Opinion- The negatives from Wenger’s (and other coach’s) reigns at Arsenal


This article is made after a direct challenge to list the negatives I perceive Arsene Wenger made during his time at The Arsenal – This I have done, along with my personal views on three other managers; Bertie Mee, George Graham and Mikel Arteta, just to prove that we still haven’t witnessed the next coming!!!

With the arrival of Mikel Arteta, the optimism/pessimism amongst our fan base had become such, that every decision was/is highlighted, trawled over, challenged and debated to infinity and back.

It is very understandable of course, as the last year of AW and the eighteen months of UE, were full of controversy, and a feeling that we had lost our club and all that is stood for.

Mikel was most definitely not the choice of a section of our fan base, as Ancelotti and Mourinho were amongst the “bigger name managers” who were being linked with our club and, we have to remember, MA was turned down by Gazidis and Kroenke just eighteen months before, for another “big name” in Unai Emery.

I can only imagine what Mikel was thinking, when he came back to our club and saw the turmoil, toxicity, player power and fans disillusionment of, what seemed, 100% of the fan base.
We had plunged from a record twenty times top four club, with concurrent CL participation and FA cup trophies, to a position of being talked about as relegation fodder in just two and a half years.

To say he took everything by the scruff of the neck, shook it and started the rebuilding of our club immediately, is an understatement – he tackled every single problem head on for better or worse!!!!

He laid out his vision to the owner, the back room, the players and the fans, while also achieving excellent results on the pitch, such as the undefeated run from January 2021 until the corona virus lockdown…then the incredible quarter, semi and final FA cup wins against Sheffield United, Manchester City and Chelsea.

All this done with the players he had inherited from AW and UE, players some of our fans had been so dismissive about, calling them dross, mentally frail, lazy etc etc – they responded to him and so did the fans.

There was talk of a top four finish, CL football and even Europa league triumph and when that didn’t happen, out came the knives and the accusations from fans who had built up their own belief that this was a reality… but blaming MA for their own unfounded optimistic views because it didn’t happen.

Time will tell if he has made the right decisions or mistakes, but for sure, it’s all down to him.

This scenario took me back to the days of the said previous managers and what they achieved and what one big mistake they made, if any of course!!!

Especially as I had been called out regarding my support of Arsene Wenger and I said I would reply, so here it is…with a taster of two of our previously successful managers.

I have witnessed both the good, the bad and the ugly over the years, seen doubles galore, magnificent title wins, fa cup wins a plenty and humiliations that had me hurrying away from grounds, promising never to support the club again… but of course finding excuses the next day to continue following The Arsenal:

BERTIE MEE – 20TH June 1966 / 4th May 1976

My very first taste of 100% euphoria, when I was able to laud it over every other club in the land was in the 1970/71 season.

The game at WHL will always be the one for me, as we put our noisy neighbours and their boast about being the only double winners in the 20th century to bed.

His biggest mistake? Breaking up that double winning side too quickly and selling players to our direct rivals, Liverpool, who went on to dominate for years.


Yet another wonderful double winning side and who can forget that incredible 2-0 win at Liverpool, along with the first ever “double” of both domestic cups in one season?

However, GG will always be remembered for the scandal that surrounded his sacking, followed by becoming manager of our noisy neighbours.

His biggest mistake? Selling players of flare such as David Rocastle and Charlie George, in return for boring, but nigh on perfect defensive football…”1-0 To The Arsenal” will forever be associated with Stroller.

Wenger bids farewell to Arsenal fans.


Invincibles, Doubles, PL titles won at WHL (twice).
In charge of 1235 games won 716 – drew 266 – lost 253 – goals for 2298 (Ave 1.9 per game) – goals against 1227 (Ave 0.99 per game).
Won three PL titles, including two doubles.
Twenty years of top four finishes…Twenty years of CL football / Seven FA Cup Wins / Seven Community Shields.
Overseeing the move from Highbury to The Emirates.
Insisting that any player over 30 years old would only be offered a one-year contract.
The enormous amount of money that his CL qualifications, PL titles, FA cup wins, and early transfer business (Anelka) brought to the club.

His biggest mistake(s)?
Staying too long. In my opinion he should have gone after the masterclass performance against the champions, Chelsea, at Wembley.
Never winning a European trophy, despite a Cl final and semi-finals, despite twenty years of trying.
Being to obstinate in his philosophy of attacking football, to the detriment of the defensive duties needed.
Staying too faithful to players.
Playing them out of position.
Taking too many chances on unknown players.
Awarding players extremely generous contracts.
Apparently needing glasses when any incident involving our players who were seen in a bad light.
Never getting to terms with his zip.
Covering for those above him (Kroenke etc) and by doing so, losing the faith of some fans.

