Arsenal future excites Arsene Wenger
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said he was excited by the club's prospects after signing a new three-year contract that will keep him at the Emirates until 2017
London: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said he was excited by the club's prospects after signing a new three-year contract that will keep him at the Emirates until 2017.
The 64-year-old Frenchman is the current longest-serving manager in the English Premier League, having joined the north London side in 1996, and this season he ended Arsenal's nine-year wait for a major trophy by overseeing their come-from-behind FA Cup final win against Hull City at Wembley.
"I want to stay and to continue to develop the team and the club," Wenger told Arsenal's website after news of his contract extension was confirmed in a brief statement by the club's parent company to the London Stock Exchange on Friday.
"We are entering a very exciting period. We have a strong squad, financial stability and huge support around the world. We are all determined to bring more success to this club.
"The club has always shown faith in me and I'm very grateful for that," he added.
"We have gone through fantastic periods and also periods where we have had to stick together.
"Every time when that togetherness was tested I got the right response. I think I have shown some loyalty as well towards this club and hopefully we can make some more history. I am sure we can."
The dramatic 3-2 victory over Hull saw Wenger win the eighth major trophy of his Arsenal career, his haul of silverware including three Premier League titles and five FA Cups, with 'doubles' in 1997/98 and 2001/02.
But prior to this month's success, he had not lifted a trophy since the 2005 FA Cup.
The campaign just finished also saw Wenger guide Arsenal to a 17th consecutive season of Champions League football
He has now overseen more than 1,000 Arsenal matches and took the side to the 2006 Champions League final, where they lost 2-1 to Barcelona in Paris.
Wenger was a surprise choice to succeed Bruce Rioch as Arsenal manager when he joined in September 1996 from Japanese club Grampus Eight, with the London Evening Standard responding to his appointment with the headline "Arsene Who?"
However, he did inherit a strong side, with the likes of England goalkeeper David Seaman, the celebrated defensive unit of Nigel Winterburn, Steve Bould, Tony Adams and Lee Dixon, together with midfielder Patrick Vieira and strikers Dennis Bergkamp and Ian Wright already at Arsenal.
And during the Gunners' trophy-less years, while some fans were sympathetic to the fact the club's move from Highbury to the nearby Emirates Stadium had placed Wenger under financial constraints, there was frustration when he didn't spend when the board insisted funds were available.
He did though splash out a club record 42.4 million pounds (USD 66m, 50m euros) ahead the season just gone to sign midfielder Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid.
But the German playmaker failed to maintain his promising start to the season while injuries suffered by the likes of Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Cup final hero Aaron Ramsey disrupted Arsenal's season and led to questions about Wenger's training methods.
Yet for all the mutterings, Arsenal majority shareholder Stan Kroenke remained steadfast in his support of Wenger.
And the delighted US-based businessman said Friday: "Sustained excellence is the hardest thing to achieve in sport and the fact Arsenal has competed at the top of the game in England and Europe throughout the time Arsene has been manager, is the ultimate testimony to his consistency of performance, talent and ambition.
"We are delighted with the FA Cup success which has added to his already outstanding record," Kroenke added.
"Under his guidance we look forward to adding more trophies in future seasons."