22 years at Arsenal – Arsene Wenger’s best quotes

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Few people, let alone football coaches, have captivated the media so regularly and consistently as Arsene Wenger.

From fronting up to post-match broadcasters to undertaking his weekly press conferences, shooting the breeze with the club’s official editorial team to sharing one-on-one time with Fleet Street’s finest, the Frenchman has illuminated his 22 years at Arsenal with beautifully idiosyncratic ‘Wengerisms’ that have shone a light on his personal and football philosophies.

Funny, intelligent, stubborn, feisty…here’s Arsene Wenger’s career as a Gunner in quotes.

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“Arsenal is in a bad situation and needs a manager” Arsene, in his first ever BBC interview in 1996, explains the timing of his move to Arsenal.
“I realised when I joined Arsenal that the back four were all university graduates in the art of defending and Tony Adams was the doctor of defence.” Arsene reflects on the brilliance of the famous back five.
“I tried to watch the Tottenham match on television in my hotel yesterday, but I fell asleep.” Arsene on our less than entertaining North London neighbours.
“If you eat caviar every day it’s difficult to return to sausages.” Arsene reflects on Arsenal fans booing a 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough in November 1998.
“We live a society where everybody knows everything and it looks like it is a shame to say I don’t know.” Arsene hits out at the constant sniping in the media.
“No. Perhaps he sent it by horse.” Arsene on if Sir Alex Ferguson apologised to him for critical ‘off-the-record’ comments about Arsenal’s playing style leaking to the press.
“We didn’t think he would play on Sunday because he was suspended – that makes me think he has all the qualities to join Arsenal.” Arsene talks at the arrival of signing Jose Antonio Reyes from Sevilla.
“I think in England you eat too much sugar and meat and not enough vegetables.” Arsene makes clear what he thinks of Les Rosbifs’ diet.
“No matter how much money you earn, you can only eat three meals a day and sleep in one bed.” Arsene pleads with Nicolas Anelka to quell his financial demands.
“A football team is like a beautiful woman. When you do not tell her, she forgets she is beautiful.” Arsene channels his inner Swiss Tony.
“Everyone thinks they have the prettiest wife at home.” Arsene responds to Sir Alex Ferguson’s 2002 claim that Manchester United had been the best side in the Premier League since Christmas that season.
“We do not buy superstars. We make them.” An Arsene maxim to live and die by.
“My job is to give people who work hard all week something to enjoy on Saturdays and Wednesdays.” Arsene in 2004 on what drives him every day.
“What I don’t understand is that he does what he wants and you are all at his feet.” Arsene takes a swipe at the Fergie fawning of the newspaper press.
“I’m prepared to be committed to the club at least until we go into the new stadium. For me, it’s important that the club goes in there and that I make sure the team are at a very good level. After that, whether it’s me or someone else, the club will be able to compete at the highest level. But for me to run away now would not be fair.” Arsene commits to Arsenal in 2004 as the club secures the cash to build a new stadium at Ashburton Grove.
“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?” Even Arsene struggled to comprehend how his side avoided defeat for 38 games in 2003/04.
“It’s like a child who is used to having ice cream whenever he wants. When it doesn’t come when he asks he tends to get confused and nervous.” Arsene speaks after losing top spot in the league in November 2004
“Sometimes I see it [a foul by an Arsenal player], but I say that I didn’t see it to protect the players and because I could not find any rational explanation for what they did.” Arsene reveals that sometimes he does see what he says he didn’t.
“I didn’t know the English were good at swimming. I have been in this country for 12 years and I haven’t seen a swimming pool.” Arsene speaks of the success of the Great Britain team at the 2008 Olympics.
“He can only cheat.” Arsene on Van Nistelrooy.
“It’s like you wanting to marry Miss World and she doesn’t want you. I can try to help you but if she does not want to marry you what can I do?” Arsene on Jose Antonio Reyes wanting to leave.
“It looks like you are burned in the village quicker now than before. And the fire is always raging.” Arsene reacts to the cutthroat nature of managing at the highest level.
They [Chelsea] are a financially doped club. They have enhancement of performances through financial resources which are unlimited. It puts pressure on the market that is not very healthy. They can go to Steven Gerrard or Rio Ferdinand and say ‘how much do you earn? We’ll give you twice as much’. I don’t know if there is anything we can do to stop it.” Arsene in 2005 on the influx of oligarch cash at Stamford Bridge.
“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.” Arsene hits out at Joe Mourinho.
“It is a big surprise to me because he cancelled his contract to go abroad. Have you sold Portsmouth to a foreign country?” Arsene reacts to news that Sol Campbell has signed for Portsmouth having been released early from his Arsenal contract.
“Sometimes I see it, but I say that I didn’t see it to protect the players and because I could not find any rational explanation for what they did.” Arsene admits that saying you didn’t see something, doesn’t mean you didn’t see something.
“I don’t kick dressing room doors or the cat or even football journalists.” Although sometimes you suspect Arsene wouldn’t mind a go at the latter.
