Happy 13th anniversary

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LONDON, Oct 1 – Arsene Wenger became the longest-serving manager in Arsenal's history on Thursday but neither that milestone nor the fact that he turns 60 next month have triggered any thoughts of retirement.ARSENE_WENGERWenger, whose arrival at Highbury in the autumn of 1996 was famously greeted with an "Arsene Who?" headline, eclipsed the reign of George Allison in the 1930s and 1940s by spending 4,749 days at the helm.

The Frenchman can look back with pride on 13 years which have transformed the ‘boring, boring Arsenal’ of old into a club synonomous with his own unique brand of pass-and-move football.

Along the way, Wenger has delivered three Premier League titles, including the unbeaten campaign of his 2003/2004 Invincibles, four FA Cups and a place in the 2006 Champions League final.

Success on the pitch financed the move from Highbury to the 60,000-seat Emirates Stadium and last week saw the north London club announce turnover of 313 million pounds for their last financial year, a record for a British football club.

The Frenchman takes pride in those achievements, as he does in the fostering of young talents such as Cesc Fabregas and in the astute transfer market judgement that have helped put the club on such a sound financial footing.

But he readily admits that setbacks such as the defeat by Barcelona in Paris three years ago and lasts season’s Champions League semi-final loss to Manchester United still rankle and provide him with all the motivation he needs to carry on.

"Losing the semi-final of the Champions League to Manchester United last year was the lowest point, because we did not play at our level," he recalled.

Asked if thoughts of retirement had entered his head, Wenger responded with a dismissive snort. "I have never had a day when I think I could live without football," he said.

"I know one day it will happen, but you should not live every day knowing you are going to die – you live knowing that you want to live.

"You will know if you are not hungry enough any more, but other people will tell you if you are not good enough any more."

Wenger is not without his critics among Arsenal fans, many of whom see his apparent reluctance to spend more freely as the reason why the club have not claimed any significant silverware since the 2005 FA Cup.

But none of them will dispute that he has earned the right to have a bronze statue of himself standing outside the Emirates, alongside one of Herbert Chapman, one of his legendary predecessors.

For Wenger himself, the achievement that gives the most satisfaction is the 2003/04 season, when Arsenal went through the entire Premier League campaign unbeaten.

"No matter how much money anybody else has invested, nobody else has done that," he said.

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