Merci Arsène: An Upstanding Man and Manager – Results aren’t everything

Results aren’t everything. Let’s also remember Arsène’s personal contribution to the club. By Nick Bugeja.

Like most fans, Arsène Wenger’s announcement that he will depart Arsenal at the end of the season has given me pause for thought. Over the years, my expectations in terms of trophies and results for the club have gradually diminished. For a while a top four spot on the table was guaranteed. That was until last season, when we finished a disappointing fifth. Since then, the once deified Wenger has been mercilessly criticised and disparaged. For many fans his authority and strategic nous had faded long ago. Though when I heard his announcement, I felt a strong less of loss. It wasn’t because of the sub-par results we’d become accustomed to. It wasn’t due to a general aversion to change: Alexis Sanchez’s and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s respective departures didn’t bother me a great deal. It was something else. 

I soon realised what I’ll miss about Arsène is his unquestionable character, the way he has modestly dedicated himself to the pursuits of the club. If anyone personifies Arsenal, it is Arsène. He’s shaped the club’s modern era and instilled it with values – growing academy players, playing beautiful football, respecting opponents – that will outlast both him and us. 

In a footballing climate where the concept of loyalty is made a mockery of, Arsène’s one of its last disciples. He’s rebuffed offers from some of the biggest clubs on the planet to remain at Arsenal: Real Madrid, Paris-Saint Germain and his own national French team. Compare this to the players he brought to the international scene – Robin Van Persie, Ashley Cole and Samir Nasri. They didn’t just leave the club, but left it for rival teams at particularly crucial moments.

Even in the difficult times he’s never wavered in his commitment to the club; when the Emirates was being built and the board failed to supply the requisite funds for the club to compete in the transfer market. Before 2004/05 season, we invested less than 5 million in new recruits. Chelsea spent 89 million, and Manchester United 40 million. Despite the faults of the board and at times, the players, Wenger’s almost always absorbed our complaints without fuss, whether they were fair or not.

Wenger’s players have nothing but respect for him. There’s been an enormous amount of tributes and messages of thanks, as Arsène quipped when he said “I don’t need to die, I’ve seen my funeral”. A common theme found in the messages were players – both current and former – likening him to a ‘father’. Jack Wilshere, Van Persie and Cesc Fàbregas did. It’s one thing to be a great coach, but it’s clear Wenger has been much more than that to the many players that have come through the Arsenal doors. He’s been a mentor, a sounding board, a friend and role model.

Antonio Conte, Jose Mourinho and Roberto Mancini may have won the Premier League more recently than Arsène, but there’s no way they’d be hailed in such a personal and heartfelt way. He’s also admired by other past and former coaches. Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola didn’t just pay him a polite, official farewell, but fairly personal salutes. He’s clearly had an impact on them, too.  
Putting results aside (both the good and the disappointing), it’s been a privilege to have a thoroughly decent and principled man helm our club for 22 years. I tend to agree with Arsène when he said in his latest press conference that “there is a lot of money in the game but above that is more than money, more than results. It is the way a club is perceived and the example a club gives all over the world”.

It’s easy to get caught up in week-to-week failures and frustrations. Especially when you know the club is capable of much more. Let’s hope our next manager can deliver impressive results, but also maintain the level of esteem, respect and character of Arsenal that Arsène has helped cultivate. 



  1. tony says:

    result is everything.wenger won 3 league title, 1yr invinsible he bcam our mesiah well bad result got him sacked.

    1. Phil says:

      Not sure what planet you live on but RESULTS ARE EVERYTHING.Its all the bad performances and results that got him SACKED

      1. Anko says:

        Himself seems to forget the reasons why the fans want him out. The results, the very poor performances, lack of change, the many failed transfers that they usually pull out of because they did not want to pay money. And the fact that he did not think we need a change is the height of it.

        1. Anko says:

          And if The board is thinking of hiring Arteta then they must be out of their freaking mind. Gazidis must be joking to think we will start life after Wenger with another “let’s see how it goes manger”

          1. Nay Sayer says:


            Who else did you have in mind to manage in between??

          2. John0711 says:

            spot on about arteta

      2. john hodges says:

        phil why cant you admit that wenger was a good manager and giive up all your hate for the other words put a sock in the way before you insult me like you insult others i am 86 years old and know arsenal fc than you.i take it you do go to school.

