Wenger is Arsenal’s Kryptonite by AD
Wenger seems like a person of conviction, principles, honesty, discipline and obsession more than anything else. He seems to belong to the kind that are great as troubleshooters and turnaround artists. Unfortunately for all their wonderful gifts, such people are horrible at taking organization on to the higher plane beyond the precipice. For the very qualities that make them indispensible at the time of crisis prevents them from gaining a higher ground. There is a reason that wartime generals are horrible in peace time, their very nature makes them unsuitable for the tranquility of peace.
For taking any organization to a higher pedestal requires the kind of qualities you do not want from the head of organization during crisis. It needs imagination, inspiration, motivation, pragmatism, and above all man management. It is not that crisis does not require man management, but the man management when driving for growth needs higher degree of ruthlessness, objectivity and team building skills. It might seem an antithesis but the crisis instills urgency, motivation and disparity into personnel as it is, the man management at that time needs adroit handling of overflowing emotions and mere directing into right direction through discipline and conviction from the top down. After all, if crisis cannot motivate people nothing can.
Watching Mr. Wenger these past couple of years, and learning about his history has cemented my belief that unfortunately he is not the person to take Arsenal into a higher trajectory as a football club. If you look at his history, he has always been called into clubs that needed his troubleshooting skills. He started with FC Nancy where he honed his no money managerial skills and had at best a patchy record as a manager. Thereafter Mr. Wenger got his big break with FC Monaco, that was going through barren spell of its own. He took them to success through a spell of bribery and match fixing era in French football that saw Marseille banished to ligue 2 for a period for two years. Then it was on to Nagoya Grampus – a sort of R & R job posting to escape the rigours of Ligue 1 turmoil.
In the meanwhile Arsenal was experiencing its own period of turmoil with George Graham sacked for accepting kickbacks to sign particular players, Rioch’s sacking before the end of the season, and Arsenal being labeled cup specific team in the newly formed premier league with no kind of success league–wise. Mr. Wenger came in with new ideas, discipline, conviction and obsession to the kind of purist attacking attractive football that immediately catches eyeballs, and modern sports science. He brought in players that were ready to abide by his way of football. This was in a world of football where players still smoked and guzzled beers on the way back from the games. Success followed. Then came the period of alleged financial austerity following move from Highbury to a newly built modern stadium. A difficult period navigated successfully.
Now, we are in a period of consolidation. Gains made through difficult periods need to be utilized, consolidated and grown. It needs imagination and inspiration along with amalgamated risk taking. However, it needs a practical/pragmatic approach so that gains made thus far are not lost. Which means cutting down and downsizing non – performing assets that have outgrown their utility to be replaced with newer, more efficient and high performance assets. It is important to realize that during crisis you need assets that are financially optimal above everything else. During growth you need assets that are high performance and efficient above everything else. Financial sense is there but greater financial clout means it has climbed down few pegs amongst priorities.
Also, during periods of growth deadweights cannot be tolerated. They are like spanners in the work. They can derail all the efforts. Particularly amongst human resources a dead weight allows others to perform sub optimally without fear of any reprisal or replacement. At this time you need a manager that can not only inspire and motivate you, but can also assess you objectively and cut off dead weight ruthlessly. While at the time of crisis downsizing has nothing to do with quality assessment, at the time sole consideration is financial. It needs a different kind of assessment. To be able to cut flab and yet inspire people around to perform optimally needs more than just discipline and principles. It needs imagination, motivation and inspiration.
And yes, though Mr. Wenger seems to believe in attaching football. Any football without discipline is a waste. It might be watchable occasionally but like heroism of kamikaze pilots it wears off very quickly. At the highest level of any sport all heart and no head gets your butts kicked black – and – blue. Our boys know all about such ***kickings. Every coach has its own way as seen by me. Any connoisseur (batcr** crazy about it) can see different approach of coaches amongst top teams.
Guardiola inspires – his imagination to take football into unchartered territory is terrifying and inspirational. Yes, when he fails it is spectacular. But when he succeeds it is equally so. His brand of management needs high performance assets. He will not succeed at Arsenal until management really, really loosens its purse strings. Guardiola will need clubs overflowing with footballing talents to succeed. He is an F1 driver, whose skills will only shine high performance machinery but are wasted in a Volvo. He always works on high-risk footballing paradigm. Succeeds through audacity that surprises opponents, particularly in view of his imaginative approach. His teams win by operating at the highest level that has ‘minimal mistake margin’ longer than opponent, the moment opponent slips Guardiola’s teams win. Other coaches in this mold (to a greater or lesser extent) are Martinez, Wenger, Unai Emery.
(I hate what I am about to say, as I personally loathe him) Mourinho motivates – he sincerely believes that greatest motivator is fear. His MO is clear. Go to a club, make an example that instills fear of failure in every player. And when his assets are ready to be molded according to his needs, he builds up his assets. His teams attack together, work together in midfield and most importantly defend together. He is a manager who will succeed anywhere. Contrary to popular belief Mourinho spends what he has and on what he needs. Everyone likes spares. He will not compromise on necessities – however, he is not a collector. He has a highly result-oriented style, based on unnerving the opponents through collective no–holds-barred approach of his team. His teams are rarely imaginative but always effective. But he will not succeed at Arsenal, his DNA is too different. Will need probably two – three years to clear out the present players none of whom (except Ozil) shall be found to be his type, and by that time his nomadic nature would take him elsewhere. Other managers comparable to him are Sir Alex Ferguson, Simeone and Van Gaal.
Ancelotti inspires – he has a very simple vision of direct, balanced and uncomplicated football. Amongst the present Tier 1 coaches, he is the best at getting the most out of his teams. Ironically he has ended up with one team that is overflowing in almost all departments with insane footballing talent. His teams play direct football. When you have the ball – attack directly; when you don’t – defend directly. His teams are wholly different from those of Guardiola, and closer to those of Mourinho. Except against Bayern and Barcelona I have never seen Ancelotti’s team defend as a whole. He is old school in this aspect. His defenders defend, midfield sets the game up and the attackers finish it. Simple. He is the best fitted for Arsenal. Others like him are Juergen Klopp, Manuel Pellegrini, Nuno Santo and Brendan Rodgers.
Wenger plays the kind of football that needs players to operate at highest level where there is highest probability to commit a mistake, but at same time they are to do so while making least mistakes i.e. impose their game onto the opponent forcing the opponent to make mistakes. Unfortunately, such performance needs high performance and high efficiency players. Growing players into such system will cause a high degree of inconsistency, because every player cannot grow into this kind of system and development causes a lot of wear & tear within the squad. It needs the kind of manager that can inspire and motivate them to perform, and cast aside those who cannot. And you need to tick all the squares to get result. You cannot win in this system a with makeshift defense or midfield.
It seems Mr. Wenger is incapable of cutting players that though ‘good’ are not ‘good enough’. Those that, though capable of having few great games, cannot perform consistently over a long periods of time. Our manager seems to like to buy players that are multifunctional rather than a set position in the team which can dilute their talents when played out of position.
So which manager would you like at Arsenal?