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October 2016
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Wenger: #Specialist at failure or a Visionary?


By Sam

A few months ago, Jose Mourinho branded Arsene Wenger a “specialist at failure” due to his lack of trophies in the past decade or so. The media lapped up the phrase in their click-bait articles and the social media world went into a frenzy about Mr. Wenger’s perceived failures. Last week, Mourinho once again taunted other clubs including Arsenal while boasting about his team winning the EPL.

I could not help but comment on a Telegraph article and asked “How come no journalist reminded Mourinho of the vast difference in resources at the disposal of the two managers during that period? Moreover, how can someone be so smug about success built on the back of wealth which was obtained through questionable means1 that he ridicules a fellow manager”? As expected, I received a heap of abuses from Chelsea fans (with no sensible responses actually addressing the question I posed), barring one comment which said “Do you really think Mourinho’s success has just been a result of the money he spent? Has it ever occurred to you that he might be a better manager than Wenger?”

That comment got me thinking, what makes a better manager? Is it solely the amount of trophies you have won? Does anything else matter at all?

I can certainly think of some other points which need to be considered before we’re to pass a judgement on Arsene Wenger that I’d like to list down.

Loyalty to the club

Few days ago I came across an old article2 in the Guardian published in September 2004 wherein, Wenger, amongst other things, talks about the development of the academy and the prospects of new young players like Fabregas etc.  What struck me most was the following quote:  “(the development the academy and the younger players) thrills me, for one simple reason … to think that nothing major can happen to the club now makes me sleep easier. For example, tomorrow, if the club has financial trouble, I can guarantee you it will not be relegated with the players we have”.

The above quote, which was made shortly after Arsenal had gone 42 games unbeaten in the league, shows that Wenger was fully aware of the financial challenges he faced while Arsenal built a new stadium. There are many managers who are fond of pointing to their CV counting trophies accumulated at various clubs and pronouncing themselves as special.  They hop from one club to another when the club is not able to “match their ambition”. The above quote made me wonder whether Mourinho, Benitez or any other manager would’ve been willing to swap places with Wenger at that time, and instead of chasing further personal glory after an invincible season (later rejecting offers from the likes of Real Madrid, Monaco, PSG etc) embark on a journey of financial constraints and battle relegation if necessary, and even bear the taunts of other managers and his own fans, to help the club become financially competitive 10 years in the future? Can you think of anyone? Does this loyalty count for anything?

Doing more with less

While mocking Arsenal’s lack of success, the media barely mentions the financial constraints that Wenger faced in the past decade. Yet how much it matters can be seen by comparing Chelsea’s and Man City’s trophies before and after their sugar-daddy financed spending spree. e.g. Chelsea won a grand total of four major domestic trophies (one first division league title and 3 FA cups) in their 100 years of history before Abramovich!

In the 11 years between 2003/04 and 2013/14, both Chelsea and Man City spent on average an annual net amount of £47m on signing players compared to Arsenal’s  £7m – a difference of £40m per year3.  To put this in perspective, these amounts were sufficient to buy eleven players of the calibre of Mesut Ozil or Alexis Sanchez (that too assuming 2013/14 prices) with some change left.

Isn’t it fair that Arsenal’s performance under Wenger in that period should be compared to Stoke City, Aston Villa, Sunderland, Tottenham (who spent slightly more than Arsenal) or Liverpool (who spent almost double). How many of these teams have been able to consistently qualify for the Champions League plus build a brand new stadium during the period with that budget?

Romanticism vs Pragmatism

Wenger has been criticised in the past for “not doing tactics” (if so, what does it tell about managers who let him go unbeaten for a season or reach the finals of CL?) or being too stubborn. The truth is Wenger has a philosophy and the gumption to stick by it, unlike some managers who promise to play attractive football but lose their nerve and park the bus the moment they encounter a half decent ball playing team. He is also renowned for focussing on his own team’s strength rather than preparing for the opposition’s weakness. But what seems like his stubbornness or naivety isn’t so!

Some managers treat their players like robots asking them to perform specific instructions and get the exact results they hope for. In contrast, Wenger had the following to say in an interview in 20094:

“The common denominator of successful teams is that the players are intelligent… They can analyse a problem and find a solution. The common denominator in a top level person is that they can objectively assess their performance. You speak to a player after the game and ask him to rate his performance, if he analyses well, you know he is the sort who will drive home thinking, ‘I did this wrong, I did that wrong’. His assessment will be correct and, next time, he will rectify.

“That player has a chance. The one who has a crap game and says he was fantastic, you worry for him.”

On the question of pragmatism, he added: “I am not against being pragmatic, because it is pragmatic to make a good pass, not a bad one. If I have the ball, what do I do with it? Could anybody argue that a bad solution like just kicking it away is pragmatic just because, sometimes, it works by accident?”

The comment shows that Wenger favours signing intelligent players and then count on their intelligence and give them the freedom to make their own decisions on the field. Admittedly they may initially make mistakes when they are inexperienced and things may go wrong. But when intelligent players learn from their mistakes and finally express themselves at the highest level, you get wonderful teams like the invincibles.

