 2004, when despite the scepticism of those around him, Wenger delivered on his promise that his team could go the whole season unbeaten.

But standing in an empty Emirates with Lee Dixon at the end of our walk, it was hard to ignore the fact that the list of Arsenal's silverware which adorns the perimeter of the stadium stops at 2005.

Dixon's view, and that of former vice-chairman David Dein, is that another trophy is not far away, although Petit believes that the patience of fans, shareholders and the media may well be tested if it doesn't come this season - and the club could be at risk of losing the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Robin Van Persie.

So as Wenger celebrates his 60th birthday - according to him, by attending the Arsenal AGM and then going home to watch some Europa League football on the TV - what does the future hold for English football's most cerebral manager?

The view of those I've talked to is that it'll be him making the decision about how long he stays - and there is plenty of unfinished business yet, ending the wait for a trophy, a Champions League title to win and seeing the current crop of promising youngsters delivering on that promise.

And don't forget that he qualifies for his Freedom Pass, too. So don't be surprised if you bump into him on the number 43 bus sometime soon - he's got used to surprising us, down the years.

Listen to 5 live Sport: Arsene Wenger at 60 on Thursday night at 2000 BST.


  • Comment number 1.

    No offence, but what a pointless blog. Apart from the second-to-last paragraph, what on earth does this blog have to do with how long Arsene Wenger may or may not stay manager at Arsenal?!

  • Comment number 2.

    whatever is the outcome? some things are for sure...

    1) He will never compromise with his principles

    2) Arsenal will continue to play mesmerizing football and will continue to please the people around the globe like me?

    3) He will be always remembered for his approach with kids and unknowns and nurturing them despite all odds.

    4) He will always help the club to maintain a sustainable growth and help them spend within its means

    May he manage for another decade as he is the best manager one can see.

  • Comment number 3.

    I disagree with comment #1 - I enjoyed reading it. No great insight or surprises, but well written and as I said a nice read for early morning!

  • Comment number 4.

    I too enjoyed the blog but surely when mentioning the old guard when Wenger took over Wright and Parlour must be up there before Anelka who only played that season when Wright was injured.

  • Comment number 5.

    Wenger has molded Arsenal in to a team who, to my mind at least, have the best short passing game in the Premier League. I think that this year they may just win something even if it is the League Cup. When will Wenger go? Probably after Alex Ferguson has decided to retire.

  • Comment number 6.


  • Comment number 7.

    A couple of public transport stories from earlier eras: late 60s, I ran into England manager Alf Ramsey at Liverpool St while we were both on our way to White Hart Lane by train (from Ipswich/Colchester) and tube.

    Late 70s, West Ham bought Tottenham's goallie, the first million pound keeper. Next day, he got off the tube at West Ham and asked me the way to the ground!

  • Comment number 8.


    chill out mate-it's about Arsenal. Good read, well done.

  • Comment number 9.

    Arsenal have never won the world's no. 1 club competition, the European Cup/Champions League. Four other English clubs have won it a total of 11 times.
    You cannot be considered as being in the top echelon until you have won it, which I don't think your players have the bottle to do; remember the embarrassing semi last year when United hammered you?
    If you do win it once, you get onto the same level as Villa, a long way to go to join the real giants like Real, AC, Liverpool, United, Ajax, Inter, Benfica, Bayern etc.

  • Comment number 10.

    no joke i fell asleep 8 times while reading this!
    A man of my distinction prefers to read the scintilating comments of 'Robbo'

  • Comment number 11.

    "So when was the last time you saw a major Premier League footballer on public transport?"

    Well we don't have to look back as far as 1999 - the Robinho bus ride, anyone?

  • Comment number 12.

    Thanks for your comments guys - perfectozblue, sorry you didn't feel you got any particular insight into Arsene's future, maybe you could listen to the show tonight (5 Live Sport, 8-9pm) or later on the iPlayer, when we'll be hearing from a number of people much better qualified than me to see into the mind of the great man - including Dixon, Dein and Petit, and in the studio Nigel Winterburn and Wenger's biographer Xavier Rivoire.
    I wonder whether other Gooners feel that the Highbury Square development does a pretty impressive job of preserving the architecture of the old ground? I think Lee was reassured that it hadn't been lost for ever, as so many old and loved stadia have been. And I think even without the trophies, to maintain their position in the top 4 while funding a completely new stadium and staying financially stable is not a bad achievement for Wenger...
    Oh, and StudsFirst - I was told by a Spurs fan yesterday that Jurgen Klinsmann and (allegedly) David Ginola were pretty regular travellers on London Transport!

