I’ve got a question for you:
As an intelligent human being, if you did a job for 20-30 years, do you think you would you be better or worse at your job at the end of that period?
I’m guessing you said “better” and unless you worked as a downhill skier or as a power lifter you really ought to be improving because you’d have used your intelligence and experience and learned from your mistakes.
So this next thing might sound controversial: Arsene Wenger is actually a BETTER manager now than when he took over Arsenal in 1996.
I know I’m courting the wrath of Piers Moron and his “Wenger Out” disciples but I’m deadly serious when I say that. They’ll rage “Better? – How can he possibly be BETTER??” The question they’ll probably want answering is “So why don’t Arsenal win as much as they used to?”
Well there’s a few good reasons but the simplest answer is that there is more competition now than there used to be. There’s more money and tougher competition. Realistically you’re not supposed to be able to compete with Chelsea and Man Utd, teams who spend hundreds of millions on players (or Real Madrid or PSG for that matter).
First though – if you are one of these Wenger Out merchants, just consider this. Last season Arsenal tried (and failed) to buy Luis Suarez before sprinting ahead in the title race, only to get caught and fade in the New Year. Seeing how badly Liverpool have done without Suarez it is fair to say Chewy would have vastly improved Arsenal and we might well have won the title.
Suarez did want to leave at that time, Wenger did try to buy him and he made a sufficiently large enough bid to trigger talks. That’s what a good manager ought to have done. John Henry has since admitted that Liverpool were indeed obliged to enter talks under his contract terms but they just chanced their arm anyway because contracts don’t mean anything in England.
So ask yourself would you still be chanting “Wenger Out” if we’d done the double last year and if we still had Luis Suarez leading the line? Wenger was doing the right thing, acting like a top manager and he nearly did get his man.
There are some other reasons Arsenal haven’t won as many trophies as they used to. I’m deliberately not saying “not as successful as they used to be” because Arsenal are still a very successful club, as 17 successive Champions Leagues and 15 knockout stages in a row demonstrates.
Remember that prior to the arrivals of Sanchez (£35m) and Ozil (£42m) Wenger achieved all of that at a net cost of £9m, allowing our lovely new stadium to be built. So tell me Piers Moron and all the others who say he has underachieved – what is the going rate for a manager who spends no money? Speedy relegation, that’s what. In one season, two max.
Getting out the Champions League group stages isn’t as easy as you’d think. Pellegrini’s mob just scraped throgh last night by the skin of their teeth and he’s got all the money in the world at his disposal. Brenton Rodgers failed in a straightforward looking group and of course Moyes came unstuck as well. IT IS NOT EASY! Even the mighty Arsene Wenger failed in his first two CL group attempts, but not the 15 since. He’d have learned about the problems travelling and playing twice in a week, the recovery periods, how and when to rest players. This wealth of knowledge that he accumulates is why he is better now than he was in 1996. It is not a formality – Wenger just makes it look like it is. All these Gooners with their silly banners should recognise this.
Would you really just hand all that over to some Johnny come lately like Tim Sherwood just because we lose a few games?
Wenger was one of the early pioneers who used statistics to measure fitness and effectiveness during games. He was doing it before OPTA was even thought of. Now everyone is using them. So other managers improved – by using his methods to gain ground on him. This doesn’t mean he’s got worse, it’s just the gap has closed. Going back to the question up top – I maintain it’s virtually impossible for an intelligent human to get worse at his job over 20-30 years.
Also when he arrived in 1996, Wenger seemed to have unique access to the French transfer market. He doesn’t any more. This is not his fault and this does not diminish his qualities. What is does diminish is the advantage he had over the competition. Again – not to say he is a worse manager now – it just means things have evened up a bit.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not some sentimentalist who thinks we owe Wenger a job for a life and a pension. A little gratitude yes, employment in perpetuity? No. If there was someone who was guaranteed to do better I would happily say “Au Revoir”.
But the key word is “guaranteed”. Not just someone who you possibly think might do better, or whoever happens to be hot right now (seems they’ve gone off Jurgen Klopp since Dortmund went bottom of the German league). I mean someone who is guaranteed to better. As far as I’m concerned there’s only one person in that category and I don’t want that mentally ill narcissist within a million miles of the club.
It’s funny when you listen to the “Wenger Out” merchants. On the subject of who should come in they usually fall into two camps.
Type A moron just says “whoever is hot right now”
Type B moron doesn’t even know!
The only time the nuclear option of “anyone but him” is valid is when the manager has completely lost the dressing room and the players refuse to play for him, or if he has been exposed as a paedophile, or if his name is Steve Kean.
So many sackings in football are purely speculative. The board can virtually never be certain that the incoming manager will be better than the one they’ve released. And often they haven’t even lined anyone up to replace the outgoing manager. Madness! Football is the last billion dollar industry run by idiots.
“Get Guardiola”” in they say.
Guardiola! Guardiola has only managed Barcelona and Bayern Munich. He’s barely been tested but in 2011-12 he took Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Alves, Pique, Puyol et al and LOST the Spanish league by 10 points and quit his job. Yeah, well played Pep.
If we’re not careful people will start clamouring for Ronald Koeman after his massive 15 game sample of “success” in the Premier League. Or Big Sam :)
I don’t care how young these contenders are or how “hungry” they claim to be. Least of all I don’t give a toss how well they handle themselves in job interviews or in front of the media. There’s two criteria as far as I’m concerned.
1 – can they get the best out of the players at their disposal?
2 – are they any good in the transfer market?
And that is it basically. Tactics come a distant third behind those two.
I want Wenger to stay because I believe he’s the best man for the job, and I do include Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola in that statement. The odds of Guardiola getting the squads that Wenger got through the last 15 CL group stages, are touching zero. (I do believe Diego Simeone is already a great manager though – that man is pure winner).
I mentioned tactics there and this is a well known problem with Arsenal teams. Wenger’s weaknesses are well chronicled and to be fair many of these criticisms are valid. Let’s have a look at a few of them.
There’s his penchant for skilful midfielders with no defensive sense. In fact, he doesn’t seem to pay much attention to defending generally. Witness the tactical mess at Swansea this season – 7 players bombing on and the wrong side of the ball while 1-0 up at Swansea in the 75th minute – and Arsenal, the away side get counter attacked. 1-0 up. After 75 minutes! Yes, it’s appalling. It definitely would not happen under Mourinho because he’d simply drop players.
And a perennial weird one: the way Arsene doesn’t seem to care that we come 2nd in the group stage every year even though it means we’ll draw a big gun and get knocked out immediately. Still, that’s not the most terrible sin because it means we’re still qualifying.
He does moan a bit, I can’t deny.
But that is to do him zero credit for all the good things he does. And there must be some good things – look at his record! Yet all you ever hear about Wenger is about how useless he is and how he might get sacked. You’ve got to have some balance.
Ungrateful Gooners should be careful what they wish for. If Arsenal fired Wenger they could end up like Tottenham very quickly. Virtually every other club in the country fires their managers too soon and none of them have any success apart from Chelsea.
Just remember that if you think Wenger should be fired you share the same opinion as Piers Morgan. This means that you actually share 92% of the same DNA as that chubby faced bell end. And as the great Doctor Fox – currently assisting police with their enquiries – once said: “now that is scientific fact. There’s no real evidence for it, but it is scientific fact.”