Mourinho and Benitez’s methods may by highly efficient and produce results but the football they produce was compared to “shite on a stick” 5 by the Argentine great Jorge Valdano. How many of you remember the name of a single player from the Greece team that won Euro 2004? In contrast how are the Holland 1974 and 1982 Brazilian World cup teams remembered even though they failed win to the World cup? It is understandable when rank outsiders like Greece or even a Stoke or Bolton adopt a functional style but does it suit teams costing half a billion pounds or more to play that way?

Building a Legacy

I have read in the past that when Wenger was about to join Arsenal, the board asked him about his vision for the club and he responded that he wanted to leave the club in a better condition than he found it in.

The fact that Wenger revolutionised Arsenal upon his arrival is beyond dispute. It is well known that he overhauled training methods, nutrition, scouting network, academy etc. He was an instant success too with 3 league titles and 4 FA cups including 2 “doubles” and an “invincible” season.

But foreseeing the importance of living within one’s means a decade before others (witness the introduction of FFP rules), embarking on a long term plan and delivering it to a resounding success (Arsenal didn’t flirt with relegation in that period, instead it flirted with Champions league and Premier League successes) requires great vision, leadership loyalty and courage which is beyond the capability of many other managers.

The day when the bubble in which football exists bursts (and believe me it will one day, no industry can continue to exist in a bubble), we will realise the enormous contribution he has made to Arsenal. If Wenger walks away tomorrow, he would have delivered lot more than he promised to the Arsenal directors upon his appointment having placed Arsenal in a position that many other clubs would envy (just ask Liverpool or Tottenham).

More than a great manager, he is a visionary and a great human being, and that is not something which can be said about a lot of people within or outside football. Barcelona are fond of calling themselves “more than a club”. I think if there is any football manager alive today who can claim to be more than a manager for a football club, it is Arsene Wenger.

1 Roman Abramovich’s binge at the Bridge really is no laughing matter – The Times (behind paywall). For readers without a Times subscription, see this link

2 Wenger’s Way – Guardian, September 2004

3 Premier League Spending Table – 2003/04 to 2013/14

4 Arsene Wenger Interview – Daily Mail, 2009

5 English teams are robbing game of skill, says Valdano


62 comments to Wenger: #Specialist at failure or a Visionary?

  • para

    I was one of them who said AW does not do tactics. He does not, this does not mean that he can’t as i have learned. As stated above he prefers to let his team take control on the field. Of course it frustrates when in certain games most could see the team needed some help before they got to the stage of full self reliance.

    I remember using the phrase “AW throws them in at the deep end and says swim or drown”.

    Of course it was not just like that but to me it seemed so at the time, forgetting that AW is with them every day in training and knows his players.

    Anyway, he now has a team that should now have much self reliance, a team we have all watched grow and mature over the last 3 seasons. 🙂 🙂 🙂

    No respect lost for Arsene Wenger in any way.

  • Sam.

    Mourinho is a barking dog. Only jackles, chickens and press listen to him. Wenger is like an Elephant, ignoreing the barking dogs and carry on his lesurely walk without care and without deviating from his path.

  • Rosicky@Arsenal


    Good post.fully agree.

    wenger is the greatest manager at Arsenal and the record speaks for itself.

  • idowu

    I totally agree with your position on the topic and your views on what manner of a manager Arsene Wenger is. I rate him the best football manager I’ve seen. He knows his onions and have followed his principles and policies without being distracted by abuses and confusion from other managers who thrived on running from pillar to post. They have not been able to raise a football team from the scratch. managers like that would never succeed without the mega money of the abramovich and the rests. Thank you Mr Arsene Wenger.

  • colario

    The point that Arsene allows intelligent players to make mistakes and supports them reminds me of an anecdote the late Matt Busby told against himself.

    In the first half of the game George Best took on the full back and was floored by the fullback.

    Matt Busby said to his assistant:
    ”I told George that would happen if he took on that fullback. When will he learn.

    Minutes later Best was again floored by the fullback. Again Matt Busby commented that he had instructed George not to take on the fullback.

    In the second half George again took on the fullback. this time going past the fullback and scoring from an impossible angle.

    Matt turned to his assistant and said:

    ”When will I learn to mind my own business?”

    I mention this because when you listen to players who once played in an Arsene team they all express
    how much Arsene believed them and that helped them to become better players.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    @ Sam – Thanks for this . We have gone through this path before many times before , and we the AKBs , have no doubt whatsoever as to who we think is the greater .

    But to those who are still undecided , here’s you chance-
    Wenger vs Mourinho – you decide .

    ” The real education is your attitude and your behaviour with others . It defines your entire personality , no matter how qualified you are .”

    “To donate your life to a cause larger than your life is to rise to the realm of the giants of humanity.”
    Robin Sharma


    “Your word is your wand. The words you speak create your own destiny.”
    Florence Scovel Shinn

    ” I admire people who choose to shine even after all the storms they’ve been through.”

    For me Wenger has been like a breath of fresh air – giving me hope and promise for a better Arsenal future ;
    a sense of pride and belonging to a club that does all the right things and of course unbridled joy and ecstasy in the manner of our football style .