  • Comment number 13.

    Good blog

    Arsene Wenger is the greatest bar none!!!

  • Comment number 14.

    Arsene Wenger deserves all the accolades he gets. More than any manager past or present he has helped transform the English game into a skill-based, sophisticated, cultured joy to watch.

    However, what I loathe about this blog is the headline. Lee Dixon took a tube. So what?! It's symptomatic of everything that's still wrong with the game (over-inflated wages and egos). Football players are as human as you or I - more so when you read the tales of Barton, Cole, Defoe etc. So some use public transport occasionally... Crikey.

    Let's break down the barriers and stop treating them like gods. And I think Wenger would echo that sentiment.

  • Comment number 15.

    Wenger is a credit to the Premier League and I hope his reign as Arsenal manager long continues whether they win trophies or not. He will be sorely missed when he does eventually leave or retire. Chelsea could take note, persevere with a manager instead of bringing in a new one every season when things don't go your way and you decide to throw your toys out of the pram.

  • Comment number 16.

    14 comments and close to half don't really care. Why post? In fact why read and then post your negative comments. You are obviously not busy working. Do something you would rather enjoy. As a man utd fan I like to read how other teams big up their icons. Maybe I'll have a bit more respect for Arsene, Arsenal and the supporters.

  • Comment number 17.

    He has continuously done on a shoestring, what other managers fail to on much higher budgets. And he does so, whilst playing attractive football.

    I think we can all agree Alex Ferguson is a great manager as well, but if his budgetary constraints had been like Arsene's, would he have performed as well?

    Whether we win a trophy this season or next, we should stick with Wenger. All these big-spending clubs are a temporary fad. Form is temporary, class is permanent.

  • Comment number 18.

    Its a true testament to Wenger that in an age where short term trophy chasing is the norm, most of us Arsenal fans still believe that his way is the better way to be run with long term stability and success.
    10 years down the line when debts have to be called in, and when sheikhs or oligarchs get bored, it is more than likely that Arsenal will be the best bet for most silverware.
    Wenger should be lauded for trying to do things the right way. One only needs to look at Liverpool's finances to see the mess we could have found ourselves in if it werent for his abilities as a scout and man manager.

  • Comment number 19.

    I remember the last game at Highbury - my father who's been a season ticket holder since 1948 shed a few tears when we left the ground and although our walk to the Emirates takes us past the top of Avenell Road, he doesn't want to go and see the new flats - for him, Highbury will remain a football ground. For me who only had 25 years at Highbury, it still seems strange to be able to look at the ground and know football won't ever be played there again.
    As for Arsene, what is the definition of greatness? Transforming a club into one of the world greats, unburdened by massive debt (yes, I know about the property debts, but they're nothing compared to United's or Liverpool's) with state of the art facilities. Or is it creating a team that the whole world wants to watch play, a position shared only with Barca; or is it winning the Champions League? To Wenger, I'm sure it's the latter, but for me and I suspect the rest of the Arsenal fans, he could walk away today and we would always regard him as the greatest of them all - perhaps a one-eyed blinkered view, but mine nonetheless!

  • Comment number 20.

    Happy Birthday Arsene.

    As an Arsenal fan and season ticket holder I am dreading the day Arsene decides it is time to retire (or move on but I don't think that would happen).

    I know the club hasn't won anything for 4 years but imagine where the club would be without him. Is there anyone else that could have got the club consistently in the top 4 of the Premier League year after year with the same resources? I doubt it and can't think who would be up to the job of replacing him unless we suddenly get a wealthy benefactor who can pump millions into the club to buy the kind of players and pay the wages that we haven't been able to afford in the past.

  • Comment number 21.

    Wenger is a legend, I have no doubt he and the team will deliver trophies. Long live Wenger!

  • Comment number 22.

    Msr Petit has got it spot on.

    AW is a gonner as a gooner if the gunners don't get a trophy this season.

    AW 'transformed the Club' says Dein, and he's 100% correct, but, it is a Club that is now used to and expects success on the pitch - - it is 4 seasons since anything like a sniff of that AW 'success', and the Manager really doesn't look like he's got the nouse to respark that First place mentality and commitment - - sorry, but AW is in his last season in charge if nothing ends up in the Emirates so far empty Trophy cabinet.

  • Comment number 23.

    Arsenal are not a big club with the financial clout of the "sacking" elite.