“I believe the target of anything in life should be to do it so well that it becomes an art. When you read some books they are fantastic, the writer touches something in you that you know you would not have brought out of yourself. He makes you discover something interesting in your life. If you are living like an animal, what is the point of living? What makes daily life interesting is that we try to transform it to something that is close to art. And football is like that. When I watch Barcelona, it is art.” Arsene the idealist at his most compelling in a 2009 interview.
“If I go into a season and I say, ‘For fuck’s sake, if we don’t win anything, they will all leave,’ I have already lost. The problem of the media is always to imagine the worst. The problem of the manager is always to imagine the best.” Arsene – ever the optimist even during the most depressing of seasons.
“I watched it when I got home and it looked very bad. You ask 100 people, 99 will say it’s very bad and the hundredth will be Mark Hughes.” Arsene hates on Mark Hughes (again) after Emmanuel Adebayor’s challenge on Robin van Persie in a particularly feisty Arsenal clash with Manchester City.
“When people say ‘Arsenal didn’t fancy it’, what didn’t they fancy? Getting tackled from behind?” Arsene on Stoke. Enough said.
“One of the things I discovered in Japan was from watching sumo wrestling. At the end you can never tell who has won the fight, and who has lost, because they do not show their emotion because it could embarrass the loser. It is unbelievable. That is why I try to teach my team politeness. It is only here in England that everybody pokes their tongue out when they win.” Arsene on winning with grace.
“The biggest things in life have been achieved by people who, at the start, we would have judged crazy. And yet if they had not had these crazy ideas the world would have been more stupid.” Arsene on the importance of dreaming big.
“Have Tottenham closed the gap on Arsenal? Last time I checked they were still 4 miles and 11 titles away.” Arsene snaps back after constant suggestion that Spurs are getting closer to Arsenal.
“When I arrive at the gates of Heaven the Good Lord will ask ‘what did you do in your life?’ I will respond ‘I tried to win football matches.’ He will say: ‘Are you certain that’s all?’ But, well, that’s the story of my life.” An ageing Arsene turns his mind to more pressing conversations ahead.
“Maybe we’ll have a good surprise for you.” Arsene hints at some transfer activity after Arsenal beat Sp*rs 1-0 in 2013. The next day the club announces the arrival of Mesut Ozil.
“Yes, I love his music and the man that he was. He was not “fabricated”, he was real. I love people who do not have conventional paths and who stand out because of their talent.” Arsene on his admiration for Bob Marley.
“I don’t want the will to educate to be opposed by the will to win. That makes the educator sound like an idiot. Any manager’s approach must be to educate. One of the beauties of our job is the power to influence the course of a man’s life in a positive way. You and me have been lucky enough to meet people who believed in us and led us forward. The streets are full of talented people but who didn’t have the luck of finding someone who placed their faith in them. I can be the one that facilitates life, that give an opportunity.” Arsene speaking to L’Equipe about his responsibility to the beautiful game and to his fellow man.
“I am a fan of his music of course, but I am not a specialist enough to assess his musical quality. I must say the message he gave to my generation was very important because it was after the Second World War and it was basically – be strong enough to be yourself. That is a very strong message and very important for my generation.” Arsene on David Bowie after the legend’s death in 2016.
“In my job the main quality is to be an optimist. If you see the future in a negative way you commit suicide in my job. You are responsible for the motivation of all the people around you. You have to pick up everybody inside the club. You should see what the club is like after a big defeat, it’s like a lost war and everybody is on the floor. You have to be an optimist to say, “Come on my friends, we are good enough to pick up and win our next game. We can do this together. Remember how good you are.” Everybody forgets quickly in life how good he is and how good he can be when things go wrong. I believe my job is to be an optimist.” Arsene on how he views his job in an interview with Rog Bennett from Men in Blazers, 2016.
“It’s difficult to predict always what will happen in our game…it’s very difficult for me to predict where football will go and what will happen in the next 20 years. Maybe we’ll have a robot on the bench who will make the decisions and a computer will analyse exactly what kind of decision he makes during the game. You might not even have human beings anymore on the bench.” Arsene goes full Futurama when asked about the potential evolution of the beautiful game.
“The life of this guy is a real film. It is unbelievable. It can make a fantastic film.” Arsene hails former player George Weah after he becomes President of Liberia.
“To all the Arsenal lovers take care of the values of the club. My love and support for ever.” Arsene signs off his statement confirming his departure.
“I don’t need to die anymore.” Arsene on seeing all the praise for his achievements at Arsenal.
“I have some work to do in France on Monday and Tuesday and after I will come back and clear my office. And that will be it. After, I don’t know.” Arsene on his final days at Arsenal.

