What has happened to Arsenal’s confidence and steel?

This Arsenal team this season has looked like a shadow of former sides that were coached by Arsene Wenger. In his first full season at the club, 1997/98, the Gunners won the League and beat Newcastle 2-0 in the FA Cup Final. We even got to the semi-finals of the League Cup before losing to Chelsea on aggregate despite beating them at Highbury. They played 54 games in total over the season and didn’t complain that they were overtired and the squads were much smaller in those days. Nigel Winterburn played in 48 of those matches, Patrick Vieira 43 and Marc Overmars 45. The players knew they were the best and everyone else knew too. Pat Rice, who was assistant manager to Wenger at the time described it like this…..

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“They were confident, they were so confident,” Rice said on Arsenal.com. “They knew they were going out [to win], and they had no fear.

“They knew in their own hearts that they would create chances to win the game. Of course, with the speed that they had up front, anything can happen. Of course, it did happen. The flick on, and then Overmars is in, and then the goal is scored. It was fantastic.

“When we were up against it and whenever we were playing at that time, even when we were a goal down and sitting on the line, you thought, ‘Don’t worry, somebody else will pick up the bat and somebody will do it’.

“The other thing as well is that with those type of players, they weren’t frightened of having a go at each other. They would have a go at each other, but they had so much respect for each other – I can remember players really getting into a tussle out there but coming off the pitch they would be arm in arm.”

So what has happened to that belief? Is it because there is so much money that the players have become soft and spoiled? Or do they simply not believe in themselves any more?

Darren N

Updated: April 4, 2018 — 7:34 pm


  1. It is normal that as an employee gets older, he tends to play safe and more calculative in his actions/decisions. Because as an employee gets older, usually he has different (more expensive) lifestyle, family to feed, more responsibilities and social expectations

    Wenger is also an employee like the most of us, except he gets much more money than a blue-collar worker could ever get in his entire life. Once an employee enters a comfort/ safe zone, he tends to take lower risk, hence the daily routines usually produce no improvements

    Like parents’ image reflected on their children, Wenger’s mentality is clearly reflected on his players. For instance, when facing Tottenham in the cold rainy day at Wembley, Wenger and Bould sat idly like it was just another day at the office for them

  2. The negativity from fans and the media has affected players confidence

    1. Or maybe the players Wenger has brought in really lack Cojones like Deeney said…

      1. Wow, now we’re listening to lump of lard Deeney, it must be right I presume ?

  3. OT:I have seen the results of the Wenger in and Wenger out polls,needles to say that it does not reflect the will of the true arsenal fans.The Poll as conducted is not Fair, credible and verifiable as such I am afraid that trolls from our rivals may have voted.Therefore the results can not be verified hence null and void

    1. *correction needless to say…

      1. hahah its not fair waaaaah waaaah, something doesn’t agree with me so i will spit my dummy out
        a sad reflection of todays society

        1. @ John the important word is verifiable, so unless @admin opens the servers

          1. i blame the russians for this … but most of our rivals want wenger to stay for obvious reasons so if they are voting its inflating the stay vote

    2. I think it was fair

      I myself wouldn’t be bothered to lurk on a Tottenham’s or Chelsea’s fan site, just to wait for a voting thread to appear

      1. Lol! Well they pop up on ArsenalFanTV all the time so it’s possible…

        1. @quantic dream Claude is my favorite guy at arsenal fan TV though I don’t agree,it’s time to go!

          1. I like Mr. Fam blud ya’understand!

  4. Too much negativity in the air. We have to get rid of the cause. Wenger Out!!

  5. Whilst apportioning much of the blame for this sad change in players mental toughness upon Wenger, there are other, more general, factors too. Older fans like myself and also others of more than 25 years watching, will surely agree that players in general are just not as tough today as in the past. This is true of society; you see in it even the polices reluctance to wade into mass trouble, which just did not happen many decades ago. Young people are often called, with much truth, ” snowflakes” by we older people – let alone older football fans – who lived when times were tougher and kids were not pampered and forbidden to do everyday things at school and elsewhere, lest they hurt themselves. This is undoubtedly true and it is unlikely anyone of senior years will disagree. This softness has fed into young adults everywhere and into sport too. The thought of such as Tony Adams, Frank McLintock, Peter Storey and all the many, many other real real men, actually wearing snoods and gloves – in snowflake Samir Nasri and Arshavin style is too laughable to contemplate. So, this is one important factor is this general softness of young footballers today.

