'Unique Wenger part of dying breed' - Arsenal efforts will never be repeated, says O'Leary

Arsene Wenger Arsenal
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The Frenchman has spent over 20 years at the helm in north London, with just one more game needing to be taken in to set a new Premier League record

Arsene Wenger is “unique” and part of a “dying breed” of long-serving managers who will never be replicated, says David O’Leary.

The Frenchman arrived in north London back in October 1996 as something of an unknown quantity.

He has gone on to spend over 20 years at the Gunners helm, overseeing three Premier League title wins and seven FA Cup successes.

The 68-year-old is now just one fixture short of setting a new Premier League record as a manager, having already drawn level with Manchester United legend Sir Alex Ferguson, and O’Leary believes his like will never be seen again in English football.

The former Gunners defender told PA Sport: “It’s remarkable, amazing, unbelievable.

“To do 20-plus [seasons] as a manager, it’ll never happen again. At Manchester United, Sir Alex was unique, and it’ll never happen at Arsenal, Arsene’s achievement there is unique.”

Arsene Wenger Alex Ferguson dying breed David O

O’Leary, who won two top-flight titles with Arsenal added: “He’s had a very understanding board you’d want to be working for. They’re not reactionary people, and that’s played a part in him achieving that success.

“I came back with Leeds to Arsenal, and if somebody said, ‘He’ll still be manager of that club’, I’d have said, ‘No chance’. It’s amazing longevity, and at a big club like that.

“I thought playing was hard, but when you’re the manager of a big club, the demands that come with it, you don’t realise it until you manage.

“I don’t think it’ll ever happen again. The likes of Sir Alex and Arsene are a dying breed, and going to be a thing of the past.”

O’Leary’s words have been echoed by another former Arsenal favourite, with Alan Smith also of the opinion that Wenger’s longevity deserves greater recognition in the modern era.

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He said: “Managers are getting sacked after four games in the Premier League, so patience has worn more than thin.

“To retain that work ethic and desire is amazing. Whatever you say about the rights and wrongs of him still being in the job, you can’t take away from that achievement.

“He’s taken more on his shoulders than Sir Alex did. Sir Alex delegated more, spent time overlooking the training ground rather than being down there. A succession of assistants slowly changed training, different voices, different methods. Whereas Arsene, he’s had Pat Rice and [Steve] Bouldy, but he likes to oversee everything: that’s extra pressure.”