Arsene Wenger is not just the longest-serving manager in the Premier League. He is also the best.
His longevity is an indicator of his brilliance. After the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, there is no other Premier League manager who can hold a candle to Wenger’s 17 years at Arsenal. Rather comically, his closest rival as the league’s longest-serving manager is Alan Pardew, who has served just three years at Newcastle. Previous to that Wenger's reign was challenged by David Moyes' 12 years at Everton, but Moyes has now reset the clock by switching to United.
Wenger’s first 17 years at Arsenal brought him the highest win percentage in the club’s history. Statistically, he is Arsenal’s greatest-ever manager.
To achieve that sort of consistency over such a sustained period is truly remarkable. Under Wenger, Arsenal have not once dropped out of the Premier League’s top four. Wenger’s uniformity of excellence carries over into Europe, too: the Gunners are on the verge of navigating the group stage for the 14th consecutive year.
Of course, medals are what really count. Wenger is often criticised for his recent failure to land a major trophy. However, no current manager of an English club has won the Premier League more times than Wenger.
Wenger has finished top of the league on three separate occasions. Only one other manager currently operating in England has had his hands on the trophy: Jose Mourinho. However, Mourinho’s two Premier League title victories were both funded by Roman Abramovich’s extortionate wealth.
Mourinho’s triumphs have always been supported by significant financial backing. Even in Portugal, where his managerial journey started, he benefited from the Portistas superior wealth as compared to their domestic rivals.
Conversely, Wenger’s shrewd management of budgets is another string to his bow.
When Arsenal moved from Highbury to the Emirates Stadium, Wenger was forced to cut his cloth accordingly. In order to manage the debt incurred by building the new ground, Wenger was forced to sell off a host of stars and rebuild his team several times over.
Wenger demonstrated a knack for identifying young talent and selling them on at enormous profit. The likes of Cesc Fabregas, Emmanuel Adebayor and Samir Nasri impressed on the pitch before swelling the bank balance.
In the seven years following the stadium switch, Arsenal had the lowest net spend of any Premier League club. In fact, according to talkSPORT, they actually turned a profit of some £40 million.
Yet somehow Wenger kept the Gunners in the top quintile of the Premier League table.
This summer, with new commercial deals propping Arsenal up, Wenger elected to splash some cash, bringing in Mesut Ozil for £42.5 million. The deal smashed Arsenal’s transfer record but merely levelled out his net spend at roughly zero.
Even with such a significant acquisition under their belt, Arsenal’s net spend for the summer was still beaten by Manchester City, Chelsea and even Southampton.
Despite that, it is the Gunners who currently sit top of the Premier League.
It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise: They have the top manager.