You’d never seen anything like it at Highbury ... but the long-term Arsenal manager leaves plenty of questions unanswered

In December 1997, Arsène Wenger’s Arsenal team were beaten 3-1 at home by Blackburn Rovers, and the players were booed off the pitch by the home fans, an expression of the frustration built up by watching extremely mediocre and unsuccessful football for half a decade. That afternoon, Arsenal looked years away from being able to challenge Manchester United, the then perennial champions. After the match, striker Ian Wright, hurt by the criticism, yelled obscenities out of the window at the departing crowd and was spoken to by the police. Highbury was an unhappy place.

Wenger had been in charge of the club for 14 months. No Arsenal fan had heard of him before his arrival – he had been working in Japan, of all places – and none would have cared much if he’d been fired after the game. He had brought in a couple of promising players, but three of the four defenders that afternoon had played in the famous title-deciding game at Anfield eight years before, and the fourth had actually made his debut for Arsenal even earlier. Those who booed had been watching football long enough to know that this was a team going nowhere, in serious need of investment and ideas, and almost certainly yet another new manager.

I cannot think of another adult male who so directly improved the quality of my life as Arsène Wenger did

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