Meet the "Guy" who wipes the floor with Fergie and Wenger's managerial longevity

Team 33's Raf Diallo looks at the career of Guy Roux on The World Is A Ball

Guy Roux, Auxerre

Guy Roux Picture by: Adam Davy / EMPICS Sport

As Barcelona prepare to welcome Arsenal for a Champions League second leg tie, Barca boss Luis Enrique has been sharing his thoughts on the topic of managerial longevity.

For him, the days of a manager staying in charge of a team for decades is a thing of the past and recommends very short-term contracts to exist between coaches and clubs.

Of course, those questions arose as opposite number Arsene Wenger approaches 20 years at the helm of Arsenal, a period of much success that according to some is sadly petering out.

Yet when it comes to longevity as manager at one club, neither Wenger nor Alex Ferguson have got anything on Guy Roux.

The 77-year-old has been out of management - by choice - for about a decade, but his name is intertwined with one French club.

AJ Auxerre is a 111-year-old club from a Burgundy town of about 40,000 people, which now finds itself in Ligue 2. But it remained a hugely prominent club for decades due to Roux.

After spending his entire decade-long playing career with Auxerre in the 1950s, Roux stepped up to take on the managerial reins in 1961, when they were still in the third tier Championnat National.

Guy Roux, AJ Auxerre manager, celebrates the cup victory over Montpellier with some of his team and a fan. Picture by: Paul Marriott / EMPICS Sport

It wasn't an instant revolution as it took until the 1974-75 before Auxerre even played in the second tier Ligue 2.

But from there on in, Roux guided them to unprecedented success for the next three decades. In 1979, Roux took Auxerre to victory in the French Cup final and in 1980 they made the big step up to the top division Ligue 1.

Wenger who was a player at SC Strasbourg between 1978 and 1981 was no doubt well aware of Auxerre and Roux's successes as his own club won promotion to the top flight in the late-70s.

But even more so, an even younger Wenger first met Roux as a 20-year-old in 1969 and they retain a strong mutual admiration.

As Wenger made the transition from a modest playing career to coaching in the 1980s, Roux established Auxerre in the top flight and also shared another trait with the future Arsenal manager, namely developing raw talent into future stars.

Among the players who came through the academy and into the first team during his tenure were Manchester United legend Eric Cantona, Marseille European Cup winner Basile Boli, ex-Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse, current AC Milan centre-back Philippe Mexes and two former Arsenal players in Bacary Sagna and Abou Diaby.

Picture by: Paul Marriott / EMPICS Sport

From promotion to Ligue 1 in 1980 all the way to the mid-90s, Roux kept Auxerre in the top division with some notable high points like a third-placed finishes in 1984, 1991 and 1994 and fourth-place campaigns in 1985, 1987, 1992 and 1995.

They also won the French Cup in 1994 and 1996, to which they would later add two more in the 2000s.

But 1995-96 was the year that would etch him into the history books. That final season before Wenger pitched up at Arsenal, saw tiny Auxerre win the French league title for the first time in their history as part of a historic league and cup double.

The squad featured some well-known names like Laurent Blanc, Taribo West, Stephan Guivarc'h and Franck Silvestre, but it was still a remarkable achievement as Champions League qualification was also sealed in one fell swoop.

Relative success followed in Europe during 1996-97 as they topped their Champions League group, before falling to eventual champions Borussia Dortmund in the quarter-finals.

Roux who was into his fourth decade in charge remained at the helm until the 2000-01 season when he had to step aside to undergo heart bypass surgery.

But he was back for another four years and two Coupe de France wins, until 2005 when he felt that 44 years in charge really was enough.

And he also beat Wenger's Arsenal 2-1 at Highbury in the 2002-03 Champions League group stage, even if the Gunners did eventually top the group.

Auxerre's manager Guy Roux (front) watches as his team beat Arsenal in the 2002 Champions League as their manager Arsene Wenger (back) looks on frustrated Picture by: Jed Leicester / EMPICS Sport

In almost Wengerian phrasing in the final line, he commented: "I've decided to stop. I've been thinking about it for a few weeks now and over the past few years I've been looking for the right moment to call it a day. All the lights are green, the team has had a good season and the finances are stable."

As Wenger turned 60 seven years ago, Roux had a vision of his compatriot's future at Arsenal, telling BBC Sport that as he reached his final years in charge, he himself became "a bit less vocal but I worked more with my head and Arsene will be the same."

He also added that: "You also gain more respect from the players as you get older. When I was young they looked at me as a brother, after that as a big brother, then as a father and finally as a grandfather.

"Arsene will go on as long as his body allows him. After 68 I found it became hard to keep motivating myself but everyone is different."

Auxerre have since gone downhill and endured relegation since Roux retired, and that is the challenge Manchester United are currently grappling with post-Ferguson and Arsenal will have to whenever an under-pressure Wenger feels it is really time to say au revoir.  

You can read more from Raf's The World Is A Ball series every Wednesday on Newstalk.com. To find past articles, head to the Team 33 show page.

This week's Team 33, meanwhile features the creator of Arsenal's mascot Gunnersaurus who also shares his view on Wenger, while Raf also chats to Damien Duff: