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10 Reasons why I love Arsène Wenger

By Tony Attwood

1.  My father was an Arsenal fan in the 1930s and he saw the greatest team the country had ever produced.   I grew up supporting Arsenal during one of their lean spells when year after year we not only won nothing, we never once looked like winning anything.

As a teenager I wondered why I was cursed with supporting Arsenal during a dead time.  OK we had been in the First Division since 1919, longer than anyone, but that really wasn’t the same thing.

I didn’t resent my father having had the privilege of being at Highbury during the 30s, but I just wished I could experience something along those lines.

Of course I didn’t have to wait for Arsène Wenger because Bertie Mee got there first (except I chose to live in Algiers during the first double year) and then we had some cup wins and finally George Graham, but none of these were anything remotely like Arsène Wenger.

Sadly my father passed away during the George Graham era, so he never got to see Wenger’s approach, but I am there carrying on the family tradition, and at last I have my share of the glory.

We had a comment on this site recently which said something like, “how much longer will the fans keep coming to watch, without a trophy?” and my answer is “forever”.  This is Arsenal, we always turn up.  But oh my, how wonderful is the taste of success.

2.  Having spent a lifetime watching football, not only with Arsenal, but at all levels, (Bournemouth, Torquay, Poole Town, Corby Town, Halifax, Rangers, Aberdeen, Holland during the Total Football era…) I know that the football up to and during the Invincibles era, was the greatest football ever.

No one has to convince me, I was there.  And on the final day of the unbeaten season I stood there, unable to use the camera I’d brought along, because of the tears of sheer and total joy pouring down my face.  We had gone unbeaten all season – the impossible dream – and I had been there.  Enough of a reason to love the guy, without anything else.

3.  Wenger is the first ever football manager to propose and then execute a total economic theory of football. The theory says, the current system cannot continue, and will eventually implode on itself.  Therefore we need to do things differently.  This is why football will fail, and this is what we do about it.

Even if we hadn’t won a single title, that would be enough for me, because up to this point I have had to support Arsenal while knowing that the managers hadn’t got a clue how the club worked financially.  (In fact most of them didn’t seem to have a clue about anything).

Now we have a situation in which the excellence of Wenger’s thinking is being shown to have a value way beyond getting a league title, because it means that while the other big clubs slip down as they try to work out how to cope with economic reality, and as we see the flexing of muscles by Uefa, we are there, in position and ready to roll.

4.  My life has been spent in the creative arts. First half of my working life I was a musician, second half, a writer.  And in both areas of work I have experimented, trying to find new things to do, new ways of working, new approaches.   That’s just how I am, and what I do, that’s what I value.  (That’s why “Making the Arsenal” is a novel, not a straight history book.  I like to do things differently).

When I saw Total Football for the first time I thought, “At last – original thinking.”  And then lo and behold, no one else tried to develop it.

Original thinking (which as I say, I value extremely highly) is extraordinarily rare in football.  Maybe Henry Norris had it (I am still not sure after researching his life from start to end), Herbert Chapman had it, and then…  I am not sure who else I would put in the original thinking zone at Arsenal, other than Arsène Wenger.  Elsewhere I suppose the invention of rotational fouling could be called original thinking – but on the positive side, look around the footballing world, what is original in football?  What is original and positive in the world cup?  I’m not sure I’ve seen anything much.

Of course you might not value original thinking for itself, and that’s fair enough.  For me, it is how civilisation keeps going.  Without it, we sink backwards.  Wenger is the past master – I love him for it.

5.  The incredible success of the youth system.

It always amuses me when people write that the Youth Project has failed, when it fact it is just starting to happen.  A bunch of 11/12 year olds were brought together, and seven years later, with most of them still in place we won the Youth Double.  This year we were the first team ever to retain the Youth League title.

Even if not a single player from that squad made it for Arsenal I’d still say it was something special – giving something remarkable to the game.  (You see I value the youth team, just as I value the women’s team.  It is all part of Arsenal).  But in fact when you look at the players coming through from that group, you know this is going to be incredible.

“So why has Arsène Wenger started to buy in established players?” sneer those who like to sneer at everything Arsène Wenger does.  The answer is simple: it is because as this amazing group of players comes through, they are going to need good support around them, and that’s what is being put in place.

6.  Arsène Wenger was instrumental not only in rebuilding Arsenal’s training regime, and in transforming the British game through world-wide scouting, and in establishing the youth project, he was also instrumental in pushing for and setting out the plans of the Ems.

Highbury was cramped, the gangways for overcrowded, the views in some places blocked by posts, the toilets a health hazard, the food minimal, the income poor.  OK the north bank was better after the rebuilding, and the bond-holder’s bar was acceptable, but really!  It was not a 21st century stadium.

David Dein wanted us to play at Wembley.   Arsène Wenger resisted and eventually gave us a stadium I love.  I feel really proud every time I go in there.  I know of no other stadium to rival it.

7.  Arsène Wenger is the ultimate media man. The childish half-drunk semi-baked, reporters who are still trying to work out what happens when you rub two sticks together, misquote him and misrepresent him, but he still comes back and talks to them.  He says, “we could go unbeaten this year” and we lose the next match.  They snigger.  Does he then hide away?  No, he comes out and does it next year.

More than anything Arsène Wenger takes risks with the media – knowing he will be misquoted and laughed at.  Knowing that childish commentators will say, “he said we’d do this and he didn’t.”   Yes, he says it all, and opens himself up to abuse, because he believes in being open and honest.

I still have my t-shirt in which Arsène Wenger is shown as a dolt saying, “I believe we can go the whole season unbeaten,” and I still wear it.  That symbolises the man.  The man who will stand up to all the idiots, and never be afraid of criticism.

8.  As I said at the start, apart from watching Arsenal, I watch other football, and compare it with what I get at Arsenal.  I sometimes watch DVDs of Arsenal in the year or two before Arsène Wenger came to power.  I just don’t ever want to have to go back.  It is possible that if Mourinho had been our manager last year we would have won the league.  I would have still supported Arsenal, because that’s what I do.  But I would have had less fun because that victory would have been built on defence, defence and then, oh, well, you know, defence.

Arsène Wenger gives me football the way I want it to be played.

9.  Arsène Wenger has a plan, a theory, a vision. And it is sustainable.  When he finally leaves Arsenal, he will leave not just a club with money in the bank and a wonderful stadium.  He will leave it with the greatest world-wide scouting network the world has ever seen, and the greatest youth system the world has ever seen.  He will leave us a future.

10.  I remember Charlton. Charlton, the quintessential second division club.  Nice little ground, club that came back from the dead, no great history save once having a ground so big that it took the whole of half time to walk to the top of the terrace and back down again.

Then they got their own philosopher-sportsman.  OK not quite at the level of Plato and Wenger, but still, a man who could do stuff: Alan Curbishley.  He turned the club round.  Amazingly he got them into the top league and kept them there.

Eventually in 2006 he left Charlton.  Not just because he wanted to, but because the supporters were getting at him.   Utterly amazingly, given the  success he had had, the supporters starting saying, “Curbishley has done well, but he’s taken us as far as he can.  Now we need a new man to take us up to the next level.”

To the next level?  This is diddly Charlton we are talking about – a team playing several leagues above their natural position.  That guy had got the team walking on water.  For Charlton, where they were was the next level, and the one after that.

So Curbishley left, and the club sank down to their natural level, and have shown little ability to get out of it.

And what do those supporters do now?  Blame the owners.   All the Zoilismists with all their carping criticism should take note.

For me, Arsène Wenger is the greatest thing ever to have happened to Arsenal. He came in and gave us instant success.  Now he is building us the base of an Empire that will last until way past my lifetime.   With luck my grandchildren will be watching the Arsenal win the league in years to come while Man IOU still try and clear their debts, and Liverpool struggle to get out of Conference North, and while Tottenham play on Hackney Marshes wondering how it all could have gone so wrong.

I love the man, and I will always do everything and anything within my power (which admittedly is pathetically little) to keep him at the club.

