With Arsenal demolishing Aston Villa 4-0 in Saturday’s FA Cup final, the Gunners have now collected trophies in back-to-back seasons. Prior to their cup triumph at the end of last year’s campaign, the north London outfit was mocked for not winning a trophy in nine years. While a nine-year trophy drought is hardly a record for a big Premier League club, as Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, and Manchester United have all previously gone longer without a title, the Gunners are now the only club in England to have won a trophy in each of the last two campaigns.
Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger, received plenty of heat during his team’s lack of success from 2005/06 to 2012/13. One of the more infamous incidents was when Chelsea boss, Jose Mourinho, labeled Wenger a “specialist in failure.” Mourinho responded to Wenger in February of 2014 after the Frenchman suggested that the Chelsea manager was playing down his team’s title chances because “they fear to fail.”
Mourinho responded during a press conference by saying, “If he is right and I am afraid of failure it is because I didn’t fail many times. Eight years without silverware, that’s failure. (Wenger’s) a specialist in failure. If I do that in Chelsea, eight years, I leave and don’t come back.”
While it wasn’t exactly accurate to suggest that someone who had already collected seven significant trophies (as well as four Community Shields) prior to the end of the 2014 season is a “specialist in failure,” Wenger made Mourinho eat his words with the FA Cup victory just three months after the aforementioned press conference.
Following his latest victory at the weekend, Wenger has now won the most FA Cups (six) by a manager in history of the prestigious competition that began in 1871 – hardly a specialist in failure.
Although the lack of cups prior to 2014 was surely not ideal, Wenger should receive credit for keeping his team in Champions League play all while being financially handcuffed mostly due to building one of the most beautiful and state-of-the-art stadiums in the world. Wenger has led the Gunners to 18 consecutive Champions League appearances, something that Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United could not do.
In fact, Arsenal brass asked Wenger to lead the Gunners to a top four position in the table (and subsequently qualify Arsenal for the Champions League) in only three out of the five seasons in which the club was financing Emirates Stadium. Wenger, of course, went on to qualify for Champions League play in all five of the seasons.
Wenger endured the tough string of seasons competing against clubs with money to burn, all while he tried to build a club with young talent and fiscally smart transactions. In April of 2010, when the Gunners took on Barcelona in the knockout phase of the Champions League, Wenger fielded a starting XI that included Nicklas Bendtner, Denilson, Mikael Silvestre, and Manuel Almunia.
With the days of 2010 firmly behind them, Arsenal has now started to purchase world-class players in recent seasons (Mesut Özil for £42 million in 2013, and Alexis Sanchez for £30 million in 2014). If the Gunners can continue on an upward climb, this could be the beginning of yet another a prosperous period for Wenger and Arsenal.
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