Now I’m sure there will be many other points, both good and bad, that other fans would want to add to the list on all the managers mentioned above and these are just my personal ones.

On reflection I will always be grateful for the wonderful times that each manager gave to me.
None of them were saints, as in the end they were and are all human beings.

So when I contest statements or views that are not factually correct, it’s not because I see no wrong in any of the managers, but because those with an agenda to rewrite history, need to be corrected, if they are factually wrong…and I will prove that with the actual facts, such as our defence in the 2011/12 season.

Arsene Wenger was, and is, the greatest manager we have ever had, though his time always seems to be divided into two sections.
Due to his phenomenal early success, there is a view that the last ten years as being the opposite, but that is wrong, in my opinion.
Just ask UE and MA how difficult it is to finish in the top four!!!
Whatever one’s personal view, the fact is that the results and performances were still those that kept us in the top four, regular CL football, FA cup wins and CS trophies, until his final season in charge.

As a supporter/fan who has been classified as a Wenger fan boy and called out recently to give my negative views on him, I hope this article will be sufficient – if not, I couldn’t give a j**ks**t!!!

Please be as negative or nasty as you want in your replies… [water off a duck’s back!]


Tags Arsene Wenger Arteta Bertie Mee George Graham


  1. Since the negative aspects of each manager have been explained in details by the author, I’d just like to give my opinions about the weaknesses of Arsenal managers’ tactics at the end of their tenures:

    – Wenger’s: Rarely made good crosses, a lot of merry-go-round passes, too predictable and the players’ roles were too rigid. But I bet he has seen his mistakes and has got some new ideas, after escaping from his comfort zone and watching how Arteta set up the team

    – Emery’s: Similar to Wenger’s and relied too much on his players’ energy. He seems able to motivate Villareal players to press harder though

    – Arteta: Unable to minimize the players’ mistakes, made some weird tactical decisions occasionally and bad in players’ anger management. However, his tactics are the best I’ve ever seen at Arsenal and he’s still got time till the end of this season

    1. When you wrote good crosses Eboue and Sagna came to mind. Especially Eboue. Everytime I think of him the picture of him crossing come to mind. There were a lot of headed goals in great Arsene reign something which is rarely seen in Mikel’s team.

      To say that the great Arsene is learning how to set a team from Arteta had me nearly throwing the phone on the wall had it not been for my left hand commendable effort to stop my right from doing so.

      Arteta tactics are the best you’ve seen at Arsenal, its your opinion and you are entitled to it. But some will think the best tactics produce positive results. When your team has lost more than you’ve won and have the worst results in club history, your tactics to be called the best ever is something that doesn’t make any sense.

      1. Wenger was lucky to have Giroud for converting those rare crosses in the end of his tenure and his players just moved the ball around in deep midfield area without having good ideas to cross from the byline. About Arteta’s tactics, Arsenal’s inability to get Tierney’s competitor in January and the red cards have ruined his plans

        1. The red cards are the results of his tactics. I am not sorry to say this but your logic about crosses is very poor. By your logic every team in this world is lucky if their crosses are converted.

          Spurs are lucky to have Harry converting crosses. Man city are lucky to have players who cross and double lucky because they have strikers to convert them.

          Wenger signed Giroud to convert those crosses he wasn’t sent from heaven (and oh boy his convertions were a beauty to behold).

          You may give excuses till the end of times but the table never lies. He has to deliver Champions League football next season otherwise the club should bring in a proper coach who is capable of getting the best out of his players no matter how bad they are.

        2. ‘Wenger was lucky to have Giroud for converting those rare crosses’ Cross need not always be headed to goal. Please watch the replay and see how crosses from Overmars and Pires have been converted to goal. None of those goals were from Giroud. ….

      2. I’m sure the headed goals to crosses ratio will improve when we get in a striker who actually head the ball. At the moment only Martinelli can do this and he’s not getting much game time right now.

      3. HH, That comment by GAI had me cracking and furious at the same time too. It doesn’t make any sense for one to commend MA as a tactical genius while he had more loses than his predecessor’s.

    2. ‘his tactics are the best I’ve ever seen at Arsenal and he’s still got time till the end of this season’
      That is why he is still struggling to climb above 10th position.