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41 comments to 10 Reasons why I love Arsène Wenger

  • Gooner in SA

    Amen Tony.
    Off subject…I have always had the deepest conviction that ManIOU’s success under Ferguson has been built on a steroid regime. The vein popping anger and unbelievable hyped up condition of their players down the years is glaring evidence to anyone with knowledge of steroid use symptoms. As is: Ronaldo’s massive adam’s apple, Rooneys chin and demeanour etc etc., Jaap Stam testing positive soon after joining Lazio etc etc
    I now gather from the local Portuguese community here that it is common knowledge that Nani was sent home from the Portuguese world cup squad because he was so loaded with steroids that they could not risk it being detected. So who would have known to check this? mmm Carlos Queiroz of course and he would know wouldnt he?
    In my view it would make an extremely interesting investigation / article for some publication with the guts to run the story.
    What is your take on steroid / drug abuse in the EPL?

  • Richard B

    Only slightly off subject I notice that the AST are reporting (with their usual impeccable sources) that there has been only a 5% churn on season ticket renewals.
    The belief in Wenger goes on.

  • 5% is about the norm I think, and that means you come down the season ticket waiting list about 5,000 a year (2,000 people giving up season tickets, and 3,000 not taking up the season ticket when offered to them after their 10 year wait).

    Arsenal have also written to ST holders who want to move saying that they had 4,000 requests to move seats this year but only accommodated a very tiny number of these requests.

  • ak47

    here here tony. gooner in sa, no freakin way!!! if it is true when it finally comes out imagine being a man u fan realising all that success was cheating! add the glazers and man city rise and they’d hav loads on suicide watch!

  • Bammers05

    Gooner in SA, don’t forget about Rio Ferdinand ‘forgetting’ about his mandatory drug test a few years ago.

    Good article btw. Sadly, some of those calling for him to leave may only appreciate what he’s done for this club, once he’s left.

  • Another excellent article and certainly the truth.
    As I seem to be carving out a niche for myself as the resident pedant, I thought you had coined a new word with “Zoilismists” (and indeed you have at least made a googlewhack) until I realised Zoilist was actually correct.

  • Dark Prince

    Hahahaha…..i can give u a 100 reasons 😛

  • Gf60

    @Tony Were dietary plans/anti drinking included in your training regime? If not that’s 11. And missing no. 12, simply the fact that in most areas, he’s a genius. Yes, maybe he does have the occasional blind spot but overall…? We’ve never been so spoilt.

  • AaronGSi

    Nice article. Some positive writing amongst all the doom and gloom that courses through the media at the moment (whether it be England, or protests against Vuvuzelas or addidas footballs, or all the stuff about Cesc etc) is always a welcome sight.
    I like the point about Charlton especially, and it should serve as a reminder that sometimes, as fans, you can reap what you sow, so far as pushing and pushing a negative view onto the club, and forcing change.
    I read a great comment somewhere the other day (it might even have been on untold), that was along the lines of Wenger is an innovator, in that he is striving to move forward the game of football and develop it – not let it rest on its laurels. It was a comment comparing AW to someone like Mourinho in that Mourinho has been more successful these last few years in terms of trophies etc, but his teams will never break any boundaries with football and will just stagnate the game ultimately, as it is very easy to play defensive, safe football, but much harder to try and produce attractive, attacking teams, with flair and originality.
    I think it summed up AW very well.

  • tim

    Cheers, Tony.

    Arsene Wenger represents all that’s right in sport.

  • Finsbury

    Really interesting comment by Gooner in SA.

    I can only add to that a 13th point after Gf60:

    I know that AFC started testing their own players for drugs early on in AW’s reign. I don’t know about recent activities, but early on in the decade, EPO blood transfusions were an issue, the club would test new signings for abuse, some were found to have been abused. There was an interview I saw once with AW on the subject.
    These days, I imagine the techniques and technology used have evolved, but I can believe in desperate players still taking relatively primitive steroids. After all, they do in many other sports.