  • Comment number 24.

    very good lil blog!!

    at last a blog about Arsene Wenger what a joy it is.

    i will give my thoughts in a mo

    shine on u lot.

  • Comment number 25.

    Re post 22 - I take it you are not an Arsenal fan but just a jealous outsider (probably a Spud). Any true Arsenal fan or anyone that knows the game knows what AW has done for the club and whether Arsenal win anything or not this season, he will still be there next season.

    In addition to this his current contract runs until 2011, he is very proud that he has never broken a contract and the board will always back him so absolutely no chance of him not being there next season.

  • Comment number 26.


    what a ridiculous statement. Wengher has a job for life at Arsenal, he has totally transformed the club and on a shoestring budget. He also builds teams from scratch that play the best football seen in the Premier league, if not the world, certainly on a par with Barcelona. Trophies would be great, but i for one feel priviledged to see that type of football every week and would rather see us end trophyless than to turn into a boring team that is saddled with crippling debt

  • Comment number 27.

    I'm a bit confused about this blog as the link had a picture of Wenger and "He has unfinished business" and the title in the blog is "The day Lee Dixon took the tube to Highbury". Apart from a couple of facts about Chapman that I either didn't know or forgot about then I don't see the point of it.

    Eleanor in your response to people you mentioned there wasn't too many old stadia around. Well a lot of Gooners will know that the stands are actually grade 2 listed buildings so could not be knocked down.

    Comment 9. You may be right that we haven't won the Champions League yet but cam very close to it when we just lost in the finals a few years ago. But then how many teams throughout Europe can claim to have gone a whole season without loosing a league match. Surely that's just as impressive.

    Wenger will not leave the club until he comes to the end of a contract. He has built the club up from improving the training grounds to the new stadia. Well he has had a helping hand in it as I know the club and board members look after the club well.

    I know we haven't won anything for a few years but the way Wenger has transformed the way the professionals act and bringing through the next generation is a legacy that other clubs look at and copy.

    He is one of the great managers that come along like Ferguson, Clough, Shankley, Paisley and Chapman. He still had a lot to prove to himself as a manager and with the youth coming through I can see him in a couple of years from now mentioning a conversation where he said it takes about 10 years to bring through the youth that he started to develop. We can see it with the likes of Gibbs and Wilshire and hopefully many more.

    He is a man with a lot of integrity and a true professional and gentleman.

    Happy Birthday Mr Wenger. I hope you have a great day.

  • Comment number 28.

    Wenger won't get sacked if there are no trophies this season, or next season, or the season after.
    His approval rating is still through the roof with the majority of Arsenal fans. Anyone who thinks he should go if there are no trophies are idiots.

    ....and the alternative is too terrifying to imagine (Benitez, anyone?)

  • Comment number 29.

    Wenger will be get sacked no matter what. He is half a coach, half a businessman. For the Arsenal board and share holders, making money is as important as in winning trophies. Arsenal need Wenger to pay for their debts. Modern football is not just about games, it is about money.

  • Comment number 30.

    In Wenger we trust

  • Comment number 31.

    Great blog. But awful headline. Can editors please start titling blogs based on their actual content, rather than a celebrity-focused slant or a gobbet title that bears no relation to what we then read. It creates false expectations and is the source of much frustration about BBC blogs. It also damages the blog's findability in Google rankings.

  • Comment number 32.

    hi again

    Now then my view is this:

    i am happy to see at last a piece about Arsene Wenger it makes a change from reading the usual stuff about sportsmen as in AF Rafa etc etc, whos better than who etc etc, whos done more than who etc etc that is very old hat now

    In so far as the man is concerned, what a breath of fresh air people like him have been to the PL, he is an extreemly clever guy and even if he was not involved with football he would set trends elsewhere with his other skills and quality.

    It was not by accident that the board chose AW as the guy to be at the helm when this huge transition was to take place. The ground move was a monumental undertaking! Then of course , there was the ageing team, many of which gave good service to our colours, this all had change, new players etc etc, new stadium it was far from a easy task.

    No trophys for 4 years? erm true but in the intrim the Arsenal Ladies have more than compensated for that and swept all before them. ( thought i would mention them too )

    Its not as if we have not been in the mix ! with such a young side as well, we have consistently challenged and remained a threat to the others when it comes to competeing for things.

    We could not have had a better guy at the helm to see us through what has been a difficult time. The costly move ! who could have forseen the finnacial bubble burst and perhaps, i say perhaps, could well be the reason why we have not been so fluent or carefree with the cheque book as others. But then again, would the likes of Arsenal and AW ever agree to paying 30mill plus for one player, when you could get 2 or three for that price.

