In-depth Analysis of why Arsene Wenger deserves our respect

Arsene Knows Best by AidanGooner (long time JustArsenal lurker, occasional commenter)

I’m submitting this because my fellow Arsenal fans are doing my nut in frankly; so I’m trying to drop some knowledge bombs on the masses who appear to have a skewed view from reality. Sarcy, uninformed or crass comments is all I hear or read. There’s all sorts of twisted perceived notions on Wenger. Arsenal ‘fans’ desperately searching for any opportunity to offer critique- outdated tactics, over-loyalty to players, poor team selection, overpaid, should have signed this/that player, no ambition, some other manager is succeeding somewhere- blah, blah, etcetera! Of course, I want to be winning the league every season, but we’re doing alright- and we ARE progressing. It’s a long-term project and people don’t have enough patience.

This is the same Wenger, who has revolutionised English football- a true pioneer. Before he came, everything was comparatively amateur. There was a drinking culture rife in English football prior to Wenger joining. He introduced his “non-visible preparation”- dietary habits and carefully balanced menus influenced by his time spent in Japan; many former players credit Wenger with adding several years to their careers. His training methods were innovative; no more tedious stamina sessions- close control, small sided games- leading to the aesthetically pleasing Arsenal brand of football; quick passing, beautiful goals- dispelling the notion of boring, boring Arsenal. He introduced the idea that “talent matters more than a passport” as his scouting network brought in an array of foreign talent – players like Vieira, Pires, Henry- we’d never seen the likes of, and fielding the first non-British X1.

There was a new emphasis on youth, Wenger said “the boy comes in at 16 or 17 and when they go out they have a supplement of soul, of love for the club, because they have been educated together. The people you meet at college from 16 to 20, often those are the relationships in life that keep going. That, I think, will give us strength that other clubs will not have.” He filled his academy with players from around the world, producing, in just the last 2 seasons – popular first teamers Bellerin, Coquelin, Iwobi and Campbell. This model has since been replicated across English football – a visit to any Premier League academy will reveal a host of foreign talent. He has had great footballing success, none more so than going 49 matches unbeaten and making us the Invincibles- this will never be replicated in our lifetimes! So has this same great man lost the plot? No. A thousand times – NO!

The move to the new stadium was done to compete long-term with the spending capabilities of no longer just ‘brand Liverpool’ & particularly ‘brand Utd’, but the arrival of the new oil-funded mega-money of first Chelsea and then City. Instant success was what the oil money allowed, we weren’t going down that route – and I respect that. Arsene Wenger had Arsenal operating under Financial Fair Play before it was even a twinkle in Michel Platini’s eye. He has always wanted the club to be self-sufficient, to spend only the resources it was able to generate. So the move happened. We sold our world class players. We bought some good ones, who weren’t world beaters. We made a profit on our transfers. Wenger was set the target by the Arsenal board of qualification for the Champions League in 3 out of the next 6 seasons. We stayed in the Champions League anyway.

Some time has passed, the stadium debt was paid off. A common misconception seems to be that we were suddenly able to throw cash about like some kind of Real Madrid or Adrian Broner. We were still going to live within our means, just our means were now more ample. In each of the last 4 summers we’ve now been able to sign a worldclass player: Cazorla then Ozil then Sanchez then Cech. In the last 10 years, for the first 6 years our net spend on transfers was MINUS £48.8 million- having to help fund the stadium, but quite remarkably staying competitive nonetheless. The next/last 4 years with Cazorla, Sanchez, Ozil, Cech arriving- proven world class players (also on world class player wages) coming in- we’ve had a net transfer spend of £119.7 million- so the fruition from the stadium move is very evident to me. However, at the same time- some of the (necessary at the time) mediocrity in our personnel is still present, but exiting season by season- this season it will be Flamini & Arteta, at least- and due to that fact we are playing catch up still.

