Wenger on how Arsenal set benchmark for rivals before “difficult” decline

Arsene Wenger has opened up about his time at Arsenal, explaining how the Gunners set the benchmark with their training facilities.

When Wenger joined Arsenal in 1996, he campaigned for the club to build a new training ground and their state-of-the-art London Colney base was eventually completed in 1999.

Prior to the opening of London Colney, Arsenal had been training at facilities rented from University College London.

Bob Wilson, who was the club’s goalkeeping coach when Wenger joined, later told the Athletic : “[The facilities were] very lovely if you are a university but not if you want to be one of the world’s great football clubs.

“I remember Arsene coming in and shaking his head. ‘I do not understand,’ he said, ‘this is Arsenal, this cannot be.’

Arsene Wenger campaigned for Arsenal to build a new training base when he first joined the club

“That was his first week and, from that moment, his intention was to get a purpose-built training ground that would be the first of its kind, on that scale, in the country.”

Speaking to beIN SPORTS, the global sports broadcaster, Wenger explained that “the whole of Europe” came to see Arsenal’s new facilities and then went away “built even bigger and better” versions for their own clubs.

He said: “When I arrived I built a training ground. We bought the land… the whole of Europe… came to watch our training ground…

Arsenal’s state-of-the-art London Colney facility was first opened in 1999

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“Of course after people had been they built even bigger and better [training grounds]. And we build a stadium because it cost us over 400 million pounds and we had to pay it back.

“Despite that I think we remain 20 consecutive years in the top 4, in the Champions League, we finished 3 times 1st, 5 times 2nd, 6 times 3rd and 6 times 4th.

“After people get used to it and they want always more, which I accept, but I think as well people who have really worked in football know that the most difficult thing is consistency.”

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