    3. GAI. You seem to forget that the current team crosses the most than any other recent Arsenal team while they don’t have CF that is suited for that role. So tell me how that is tactically genius? Tell me how many games under MA that you enjoyed? I would say we had more enjoyable games under EU than MA. His teams looks good one game and then goes to the default settings for 10 games straight. He stumbled on ESR by accident when everyone could see the dire need of CAM, and he kept on playing Willian when he wasn’t producing at all

  2. ” his tactics are the best I’ve ever seen at Arsenal”

    Yes that holds true for the coaches who play against us. They love his tactics.

      1. You are not even trying to hide the fact that you are avoiding explaining how the best tactics have lost more games than they have won and sit 10th in the table, in February!

        1. Told you the red cards and Arsenal’s inability to get Tierney’s competitor have destroyed Arteta’s plan. Arteta’s main weakness is he can’t control his players’ temper

    1. That statement alone drains me completely. Like HH rightly said, the best tactics won you the game and the best I have seen us play this season was when covid19 forced Arteta hand to play Smith and not employed his best tactics of slow and lethargic football with sideways and backward passes. Arteta learnt nothing from Pep not how to attack, press mark or defend. He has performed worse than Emery has done and I am hypocrite for not want him out now because I like him.

  3. Having grown up in my teens watching the Arsenal with GG in charge it was a real eye opener when Wenger landed on these shores ,the football was so different it really did blow my mind from 1998-2005 ,nothing will come close to watching a team go head first into the opponent’s half with Henry ,pires,Viera,Bergkamp,Freddie it was something to behold .
    Now the downside for whatever reason ,be it more money coming into the game or just the cycle of a clubs dominance we have declined so much it’s quite scary , the Fa Cups while amazing have papered over the many cracks that have appeared for the last 10 years .
    But has fans we don’t know or likely will never no the reasons ,lack of spending money ,game as evolved,we could argue for the next 100 years why .
    Wenger will go down as a legend of this club and a legend of the premier league ,a GOLD Trophy does not lie .
    Fans will then argue that Emery was was left with a team in a bad way but having 12 players signed he didn’t have a clue what he was doing ,reminded me of Frank Spencer on the touch line ,and rightly so he was sent packing back to Spain ,remember the club came out and said we went through the worst time in our history with him in charge .
    Now the problem that Arteta faces is the problem of now removing the players that he was left with all the while why fans want instant success ,where he stated great it’s gone stale once again ,so he really needs to step up this second half of the season else we once agin could be going through the motions of looking for yet again another manager ,which does not bode well for our future in the coming seasons .

    1. In reply to Dan
      Yes removing them and replacing with Sanchez, Luiz, Soares, Willian. The injury prone Mari who by the way when he plays gives Arsenal so much balance.

      1. I would add that England should have got Arsene in as manager ,he would have and still could work miracles with the players he would have at his disposal .
        Instead we have another Frank spencer running the team ,and the FA wonder why no one cares for International football much these days

  4. It’s really sad that people only remember the last couple of GG’s seasons at Arsenal instead of reflecting on the exciting team of mostly locally sourced players that won six trophies in five seasons.
    Sure he sold off some of our favourites and got caught taking a bung and went on to manage Spurs, but I rate him so very, very highly…and I’m quite sure he didn’t sell his team mate of old Charlie George Ken.

  5. Mid-way through the article was when I figured the article was from Ken. It was a brilliant article too. We’ve gone at lugger heads with each other on wenger in the past but this is a quite balanced article and I’m glad you admit to some of the mistakes he made which I’ve been echoing in arguments with you. Spot on

  6. I agree that Wenger was undoubtedly our greatest manager. Three league titles, seven FA cups and twenty top four finishes tell their own story. My only complaint is about the players he let go who came back to hurt us. Cole and Van Persie he couldn’t do anything about as they wanted to leave. But I think that declining on principle to resign Fabregas was a mistake as was his decision to sell Giroud. Apart from the fact that we need a player of Giroud’s quality right now to meet some of the crosses we hear so much about, it is painful to see an Arsenal hero in blue.

    1. And the fact that Arsene came out and said he didn’t need Fabregas because of Ozil, further inflamed the situation amongst those who had a different view on AW to me of course Steven.

      1. And ken, when he bought Petr Cech in 2015, stating he didn’t need additional or upgraded outfield players.

        1. Yes Ozziegunner, another unfortunate message that he didn’t have to make… but one he firmly believed was true.

  7. Ken 1945
    Good article with actual facts that nobody can disagree with.

    However, I have a disagreement with you on when he should have left. I think he should have left in 2014 after the Ist trophy after a long time.