  • Rich

    Arsene’s brilliant, his one problem is he’s not ruthless enough.
    Great clubs build on success always looking to improve, Arsene’s belief in some of his players is misguided, it’s like he almost thinks he’s above doing the obvious, and we come up short.
    I remember a quote from David Dein which was something like “put it right on the pitch and the rest will take care of itself’
    if we don’t sign the 3-4 top class players we need this summer, then expect another 3rd or 4th place finish.
    We’re nowhere near Europe’s elite on the pitch… And that’s where it matters.
    Chelsea are better than us and will spend again, City will spend with FFP being relaxed, and Utd are 3-4 players of the right quality through the spine from competing for top honours.
    Arsene thinks we need cohesion… When the team that performed so well for most of 2015 was stumbled up, and worked because it had a better level of experience and balance.
    Hopefully the revamp of our fitness department will continue to keep us a clean bill of health.
    It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if we did little of note this summer, our bank balance will continue to go north and our performance levels with continue to stagnate.

  • para

    @Sam, I agree. I’m always suspect of the “LOUD” ones.
    Barking dogs hardly attack you, they are usually more scared than you.
    It’s the ones that just growl in a very low tone you should be careful of and make you hope you’ve dictated your will.

    And now to cheer us all up:
    Juventus to offer £5m for Van Persie.
    I hope it was worth it RVP.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Sometimes , the universe gets its own back !

  • Brickfields Gunners

    @ para -June 7, 2015 at 8:40 am – RVP is where he is supposed to be . What of ManUre ? They ‘stole’ him from us for a miserly 25 Million Pounds , paid him 1 Million per month for his stay and he won 1 final EPL trophy for them .

  • colario

    Sam. Thank you for the links. They are a good read and worth keeping.

  • Great article…. So true…. Give me 4th place any day of the week over the style of football mourhino play…. I was brought up watching George Graham teams and if Arsenal went back to that style…. I’d rather watch cycling.
    The FA cup final againat villa….. Chelsea could only dream of playing like that….

    Could you please send this article on to that balloon Piers Morgan…. and maybe he might start to understand and get a grasp of what foootball is all about…. Entertainment!!!!

  • Jacko Brown

    permit a bit of space to make a few comments. First a lot o so called fans say we need to buy 4 or five players to be competitive. well here are a few facts on the season just completed. we started the season without three of our senior defenders our 2 most accomplished goalkeepers 2 of our top forwards more than half of our midfield out injured. on the return of these players we have not lost to any of the so called top six including the champions and have gathered more points than any other team since january.On the other hand Liverpool lost two senior players where are they now.Chelsea lost Costa for a few games how many points did they gather then. Man city lost Yaya and Cun struggled. Take all the facts in perspective and judge

  • The Waal

    Thank you for your pensive analysis which I agree with your sentiment completely. Its likely Wenger’s approach will become immortalised for his valid contributions to management at various tiers within an organisational structure – furthermore he has never jumped ship in as much as offering his services for another team after AFC and his value is such that his position is (arguably) indispensable. Wenger’s vision has already crystallised in the move from Highbury to the Emirates the only managers to juxtapose him with in British Footballing terms (Alex Ferguson being the exception) have not come near to equalling Wenger’s commitment to taking their respective clubs from the position of being mere also-rans to being the proverbial “real deal” the suggestion here is that AFC is a footballing and economic giant clubwise and is likely to be so for years to come. Thanks Arsene.

  • Mandy Dodd

    I bet it wasn’t just Chelsea fans that gave you the abuse you mentioned, go on many Arsenal forums, and those who call themselves Gooners are extremely defensive of Chelsea and their manager, some suspiciously so, yet these types rarely have a good word to say about Wenger.
    If you want a quick win at all cost, spend a fortune and leave behind a scorched earth policy, and you are prepared to tolerate dire football,Jose’s the man for you, but arsenal have not been afforded such luxuries, even if they wished to avail of them.
    What the media fail to take into account, in addition to the stadium, and competing with oilers, this club, for right or for wrong, have an owner who at least does not appear to want to put his own money into players of infrastructure, in contrast to just about all Wengers opponents. I am not making a judgement on Stan here, if that really is his policy, that’s his prerogative, but it raises my esteem of Wenger even higher.
    Wenger doesn’t do tactics, doesn’t do defence, doesn’t do sports fitness, well, there have been changes in all these things this season, as Per has recently described, resulting in the team looking more solid.
    Mourinho for some reason seems a bit obsessed , the media lay the bait on our manager, he bites without fail. That to me indicates that, for all his success, this unpleasant eye gouger of a man is driven mainly by his own insecurity. I hope never to see such a type managing Arsenal in the future.

  • milk

    it is a fact that arsene is the all time greatest manager and he will be remembered as all time greatest with or without winning trophies. But for mourine, he needs to win things to sell his name to the highest bidder cos without the trophies he has nothing. and when he talked about arsene it showed us how insecure he is. Thank you for your great article; they are spot on.

