In Depth

18 ways life has changed since Arsene Wenger joined Arsenal

The unknown French manager walked into Highbury on this day in 1996 - lots has changed since then

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger celebrates 18 years in charge of the Gunners today as his side host Galatasaray in a must-win Champions League encounter at the Emirates.

During the last 18 years Wenger has overseen a period of unprecedented success for the Gunners, a move to a new stadium and a nine-year trophy drought, which came to an end when Arsenal won the FA Cup last season.

So far he has won three Premier League titles, five FA Cups and five Community Shields while in north London, and has been credited with revolutionising many aspects of the game, from diet to training methods.

Wenger is now by some distance the longest-serving manager in English football, and during his tenure almost 200 rival Premier League managers have left their jobs.

Lots more has changed since he arrived at Highbury in October 1996 - here are 18 examples

Baby boom

Of Arsenal's current first team squad one (Gideon Zelalem) had not been born and two (Calum Chambers and Serge Gnabry) were one year old when Wenger took over. Of the current Arsenal academy squad, 22 of the 35 players had not been born. They include midfielder Renny Smith, who turns 18 this weekend, three days after Wenger's anniversary.

Record signing

Alan Shearer was the most expensive footballer in the world after joining Newcastle from Blackburn in a deal worth a staggering £15m earlier in the summer. Shearer turned down the chance to play for Man United in favour of turning out for his hometown club, and ended his time there with two FA Cup losers medals. The record is now held by Gareth Bale, who cost Real Madrid £83m.

House prices

The average cost of a property in Islington in 1996 was £124,000. By 2013 the average house price in the borough was £573,000.

Football salaries

Premier League footballers were paid, on average, £175,000-a-year in 1996 while the average Briton earned around £21,500. Now many stars are paid that much a week. Last year the average Premier League player earned £1.6m a year, that is around £31,000 a week, close to the average annual wage for the average Briton. Wenger is reportedly paid £7.5m a year.

Internet access

Around 36 million people had access to the internet, just under one per cent of the world's population. Today the figure is around three billion, more than 40 per cent of the population. Google did not exist, founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin were studying at Stanford University and working on developing a search engine called BackRub. Mark Zuckerberg was 12 and learning how to programme computers.

Cameron career

Old Etonian David Cameron was working as a press officer for TV company Carlton. The Conservative Party activist had been selected to stand in the Tory seat of Stafford in the 1997 general election (he lost), and was also looking forward to his 30th birthday on 6 October.

Number ones

Peter Andre's hit Flava had recently been displaced at the top of the UK singles chart by Ready or Not by Fugees. The rap song held top spot for two weeks, but by the time of Wenger's first game in charge, on 12 October, Breakfast at Tiffany's by Deep Blue Something was number one.

BBC shutdown

On TV, Spitting Image had just been cancelled but new quiz show Never Mind the Buzzcocks had recently made its debut along with cult drama This Life which was between its first and second series when Wenger arrived in London. There were only four terrestrial TV channels, Channel 5 launched in 1997, and the BBC still shut down every night.

Euro 96

English football was still basking in the afterglow of the Euro 96 tournament, which saw England win a penalty shoot-out for the first and only time in their history before losing to Germany in the semi-final. The Germans, inevitably, went on to win the tournament.


Mobile phones still had antennas in 1996 and were far outnumbered by landlines. The most popular model of phone in 1996 was the Nokia 9000 which looked like a brick.

Tickle Me Elmo

The must-have Christmas gift for children in 1996 was the Tickle Me Elmo cuddly toy, although Buzz Lightyear from the recently released Toy Story was also popular. Teletubbies, Furby and Tamagotchi toys had yet to be invented.


Thriller Striptease, starring Demi Moore, had just been released in UK cinemas, but the biggest film of the year was Independence Day, starring Will Smith. Tom Cruise launched the Mission: Impossible franchise the summer that Wenger took over and he also starred in Jerry Maguire. Trainspotting was also released this year.


Dennis Bergkamp was Arsenal's record signing, having cost former manager Bruce Rioch £7.5m from Inter Milan. Last year Wenger paid £43m for Mesut Ozil.

Price of a pint

When Wenger took over at Highbury a pint of lager cost less than £2 and a packet of 20 cigarettes, which could still be smoked in pubs, would set you back £3. In London a pint of lager now costs £3.68 on average, and a packet of cigarettes, to be smoked in the pub garden, will cost £10.

Dismal Olympics

Great Britain had just endured a miserable Olympics in Atlanta. Team GB finished 36th in the medals table with one gold, eight silvers and six bronze medals. North Korea, Algeria and Kazakhstan were among the countries to finish above them. Rowers Matthew Pinsent and Steve Redgrave won Team GB's solitary gold, in the coxless pair.

Blair on the rise

Conservative prime minister John Major was lagging a long way behind Labour, led by Tony Blair, in the opinion polls. A survey in the Daily Telegraph on 1 October put Labour on 52 per cent, 24.5 points ahead of the Tories on 27.5 per cent with the Lib Dems, led by Paddy Ashdown, on 15 per cent.

Leeds and Forest

Among the teams in the top flight were Leeds United, managed by George Graham, Sheffield Wednesday, who narrowly missed out on Europe, and Wimbledon. Wenger also faced Coventry City, Nottingham Forest, Derby County and Middlesbrough in his first season. Gerry Francis was manager of Spurs. Arsenal's greatest rivals have had ten different permanent managers since then.

The Week

The 71st edition of The Week, the first since Wenger took over, asked whether Britain would be able to resist the pressure to join the Euro and also featured an interview with Brigitte Bardot.


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