    However , though most other teams have their share of snowflakes too, we at Arsenal seem to have cornered the market in the weediest ones around. Wenger seems completely uninterested in sounding out mental and physical toughness before buying players. Many readers will well know my own personal and loudly exclaimed derision of the player I called(and still do) Weed Walcott. Theo is NOT a bad person, far from it and is polite and well mannered but in an Arsenal shirt , judged over his twelve year stay, racked by idleness and injuries, he was about as much use as a chocolate teapot. But countless millions were spent on his wages keeping him here all that wasted time. Fergie, Mourino, Conte, Poch, Klopp and Guardiola would never have wasted all these millions on a player who gave such poor value for money. And for SO LONG too!

    Moreover, Wenger encourages slackness and constantly makes excuses for underperforming and underwilling players. Past managers such as George Graham, whose trophy haul was 6 in 9 years , compared to Wenger’s 10 in 21, never stood for slackness, laziness and was ne ver afraid to drop out of form players or ones who just didn’t cut the mustard. Other proven top managers of today’s rival teams do not act like Wenger and are not afraid of argument with his players, as I state that Wenger definitely is. Wenger cannot abide arguments within the club and will go out of his way to avoid making key decisions in case it upsets so and so. This is no way to run a top club. Put simply, Wenger is soft as putty with his players and that will not do! Arsenal today is renowned throughout football people as being easily bullied and we all know how true this is. All the embarrassing away losses, through , mainly, lack of character have poured shame on our club. And still Wenger offers only more and yet more excuses. Very few believe him anymore, and it is widely thought he will be our ex-manager within a very few weeks now. So , fellow despairing GOONERS, KEEP THE FAITH. THINGS CAN ONLY GET BETTER , ONCE HE IS GONE!

    1. Walcott seems doing okay for Everton, @jon fox

      In the past, I expected him to be a great inverted winger like Mo Salah, Bale, Ronaldo, Neymar, Sanchez, Mbappe and Messi, but his first touches are way too lousy to achieve that level

      Who do you think we should buy to become Arsenal’s Mo Salah? I also expected Danny Welbeck to fulfill similar role in the past, but it never happened

      1. A lifelong mate of mine and Everton season ticket holder also thinks him lazy, even in his short time there

        1. Brilliant article Jon, sums up the young generation of today. Can you imagine them going to a game at the age of 9 or 10 with their mates like we did, without their Father or Guardian to protect them, or swimming in the canal or what about a game of conkers between Counsel and PIRES, what a laugh that would be. None of them played football in the street from the minute they got up till the old man called them about ten o’clock at night, like we did. They spend the majority of their time on computers and sites like Arsenal TV and that’s where they get their information from. They know nothing about real life, plastic softies.

          1. Glad to see that Jon Fox got this post back on subject. I agree with Jon’s analysis. The players Arsene Wenger inherited and added to in the David Dein era during his early successful years had character, a winning mentality, were physically strong and expected strong performances from themselves and each other. They intimidated other teams and were respected by hard men such as Manchester United’s Roy Keane. As pointed out in the comments made by Pat Rice they were not backward in confronting each other if they thought the performance was lacking.
            Unfortunately Wenger has over later years has selected smaller players, who are costantly bullied by teams, even though those teams are less gifted from a football perspective. No longer does Arsenal have strong characters or leaders; we even have difficulty in selecting a regular captain. Arsene wenger does not like confrontation in the dressing room and players, such as Van Persie, who raise issues regarding Arsenal’s ambition are moved on.

      2. Gotanidea: Whatever did you see in Walcott that even remotely compared him with the names you mentioned. It must have a massive shock and let down to you when he never turned out to be anywhere near as good as seven of the world’s top players. Now I know why you call yourself “Gotanidea”

  6. Everything goes stale eventually. This has happened (a while ago) to Wenger. Can’t motivate players at all and he seems lost. A lot of players are just there for a good time and living it up in London too. And when owner only cares about money and not success, this is a message that spreads throughout the club. Standards at Arsenal have dropped dramatically. Just take a look at our XI.

  7. Arsen Wenger happened to them!

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