    I for one am glad, that the players I support and pay to watch, are not being forced to abuse themselves or their families.
    You could argue, they get paid enough, so who cares?
    But anyone who’s seen someone on too many steroids could make an articulate counter to such a thought.

  • Q8Gooner

    And I’ve got 100 reasons why I love you Tony!
    Great article. This my first time to comment, but been a regular reader for a while!

  • Finsbury

    Is there a difference in taking steroids, and say Messi, who required ‘growth’ injections whilst growing up?
    Many athletes have such treatments as they are growing up. Some people require such treatments out of necessity. Then, there are accepted supplements, like Creatine etc. which I would not & have not taken.

    A confusing topic.

  • Ole Gunner

    I respect Wenger because he’s one of the most rounded characters I know of in life.

    Courage, pluck, intelligence, persuasion, articulate, analytical, visionary, nurturing, strict, severe, frugal, generous. Pragmatic, idealistic, respectful, sure, self-critical, loyal, wise, selfless, trustworthy, trusting, accepting, critical, hard working, not judgemental……

    I could go on for days. I am an Arsene-worshipper because I am impressed with the man.

    He is an extremely blessed individual. If he hadn’t gone on to become the best manager in the world he’d have been the best Jazz Musician in the world, or one of the best doctors, or one of the most inspirational characters. He’d have been one of the best anything. Because he is an outstanding individual.

    I love the football we have been blessed to see in our stadiums. I love the fantastic players he’s scouted far and wide to bring to us. I love the culture of excellence he’s brought to our footballing operations. I love the way he’s made Arsenal one of the most exciting brands, one of the most desirable things people want to buy into. I love the way he protects his family, the club, the players. I love how our defeats pain him every bit as they pain us. I love how he’s delivered results. I like how he’s raised the bar for all football. I love his complete passion for the game.

    I love the fact that he realises success is a comprehensive thing. I love a winner who realises that winning is not just trophies, it’s winning by making the most of what you have.

    One day he will leave Arsenal, and we’ll need 4 or 5 people to replace him.

  • stuart

    Good article Tony. But what your really saying is , so goes Wenger so goes Arsenal.

  • Dec

    Every word true Tony, well done an appropriate tribute to a great man.
    It does however raise the disturbing question of what happens to Arsenal in the post Wenger era? Hopefully it will be a long time away, but it will arrive some day. Even with the club being on such a strong footing as a result of Arsene’s vision and expertise, it will be a huge jolt to loose such a colossus. I don’t really see AW leaving AFC because of some silly fans ranting about trophies or their lack of. But what I wonder might be possible reasons that could cause him to leave apart from the inevitable age and health (hopefully many years from now)? Boardroom changes(possible)?, New challenges (hardly)? A better option for AFC (not likely). Do you think there is a serious person in mind to be groomed to take over some day? Somebody immersed in the AW way of thinking, with the brains and confidence to carry on in the same way? Somebody with Arsenal in his/her soul?

    Maybe we need a youth manager project to prepare for that eventful day?

  • IvoryGoonz

    Maybe you can even go further and say you like Arsene Wenger because he’s French?
    😉

  • What happens when Wenger leaves?

    My thinking is that although he is not nurturing is own replacement, the glorious youth system, the world wide scouting and the financial arrangements will continue.

    The only thing that could go wrong would be if the board appointed an Englishman who started talking about all champions having a solid English spine, and an English centre half who understands the English game.

    Leaving aside such a dismantling of the system, we’ll be ok.

  • Dec

    Suppose that rules out our old friend Sam then ? 🙂

  • maltamark

    I’ve always said that we are so lucky to have Wenger at our club. Lucky lucky Arsenal? no. We have been truly blessed.

  • Damien

    Wonderful piece.

  • gooner80

    Hi Tony

    you make a very a interesting point about alan curbs, I thought the Charlton supporters were mad putting pressure on curbs.Arsenal are not charlton though.