The gap to Man City, Chelsea, and Manchester Utd through a new found ability to sign proven, more expensive players doesn’t exist anymore. We’ve had recent FA cup success, but it just so happens that this season that just means being the best of a bad bunch in the league, and it still hasn’t resulted in a championship. This season is an anomaly I feel though, in terms of one of the less financially powerful clubs winning the league – we are in a far better position for the stadium move. Leicester have been brilliant and consistent – but in fairness they’ve had no injuries or European competition to stretch a consistent first 11. 8 of their players have started over 30 Prem games, in the other 3 positions – the same player has made 26-29 starts. We’ve had 5 players make over 30 starts; that’s what happens when you’re in Europe playing 2 games a week, you pick up more injuries & have to rotate the squad. Leicester will struggle to match the big boys next season, on an even playing field. Chelsea will have a good year.

I’ve heard people give other examples like Atletico Madrid & Dortmund but that’s not a fair comparison. Dortmund are pretty much fighting one other club for the title- it’s a far less competitive league than the Prem. German footballers are damn good, up there with the best around & Dortmund have a massive following- the largest average home attendances in all of Europe. Many of the amazingly talented young Germans who won the title for Dortmund, were always going to end up either there or Bayern- Hummels, Reus, Gotze, Gundogan, Bender etc. Is it really that big an achievement that they won the league twice in recent memory? You might argue they have underachieved. Athletico- I see them as having a similar philosophy in the transfer market to what Wenger historically has had (particularly pre-stadium move & the additional policy of big signings). For all the hidden gems & youth players with raw potential Wenger & his Arsenal scouts has been able to uncover, Atletico were doing similar things but having to adhere to different rules. In England to sign a Non-EU National you must apply for a work permit & the player must have played 75% of international games over the last 2 years. Atletico being in Spain were not subject to this restriction and many of their best and often bargain signings have been South Americans. Their title win was a very good achievement, but they could do things we could not- it’s a massive handicap for British clubs. Obviously things are getting even tougher with the FA policy about having a certain amount of Home Grown (wonderfully talented, English) players in the squad.

The bigger picture is looking somewhat rosier- with the advances we are making all the time- slowly but surely improving personnel. This, by the way, concided with the two FA Cups in the last two seasons. No one seems to acknowledge the clear change of transfer policy, perhaps due to a frugality last Summer. It’s just kneejerk and short-sighted to dismiss other recent expensive signings by us. I believe the public reason given for not spending heavily last summer was not infact the reality. The latest financial results which Arsenal have announced indicate a loss of £3.4 million after tax- for 6 month period ending 30 Nov 2015. This, we can assume is the result of transfer fees such as Ozil/Sanchez being outlayed- as these transfers are structured in payments over a number of years. We also have several first team squad players coming to their contract ends this summer and it makes sense to hold out an extra year and see which youth team players step up, and where best to improve the squad & invest the added new wages (perhaps give the likes of Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott etc. one more season to step up too). I believe the reason provided of there being no better players available on the market that some fans have scoffed at, was simply meant to serve as a public vote of confidence for the squad- to boost confidence and morale, a smart strategy for the impending new season which just kicking off. We’ll be busy this summer, rest assured.

The stadium move meant a barren few years- the frustration amongst fans is far, far, far higher because of those years, and I don’t believe it should be- they were necessary. It also had a side effect of meaning we were never seriously going to compete for many years. This has required the fans to have patience for the long term vision that most just don’t have. Can anyone name another highly regarded manager who would have even stuck at a top club with no hope of winning the league for at least 7-8 years- and value the project over the impact on your reputation? Let alone think of someone who would manage to pull off keeping us in the Champions League while selling their best players off to rivals? The truth is we have ridden out the worst of it, but are still playing catchup to this day- and we should be very grateful to Arsene Wenger. Give due respect. Be careful what you wish for.



      1. I honestly do not think Wenger has much more to offer us, his best years are behind him but then I want to take solace in the appointment of Henry as assistant coach to the u18s and see that as Wenger’s imminent exit strategy; I mean if we look at the volume of transfer activities in the last couple of seasons in and out of our youth teams and the quality of the signings, it’s been a bit strange, for good example, Chelsea baulked at the size of Donyell Malen’s wages [at 3.6 million pounds over three years] but Arsenal of all clubs, oddly so signed him up. Methinks Wenger is silently grooming Henry, Guardiola style, to take over, perhaps as soon as the beginning of the 2017/2018 season by which time he [Henry] would be used to these players and maybe build the core of his team around them [Beilik, Adelaide, Malen, Willock, Zelalem, Crowley et al] and for me that time cannot come soon enough, but in the meantime I pray he keeps these youngsters as far away as the first team as possible so as not infect them with the 4th place syndrome. All that said, in recognition of the man’s long service to our club, I think we should be patient enough for him to see out his contract at the end of next season.

