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It is not Wenger, it is the Wengerian philosophy that matters

By Tony Attwood

The issue has been raised a number of times: this blog has gone totally over the top in praising Arsène Wenger, instead of recognising his faults.

Maybe there’s something in that, and if so, it is entirely my fault.  So I thought I would go back, look at Wenger, and all he has done, and try to put forward a better analysis of the view that I have of our manager.

In what follows I call him a practical philosopher, and it is a term that one can argue with – but it is where I inevitably find myself starting when I consider Wenger and his impact on football.

Arsène Wenger has never set himself up as a philosopher, but I see him as one because he has a vision of what football could be like; a vision based on a theory and experimented with in practical form on a daily basis.

At once this suggests that “philosopher” is too narrow a term for Wenger has gone much further than philosophers from Plato to Marx, as he has built a practical example of his philosophy of football in action.   For that I admire him, more than I have admired anyone else in 50 plus years of watching football.  To me he has gone far beyond the one previous philosopher we have had in the club: Herbert Chapman.  Wenger is not just the most successful manager we have ever had – he is much more than that.

In fact I would argue that because of the rapidly changing nature of professional football in Europe he has not only evolved a complete theory of how a football club should be run, but he has done this not once but twice – changing the practical application of his philosophy as the world of football changed.

In this article, I am going to deal with part one of his work at Arsenal – the initial philosophy.  In my next article I deal with how Wenger adjusted his views following changes in the footballing environment in which he works.

So, my argument is that it is the philosophy of Wenger which is of vital importance.    If the club gets it right, when Wenger goes they will bring in a new manager who will continue to implement and experiment with the Wengerian philosophy, just as George Allison and Tom Whittaker did from the early 1930s to the mid 1950s taking the Chapman philosophy forward for some twenty years after the great man died in office.

And in summary, that’s my point.  Wenger like Chapman had a philosophy which he laid down and then implemented, and then left for others to develop further.  It is the only way that great reformers work, and Wenger is the greatest of all the reformers.

The initial theory

Wenger, upon arrival to the club considered a series of reforms that not only would benefit the club in theory, but would also be rapidly achievable in practice.   His view in summary seems to me, from the outside, to be…

1.  That players could be fitter and extend their useful playing careers if they changed their diet, their drinking, and to some degree their lifestyle.

2.  That the traditional notion that foreign players could not bring huge benefits to English clubs was fundamentally mistaken.  This old view was based on a completely false idea that there was a peculiarly English way of playing the game and that somehow foreigners were unsuited to it either because they didn’t have experience of playing the game that way, or because they simply couldn’t play the game the English way.   English football remains different from much of European football – that is so – but there is no reason why it cannot be played by Europeans.

3.  Because English clubs did not go after foreign players they often overlooked great talent overseas.  What’s more, because English clubs searched the British leagues for players, the cost of those players was artificially inflated because there were many managers after them in the closed market of Britain.  Foreign players of great talent were available at much lower cost however, if only one knew where to look.

4.  While there was a benefit of bringing in established players, if one worked with younger players they would be brought up in the Wengerian way of thinking, and so would be better.   This policy depended on being able to spot not just talent now, but talent in the future, and build it.

This policy thus led to the setting up of a new approach to youth football, in which a team would be recruited at around the age of 9 or 11 and melded into a team that would play the same way as the first team, and would eventually contribute significant numbers of players to the first team.  (This might sound obvious, but it was not so in the 20th century, when the tendency was to bring in the best players you could find and work with them.  This approach was much more clinical – involving a search for young lads already showing signs of playing the Arsenal way).

Then, as the group got to 16 years old (when players from other parts of the EU could be introduced) they would be brought into the mix if there was seen to be a shortfall in that area.   Thus we would end up not with an exclusively English team but (because of the restrictions on bringing in schoolboy players from outside the local area) a mostly English team.

Further, once the process was started, it would run continuously.  Of course one could not expect each year to be a spectacular year, but once the first bunch had begun to mature, then each year new players would come through.

Since raising a player at the club is far cheaper than buying him in, (and also more reliable since one can see how he develops according to the club’s methods, and can mould the player into the club’s ethos) this would ultimately make the club much more profitable than other clubs who were dependent in buying in players from lesser clubs.

5.  The overall effect of this approach would be to win trophies and to get the club into the elite group of Europe among the clubs who qualified for the final stages of the competition year after year (where Arsenal had never been) and keep the club there through taking these points and playing a positive attack orientated style of football.

And it has worked, giving the club its most successful period in football in its 124 year history – keeping it in the top four of English clubs since 1998 – a record far in excess of anything achieved in the 1930s.  Indeed I have not checked every detail but I think that in terms of appearing consistently in the top four, Arsenal is now the most successful club of all time in England.  (If not, then we are one year away from that record).

This then was the basic philosophy. However as time progressed the world of football changed, most notably with the advent of a new phase with the Chelsea approach to the benefactor model of football finance – an approach which had such an impact that ultimately it led to the financial reforms that became introduced by UEFA in 2010.

In my second piece on the Wenger philosophy and approach to football I shall deal with Wenger’s response to the changes in football which arose as clubs became more aware of what he was doing, and came up with their own methods of handling Arsenal, and in some ways, trying to make money on the back of Arsenal’s approach.

Part 1:  The Wengerian philosophy

Part 2: Theory and Practice

Part 3: The Total Revolution

Untold Index

Arsenal History

Making the Arsenal – the book

Arsenal Worldwide

45 comments to It is not Wenger, it is the Wengerian philosophy that matters

  • omar

    Excellent……It’s so easy to forget what has been and still is achieved by Arsenal under Arsene Wenger,it’s only when he’s gone people will realise the impact he’s had on the development and improvement to the English league,the world already knows this, it’s seems only the blinkered English mentality who are slow on realising this? shame really.