    I am thankful for Wenger for bringing some truly great players like Henry and viera

    you have heard the saying familiarity breeds contempt, and a fair amount of arsenal fans probably me included will always be ungrateful and no doubt I would probably be one of the first to say we should have never let wenger go, but that is the fickle nature of football,it is wengers fault for raising expectations

    on the steroid thing, I dont think steroids would help too much in pro football especially compared to the risks of the damage it would do in the short term,if rooney was taking steroids it would have been before he became a pro, but I dont think so,some males just have more testosterone,I dont think any person in their right mind who was a pro with so much to lose would risk it

  • RedGooner

    I think I would agree there are maybe even more reason to love AW than the 10 mentioned.
    I however was at Anfield when we won the league under GG and have witnessed many other great moments over the years.
    There still has to be an onus on AW to repeat the achievments of the past no one is bigger than the club and we have had some great mangers over the last 40 years.
    But should any of them cease to deliver it needs to be addressed NOW dont get me wrong I am not looking for wenger to leave I want him to continue the glory days and start winning again.
    We need to achieve success over the next couple of seasons on the pitch to go with the achievements off the pitch or look for someone that can do both.

  • walter

    A great article Tony. And even though we know most of it already it was a great thing to write it down and to remind us of the things why we should be happy with Arsene Wenger as our manager. Long may he stay our manager and lead us in the very near future to more glory than we have ever known before.

  • gooner80

    Thats what frustrates me the most I know we are good enough, I know wenger can do it, He proves so many wrong

    I remember when he predicted he would go a season unbeaten and they laughed at him, he was just one season wrong on his prediction.

    You know what I know wenger is a great man and I know our first eleven is a match for everyone but our squad is lacking,I can guarantee we will have a similar number of injuries next season,So I hope either some youth players are ready to step up or we buy the relevant cover

  • summitgunner

    This summer really is a pivotal time in this squads development. thankfully it seems certain we have seen the back of silvestre and gallas. the latter, though a fine player is a disruptive influence and increasingly injury prone. The key is who replaces them. Currently we all know we have Tom V and Djourrou. Dj to me is at best 4th choice. He has ability but lacks experience and again (not surprisingly at Arsenal) is injury prone. As i see it, we must sign two CB’s. Koscielny seems a cert. I know nothing at all about him but i must confess, id prefer an established animal such as Hangelaand, Cahill, Kjaer, Jagielka, Subotic or Metersacker all of whom have been rumoured. Sign one of those AND koscielny and im happy. We then have Dj as fourth choice, perhaps competing with Sol. I fear that if Sol signs on, Wenger will use him as one of four as its the cheap option. It may be better for us that Sol chooses Celtic – it will force his hand. Goalkeeper we are all agreed on – im disgusted we go for Schwarzer. Hes no better than aluminium. Buffon, Frey, Hart, Akinfeev or LLoris are all I think gettable – at least one of them is. Again, when it comes to defending, Wenger is doing it cheap. I love AW and have come to accept that he simply does not value the defensive side of the game. Wishful thinking lists of players that really could make a difference cut no ice with him. Aside from that, I hhope he continues his interest in Melo – he is looking good. Then its all about cesc – if he goes, i simply dont know how to replace him. I dont think we can. HE is a unique talent. We may as well give Nasri / Ramsey / Wilshere their head because spending millions will NOT find a replacement cesc. BEtter to spend the money elsehwere I think.

  • Gooner Gal

    Ole Gunner & Dec have add most of my points already, but I would like to add that he is a great ambassador for football in general worldwide.

    Also when he started in the EPL he did not ring a few mates also in management or former manager to take their players on loan to get started. Nothing wrong with those who have a network to call on, but I respect that Sir Wenger is a ‘self made man’ if you understand what I mean.

    This articles serves as a good reminder to many doubters. I forgot about Charlton, I was suprised by their quick demise.

  • Paulie

    Best blog I’ve read in a long long time!!!! Excellent! Obviously written by a true fan and someone who understands and appreciates what wenger has done for our club ( and football in general )…. The man is a god!!! So refreshing to read this rather than the ‘Arsene must go’ bulls**t that seems to be written every day by fans who really should look at the bigger picture. Long live Arsene and long live Arsenal… Up the Gooners!!!!

