Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

How Prizefighter Wenger Delivered a Knockout Blow; Arsene's Rope-a-Dope Trick Was the Sign of a True Champion

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

How Prizefighter Wenger Delivered a Knockout Blow; Arsene's Rope-a-Dope Trick Was the Sign of a True Champion

Article excerpt

Byline: IAN CHADBAND

SOME championship triumphs fade from the memory but this one, reckoned Arsene Wenger, would always possess the indelible hallmarks of an historic one.

That the Double should be sealed with a trademark one-nil to the Arsenal, studded with the finest Highbury tradition of grit and commitment in the face of all the blood and thunder that the fallen champions could muster, was the crowning glory in a season which has been underpinned by thoroughly modern flair just as much as good old-fashioned feistiness.

Like a maths swot, Wenger couldn't help glorying in the stats. To take the league with a 12th straight win, with only one defeat in their last 25 games, with an entire season unbeaten away from Highbury, with a goal in every game . . . these were amazing feats, he felt, which would assure his class of 2002 a place among the immortals. Typically, he didn't mention his own assured place in the pantheon.

Yet stark figures tell nothing of the glorious manner in which his team had fashioned this second Double for him. It was a night designed for Arsenal gloating yet, as the delirious travelling contingent were still saluting their leader while finding it hard to drag themselves away from the corner of the Theatre of Dreams which they had christened with a giant banner "Old Trafford - Champions Section", Wenger himself demonstrated that it wasn't just his team who knew how to win in style.

When evidently being egged on to rub Alex Ferguson's nose in it after all the pre-match verbals, Wenger offered only a genuine appreciation of his adversary's great record.

"Respect means you don't need to dance around," he chided his questioners, and with his quietly satisfied but not OTT celebrations, you remembered again why this man is the best revolutionary English football ever imported, long before the blessed Sven came along.

Those qualities of style, stubbornness and self-confidence are now perfectly reflected in his champions. Last night, we learned how, even if belatedly, he's perhaps slotted in the final piece of the jigsaw - total selfdiscipline-As United, backed by a frenzied din which you rarely hear over the unwrapping of prawn sandwiches here, waded in with a series of ferocious challenges which had Fergie's desperation not to concede the title in his own backyard written all over them, Wenger's men never flinched but, splendidly, never retaliated. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.