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GoonerMac
GoonerMac

Brilliant! I was thinking the other day that I hope you put a quote compilation together. Love that one about stupid Mourinho……and of course the prettiest wife. Merci blogs!

Magneto
Magneto

Arsene’s quotes are top, top quality!

Momozemio
Momozemio

though sometimes he spoke a bit with the handbrake?

Dan
Dan

I even read in a local paper the Bowers and Pitsea manager saying his team played with the handbrake on as they lost in the end of season promotion playoffs recently.

Eternal Titi Berg Pat Nostalgia
Eternal Titi Berg Pat Nostalgia

You missed one top.

forest gooner
forest gooner

he could have chosen to be Shakespeare

Pedant
Pedant

Financial doping is spot on and the prettiest wife quote is brilliant.

Intelligent man, most managers aren’t even close to this level of intelligence.

Pedant
Pedant

And the !falling asleep watching Spurs’ created an instant endearment to him.

Pedant
Pedant
Pedant
Pedant

Btw, this works well with Sp*rs fans by showing:

5 fingers for the trophies in the 60s
4 fingers for the trophies in the 70s
3 fingers for the 80s etc
To
0 fingers in this decade.

Merci Arsene (GoonerestGooner)
Merci Arsene (GoonerestGooner)

“Last time I checked they were still 4 miles and 11 titles away” was the one that got me

Mentalist
Mentalist

Damn those invisible onion-cutting ninjas.

shokim
shokim

Thanks for this! Shall miss Arsene’s Wengerisms. My favourite quote is the one on showing his faith to his fellow men. It’s powerful in its simplicity.

PS. His book can’t be published soon enough!

yen
yen

What I like about football is that it brings together people with very different backgrounds – rich and poor, young and old, educated or not. In the end, when the ball hits the net, it brings out the same emotion in all of us.

So what I love about Arsene is that he was given this very unique stage and put it to best use. He shared his thoughts and ideas that some people who never open a book wouldn´t otherwise ever be confronted with.

When you listen to Mourinho, he´s simply describing stuff – we scored, we conceded, that guy is injured and there´s that. When you listen to Wenger, it´s much more than that. Sometimes – as seen above with those quotes – art.

forest gooner
forest gooner

how true!
though you could have avoided mentioning mourinho

Bould's Eyeliner
Bould's Eyeliner

He’s still honing his art of commenting.

forest gooner
forest gooner

bookmarked!

