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In Praise of Arsene Wenger

Just about everybody, with the notable exception of Manchester United's Sir Alex Ferguson and Chelsea's Jose Mourinho, has been heaping praise on Arsene Wenger, Arsenal's talented manager, who this week celebrated 10 years in charge of the Gunners. As ever, the tactician received effusive praise from his players on the eve of the anniversary, his captain Thierry Henry chief among them. While there was no ceremony to mark the occasion, praise outside of the club came from such unlikely sources as Roy Keane, the Sunderland manager who skippered rival Manchester United for most of the 10 years Wenger has been in charge. "He has done a brilliant job at Arsenal," Keane said. "I watched them last week against United and they were outstanding," he said, emphasizing, "the way they play the game, the way he leads himself." If there is one thing everyone agrees on, it's Wenger's unflappable vision of beautiful soccer. Though the faces have changed, his teams have always strived to play a beautiful passing game -- sometimes it appears as though his Arsenal teams are content to pass circles around their opponents until they can either pass the ball into the goal or Thierry Henry feels inspired enough to produce a piece of individual magic. The emphasis on beautiful play frustrates some, but Wenger's record speaks for itself: he's won seven major trophies in his 10 years in charge. He's also loyal: Wenger has been pursued by Real Madrid and other big clubs for years, but the Frenchman enjoys his relative autonomy at Arsenal. Said David Dein, Arsenal's vice chairman and Wenger's boss, "We want him for the rest of his career...Since he's been in charge, we've seen football from another planet."

Read the whole story at Times Online »

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