        1. We definitely seem to have upped our youth recruitment…
          Kelechi Nwakali who we’ve reportedly (ESPN) signed on a 5yr contract with a fee of 2.5million is a pretty huge fee for a 17y.o. (even for the u17 world-cup winner/captain/player of the tournament) ‘”We identified Nwakali as the player of the tournament, basically, and as a top player,” – Wenger

  1. wenger is the respected person in arsenal family even without this writings..thank you for reminding us though his respects at arsenal is fading away because he is annoying the fans who loved and respected him previously. So he has to rest and leave for another person…eg koeman,.pochettino etc

  2. What a load of tosh 🙂
    George Graham won
    2 Premierships in 9 years.
    strike rate 1 in 4.5
    Arsene Wenger won 3
    in 20 years. Strike rate 1 in 6.6
    So Graham was the more successful manager.
    And his players got on the pi#s any old time
    ate fish and chips at half time and smoked like a train 🙂
    So what’s your point?

    1. Are you trying to show your ignorance?

      GG didn’t have a stadium move.
      GG got done for dodgy transfers.
      The 20 years also includes a stadium move, take away the stadium move years and see how well Wenger has done compared to GG.
      Herbert Chapman won 3 titles in 9 years yet he is still considered a great manager, trophies are not everything, only to the stupid.
      The club under Chapman went from bottom half to winning ti title 3 times, only 3 titles though and the guy has been classed as a legend at Arsenal.

      You claiming GG was a more successful manager doesn’t make it so, it just shows your pathetic arrogance, refusing to recognize that Wenger has done good for the club.

      1. In my opinion, Wenger has done well.
        However, he’s started tainting his record.It seems the longer he stays, the more he ruins his record at the club.
        I want to remember Wenger for the good he’s done. I would rather he stepped down and preserve the record.

  3. I respect Wenger very well….In fact, I am a huge fan and i defend him alot….

    Having said that, He needs to step down. He should respect us too and either change his formula or change himself for another manager.

    I hope we wont be crying again this time next season….Wenger says We should judge Him in May…It’s May already. I fear for the worst if Arsenal don’t get things right before the new season.

  4. The man is now too stuck in his stubbornness to continue to enjoy my respect. He no longer deserves it I’m afraid. Sorry!!!

  5. We dont disagree about wenger personal accolades
    But in football one has to live with the changing times and not dwell on the past.
    how long does it take wenger to change?
    how long has our club been stagnant.
    How long will we keep on saying our club is lacking?
    when will we stop being regarded as the weak link with a weak mentality.
    juventus dortmund and atletico are giving everyone a run for their moneyb and it is not long before one of them is regarded as champions of europe.
    What we arsenal fans want is change as we believe it would be for the club best interests

  6. We’ve respected and stood beside this guy for 20 years.
    If he respects us, he should do the honourable thing and step down.

  7. I love and laugh at the closing statement “be careful what you wish for”.. it is one we have heard before and one that shows the degree of comfort some hold in continuity and holding on to what they know. It is fear of change.

    I want a new manager.

     Now let’s hypothesise one hot second: … this new manager comes in and we do not win a PL for another 13 years and year on year he fails to assemble and coach a team capable of  competing in europe also.

    What would have changed exactly? Chances are if Simone or some similar character and coach came in that wouldn’t be the case. I mean the man has led his club to 2 champions league finals in 3 years. Wenger, once in 20 years.

    Let’s as along though and imagine that our new coach is even worse and we find ourselves mid table, perhaps winning an FA cup or two. We may not get the honey pot money for the board, owner, manager and sponsors but we would have still have equalled Arsene’s success in 13 years.‎

    Let’s go to a more even unlikely scenario and imagine we are relegated. Well, perhaps then a true revolution will take place at AFC with Stan and his‎ kronies jumping ship to find a more fruitful investment elsewhere…

    It may bring years of inconsistency but at least we would rise from the ashes to be the ‘football club’ we once we’re before we were shaped into a corporate brand with a board and owner who actually love football and Arsenal.

