Arsene Wenger flew in from Tokyo in 1996 and did exciting things for the next decade.
His athletic teams played stylish power football and won trophies and excited us all.
With the sacking of David Dein in April 2007, and the death of Danny Fiszman in April 2011, he acquired more power than he’d ever had before.
But the Arsenal “manager” also became much more isolated.
When George Graham was sacked in 1995, the board vowed that no manager would ever be allowed that much power again.
But Wenger, a polymath as well as a cool business strategist, soon began to run the whole show, although this was not obvious to many supporters, who regarded him as the manager.
Because he did the work of three or four men, the French genius made himself unsackable.
HIs big personality and trophies made him world famous, which he had never been at Monaco or Grampus Eight.
His squad was protected behind a 16-foot fence at London Colney and the players were told not to give autographs to fans when their cars had to stop at the intersection with the main road near the training ground.
In that, as everything else, Wenger is a control-freak.
Last Wednesday night his babies coughed up three goals in 10 minutes in Munich and Arsenal lost 5-1.
So Bayern had won the tie.
Arsenal had been eliminated from a 180-minute contest in 10 minutes.
Almost everybody thought this was the end of Wenger.
Of all the headlines I saw on Thursday and Friday the best was in The Times on Friday
But it wasn’t on the back page.
The back page headline on a Matt Hughes story was: Wenger will decide own Arsenal fate.
Our great leader had done an interview on ZDF, the German TV station, before the Champions League first leg .That was broadcast on Thursday and he said his future would be decided in “March, April, probably.”
Towards the end of his piece Hughes said that Koscielny had admitted the players had “heated discussions” in the dressing room.
The Times inside headline across two pages was: If Wenger has not fixed it by now, he never will.
Henry Winter’s column said that if Wenger was going to go, he should announce it now and enjoy the farewell.
Oliver Kay, their Chief Football Correspondent, said that that the Arsene-Arsenal relationship had been a beautiful,one but it was dragging both of them down now.
Kay concluded that “There is too much pent-up anger, too much staleness in the air at the Emirates Stadium.”
He said that extending the manager’s contract would expose Wenger to further unhappiness.
On Friday morning Wenger came in late for his scheduled 9 a.m. press conference.
He was as arrogant as always and as plausible as he’s ever been.
He denied there had been any shouting in the dressing room, so he was, in effect, calling Koscielny a liar.
Wenger carried on as if nothing had happened!
His Friday morning performance proved, once again, that he is a consummate politician who still commands the media.
By Sunday he was saying that he will carry on managing for four years, at Arsenal or somewhere else!
Club presidents please note that a great leader has said: Come and get me!