  • BOOZY

    Nice points. we all love wenger too. but i have a feeling that, if wenger eventually gets sacked( which he would, after our next 2 barren seasons ) you would gladly wish for us to get relegated, just for the joy of saying i told you so.

    Who is supposed to be the doom and gloom supporters? Those want to see the club succeed, with or without wenger? or those who say we would be destroyed if wenger goes.

    Now instead of comparing the great arsenal with clubs such as charlton, why not compare us with great clubs like Man u, realmadrid , and barca.

    Take barca for example.
    1. They are richer than us
    2. They play better football than us
    3.They have won more trophies than us
    4. They have a better youth system than us.

    AND THEY SACKED A COACH WHO WON THEM THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE, and league title, and what did they get for such brave decision?
    6 TITLES IN A YEAR.

    THE ONLY THING CONSTANT IS CHANGE, ITS HIGH TIME YOU REALISED THAT.

  • Menace

    Amen to that. I have watched football in several countries and Wengers Arsenal have no peers. The football at times was like a ballet choreographed by someone with an intimate knowledge of human reaction. I likened it to music on grass. The undefeated season was not sufficiently recognised – the ‘inverted’ trophy where silver is gold and gold is silver is insufficient. I still have a view that the Arsenal badge should have a gold star above it to signify an unbeaten season.
    The ladies team had a season that was even better a few years ago, when they won everything and every match in England. The Arsenal a special club. Wenger’s Arsenal an extra special club.
    It has captured more than my heart.

  • stuart

    changingtopic slightly, do you think that Arsene only having one year left on his contract will have any baring on the Cesc situation and does anyone feel this might be his last season if he fails to achieve a trophy. Or does it not really matter to the gooners that much.

  • If only that goddam c**t whoever he was hadn’t made that stupid stupid stupid bomb on the plane joke, I’m certain DB10 would’ve made an excellent next manager. Similar philosophies I reckon AW and DB.

    And I love AW because he makes the mugs over at Le Grove look foolish 🙂

  • Lay off the juice Boozy my friend.

    And great clubs like madrid who’ve sacked a gaziilion managers in the last 5 years while they’ve been prettttty barren themselves? Sure, lets do that. And Pep’s in pretty much the similar mould as Wenger if you ask me. A little balder yes. As for united, how long has it been since they sacked a manager? hmmm

  • Lanre

    Aye Aye Tony. A great person, that man Wenger. If there’s one thing i’ve learnt from him, it is the act of PRUDENCY. Buying the right leg for your table and not the most expensive leg. I tried to imagine what the club will look like without AW. We would probably be a mid table team, struggling to be in top ten of the table. Rather than the champions league we enjoy every year. Great! I for one wouldnt av been a gooner if not for this epitome of success.

  • Suki

    Well said Tony.
    Add to that he’s a thoroughly decent man, I’ve watched him at Barnet stand for the whole of half time signing autographs for kids at Reserves games.
    We are so lucky to have him

  • Mikey

    It is such a relief that in this modern world, where human beings look a little dirtier every single day, there are still inspirational figures like Arsene Wenger.

    Thank God for the man, I say!

  • Fem Dee

    Now, I fear for Wenger. Too much love in!

    Tony, great as your piece is, it sounds like a citation read at a retired or dead person’s remembrance ceremony… I fear!!

    Wenger is great; he is good. He can even be the best ever but he can be better still and fair criticism will help that. And, of course, there will be life; good, great life after Wenger provided Arsenal take the care to groom or hire right when the time comes.

    I agree though that Arsenal and Wenger don’t need most of what we fans say to make our flimsy, whimsical points in the heat of our passion especially after we lose one match or the other…

    What

  • love your article, forwarded to id_arsenal twitter and would like to ask your permission to translate it to Bahasa Indonesia

  • 4reasons why l hate wenger

    1,he is selfish, no respect , no spirit, have a money not spending

  • Buchi Nigeria

    Good manager so far is wenger,keep it up.up gunners

  • dan

    as usual your talking bollocks.