    I think his signings have been v good indeed talk about astute as well!
    there we all are saying Vermaleon? and now look, another gem and im sure he wont be last gem to be found and fit into the team so quickly.

    abcence of the CL trophy.

    well now, most surporters from most clubs would acknowledge that we should have beaten Barca and its my view that had a certain individual not had a rush of blood to his head, Arsenals name would be rightly carved on that one. AW's cv is impressive with or without that trophy, but i suppose he himself thinks otherwise and would like it added, which it WILL BE, no doubt about that, in fact i am going to suggest, that once he wins it he will successfully retain it, another Arsenal 1st ( wink )

    happy to be a gooner and happy to walk my local high street and other places and see all them Gooners young and old with the colours and especially the one that reads 49 games Unbeaten.

    Shine on Arsene Wenger you Crazy Diamond.

    Arsenal Rock.

  • Comment number 33.

    There is no question that Arsene Wenger is as good a manager as he has ever been, but the footballing world is now far more competitive. That goes for double in the English league, ever since Chelsea bought their first league title. It's no coincidence that Arsenal have done so well in Europe (without, of course, bringing home the big prize) while their league performance has slipped. This current team could have probably won the league in 2004, but it looks unbalanced by today's standards.

    Despite the stereotype, the league is now more physical. Man Utd and Chelsea are both teams that have won things based around a core of tough, defensive-minded players, with the skilful players almost on the fringe. Wenger on the other hand selects his players on technical ability alone, everybody needs to be a good passer, or carrier of the ball. It looks great, and most teams can't live with it, but it gives them a lopsided approach dependent on outscoring the opposition. Wednesday night was a case in point: under no circumstances can Arsenal expect to keep a clean sheet.

  • Comment number 34.

    Have to congratulate Arsene on his birthday, his achievements and his philosophy. Top guy and hope he's around the PL for years to come!

    Another good read on the man can be found here:

  • Comment number 35.

    Martin Keown was on the tube on the way to the Blackburn game – my, he's tall close up!

    I'd like Wenger to come for dinner.

  • Comment number 36.

    To ya brownPoolman:

    Morihno was sacked as manager of Chelsea after winning everything par champions league. Rijkard was sacked from barcelona for winning la liga and champions league the previous year and many more mangers who have been sacked because of your said "success".

    You dont get judged for silverware in the modern era of football, you get judged if your Carling cup team fills a 60 seater stadium and Chelsea's champions league fails to fill half the stadium.

    Having to run a club that is not owned solely by some trillionairs, buying players at an expensive and overated price, so that you can stock on some imaginary siliverware does not make you great.

    Wenger should be proud that he has atleast delivered a new training ground and a stadium. That is a dream for many managers to imagine of even dreaming about.

    Some people should take mangeerial courses and brownPoolman is one of them.
    By the way Wenger is an Economist too...........

  • Comment number 37.



    Like the screeny by the way.

    just one ?

    " under no circumstances can Arsenal expect to keep a clean sheet. "

    what team can ? or be expected to do so throughout the whole campaign

    I do agree this may be a minor problem but we will score more than we conceed.

    anyways that slightly of topic on what this blogg is about.

    Ps: Like ya views on the " special realtonship " thing

    shine on.

  • Comment number 38.

    I'm a Man City fan but it has to be said that no manager, the world over, can hold a candle to Arsene Wenger.
    His ability in spotting and growing young talent is beyond belief. To take 16 year old kids and mold them into some of the world's best footballers takes some special talent.
    Arsene has also made Arsenal, certainly for me, the best team in the world to watch, dare I say more entertaining than the great Barcelona (who I have secondarily supported since I was a boy).

    Losing Mourinho was a major blow to the premiership so long may Wenger stay and slag Ferguson.


  • Comment number 39.

    can we have a picture please of Elenanor .

  • Comment number 40.

    As a Man United fan I've certainly had my moments where I've found Arsene Wenger less than admirable, and I do sometimes feel that the media falls over itself to praise him because he has a French accent and has more intelligence than most managers, overlooking the fact that he hasn't delivered European success, he doesn't help English football by not recognising how much fans love to see a local player (passports do matter to true fans), and he desperately lacks grace in defeat - even compared to our own sometimes less than gracious manager.

    But I also have to say that his teams play stunning football, and he does provide stability and intelligence in a manic world. I hope he stays for many more years - we only hate the rival managers at OT who are good after all!!