    Contrary to many fans belief is that I rate his 2nd stint when he did not win anything from 2006 – 2013 as his greatest achievement (NOT THE IST STINT from 1996 – 2005).
    Reason is: When he Ist came he was ahead of the rest in every respect. During this stint he should have guided the CL success as well.

    In the second stint, he had no trump card and others had caught up and there was a lot more money in the game with the likes of Chelsea, Man City and Man Utd. Yet he managed to maintain CL qualification with a much lower budget. Remember history of Britain: conquered half the world and we refer to it as the empire with their own trump card (i.e. Industrial revolution) being their main weapon.

    The funny thing is that his worst period for AW came after 2013 when we started spending money which happened to coincide with the unrequired signing of Mesut Ozil, when what we needed was Gonzalo Higuain when we alerady had so many attacking midfielders with Santi Cazorla being the best followed by Jack Wilshere IMHO.

    1. I am with you in agreeing that after moving to the Emirates the great Arsene Wenger showed why he is special, why he is one of the kind but I will go short on calling it his best than Highbury times only because of the invincibles: a one trophy worth ten, the single greatest achievement in English football history, the best team in English football history assembled, nurtured and coached by Wenger.

      He should’ve won CL with that team especially the year that Porto won. He has no excuse why he couldn’t with the best team in Europe at that time.

    1. Thanks Sue… I have the same problem and as we are about the same age, it must be something to do with that!!!!

  8. Good point IGL, never thought of it that way.
    As for not needing MO, both Jack and Rosicky were already showing signs of the injuries that plagued there careers and you only have to read what Santi said when Mesut arrived, to know what he thought about him.
    As for Higuain, he had already turned us down I believe, so why would we want to someone who would see us as second best?
    Thanks for the reply and comments.

    1. For Ken 1945
      You are probably right about Higuain. I really felt we needed to go all out for a striker.
      As for Jack & Rosicky, history turned out that way but that could not have been envisaged.
      So I am afraid I have to disagree with you on this one, but as ever respect a fellow Arsenal fan especially elder statesmen as yourselves. I started my support of AFC from 1979 and my favourite players then were Liam Brady and Graham Rix.

  9. Kudos Ken! I know you were waiting with bated breath for my reply….that must have been incredibly cathartic for you and as such I will keep my comments brief…hopefully your willingness to come forward and address some of the issues surrounding our former manager will encourage others to do likewise, so that we can properly move forward as a more unified fanbase…I’m presently writing an article that takes a more in-depth look at the ramifications, both past and present, of the Wenger rift on our franchise, but today is your day…Cheers and take care

    1. Actually I wasn’t waiting, but whatever floats your boat!!

      Enjoying the sensible and constructed replies, from both sides of the debate, as we all seem to be respecting each others opinions and views.

      I have no need to cleanse my thoughts, opinions and emotions, as I have always backed them with facts.
      The problem has always been those fans who “come forward” to rewrite history without facts.
      Then fans like myself have to ensure the truth is told.
      Until that happens, your dream of a unified fanbase will not happen, but let’s see what your article is based on – facts and/or opinions.

      Meanwhile, I will certainly take care and that means not holding my breath for any prolonged period – even if it’s waiting for an article from your good self – please do the same.
      Remember this though, when you challenge someone, expect to be challenged back… so I expect to see your article explaining and recognising the ramifications of our most successful manager ever.

  10. No more comment on a well thought out, balance article. kudos. i hope we support MA, i see he can achieve something good. every manager makes mistakes, we should even expect more from him as a rookie, but he seems to be learning fast

  11. Wow, a Ken1945 special after a long time! I was waiting, lol. Great read Sir, and as always you speak straight facts!

      1. Ken Is not that middle emoji a TRUMP SIGN? Tbh, I understand only the third one. MANY emojis are not understandable to me, or at best, ambiguous in meaning. Maybe that is the intention, I need to ask?

    1. Oh yeah- there’s no doubt he knew best when buying Schillachi, Santos, Sylvestre, Mustafi……………..

  12. Firstly Ken, my apologies for not having seen your fascinating piece until NOW. A lovely read and one that can only have been written by an older person with full perspective that only many years on this planet can give anyone.
    Perhaps for us fellow oldies but also some young uns, you could go further back and write on Chapman, Allison, Whittaker.
    I will touch on these old days in my soon to be article on the spirit of the game.

    I know even you and I do not go back that far in person but I learned so much as a young child, from relatives, of those days and in fact right back to Woolwich. This all adds further perspective and that is what so many kids today sadly lack, though no fault of their own as no one can help their age.
    Also good to see almost 50 posts so far- always a sign of an enjoyable article.

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