        1. Phil says:

          John-I respectfully reply to you that yes I do despise the man.I will never forgive him for single handedly dragging Arsenal Football Club to the second tier of the Premiere League.His Team.His Players.His Coaching.His Tactics.
          What I now find offensive from him is that it’s all due to the fans.Its NEVER his fault.How can he reasonably expect the majority of the fanbase to not voice their opinion of him?We pay big money to follow this club but he expects us to witness the rapid decline he has overseen and not voice our contempt for him?
          I will not bow to the fact many wish him a dignified exit.He hung on for too long at our expense and I look forward to next season and beyond with the Board hopefully appointing a new Manager who must begin to rectify the obvious deficiences in our squad and move us forward to once again be a competitive Football Club both at home and in Europe

          1. tas says:

            big names in managers will bring in big players and if Arsenal go for un tried or un successful manager then our future is clear business as usual

          2. Admin says:

            Wenger was unknown when he arrived…..

          3. tas says:

            Yes you are right but french football was going nowhere 22 years ago when he joined Arsenal, he managed to pick up a lot of big talent from France because he was known there because of his time managing Monaco

          4. Ray says:

            Wenger didn’t bring in big names. He did make them big though!!

          5. geoff says:

            There is an old saying.(be careful what you wish for) 22 years, 10 cups,1 year unbeaten 2 or is it 3 charity shields, that works a cup or shield every 2 years , no manager has done more

          6. Phil says:

            Again another fan counting the Community Shield as a trophy.Its not.Its a friendly and a day out at Wembley.Nothing more.If you are that desperate to justify Wenger please feel free to add on Emirate Cup wins and any other pre season cup we might have got along the way.TOP TROPHIES is what counts.

          7. tony says:

            unbeaten year didnt give us 2 titile lol

          8. Steven says:

            Far from ‘dragging the club down’, it was Arsene Wenger who elevated Arsenal to the status of a great internationally respected club in the first place. You will see that the next manager will have just the same problems as Arsene in competing with richer clubs for a finite number of top players.

      3. gotanidea says:

        The results are not everything

        As long as the team can score like Klopp’s Liverpool or Guardiola’s Manchester City, I would be very happy

        1. Anko says:

          Me too, performance is everything, the hope and excitement that something exciting is about to happen during a game. Instead what do we have? Even from a wining position one is hoping the team can come through, what kind of top team is that? Disgraceful defeat ever now and then. There is limit to human endurance.

  2. Jim says:

    Well written piece. Managers used to be in some way an embodiment of their club – think Ferguson, the great Liverpool managers, Howard Kendall, Don Revie, George Graham. I could go on. Wenger maybe the last in that great tradition. He was so intertwined with every part of the clubs identity and he seemed to stand for something that was more than just winning, but about doing things with a style, respect for tradition and values.
    Results haven’t been great of late, but I’ll miss the absolute commitment to doing things his way.

  3. Gelz says:

    10 years of challenging and winning, 10 years of settling for just enough to keep the owner happy with his income, 2 years of showing what can happen if you settle for mediocricy whilst others pass you by, Thanks for the memories but a new dawn is coming

    1. Arsene is Out says:

      Great summary.

    1. john hodges says:

      grow up

      1. Hopefully that is what the new manager will tell Iwobi and Mustafi.

      2. Dennis Moriarty says:

        John Hodges, spot on sir! So much disrespect is ugly and not becoming of fans of this great football club. I wanted Wenger gone but I salute what he has done for this club. Time will tell how the new man fares.

  4. Vanpayslip, Esq - Making Arsenal great again says:

    For me this is a grey area. The following two statements are true:

    Arsene is an Arsenal legend

    Arsene has been a failure at his job for the last few years

    It is an almost unique situation where the same person is a legend and a failure. That doesn’t really happen in today’s world of football. And this offcourse is a divisive issue for the fans. Some, like myself, don’t really want him to stay (because of the last few years of mediocrity) but are sad to see him go (because he is a legend).

    Remember what Arsene said last week – to uphold the values of this club. And he is right. We may be a fan base that is divided, unsure, sections overoptimistic while others abrasive and brash. However we are very much a unique fan base and we do share the values of our club – a club that in itself is unique in some ways in its values. A couple of examples of this are – a lot of us still watch for Giroud from afar and are happy for him. Second – I was there at the Emirates that night when Eduardo returned and we all stood up and clapped an opposition player scoring.

    Sure people will mock us for those things and for Arsene. It is frustrating yes, but ultimately this is the way the club is run and it is part of the heritage. Wenger does deserve respect regardless of what people’s personal opinions are because when a person and a club have beliefs and the strength to stick to those beliefs then we can’t just celebrate the success they bring while ignoring the downs that come when an institution has the moral conviction to stick to its principles.

  5. Nay Sayer says:

    If the lying press are right, the new manager will only be given 50 mill to spend. We’ll be even worse than 6th in that case.