  • Jambug

    Mandy Dodd

    “I bet it wasn’t just Chelsea fans that gave you the abuse you mentioned, go on many Arsenal forums, and those who call themselves Gooners are extremely defensive of Chelsea and their manager, some suspiciously so, yet these types rarely have a good word to say about Wenger.”

    I know, it’s simply amazing. Those Arsenal fans, if indeed that’s what they are, should be ashamed of themselves.

    Of course Chelsea fans will be, should be, happy about there success, but I wish they would at least have the decency to acknowledge, a) how it came about b) the reality of how they are perceived.

    Which is:

    a) It came about due to the generosity of a Russian Oligarch of questionable repute, bestowing a personal fortune of around a BILLION quid on there Club. Before such intervention, basically they where rubbish. Anyone bestowed such riches would achieve, at the very least, what Chelsea have.

    b) Yes, they now have a Club that wins things. Alas, they have a Club Managed by one of the most Narcissistic, Egotistical and Odious men ever to grace the managerial World. He makes Brian Clough look the epitome of Modesty. He is detested everywhere he goes except here, where our equally odious Media have there heads so far up his arse I wonder they ever see daylight. Despite success in other territories they cant abide him or his teams.

    I know it’s all about opinions, and in my humble opinion Wenger is by far the better manager than Mourinho and as for person?

  • john

    @jambug 10.44

    Your description of Mourinho and the response he gets from the British media is spot-on!

  • Mandy Dodd

    Many true words Jambug. Some Chelsea fans seem to have forgotten the issues you mention. I am not going to tar them all with the same brush, but I have a bit of a downer on some of their fans, living around London in the 1980s, I just cannot help but associate at least some of their fans with far right thuggish ness. Mike T and his ilk excepted of course!
    I think Mourinho is a man fraught with issues, perhaps he has a complex on the fact that no matter how successful he is, Barca, Bayern and Utd would never go near him, think that hurts him. The fact is he is at Chelsea, but RA wanted Pep, JM wanted Utd. It WILL end in tears within two or three years as RA tires of his brand of football.
    Wenger is an amazing manager, many of the media refuse to recognise that, perhaps because their agenda is to ensure that Liverpool and Shit have a bit more share of the ECL places than Wengers presence allowed them.
    As for Liverpool, see they have got rid of Brendans back room staff, a sure recipe for harmony and stability !if ever there was one.

  • rich

    Oh,oh- two Rich’s

    Rich 1 (or 2) here.

    Serves me right for not picking a more distinctive username (didn’t count on making so many repeat visits)

    And, no, I don’t agree with my namesake. I’m not sure how you can regard someone as brilliant and then say ,pejoratively, he isn’t ruthless, is misguided, doesn’t properly use the funds his work has generated, and is likely to ensure we stagnate when the right actions would improve our chances. If that’s brilliant, what would a lousy manager be like?

    Watching the final last night got me thinking : when a team has a great season, typically how many of their main players (the 11 who made most appearances, or some measure like that) are new? I’d bet it is rarely over two. That isn’t my way of saying ‘we need a new two then!’, more a way of questioning the certainty of pundits that 3 or 4 new players are the answer,always the answer, for anyone who hasn’t just won the league or champions league.

    Suarez has been excellent for Barca, but then he should be at that price. If Wenger can get a sensational player I’m sure he’ll do it. If that player seeks the highest wages he can possibly get, it won’t happen. That seems a fairly simple and understandable reality. Elsewhere, in both teams the benefits of a group of players who have grown together were visible everywhere

    A new name?

    Richard? (jeez, I really aint good at this)

    The poster formerly known as Rich.

  • Menace

    There are managers & there are coaches. Wenger is a manager & visionary.

    Mourinho is a coach that has to be managed. Mourinho couldn’t manage a piss up in a brewery without unlimited funds. His entire history is strategic coaching of teams that have been bought without financial strain. The strategic methods he uses cross the line of ‘sport’ & though bound by constraints remain within the ‘professional’ method of play that the PGMO accept together with the blindness of the media. He teases his opponents with low level abuse that brings the game into disrepute. The media love this as it draws clicks & sells newspapers.

    Wenger is a manager & a coach. He has managed the growth & change of Arsenal (including the change in English Football) into the most attractive product for overseas markets. He has introduced dietary controls, technical monitoring & fluid methods of recovery to match the physical requirements of players in football. His coaching philosophy has changed the style Arsenal play into a strategic flow of ball & player in the most economic way to ensure a consistency through a whole game. His teams play a game that is pleasing to the eye while remaining within the constraints of sport. Wenger is astute & honest with funds that are entrusted to him while being generous in patience with players in whom he sees ability to enhance his team.

  • soglorious

    1. I will stop supporting Arsenal the day Jose Mourinho becomes manager.
    2. If Arsene Wenger resigns from Arsenal today, and he says he is still ready to coach a team, I bet you that Madrid will sack their new coach for Arsene.
    That shows you how much respect he’s got.
    Wenger >>>>>> Mourinho ( my opinion )

  • dan

    Remind the media of Mourinho crying like a little girl when Utd. rejected him like the cheap 2 bit whore he is!!!