    1. I am amzed at those that still believe Wenger would allow Arsenal splash the cash on world class coaches like Diego Simeoni. Wenger would play a huge part in who succeeds him. If he did not splash the cash on world class players, chances are he won’t on world class coaches. Expect one unknown name from Swiss league!

      1. Wenger gets £8 million a year, so even if his successor , say simone, got half of that I’m sure‎ he would be more than happy with that and the money and freedom available to him to try to create his own WINNING team.

        I know I would like the chance for one ;)‎

  8. The current state of affairs just proves that the true fans who support Arsenal football club have lost. The exact phrase everyone is looking for is DIVIDE AND CONQUER. With fans at each others throats, the AKB’s one side and the AOB’s on the other, Kroenke is laughing all the way to the bank.
    We can scream and shout all we want but nothing will change unless the manager and Chief exec stop making money for the owner and that is not going to happen any time soon.

  9. Ok, why does he not play Campbell who has been one of our few top performers every time he plays?
    Why is the team in general always the second hungriest for a win in almost every game?
    Why do our midfielders and wing backs consistently attack to the point of suicide leaving us completely vulnerable to counterattacks which predictably succeed?
    How can it be that we still don’t have an adequate striker (much less a world beater)?
    Wenger has done great things,miracles even, for our club, but is no longer competent. Sadly, Wenger out.

  10. this is one great article 😀 i absolutely agree with you, but i dont mind it when some fans want a different manager as long as they respect wenger cause we have to admit that this season could be seen as a failure and the football we played wasnt really great too, so i support wenger fully but i understand the guys who want a change but some wobs dont understand that one can ask for a change without disrespecting and making somebody out to be stupid

    1. What a shame that some people can still believe an old dog could be in class for new lesson. Wenger is disrespecting himself. When Sameer Nasri claimed that Wenger is too soft to his players, he simply meant that while others are giving all for the club in the pitch, Wenger is mixing them with the bunch of trotters who are enjoying running for funn.

      In short, what Arsenal is lacking as a team is a MANAGER. Someone to do what Wenger has failed to do for 12 years. Now that our rivals have equipped themselves with chemical weapons, let us sleep in illusions over Wenger’s past forgetting he had Vieira doing scolding for him.

  11. I don’t think any Arsenal fan is blind to Wenger’s achievements but neither should the be blind to his failings. By any standards the past few years have been disappointing, not just league position but also style of play. Evey dog has his day and I think Arsene should ride off into the sunset as a hero and not wait until the crown is really tarnished.

    1. @bridgers69
      Not being blind to either his failings or achievements, puts him on level ground. It doesn’t invite total disrespect or degradation. Nor will any further failings tarnish his crown…Wanting him out is one thing. Taking cheap juvenile shots at him 24/7 on here, doesn’t move him any closer to the door.
      Time for many here to put on their grown up pants and “accept the things they cannot change”

      1. @NY Gunner
        I appreciate what your saying about the “things that we cant change” but forums like this are for blowing ooff steam and getting things off your chest about the subjects that are arsenal related that eiether please or offend people, It clear that Wengers best days are well behind him now and in my own humble opinion it would have been less tragic for him to move up or elsewhere on a high rather than let what he has acheived fall to dust.
        I agree about not taking the cheap shots at him, BUT he DOES TELL LIES he does make absolute balls ups of things and he point blank refuses to spend money where its needed, and thats why he gets the cheap shots. He’s NOT god he’s NOT infallable, fine we are all only human but to deny there are better players out there than the ones he has is 1)arrogant and 2)a plain lie
        To justify the teams failing using the same old rhetoric year in year out while attempting to justify why improvements were not made (by stying in budget and spending the touted “war chest money”) is again pure arrogance, (I would say stupidity but AW is far from stupid) and then to blame this seasons failure on the fans attitude is just blatantly direspecting people who in a large part pay part of his wages.
        Regardless of the realities of what he has acheived with us there is a flip side to that coin and thats why people come onto sites like this to air thier views right or wrong.
        so while you off smugly walking down “self righteousness boulevard” you may want to purchase a pair of those “grown up pants” you were speaking of Noone rewards failure yet Wenger has failed the fans, perhaps though not the board who dont care about silver ware only money and specifically the money in thier already very fat accounts.