Glenn
Glenn

Another one I like is about confidence: “you go up via the stairs but come down in the lift”

Ed the Red
Ed the Red

“Last time I checked they were still 4 miles and 11 titles away.”

Beautifully put and very well checked.

C.B.
C.B.

He was won 4 more trophies than the last 18 S*rs managers combined.

Twatsloch
Twatsloch

The quote on Spuds being 11 trophies behind is a retort worthy of Oscar Wilde.

Anonymarse
Anonymarse

We need a new ‘doctor of defence’ … or perhaps the defence needs a doctor

Bobbyp
Bobbyp

A lot of these made me smile, but this ““Have Tottenham closed the gap on Arsenal? Last time I checked they were still 4 miles and 11 titles away.” made me laugh the most!

Groundhog Club
Groundhog Club

Great article Blogs. Really enjoyed that trip down memory lane

Rishi

My favourite – “Last time I checked they were still 4 miles and 11 titles away.”

Punter
Punter

Legend. I really hope he doesn’t taken up another management role in club football. Maybe France or England manager. His wit is amazing.

Dino
Dino

Best article I have read here thus far.. THANK YOU!

dr Strange
dr Strange

I was at the 1-1 against Boro and it was certainly no caviar but I do like sausage so I went home (to the pub) happy after Anelka equalizied at the end of the game.

Razz
Razz

“I have some work to do in France” does that mean he is going to PSG? I don’t really understand him there or is he just joking?

Paul
Paul

It’s a bit of work in France then he doesn’t know what he is going to do.

Cannonball
Cannonball

“You are dishonest tp your federation” should at least get a spot there. Haha. I love that one

John Lukic
John Lukic

Yes, I particularly liked that one too.
Inspired by that quote I’m going to use it, and adapt it slightly, in a complaint I have to write to my bank.
“You are dishonest to your federtion and your federation is dishonest to society.”
I’m sure its not the last time his words will inspire me either!

Jean Ralphio
Jean Ralphio

Thanks for this Arseblog. What a man Wenger is.

Auba ma Ying
Auba ma Ying

The philosophical definition of happiness is a match between what you want and what you have. And what you want changes as soon as you’ve got it. Always more. 

The only possible moment of happiness is the present. The past gives you regrets. And the future uncertainties.

– Arséne Wenger

[Interview with Le’Equipe]

Ayo London

Quality quote ??

renaissancerosicky
renaissancerosicky

This was so beautiful. Is there another manager note deserving of a compilation of quotes? (though that Allegri piece wasn’t half bad eh?)

Thank you for putting this together. Some of these are frame worthy.

Aleksander Włodarz
Aleksander Włodarz

you forgot of :’ I don’t listen to fathers and grandfathers ( of the players ) in response to Szczęsny’s father comments on him 🙂

sarbajit
sarbajit

don’t leave, please

Dan
Dan

Bit late for that I’m afraid old chum. The time has come. Two years out of the champions league now is definitely not good enough.

Dan
Dan

I’m sure I read in a book somewhere (Amy Lawrence’s book on the Invincibles maybe) about Wenger saying something along the lines of how when your team play perfectly for not even a whole match, just a brief moment, that it’s so beautiful you would strive your entire life to experience it again.

I think that very thing has been the problem as we’ve slipped down the division these past few years.

Merck Arsene. Onwards and upwards.

Joel Australia
Joel Australia

Merci Arsene.

Woolwich Shepherd
Woolwich Shepherd

Some of the quotes about optimism are incredibly powerful. All of us have had setbacks in our lives. We all know how hard it can be to pick yourself up and move forward. I don’t think any of us can totally understand how important this leadership quality has been to Wenger’s success.

Dominik
Dominik

I’ll leave here one my favourites, from 2011:

“In my job you expect to suffer. So, that’s why when I go to hell one day it will be less painful for me than for you, because I’m used to suffering.”