  • Andy Mack

    Two points;
    1) The chavs had quite a bit of investment for a few years before the Russian gangster arrived. Gullit and Vialli were happy to spend money and gain only a little success before MaureenO came along and spent silly money on players. He paid somewhere between 6 and 8m more than necessary to get essien and between 4 and 6m to get drogba, but he wanted to make a statement which he did, that he could buy success.
    2) AW has always done ‘tactics’ but what he rarely does is ‘major tactical changes’.
    His tactical changes are clear in most games but they are subtle. Gibbs sits a bit further back/in or money grabber nasri plays a few meters further out, 2-face spaniard plays a bit more as a 10 than a AMF or dutch skunk plays as a winger with ‘Nic’ as CF. Unfortunately most of our fans aren’t bright enough to understand the differences but they’re the ones with the loudest voices!!!!

  • ARSENAL 13

    More-in-you doesn’t come even close. Not a chance.

    Mr Wenger has walked straight into the history books. World of football will always remember him.

  • ARSENAL 13

    For all the showboatism and ‘I am the best’ talk of More-in-you, he will only be remembered in context of Mr Wenger. Never otherwise…..

  • abel paye

    Thanks Sam for giving us the difference a real manager and a barking dog. In Arsene we trust

  • Jambug

    History will recall these years of success at Chelsea as the ‘Abramovich era’ and NOT the ‘Mourinho era’.

    Which says all you need to know about where the real credit lies (if that’s even the right word), for chelseas recent Trophy haul.

    My Gran could win Trophies with the money Chelsea have spent.

  • AL

    Great article, Sam. I like the barking dog v elephant analogy 🙂

  • AL

    Just to add; if Wenger was to become available tomorrow Barcelona and Madrid will be heading the list of clubs chasing him (followed by the likes of Bayern). That tells you all you need to know about the great man.

  • wenger didnt win anything for some years yet he was being recognised among the top coaches in the world but jose needs to win something to be relevant.

  • Shard

    Wenger..Specialist in Failure!!

    Specialist in Failure at self promotion
    Specialist in Failure at managing expectations
    Specialist in Failure at cultivating those important wink wink nudge nudge relationships

    But at managing a football club, he is probably peerless.

  • goonersince72

    AW is the best manager in England, perhaps the best, period. Who are we defending him to? Fans of the oil teams? The media? He is appreciated more outside of England than in it. His stature will continue to grow long after he steps saside.
    A note to the REAL RICH: glad you sorted that out, I was worried for you, lol. COYG!

  • chinanu ndumele that is about it. Because as the article says, achievement needs to take into account what you are working with. Mourinho has unlimited resources, Wenger had very limited resources and kept Arsenal near the top.

    Let me try and explain this to you. If I managed Torquay United and took them to the cup final, but lost, I would have won nothing. But since Torquay is a struggling Conference side, that would still be a major achievement.


  • rich

    By the way, as the threads a bit of a Mourinho hate-in, have any of you read the expose by a Spanish journalist of his time at Madrid. The Special one : The dark side of Jose Mourinho ; Diego Torres.

    I try not to reference the book when discussing Mourinho, though it is always sorely tempting to do so, simply because it is from the one source, and is essentially unverifiable.

    Anyway, either it is an in depth account which gets to the heart of the man and what an utter bastard he is, or they must have extremely lax libel laws in Spain (none, maybe)- as it is almost inexplicable otherwise that Mourinho wouldn’t sue someone for lying and painting him in such a bad light.

    Among all the unpleasantries, and there’s a tremendous amount of it, perhaps the one that stuck out most was Mourinho allegedly telling his players to foul freely and often in a particular game, because the ref/refs are shit scared of sending off a Madrid player. This for a game in which he had been in the press all week complaining about how poorly his team are treated by refs.

    The book is crawling with such details. If the author was inventing some or most of it, he is an extraordinary fabricator, as each revelation fits seamlessly with the behaviour that is visible and common knowledge.

    You should read it if you want the momentary pleasures of seeing it all laid out before you, in a compelling well-written book, what a complete swine he is.

    Or maybe you shouldn’t , as it is a hell of a tease to have the nastiness of the man laid bare, while knowing our own press will studiously ignore the book and ,more importantly, have no interest in compiling their own adequate profiles of his conduct and history. Just take the ‘campaign’ story this year. He did it at Madrid, did it at Inter and, if the title was ever in doubt at Porto, no doubt he did it there too. It’s who he is and how he works.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Thanks Rich and glad you sorted out the other Rich commenter. I really was thinking: what has gotten in to Rich for him to write as you did(or didn’t of course 😉 )

  • Nigel

    Great article Sam. That is why I’m so glad I have found this website of true Arsenal fans.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    We can see from historical statistics that Chelsea’s position in the table was 75th percentile mediocrity in the 7 years prior to Mr. Abramovich’s club purchase. In fairness to Chelsea they seem to have been marginally outspent by Arsenal during this period and dwarfed by Manchester United. This is very similar to Arsenal’s record in the last 7 years when faced with free-spending Man City and Chelsea and traditionally wealthy Man United not to mention that Arsenal was also outspent by Liverpool and Tottenham.

