Former midfielder Paul Merson said Arsene Wenger was so far ahead of his time when he arrived at Arsenal "it was scary" as the long-serving Frenchman prepares to leave the club.
Arsenal manager Wenger has announced he will leave the London club at the end of the season, having won three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups during his 22 years in charge.
And Merson paid tribute to the 68-year-old who stunned him with his tactics and ideas when he arrived from Japan in 1996, while calling on Arsenal fans to give Wenger a fitting send-off.
"He is a legend," Merson told Sky Sports News. "The word 'legend' is used loosely in football but, at Arsenal, there's no doubt about it, he's a legend.
"If fans don't turn up now for the West Ham game and pack that place out, they need real questions asked about them and whether they are Arsenal fans or glory hunters."
He continued: "The players [in 1996] were like, 'What? Who's he?' He came in, talked like Inspector Clouseau [from The Pink Panther] and didn't look like a football man. He changed so much. He was so far ahead of his time, it was scary.
"When [Wenger] came in, after a week, the players were there at nine o'clock in the morning, waiting for training. His training methods, his ideas..."
7 - Arsene Wenger has won the FA Cup seven times, more than any other manager in history. King. pic.twitter.com/yziojNGbFZ— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 20, 2018
Merson believes the turning point for Wenger and Arsenal was the departure of vice-chairman David Dein in 2007, in their first season at the Emirates Stadium.
"The worst thing that ever happened to that football club - bar Arsene Wenger leaving now, because we'll see where Arsenal are - was David Dein was a massive loss," Merson said.
"Arsenal played in a stadium of 38,000 people at £50 a go. They had [Thierry] Henry, [Dennis] Bergkamp, [Robert] Pires, [Emmanuel] Petit, [Patrick] Vieira, [Marc] Overmars], Lauren, [Jens] Lehmann, Sol Campbell. They were world class players.
"David Dein leaves, they go to a stadium that holds 60,000 and it costs double to get in, you do the maths - how many of them who play now are world class? [Mesut] Ozil? [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang, maybe? I can't reel off players.
"It's because David Dein's gone. Arsene Wenger would go 'bang', David Dein would go and get them and sort the deal out. I think he was a massive loss. I think [Wenger] missed him.
"I think the first five, six, seven years of them going to the Emirates, that wouldn't be far off his biggest feat at Arsenal. Money was tight and they still kept getting into the Champions League."
21 de enero 2019
|Icardi will renew, 100 per cent - Wanda Nara offers latest Inter assurance|
|Japan 1 Saudi Arabia 0: Four-time winners send Pizzi´s men out|
|A souvlaki maybe named after him, a growing fan base – Tsitsipas creating Melbourne buzz|
|Barca winger Dembele out for 15 days|
|Strikers blown away by Hurricanes in Adelaide|
|Ireland lose Beirne for England and Scotland clashes|
|´Innate fighter´ Serena says character key to beating Halep|
|Hudson-Odoi ´an outstanding talent´ - Bayern great Ballack hails Chelsea youngster|
|Scotland call up four as hand injury forces Watson out|
|Serena comes through major Halep battle to reach last eight|
|Better than Rafa? Camacho cameo leaves Klopp unconvinced by transfer options|
|England job ´a privileged position´, says Southgate|
|Emery has confidence in Arsenal outcast Ozil|
|Zverev destroys racquet in Aus Open meltdown|
|From Villarreal to Aus Open quarters – Bautista Agut breaks major duck|
|Brees: I plan on being here next year and making another run at it|
|´Unf******-believable bro!´ - Brady stunned after reaching third straight Super Bowl|
|New England find answers, penalty costs Kansas City – three takeaways from Patriots´ win over Chiefs|
|Donald Trump congratulates Brady and Super Bowl-bound Patriots|
|Rose helps Timberwolves down Suns|
|Brady leads Patriots into third straight Super Bowl|
|Osaka overcomes Sevastova to reach quarters|
|Chelsea remain behind Sarri – David Luiz|
|McVay explains Gurley´s limited role in Rams´ win over Saints|
|Southgate hails ´tremendous talent´ Rashford|
|Long earns maiden PGA Tour win at Desert Classic|
|Flanagan resigns as Sharks head coach|
|Rams´ Robey-Coleman admits he committed penalty on controversial no-call|
|NFL admits they blew the call – Saints coach Payton|
|Terrible no-call, Goff shines – three takeaways from Rams´ win over Saints|
|Lonzo Ball to miss 4-6 weeks with ankle sprain|
|Patterson added to Australia Test squad|
|Zuerlein´s overtime kick sinks Saints and sends Rams to Super Bowl|
|It was a clear goal – Valverde dismisses Barca VAR controversy|
|Rashford can emulate Man United greats Ronaldo and Rooney – Solskjaer|
|Karmichael Hunt swaps Reds for Waratahs|
|Barcelona forward Dembele set for tests on sprained ankle|
20 de enero 2019
|Neymar insists Barcelona and Real Madrid links not ´concrete´|
|England trio Nowell, Slade and Cowan-Dickie sign fresh Exeter deals|
|Windies coach Pybus not distracted by detractors|
|Barcelona 3 Leganes 1: Messi and Suarez combine to spare Barca´s blushes|
|I´m sure Michael would be extremely proud - Vettel hails Mick Schumacher|
|Young plays down injury fears for England trio Launchbury, Shields and Hughes|
|Pochettino: Lucas Moura fit for Chelsea clash|
|Ranieri positive on Fulham survival chances despite ´unbelievable´ Spurs loss|
|United Arab Emirates v Kyrgyzstan: Zaccheroni confident in attack|
|South Korea lose Ki to hamstring injury|
|It doesn´t look great - Pochettino to wait on Alli assessment|
|Messi benched as Barcelona face Leganes|
|Dalglish texts me before matches - Van Dijk|
|Patrick Mahomes could sign NFL´s first $200m contract - reports|
|Iran 2 Oman 0: Jahanbakhsh and Dejagah secure last-eight spot|
|Helloooo u remember me? Nkoudou reminds Spurs fans he exists|
|Japan v Saudi Arabia: Pizzi believes Saudis can upset the odds|
|Repsol Honda´s Lorenzo to have surgery on fractured wrist|
|Fulham 1 Tottenham 2: Winks heads late winner after Alli injury|
|Leinster seal home quarter-final with win over Wasps|
|Vince, Curran star as Sixers trounce Heat to move second|
|Sharapova stunned by Barty as Kvitova takes Anisimova to school|
|Guardiola demands improvement after Man City win|
|Sexton has bat phone to referees - Jones|
|Alonso accepts Chelsea guilty of ´silly mistakes´ in Arsenal defeat|
|Guardiola woke us up - Sane reveals half-time rocket for Man City|
|A first step to something bigger - Tsitsipas eyeing glory after shocking Federer|
|Thailand 1 China 2: Gao Lin keeps dream alive for Lippi|
|Tsitsipas in dreamland after ousting Federer, birthday boy Tiafoe breaks new ground|
|Huddersfield Town 0 Manchester City 3: Danilo, Sterling and Sane on target for ton-up City|
|Allegri: Khedira will be like a new signing for Juventus|
|Manchester City reach 100 goals in 2018-19|
|Australia v Uzbekistan: Leckie´s return is ´like a new signing´, says Arnold|