    We are desperate for at least 1 GK, 1 CB, 1 DM, and 1 winger to compete for the top 4. That’s 150 – 170 mill. at least if you want somewhat reasonable quality. And we would then only need to spend 50 – 60 net per year the next 2 years (another defender and GK), so 270 – 300 mill for the first 3 years post-Arsene isn’t too much for the 6th richest club in the world.

    1. £50M is enough..if the new manager can raise his own finances as well. Sell Mustafi £20M, Xhaka £20M. Total budget to spend £50M + £40M = £90M. Buy a quality GK maybe Butland or Jordan Pickford £30M, quality CB £30M, quality DM £30M. Liverpool secured Salah for £30M so I believe quality players do exist at that price though hard to find but possible. We don’t need to spend crazy, we just need to be smart with who we buy.

      1. John Ibrahim says:

        if we sell Mustafic and Xhaka then whos going to be our experience squad players ?

        1. I thought the club values was about promoting youth so…Chambers/Mavropanos/Holding can be the 3rd choice CB. El Neny/Maitland Niles will cover the new DM. It’s not pretty but that’s the squad Wenger has left.

          1. Nay Sayer says:

            Agree on Maitland Niles and Mavropanos who have the speed/physicality required.

            Elneny should indeed be a BACKUP def. midfielder.

            The most gracious I can be about Holding, Chambers, and Iwobi would be a loan deal for a make-or-break season.

      2. Arsene is Out says:

        You are not getting a quality cb or dm for 30m each more like 50-60M each. We are not in 2015-16 prices have changed.
        We paid 35M for Xhaka 2 years ago.
        Top players are between 50-80M without a price war starting between clubs.
        Oblak, Fabiho, Koulibaly will cost us the better part of 200M

    2. Dennis Moriarty says:

      This is a good reason to suspect that a so called top manager will not come to us. I really can’t see people like Enrique joining us knowing he has so little money to spend. Be prepared to be underwhelmed by the new manager!

  6. raymondo says:

    A very thought provoking article. Whilst results are paramount, for me the quality of football is equally important. As a supporter for 68 years, there is no doubt in my mind that the Wenger years have produced some of the most delightful displays of football to enjoy. I hope the new manager will be able to provide both trophies and a wonderful spectacle. No mean feat!

  7. Muff diver says:

    Still fighting
    The division between fans is gonna take a while to sort .
    He is a gent. Intelligent insightful astute .
    But we don’t pay 8 million for that ,it’s a results business and once we left the ‘stadium era’ he has failed .still gets a statue / stand in his name and joins Chapman as the best arsenal ever had

    Dof Raul sanllehi
    Chief scout Sven mislintat
    Manager Max allegri
    100 million to strengthen
    Deadwood sold

    Sorry but that’s a dream team .
    That list puts us in European elite

    I for one am excited 🙂

    1. McLovin says:

      Half of that has already happpened. And I think 100 million to spend at Arsenal is nothing too unlikely to happen.

      Just now need the manager to be MR ALLEGRI.

  8. Nayr says:

    Why are people talking as if Wenger was working for free?

    he was being paid 8Million a year.

    he failed in his job the last ten years or so

    1. Neil says:

      Pep is going to get 20 million per season Man City spend 200m per season. Not sayjg everything Arsene did was right but he was / is on 8mn and Arsenal spending 50 to 100mn net !… if you don’t think those numbers make a difference to performance then…. !

  9. Anko says:

    No one can say that Wenger is not a legend, or that he is a bad manager, or his personality, grace, his care for humanity, his fatherly attitude and his kindness. My problem is that the type of football Arsenal plays as a team is in the decline. And that is very important. It is not right for anyone to watch his hand work go into decline and yet feels everything is fine. He should have changed over the years or at least get someone with fresh mentality and ideas. Innovation is not a sin. We have become a mediocre team in the last 3 years and any team can defeat by playing in a certain way. Am angry with him because he refuses to acknowledge these facts and act upon them. And now he is still refusing to acknowledge it. Too selfish for his own good!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Neil says:

      Ego maybe but arsene has not been selfish. If so he would have left is years ago when bigger clubs were calling and offering bigger money..

  10. Anko says:

    Sometimes when I watch the team play I feel like so angry, we have this massive club and we play like we are children, defensive errors, bad strategies, stupid passes, shallow performances. It then leave the fans on our knees pray to God that we can get through the game with at least one point. REALLY???? And this happens times and times again. Wenger felt untouchable!!!!

  11. Gelz says:

    Even tho the way it has transpired to finally have Wenger step down, sacked or whatever way you want to put it, in 10, 20 years time when you are teaching your kids or someone is learning the history ofArsenal, Wenger’s name will be up there as one of the all time greats of management, he’ll be remembered for his achievements in the history books and not his failings and as Muff says he does deserve his statue or probably a stand named after him.

    1. Ray says:

      Yeah, you are right!