    What is intriguing is the comparison of Chelsea’s record under Mr. Abramovich before and after Sheikh Masour’s purchase of Manchester City. Chelsea’s record from 2003-2008 was: 2nd, 1st,1st, 2nd, 2nd and since has been: 3rd,1st, 2nd, 6th,3rd, 3rd, 1st. I would argue that even Chelsea has been affected by the entry of another extremely rich competitor and to argue that others haven’t been affected by the entry of free-spending competitors is disingenuous. Arsenal faced with the build of a new stadium and an increase of the numbers of wealthy competitors has done extremely well.

  • bob mac

    Brilliant and realistic article.

    Wenger’does not do tactics’ is a complete myth, he is one of very few forward thinking and innovative managers in the world.

  • Jambug


    “Just take the ‘campaign’ story this year. He did it at Madrid, did it at Inter and, if the title was ever in doubt at Porto, no doubt he did it there too. It’s who he is and how he works.”

    “……while knowing our own press will studiously ignore the book and ,more importantly, have no interest in compiling their own adequate profiles of his conduct and history.”


    In the Daily Mail earlier this year that grease ball Martin Samuel went to great lengths to back Mourinho’s whinging to the hilt.

    The crux of his article was:

    ‘if you look at the stats Chelsea really do get a rum deal with penalties’

    This of course was to just use stats from a relatively, very short period, whilst totally ignoring statistics from the last 10 years or so, that show a clear and significant penalty bias in Chelseas favour,

    Basically, what he was saying is that during that 6 Month period Chelsea got a penalty once every 13 matches, so yes, for that very small, selective period things weren’t going there way, but where has Samuel been for the last 10 years ?

    These are the penalty statistics comparing Arsenal and Chelsea since Riley took charge of POGMOL, as produced in an UA article on the 29th Oct 2014 @ 4.53pm posted by your good self:


    Penalties for……23

    Penalties against..32


    Penalties for……43

    Penalties against..14

    But selective, biased, analysis in favour of the Media darlings is what we have come to expect from the likes of Samuel and his friends.

  • rich


    Even i’m not willing to try figure this one out, but as it was early in the season, and I can’t recall many pens in the first two months, our pens sure did soar after that date when I posted those damning stats. Never a minus year until Riley took over, never a positive after.

    I should’ve done it earlier! Don’t think I’d realised things were quite that bad until I added them up, laboriously, by hand *.

    The grim irony is that football journalists are the guys who should be looking into those things. But not at the command of a manager, and not when using a small sample size.

    Weird things ‘should’ be seen within small samples; it’s only when you have a larger one that the data is likely to be meaningful, and when you know you are looking at something seriously weird- like a top four club getting about half the number of pens as their rivals over a 5 or 6 year period, and not having a positive season for pens in all that time. Sadly, it escaped the inquisitive gaze of Samuels and co.

    * I hope those stats of yours (mine) are correct, by the way. I made a schoolboy error once when adding them up. Think the ones in your post are from the other times when I got it right, though

    The page I got them from- myfootballfacts and stats- is seriously misbehaving when I try look at it ,so I can’t check at this point. Could see enough on it though to see Chelsea’s 2 seasons before this were 11-1 and 7-1 (Samuels fine sensors must only start twitching when it gets up to 15-1 or 20-1 or something), while ours were, of course, minus, meaning worse than Chelsea’s this year, each time.

    I’ll have a look another day- I know they’re damning stats but I wouldn’t want to have got them wrong (shame pgmol or the premier league websites don’t make it easy to keep track of these things)

  • Jambug

    Re my above comment.

    If you click on the link, do yourself a favour and read the replies. Laughable.

    Praising Samuel for a ‘great article’ ‘best I’ve read for ages’ ‘brilliant research’ BRILLIANT RESEARCH. Are you f***ing joking !!

    The truth is Samuel is a football journalist. His life is embedded in the game, so you would think he knows all the statistics out there regarding penalties, and exactly how many Chelsea do get over the long haul, yet he chooses to completely ignore the bigger picture in favour of a micro sample simply to support Mourinho.

    So Samuel is either:

    a) Shamefully, very ignorant of the facts.

    b) Shamefully, re shaping history simply to ingratiating himself with the odious one.

    Either way it’s disgracefully poor journalism.

  • Jambug


    I use various sites for statistics and usually try to link them when I can. We are both diligent in our research and I know neither of us would deliberately mislead.

    I know your stats are going to be pretty close because I have seen the original data myself, and although I cannot recall where, or there exact numbers, I know we come out of it terribly whilst Chelsea come out of it well.

    If you do find your source I would love to see it so I can save it.

    I just hope I don’t miss it when you post it.

  • rich


    This is the page I got them from. Wish I could find an alternative page as this one is not only an eyesore but one of those that makes me paranoid about bugs and the like.

    Far as i know though you’re safe these days if you have an antivirus so long as you don’t download things. It’s why those football streaming sites are a nightmare for me and i normally just give up on them.