  • Comment number 41.

    Why does this website give so much space to the views of players that left Arsenal.

    Petit was part of the era when Arsenal had a job to finish with 11 on the field and Petit was one of the biggest culprits.

    Why do we have to win silverware. I'd sooner watch Arsenal not winning silverware than any of the other PL clubs. Do you like football or do you just like trophies.

  • Comment number 42.

    oops it at the top right of the blog sorry .

  • Comment number 43.

    No 40. He has brought in and through young players. Some have not been good enough or have been impatient to learn and stay at the club in a lesser role to start off with. Bentley, Sidwell, Upson, Cashley are just a few.

    I have to disagree with you about true fans as they really want to win silverware and do not care where the players come from especially now it is such a global game. Fans don't want to see 6 or 7 local players if they are not at the top fighting for trophies. All clubs have this problem but with the way Wenger has built the club and the academy you will see more and more local players either coming through to the first team or going to lesser teams because they don't have that extra bit that is required to play for the 1st team.

  • Comment number 44.



    your 1st paragraph is interesting.

    and with the exception of the " french " part millions have the same view about AF.

    and whats all this nonesense not helping the english team and passports.
    same ol record ! and as nauseating as the Beatles to boot.

    the fact could be that this foriegn legion has actually very much improved the erm english players and for example, the likes of T henry and vierra and other, bergkhamp etc should in fact have given englands national team an advantage when it came to playing thier respective countries in major competitions etc. as in we should have known thier strengths and weakness's.

    and so far as AF is concerned all he has provided is players to the english squad, along with chelsea, who as it happens have won naff all and not likely to do either despite the euphoria of WC qualification, with incidently has a guy at the helm who has an italian passport!

    seeing a " gelled tumbler " week in week out has hardly contributed to the game overall, nor has the rants and rages of the prima donnas who make up the chavs squad.

    very controvertial i know, but just what has AF done for " english " football? and erm before u answer we are all well aware what he done for man u .

    you really ought to look at the wider picture and perhaps leave your views about being " french " and " english " passports out of the debate, afterall AF is not english! and niether are many of the players in man u.

    by the way:

    I am english, white, born and bred here.

    I also love french wine and french food and France. They have this abilty not only to please the pallatte but also the abilty to stick up for themselves when it really counts, you wont find thier citizens being trodden on in matters of importance which is something us " english " would do well to sit up and notice!

    wrapping myself in the flag of St George or having it fluttering from my car or house windows is no longer on my to do list.

  • Comment number 45.

    To adapt a boxing phrase - Mr Wenger is, in my opinion the greatest pound for pound manager of his generation. I know that he has not won as much as SAF, and does not self publicize like Jose, but imagine what he'd acieve if he had their budgets.
    They are great managers all, but if I had to choose any manager for my club it would be Arsene Wenger. Mind you I support Everton, and we are more than happy with David Moyes. But the style of the Invinceables year was sublime, and they never quite received the acclaim they richly deserved.
    Elaenor, it is refreshing to be able to comment positively on a football figure, rather than some of the contrived controversy (sometimes fun )of the more regular bloggers.
    Thanks for the oportunity.

  • Comment number 46.

    Happy Birthday Arsene ... and many more to come I hope whilst in charge of Arsenal.

    Anyone doubting how the majority of Arsenal fans feel about AW and the possibility of another trophyless season should have a look at The Gooner and the survey they did during the summer - you can check it out on their website - go to the August 2009 issue.

    He is without doubt one of the greatest managers Arsenal have ever had (or will have) and is I think on a par with Herbert Chapman for his innovation and influence not just on the club but on English football in general. I believe there is lots more to come from him yet and from this team which is on the verge of something very special.

  • Comment number 47.

    Arsenal look set to dominate world football for years to come. Arsenal have the best squad and have just sold Adebayor also, not to mention the amount of injuries Arsenal have had in the last few years. Look at the amount of money Benitez has spent and look at his undeveloped thin squad. Liverpool could very easily dissappear into mid table mediocrity for a few years saddled with debt offloading an ageing Gerrard for big bucks. Can they afford to sack Benitez ? Man Utd finish 5th and that massive debt coupled with a second dip in the recession means the Banks will insist Rooney goes for £150 gazillion. The Glazers walk the same line of lady luck that Liverpool have fallen off. Arsenal are not a big wealthy club just yet. It began with the sale of Anelka and since then Wenger has built the club almost single handed. The Arsenal fans' and the board are no mugs. Journalists have to provoke and debate questions but we could do with something a little less desperate than this futile question that just reinforces Wenger's genius.

