There’s no doubt that Arsene Wenger deserves to be immortalised outside the Stadium that he was responsible for helping to build. The most successful manager in Arsenal history should be commemorated so that generations of Arsenal fans appreciate and remember him for his achievements, but there is an argument that George Graham should follow suit.
With Wenger, he gave us attractive, expansive and creative football that had previously been the preserve of Ajax, Barcelona and Real Madrid, but George Graham took a club that was in the doldrums, rebuilt it and turned it into champions.
His success in ‘89 with an inexperienced and unfancied side gave Arsenal supporters the most exciting end to a season in their entire history and he followed that up with another title in 1990/91.
George Graham was also responsible for the legendary Arsenal back four and the acquisitions of Ian Wright and David Seaman, which became vital components of Arsene Wenger’s sides. It’s recognised that although Wenger brought the swagger and style, Graham left behind the backbone from which he had success.
He developed Tony Adams, who went on to captain both Arsenal and England, winning the league in three different decades in a club career that spanned 22 years.
Graham was a keen follower of the academy and its prospects. For those lauding the current academy players, George Graham did significant work many years before Wenger arrived. He gave a chance to young and ambitious players who had the right attributes and Graham’s two title-winning teams were built with players who had emerged from the Arsenal academy including Tony Adams, David Rocastle, Michael Thomas and Paul Merson. With their introduction, Arsenal put an end to an 18-year wait for a league championship in 1989.
He continued to promote youngsters and integrate them in the side and although none of them were international stars, they served the club well by playing to Graham’s instructions. David Hillier and Kevin Campbell were two names that were drafted into the side so that the squad was refreshing as he took another tilt at the title.
As I say, Wenger gave us more than we ever thought possible. He gave us spectacular entertainment from a collection of world-class stars and delivered 3 Premier League titles, seven FA Cups and seven Community Shields.
Of course, he deserves a stand or the entire stadium to be named after him. A statue is no less than he deserves for what he did whilst in charge for 22 remarkable years, but let’s not forget another Arsenal great – George Graham. At least, I won’t.
Who do you think deserves a statue outside Emirates? Let us know in the comments section.
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