    Anyway, after that legal disclaimer, here’s the link:

  • I told some folks back here in my country Nigeria that long after Wenger and Mourinho are out of the football theatre. Wenger is the one that would be considered as worthy of study in prime ivory towers and faculties of football colleges.

    Am a disciple of Jesus and Wenger reminds me so much of the Jesus ideology of humaneness, mentoring, and patience cultivation of ordinary folks to stardom.

  • Jambug

    Thanks for the link rich but I’m petrified of viruses so I wont risk it. Thanks anyway. I’ll have a look around for some stats tomorrow.

    Off I go, up early.

  • Tom

    Interesting article Sam.

    For me it all boils down to what your club’s philosophy and objectives are.
    Arsene Wenger is the best man for the job at Arsenal, and Mourinho is the best man for the job at Chelsea.

    If my son of sixteen is being scouted by Arsenal and Chelsea , I wouldn’t let him near Mourinho.
    I know I could trust Arsene Wenger to take him under his wings and probably do a better job guiding him through the next four or five years than I could ever do.

    However, if my team needs to win a game and stakes are high, and I have a choice of Wenger or Mourinho and one week to prepare, I would choose Mourinho every time.

    Mourinho could never do what Wenger has done at Arsenal, no more than Wenger could do what Mourinho did with Porto, Inter and possibly Chelsea twice.

    Hate Mourinho as you may for all his dispicable antics but don’t deny him the ability to squeeze the most out of every squad he’s ever managed.
    His attention to detail and in game management is second to none.

    Wenger’s preparation and coaching of his players is of the highest order for sure, but it’s his willingness to let his players express themselves and solve their issues themselves during games, is what makes him an underdog whenever he comes up against Mourinho.

    I’m perfectly happy with Wenger for however long he decides to stay, as I am sure Chelsea fans are happy with Mourinho ,so long he keeps winning them trophies.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Glad to hear from Rich the first,,rich the second is of course entitled to his opinion but suggesting we have stagnated for the last couple of seasons is a hard sell. Is there a rich the third out there?
    As,for Wenger, despite the attempts of the media, especially sky, then the pgmol and AAA, he is on something approaching a level playing field. We all know what he is capable of when things are approaching equal. So do they, that’s why they do all they can to hinder Wenger. Jose is trying to put himself in the place of Fergie, controlling the refs and media,fortunately, Jose is no Fergie, dark arts, yes, but nothing like the longevity or stamina of the master of Riley. Jose will cheat and manipulate for two to three year spells, Fergie did it for a little bit longer

  • Mandy Dodd

    Make you right Tom, on letting young players near Jose, he does nothing for youngsters. He rightly…or wrongly…. as I did not see the game, threw loftus cheek right under the bus last week in Australia. Ray Wilkins waxes lyrical, that others buy potential, whereas Mourinho buys proven players…..often from a particular agent I would add……..but yes, Jose does absolutely feck all for developing youngsters, Chelsea do but he does not. Maybe not his job, but just as well all managers are not like the short termist one.
    As you say, Jose does what he does well, mainly getting a lead in a match or a league by whatever means and not surrendering it, but his presence is finite. there have been tImes when I have thought Wenger needed to be just a bit more pragmatic, with Coq and other developments, that seems to have happened, and for that reason, I look forward to next season. Wenger has a bad record against Jose, I expect that to change.

  • Rantetta

    Excellent article, Sam.


  • rich


    I don’t find that hypothetical- 1 game you need to win- is as meaningful as it first appears.

    If you’re weighing it up, surely you have to ask whether you would be happy to have Mourinho as your club’s manager for a season. You don’t bring in managers for one big game, so you’ve got to ask whether you want him for a season/seasons?

    Would you be happy to have a season with him?

    If we’re doing such hypotheticals, though. Swap the budgets Mourinho and Wenger have operated with when facing each other in the premier league and I’m very confident Wenger would have an overwhelming lead in their head to heads. Mou would successfully frustrate and counter sometimes, more often not, and get battered on others.

    Trust me, I get it though : Mourinho is good at what he does, and those two Champions league successes mean your work is cut out arguing against him. It’s an unfortunate combo , no doubt about it, for those who loathe him- arguing against the two Cl wins in combination with all the league titles.

    For instance, it’s agonising for me to consider what could have been avoided if our team had played to their full potential in the 2003-4 champ league. The margins were tiny, of our going out, of Porto beating United. It was there for us. A brutal semi in the FA cup three days before the pivotal game. Mourinho surely getting the Chelsea job, and his hands on all that cash, as a result of reaching the CL final. Ouch. Monaco, who we could undoubtedly have beaten, in the semi before a showdown with Mourinho. A chance for Marty to go back and beat the crap out of Biff Buchanan before he hits his stride. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Haunts me

    Was Mourinho getting through when the margins were small a result of his brilliance, was Arsenal’s failure to win it that year down to the fact Wenger gives his players leeway and doesn’t possess equal attention to detail , etc- or was it just football, where someone has to and does win when the margins are tiny, and shit happens?

