Arsene Wenger said before and after the game that his experience at Sutton was nothing new to him.
Speaking to the BBC before the game, the boss reminded people that he grew up around clubs smaller than Sutton, so this was nothing surprising to him. Speaking after the match, he elaborated a little bit further.
“I come from a club that is smaller than that so it reminds me of my childhood,” he told reporters. “The changing rooms for me were fantastic – the closer you are, the more united you are when you go out there. When you are too far from each other in the dressing room with everybody having a chair, it is not so good. I prefer that – much more together.”
Wenger grew up in Strasbourg, the child of publicans who used to entertain the local football team. His first club was FC Duttlenheim, a club so small the internet knows hardly anything about them.
Following six years there, Wenger moved to Mutzig where his senior playing career would get underway after being signed by Max Hild. Still around, they currently play in the Ligue du Grand Est de Football (Grand East football league). Four years there and Wenger was off again, this time to Mulhouse where he would find more success. Two years there, and 54 appearances, saw him move to ASPV Strasbourg for three years. Finally, he signed for RC Strasbourg, a club he would spend another three years at before finishing playing in 1981.
Wenger was also full of praise for Sutton after the game, and rightly so. “Yes [we got the job done], against a side that was astonishing. It is basically division five and they are 17th out of 24. I will never go down there [to manage] because it is too difficult!
“Yes [they surprised me], by the speed of their game, the fact they never stopped going until the end and compared to 20 years ago these teams are fit now and can play at the pace of the Premier League. Maybe [in the past] they collapsed in the last 20 minutes, that [era] is finished.
“They kept going and we were never really in a position where we could really afford to have a little breather in the game. We had to keep our focus, and I must give credit to my players who were professional and kept their focus, if we had come here in a relaxed mood we would have gone out tonight because Sutton produced quality.”