      He should be remembered for all the good he has done for Arsenal. That was why he had to go because he was in danger of ruining his legacy.

      Even great people have flaws and can fail to see the obvious. Especially when the only way is down, unfortunately!

      As a big man once said that “With wisdom comes great responsibility”. Arsene moulded Arsenal football club into an image that represents just that! A club that is self sustaining and financially stable on a global platform!

      Not many can do that, can they?

      1. John Ibrahim says:

        Because of Wenger’s achievement in the first 10 years….

        it has led to Kroneke and Usmanov buying in the club

        because of Wenger…..the Wenger out campaign has globalised Arsenal

        1. Ray says:

          You can’t blame Wenger for that!

          That was because the share holders sold out to the money men!!

          Seriously, come on!!

  12. John Ibrahim says:

    Even with Arteta joining us as manager we would still be top 6….

    with our fire power Auba and Laca and our midfield trio of Ozil, Mikhi and Ramsay….plus the 50m on a quality signing

    we will still finish top 6

    1. John0711 says:

      TOP 6 wow high standards

      1. John Ibrahim says:

        with LMAO coordinating and settling well…finish 6th is highly possible even with Henry or Arteta as manager….but challenging for big 4 would be a problem

        1. Arsene is Out says:

          John your expectations of Arsenal are vey low. We need to challenge to win the league and if we dont, then we end up in the top 4.

  13. Ray says:

    Okay guys, lets stop the bickering and look to the future!

    Arsene will leave (Forcefully I read) at the end of the season and a new era will begin. The fans need to be “reunited” behind the club and give full support to what is likely to be an uphill climb for a few years!

    Lets celebrate Arsene’s tenure and wish him well. As for the new man in charge, whoever that may be? Let’s also give full support. I’m not sure the club (with only £50 million) are going to be able to support him financially for the next season but, If we can get rid of some dead-wood (and there is quite a bit) we should be able to increase the spend amount. I mean, Mustaffi must be worth £15.99 on the right shelf 🙂

    Seriously though, I’m not holding my breath over some players but I am hoping that a new manager will be able to get the best out of some of the “slackers” we already have!

    Many of them let Arsene, the club, the fans and themselves down this season. I just hope to god they turn it round next year and give the fans something to look forward to!!!


  14. big G says:

    Results matter, players, managers and football styles change and the values of the club have done nothing but make money for the club and priced out lower income supporters from seeing their team play because they cannot afford a season ticket.

  15. jon fox says:

    Some fine rhetoric and you make some fine points. BUT to my way of thinking the whole tone of your article was giving the wrong emphasis. You appear to regate the importance of positive results to that of secondary importance. This can NEVERE be the case. Football is a professional sport and results are of overrriding importance. We are not Corinthians in the Prem and all play to win. Otherwise why play at all? I found your, admittedly, well argued and well constructed article, standing , in the main , in the way of reality. I have always tried to live in the world as it is, not from where I would wish it to be. Wenger has left a fractured squad, full of gaping holes and with the mere handful of quality players being either over thirty or fast apporoaching it. The new man will have an enormously difficult task to repair it and had you said THIS,then you would be joining me and many others in reality land. Fans are not so easily fooled by mere fine rhetoric, however skilfully used. Just my opinion though.

    1. Neil says:

      Already preparing excuses for new manager … surely he just needs to buy new players as you have been advocating.!

  16. Ozziegunner says:

    With Arsene Wenger leaving the board has lost their front man, who rightly or wrongly deflected flak from the board. Now the spotlight is on Kroenke and the Arsenal board. They will be judged on their selection of the new manager and the future performance of the team.

    1. Neil says:

      Let’s see what the new manager cam do over next few years to compete with chelski man city and mn Utd spending billions over that period.

  17. georgie b says:

    Didn’t a great man once say “if there is one among you without sin he can cast the first stone”.

  18. John says:

    Wenger was worth every penny Arsenal paid him……….an excellent manager…………not a very good coach………he did an excellent job…….he took Arsenal to the top level ………It is time for a change…………Wenger knew that too………and it looks Arsenal and Wenger have been working on it too……hopefully the transition is not too rough…………,this may be much more challenging than the switch to the Emirates…….

  19. Nothing changed says:

    To me, it seems those who fail to get results in football are the first to claim results are not everything.

    Pep, who has a strong footballing philosophy, didn’t say winning is not everything. On the contrary, he recently said it was very important for City to win major trophies so that those who come to the club in the future know what is expected.

    For years now nobody coming to Arsenal thought they were expected to deliver major trophies.

    We lack the winning mentality Pep and other managers have despite the fact that they try to win with their own style of football.

    The moment you say or think winning is not everything in football you have become a loser IMO.

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