        1. Hmmm, but at times blowing off steam gets out of hand so much that it spills over to the wrong places. I didn’t like the effect the protest had on the players for e.g against Norwich, the atmosphere was quite foul, never mind our players having fragile sensitivities [thanks again to our temperamental Monsieur Arsene], that kind of atmosphere will poison virtually any set of players and that is really not doing us any good as a club. We are not babies, we need to understand and work with prevailing realities, THE BOARD WILL NOT SACK WENGER EVEN IF WE PROTESTED FROM TODAY TILL KINGDOM COME, it’s quite that simple, afterall we are fans and not the legal owners of the club, if anyone carries their protest over the top, they’ll involve the cops, trust me, we’ve all seen those tendencies then we destroy the very thing we are trying to protect.

      2. I didn’t think my contribution was a cheap juvenile shot! I was just trying to add some balance. Obviously it must have got lost in translation!!
        As for “grown up pants” I wouldn’t know what on earth you are talking about.

  12. to put another knowledge bomb on the author, Simeone in the last 3 years replaced Costa, Falcao, Adra, Courtosis, won a la liga, reached two champions league final and this year have beaten both barca and bayern over two legs which ‘respected’ wenger could not do in years

  13. Wenger too needs to respect the FACT that arsenal as a club has stagnated under his watch. No other manager has served one team for as long as he has and achieved so little. Football is for the fans and if they are not happy then its purpose is not served

  14. very thoughtful article. i completely agree with these points, you have to be realistic, mainly:

    -frustration has been escalated by the stadium demands and a period of rebuilding- this was evident

    -Wenger may not have won the league in a long time, but we have never embarrassingly placed out of the champions league unlike all of our rivals

    -we are not an oil club

    -you simply cannot compare the EPL to other leagues so stop doing it

    -first it was “no trophies” now its “no league!” 2 FA cups , though not the league, is something to be proud of and not forgotten right away

    -We are almost done playing catch up!! IF ozil and sanchez stay we will be adding serious class this summer

    -fans are destroying the team by their awful morale, giving players a reason to want to be in a better environment. why would sanchez want to play for whiners?

    **one thing not touched on in the article is that fans should direct their anger towards STAN, not arsene! arsene loves arsenal**

    1. @SarsfieldNY
      yet none of the oil clubs won the PL this season did they ?so your argument is null and void
      we should have improved on what we had last year and AW DID not do this.
      it was as plain as the nose on most peoples faces that specifically Walcott and Giroud are NOT GOOD ENOUGH to win the epl or the cl and yet Wenger stubbornly refused to buy in replacements and he GAVE theo a wage increase ffs
      NOT suggesting we spend more than we can afford but to spend a fraction of it was totally unbelievable and more arrogant that I thought it was possible to be.
      The same excess of 75 million is already being touted about again and yet with the 70 million we DID NOT SPEND LAST YEAR shou;ld that be 120 million?????? and so it rolls yera after year and will do so again this year.
      Whith EVERYBODY else looking to buld and be able to competet at the highest level, Arsenal missing CL and becoming mid level mediocrity is a very real possibility but should we all jsut harken back to days of yesteryear and chant wengers name for what he achieved twenty years ago rather than ten???? stupid stupid attitude many of my fellow gooners have we have been conditioned to NOT expect anything from the club and to accept it as ok even though we are charged the most expensive season ticket prices in europe. Where the f@ck is that down as being acceptable??

      1. Plus Wenger is Stans Representative so where does the buck stop? two FA cups that were more or less downn to luck half the time, the team cannot be consistant throughout a whole season and thats down to the manager !!!

