The Question of Monsieur Wenger By D.E. Nwatarali
They win because the players know what their manager wants them to do on the field. Our manager just tells our players, go out and enjoy your game, that’s the difference.
This quote sums up the difference between many modern managers and Wenger’s approach to important games. Today I watched a Chelsea side, whom were focused, motivated and intent on proving a point against their title rivals, not play to their best and still win a high-tension game comfortably. Although I have my reservations about Chelsea’s football style, and I believe Mourinho will never have the class, the patience and the mental fortitude to build a club from the stadium, to the training facilities to the philosophy of the club, his managerial tactical nous was the foundation for that victory.
Mourinho’s players look frighteningly confident when they step on the football pitch. They are assured that even if they don’t play to their best, the manager has prepared them to not lose the game. This approach to big games and the three characteristics aforementioned (focus, motivation, ruthless intent) is something that every Arsenal fan envies when we watch our title contenders. In contrast, Arsenal players step onto a football pitch looking to dominate their opponents with superior technical skills and nothing more to back that. When it goes slightly wrong, panic and insecurity sets in, more than often, against the big teams, soon follows mental collapse. There has to be a plan of action for every game, from the first whistle how do we play or press? If we go a goal down how do we reorganize, and what style do we then adopt? There has to be a more focused style of approaching games instead of merely looking at the eye-catching talent and skills on display at our football club. What are players’ strengths and how do we get the best out of them both tactically in regards to the team and individually? Most importantly, how will the opponents try to nullify our threats and how do we counteract that?
Arsenal Football club has fully benefitted from Wenger’s time at the club: new stadium, outstanding business philosophy, well run academy, etc. That being said, as football fans, the only palatable rewards we get from supporting our respective football clubs, is the results of our team in the weekend: that’s what you talk about all week at work, between family and friends, that’s what you remember years from now, that’s what gives you confidence and pride in your football club, RESULTS. That is where Wenger has failed the fans in recent years.
Wenger undoubtedly has the desire to win trophies however there is no clear strategy to turn that desire, those dreams and ambitions he has for Arsenal Football club, into realities or results. Why could this be? We read many theories about Wenger: he isn’t firm enough with his players, he doesn’t have ambition in the transfer window, he is stubborn and a dictator. It’s mind-boggling that a manager receives so much criticism after all his experience in the game and his accomplishments unrivalled by many.
If I were to be asked, I would put it on one thing; Wenger just isn’t the man to push the philosophy which he instilled into the club decades ago, into the new age of football. I would compare it to a music producer, producing the greatest studio rock album of all time, without touching an instrument and merely bringing together a group of individuals who can make that album. Let me put this in context: Sir Alex Ferguson was a manager also from Wenger’s era of football. The difference between how Sir Ferguson adapted to the changes in modern football lies not only in the players he acquired or developed but also the backroom staff. Sir Ferguson had 7 different assistant managers during his reign at Manchester United. Each coinciding with the rebuilding of a new team of players and as such was able to continually adapt to the changes in football through help of fresh ideas from younger assistants who understood the modern game as it was being played during that time period.
This is something that has not happened at Arsenal Football Club. Whether this is due to Wenger’s stubbornness, arrogance or loyalty, is up to debate. Wenger has been attempting to, at his own pace, adapt his extensive knowledge into practice on the football pitch and while he is ahead of the majority of the league, as is evident that we finish above 16-17 clubs every season, he is not yet at the level to compete with the other managers who are able to draw on new ideas from their coaching staff, or their travelling experiences through coaching for other clubs in other leagues. What we have is a visionary manager who can see the big picture and collect all the right paints and paintbrushes, but isn’t necessarily the best artist to paint the portrait. With his re-signing of a three-year deal at the end of last season, I do sincerely see us having at least one more trophy success before his contract is over, after which I believe, and I hope he agrees, he will step down and allow new faces, new ideas to reinvigorate the wonderful club and philosophy he has built.
What do the Gooners worldwide think?