    That’s be the starting point of my attempt to show how the story of Mourinho’s success is one of him being good at what he does, enjoying a little luck at the beginning, ruthlessly capitalising on all the capital and opportunities that came his way afterwards,etc- as opposed to him being some ultimate winner and special one who can ‘squeeze the most out of every squad he has managed’

    Basically, I think there’s so much more to it than the story the trophies tell. But I know arguing against them is arguing against the dominant ways of football- where trophies are taken as argument settlers- especially now.

    As you can see from the length of the post, it takes time (apologies for droning on but, you know, Mourinho..the suggestion it would be better to have him than Wenger for the game of your life. Just kill me), but I’m no believer in brevity always being a reliable sign of truth.

  • Mourinho is in this debate @ all because of the nosedived value system in society and football.
    It’s so sad when an egotist is compared to a humanist like Wenger, unfortunately even so called gooners are none the wiser.
    For some the end justifies the means but tor Wenger the means justify the end.

  • Oluwatoba

    At the end of the day, the Chelsea bloke is no different from those blokes who coached at the other smaller teams that we may never remember again. They came like the flash in a pan and disappeared from the course of history. Because there are many like them and when one leaves another comes. If you really have to remind people you are ‘Special’ truth is you may never really be special in the real sense. The human mind connects with virtues without having someone point them to it.

  • Sam Sayyed

    All, this is Sam, the author of the above article. Like Rich, I made the mistake of using a not so distinctive username, so henceforth I’m going to use my last name as well.

    For the record, the comment about barking dog and elephant isn’t mine 🙂

    I must also admit, that having only started to support Arsenal in the Wenger era, at times I was disillusioned with Wenger’s actions – specifically the time when Wenger did not sign anyone to replace Adebayor, Hleb, Flamini etc whilst some Arsenal Director’s made public statements that funds were available should Wenger wanted to use them.

    It is only after reading the interview in 2009 that I understood the profound thinking, philosophy and loyalty of the man. I still thought that his philosophy and moral stance may not be the best in these times of financial doping and Arsenal would suffer, but I preferred to let him go out on his own terms given what he had done for the club rather than asking for his head.

    However, two back to back FA cups and the progress the team has made (bar injuries) has showed me that I was wrong there too. As the old timers say, “Wenger knows!”

  • Damilare

    Sound article there Sam.

    @THE APOLOGIST, my thoughts exactly. Which brings me to believe strongly that Winning trophies is not alien to AW. He has proven that on his arrival at Arsenal. He paused to achieve a greater fit (Stadium Wenger) and now he is getting back at winning things 3 trophies in 2 seasons. I have started counting.

    In the final analysis, AW would have won all available trophies CL inclusive, but Maureen would not have built a team, let alone a stadium. I doubt if JM can even build a fantasy team on ‘football manager’.

  • Andy Mack

    Tom, What does ” no more than Wenger could do what Mourinho did with Porto, Inter and possibly Chelsea twice” actually mean?
    Are you suggesting that when AW first came to us and started winning silverware immediately it’s some how different from MaureenO winning?
    Obviously AW spend quite a lot then (as we had it) whereas MaureenO spent obscene amounts, but apart from that I’m really confused by your comment.

  • ARSENAL 13

    @ Sam, the original.

    “funds were available should Wenger wanted to use them.”

    This statement isnt necessarily a false statement to get the fans off the back. It is clear. It says the management will make funds available (by going into red) if Mr Wenger needs it desperately. This in no way tells that money was available for say a 30-40 million signing.

    BUT then its the genius of Mr Wenger, to work with what he earned. And kept us competitive during that period. He never took ARSENAL into the red (accounts) with his demands to sign players.

  • Sam Sayyed

    My frustration in those days was that if Board is saying that funds are available then why doesn’t he spend it to strengthen obvious gaps in the team? However, he explained in his 2009 interview that once having decided to invest in youth, you need to give them the chance to make mistakes and develop else you throw away all the hard work. So whether or not funds were available is irrelevant. And after reading that interview I did realise what he was out to achieve and respectd Mr. Wenger even more for his loyalty and commitment to those players. Alas, those two-faced gits like RvP, Fabregas, Nasri, Adebayor, Hleb, Flamini v1.0 etc didn’t pay back his loyalty because there was the nucleus of a PL winning team right there!

  • Goonermikey

    What I’d like to know is why, when Jack sings a song (in the heat of the celebration) that the fans often sing he gets charged with bringing the game into disrepute because he insulted Spuds fans. Yet Mourinho can repeatedly insult AW and nothing happens. Further, other clubs’ fans sing songs that, in any other scenario would be considered defamation, and nothing happens. One rule for us………

  • Menace

    There are some very critical moments in the Arsenal history under Wenger where the squad was weakened. The first was when Annelka for greed & Ian Wright left because of idiotic pride & probably cost us a championship & European trophy. He was part of a fantastic squad. The others who left later weakened ‘probables’ but the great Wenger retained his system.

  • ARSENAL 13

    We had money or not. We have money now or not……we have won the cup back to back now, but the proud moments for us, like you said Sam, is when the likes of Wilshere, Ramsey, Gibbs, Ox, Jenko, walk onto the pitch. Everytime.