A cosmopolitan and globalized club since Wenger’s arrival
English football has been never revolutionized as much as when Arsène Wenger, fresh off Japan in October 1996, arrived at Arsenal. Backed by David Dein, former vice president of the club, the first changes occur quickly. It is the end of the Kingdom’s typical kick and rush. Playing forward is the new mantra and this specificity draws the identity of the Gunners.
Recruitment is also innovative for its time. The Alsatian turns to players with high potential from around the globe. Since he is established in north London, 207 players have worn the red jersey: four Asians, 15 Africans, 14 South Americans, four North Americans and 172 Europeans (including 30 Frenchmen and 69 Englishmen). They all helped make the club one of the most cosmopolitan in the world. The educator has also developed the training center by bringing in young talent, which earned him to be regarded as a plunderer of the French championship. True manager in the English way, he expands his responsibilities in ensuring control of the entire sports sector (Academy, professional staff, scouting (Recruitment cell), infrastructure…).
“My pride will be to tell me that when I will leave, I will let a good team, a healthy situation and a club able to perform in the future”, explained Wenger last year. Arsenal is now a brand with millions of subscribers on social networks and diverse and international sponsors as Puma (Germany), Emirates (UAE), Citroen (France), Girard-Perregaux (Swiss fine watchmaking) Coopertires (US tires) SportPesa (paris sports in Kenya) or Hansa Pilsener (south African beer). Famous supporters also ensure its popularity. Whether the double Olympic champion Mo Farah, actor Idris Elba, tennis player Andy Murray, singer Dido, the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn or Queen Elizabeth II, VIP stages are well stocked.
But this forward progress initiated by the Frenchman towards globalization of the Gunners does not please everyone. Emblematic fans abandoned bleachers suffering high prices charged by their core team. The atmosphere of Highbury disappeared in favor of casual watchers and other tourists wanting to attend at least once in their life to a game. Elements — added to sports scores declining for 10 years — that put Wenger under fire from critics.