  15. No doubt Wenger has done wonders for this club, we all agree. But it’s going forward from here on that makes me question his ability to lead the club to glory. There are glaring issues Wenger fails to address season after season. For example he has persisted with a totem poll Giroud up front for 4 seasons and the guy hasn’t come close to scoring the amount of goals we need to challenge for top honors. The players around him are not the issue as we have seen a player like Ozil topping charts with creativity and chances created etc. Good enough as a third choice striker, maybe second, but that’s about it. Then we have Walcott who is not nearly worth what he is paid. I also had high hopes for him, but one good game in six just isn’t good enough. At 27 years of age, he should be ripping defenses apart and contributing a lot more. Then we have a player like Ramsey…in his last four seasons, he had one really good one, but last season and this one he was very mediocre and to me there are simply better midfielders out there. He should be a fringe player. Then there is Wilshere, Chamberlain the list goes on. Flamini and Arteta have been kept around far too long and often Flamini has cost us dearly with his rash decision making (tackles and being caught out of position). These two should have been sold/let go two seasons ago.

    It is this undying faith and relentless molly coddling of these players, when it is clear for all to see they are just not good enough, is why we question his capability as a manager going forward. For the last four seasons, Wenger has the funds to strengthen the squad considerably, but he only managed to bring in three world class players, not nearly enough to compete for top honors. Here we have players like Arteta, Flamini and in the past countless others chewing up the wage bill with little to contribute towards the progress of the club. Why not just get rid of those players like I mentioned above and bring in at least another two to three top players who will not only contribute a lot more but actually give us a decent chance in winning the league/CL?

    It is also a misconception that the stadium is paid off in full. Arsenal have annual debt repayments until the year 2027 only by then will we be debt free. That being said, the recent Puma and Emirates deals, not to mention other rights have made those repayments a non issue with plenty in the kitty for player tranfers – something which I believe Arsene has not made full use of, either because of a stingy board or as I mentioned above he thinks he can win the CL with Giroud and Walcott.

    Ultimately it still points to the same conclusion. He did wonders in the past, won trophies with the instrumental assistance of Dein, guided Arsenal through a tough financial period…but four season have passed where we have had finances to bring in the best but yet all we have witnessed are two F.A cups and the same old predictable Arsenal caving in and scraping for a fourth place league finish and a CL cameo appearance. It was good enough a few seasons ago, but not anymore I’m afraid.

    1. You have just about hit the nail on the head Big gun, what is it about our club that seems to nurture the drone style attitude to winning things? I really find it mind boggling that anyone would go to all the effort to pen an article like this, YES WE ALL KNOW what Wenger has done for the club, equally we are also staring into the abyss of what he HASN’T done for the club more recently.
      It may NOT be Wengers fault it may be all down to the board but if thats the cae AW should fall on his sword and tell the truth after resigning.
      Treating the fans as if they were thick rabble and idiotic scum by rolling out the same old drivel year after year and then blaming the fans reaction as the reason why the team has done so poorly is not only disrespectful but insane.

    1. @Vlad
      load of drivel you speak
      yet ANOTHER AKB article with bugger all to refresh the story. We all know what Wenger has done for the club what needs addressing is what he HASN’T done over the last four years

  16. According to Gazidis. .. Wenger has had £250 million to spend on transfers and his had that money for the past 4 season’s! … So how much does Wenger care about You?

  17. Article makes a lot of valid points, the stadium move could have been a disaster, we could have gone bankrupt with the stadium being sold to highest bidder. It was wenger who kept us competetive in top four whilst best players were being sold and kept us solvent. He deserves a lot of respect.

    The problem I have with Wenger is that this season manc, manu and chelsea have been poor. We are still in a fight for 3/4 place with manc and manu. We have had numerous opportunities to get ahead but have bottled them. This season we could and should have won the PL. This Arsenal team has consistently been shown to be bottlers. I feel that this is down to the manager, be it team selection, preparation, tactics, motivation or anything else.

    I think Wenger should resign.

  18. With respect to the article writer, following the Wenger way is somewhat deluded and narrow minded.

    All the pundits cannot be wrong…even Thierry Henry is itching to criticise AW, but because he is such a nice guy he can’t go out on a limb and do it.

    ALL the ex players can see where he is going wrong – transfer policy, rotation, team selection, ability to change a game, loyalty to certain players (Giroud, Ramsey, Walcott etc..).

    I’m sorry, but Arsene Wenger, great manager as he was, is no longer that man. He is out of date. YES, he is still a very good manager compared to others, but for the great Arsenal, he has lost his way and we deserve a more up to date manager who can take us forward and upward, because to be bluntly honest we are stagnating under Wenger – no disrespect intended.

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