  • Comment number 48.

    I must agree that this is a great blog about Arsene with a churlish title. Perhaps it continues to reflect the deep set fear in the media to give this genius of a manager the full accolade he deserves.

    Why is this so? Well he is French, refused to bow to the pressure to play English players at all cost, and has rubbed the noses of so many English managers in the dust with his scintillating football.

    Thus a huge formidable segment of the English media persistently downplay Arsene's greatness. They are quick to point to his lack of a Champion's League trophy as a marker that he is not a 'great'.

    They are quick to use SAF as the yardstick by which to judge whether Wenger is great or not. The same media however agrees that Bobby Robson was great though he never won the Champs League or World Cup.

    When the true uncensored story is written about Arsene's managerial career in the premier league, it will be clear that he is the greatest manager of this era despite all what SAF has won with ManU.

    This is an individual whose arrival to these shores has transformed every aspect of football in England. A couple of managers in England have won the Champs League, only Arsene went a season unbeaten.

    Only Arsene has the possibility of repeating that feat again. The magnitude of that achievement threatened to wipe ManU's legacy off the map, they couldn't have it, animosities went over the roof.

    The current team will win trophies be it this season, next season or the season after and will do it with a graceful style. The style that has endeared Arsene and Arsenal to a global discerning audience.

    Happy birthday 'Le Professeur'; thank you for giving me unforgetable magical moments on the field; please don't stop doing it even if the Arsenal board kicks you out for 'not winning trophies'.

  • Comment number 49.

    To quote 2 banners seen at the Grove - Keep the Faith, and In Arsene We Trust. Given the choice between silverware or Arsene, I'd take the latter every time. His teams play football so beautiful that Cruyff and Co are forgotten. The man himself makes other managers look and sound like.....not so well educated chaps... (Exhibit 1 - Fat Sam)...... He has raised a generation of young players who are now playing in clubs all around the UK, something which the 'what has he done for English football' conveniently forget. Arsene is a gentleman and a scholar, and a credit to our club. I for one want him with us until either he or I are too old and senile to care!

  • Comment number 50.

    I can remember back in 1996 and the summer transfers . The big names signed were Ravenelli, Di Matteo, Poborsky and Jordi Cruyff. Ray Wilkins was being interviewed and was asked who was the best signing - he answered " None , Arsene Wenger will be the best signing of the summer". On a side note can also remember bumping into Nigel Winterburn and Kevin Richardson walking to Highbury before a late 80's North London derby! No Bentleys then!

  • Comment number 51.

    and here we are calmy discussing the merits of AW

    whilst on another BBC inspired debate there are some 200 plus mancs and scousers still arguing about this, that and the other.

    as they say there's nothing to beat class.

    glass of wine anyone.

  • Comment number 52.

    I just wonder, if Arsene does get a job for life, how much that would affect the new guy who replaces him. Same goes for SAF at Man U. Working with someone of that standing in background would be daunting to say the least. I'm trying to think of an example where that has worked in the past, but I'm struggling.

    Jose Anigo at Marseille is at Marseille one, but he didn't spend nearly long at the helm.

  • Comment number 53.

    to the tune of Rule Brittania

    Arsene Wenger !
    good Arsene rules the place
    chavs,mancs scouse and spuddys
    way of the pace !

    to the tune Wish you were Here ( mainly for the benifit of the chavs and spuds )

    remember when you were young
    you shone like the sun
    shine on you Arsene Wenger
    down at the old white heart lane
    their playing catch up again
    Shine On you crazy Wenger
    caught in the crossfire of Highbury Santiago
    two Doubles u made look a breeze
    come on you seer of visions and glory
    you winner and master and Shine.

    more to follow:

  • Comment number 54.


    well there sure is one thing whoever takes over will get short thrift if he starts bleating " i cant compete with the likes of the man u's and the liverpools unless you give me lots of money to buy players " said by mr hughes on several occasions, having been thumped not only by the aforesaid mentioned but by Arsene Wengers Arsenal.

    there will be no open cheque cheque book and he will have to prove, unlike the " mouth " mourinho that he is tacticly astute and does not need a pot full of transfer money each season in pursuit of silverware.

    it is very likely to be a " double " act of two of Arsenals finest players and i would say Dennis Berghkamp would feature not sure about the other .

    have a glass on me: red or white or both? hehe

    shine on.


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