  • Gooneraside

    Yes, Tony.

    We only need to think back to how TA used to be before AW came in to realise what a change he made with diets, etc. Not only extended his career but improved him considerably. And TH, RP, PV (ah, how nice to have to use only initials) show how foreign players can integrate and bring new skills to the EPL.

    But in addition, we shouldn’t forget that AW has instilled/is instilling into the english players in the club those same continental skills – at least, that’s what they used to be called when they played the english team off the park.

    Of course, AW wasn’t alone in importing foreign skills – simply the best.

  • Shard

    I am proud of the way our club is run and the way we conduct ourselves, and Wenger is the most visible face of that. I admire him as a football manager and also as a person. He’s humane, humble and principled & dignified even in the face of intense adversity. He has the courage to stick to his beliefs. I absolutely identify with the Wengerian philosophy as you put it. What it lacks is the win at ALL costs mentality and i fear that in a world which appreciates just that, Wenger’s achievements are not recognised as such.

    Other managers have won things but not built even a team from scratch. The only other person who has, to my mind, is Ferguson at ManU. They have both built their clubs and taken them to a higher level. Ferguson has won more trophies but he’s done it from a position of relative superiority by the time Wenger came in. Also, for all his achievements as a football manager, he as a person, is someone I do not and don’t think I could ever respect.

    It would be a sad day that wenger leaves this club, but as you say, he’s laid the foundations (and even part of the edifice) for future greatness.

  • dave pescod

    A good article, and not over the top. It frustrates me that the post 80’s ‘we’ fans have false expectations and no historical context for Wenger’s achievements, which are immense. I believe his finest is shown through treatment of players like Tony Adams and the nuture of intelligence, that is so lacking in football, starting at youth level. Also, most footballers didn’t know what broccoli was before the professor hit town.

  • Shard

    Off topic Tony, I’d posted this question on a previous article but maybe you won’t go back to that anymore.

    I was wondering if Arsenal have budgeted to get into the champions league only once every 4 years? I was under the impression it is to finish OUT of the champions league places once every 4 years. Which is it?

  • Shard

    Dear GOD, it took me a while to figure out who the RP Gooneraside referred to was!!! aahhh, bobby pires.. my favourite player. Apart from DB of course. No, not David Beckham :p

  • Shard – I can’t find the original comment from the club on this, but I thought it was to be in the group stages once every four years, and to have an average attendance at the home games of 50,000.

    I would have thought the banks would be very dubious about a plan that demanded we are in the group stages 75% of the time, for although we are achieving that, it could mean that the whole financing of the club could fall apart if we had a bad run.

    If my memory is correct the requirement is quite modest, given our position, and indeed we are building up “credits” as it were by being in the group stages year after year.

    As for the 50,000, we must remember this is an average, nothing else. So that envisages a season where crowds are down to 40,000 for the Bolton game and full for Man U.

  • mick

    An excellent article. I admire Arsene Wenger immensely, I am 67 and hold him in very high esteem, more so than any other person in football I can think of during that time scale. It makes me so angry that such a man has to endure the constant sniping and vitriolic criticism from the media and rival fans, most of whom couldn’t come close to understanding his thinking mans approach to our beloved game. You are correct in your analysis, what he is building is for the long term and we as supporters should be grateful that the future of our great club has been secured. I am sure that trophies will follow in the not too distant future and his critics will then have to eat their own words. Keep up the good work Tony.

  • Shard

    @Tony,

    I still think it was to finish out of the champions league once every 4 years. I don’t think we were that conservative in our budgeting, though it is a wise approach to take in either case.

    And Tony, I’m sorry, but the good judgment of banks is really no argument at all 🙂

  • Jonny

    I just posted a version of this in the comments a few blogs back but it is relevant to the criticism of Untold so I’m posting it here for my ten penneth.

    To those who seek to criticise; Untold’s attitude has never claimed to be objective. It’s mission statement is printed loud and clear – it wears it’s heart on it’s sleeve.

    Personally I don’t agree with every Wenger decision or thing that is said here – that’s not really the point. You can’t look at a site which has stated it’s mission so clearly and then be surprised/annoyed when it fulfils that brief.

    Tony is almost certainly rose tinted and overly optimistic – it seems to be in his nature to be positive and he is a serious Wenger fan.

    I continue to support and believe in the Wenger vision and I love the ethos which has imbued our club with unique character and cache. We should be proud of this.

    I hold faith that the trophies will follow.

    Further to criticism of the boards getting the balance wrong and not being more ambitious for short term success. There is no reasonable argument to suggest Wenger and the board did not aim for both success on the pitch plus long term success and stability for the future of the club.

    Maybe they got the balance wrong but it wasn’t by choice and if they had erred to much in the other direction that would surely have been a FAR worse mistake.

    20-20 hindsight makes sages of us all.

    Keep the faith and if you would rather read something less positive and blinkered you DO have the choice not to read a website which told you right from the start what you would be getting!

    In case you are not Sherlock Holmes: ‘Supporting Lord Wenger in all that he does’ is a pretty decent clue eh?

  • TommieGun

    As the latest member to point out the imbalance, I find this post spot on. However, my point wasn’t that AW is the best manager we could have – my point was, that he and the board (jointly or severly) have made mistakes and/or could have made things better – since it is also evident that there are some areas in which we continue to suffer.

  • Sriram

    Excellent, can’t wait for the second part already.

  • Ameya

    Funny you should mention it, Tony, but it struck me during one of my meandering daydreams that Arsene Wenger epitomises the modern Randian hero. Now I confess I’m not a fan of Ayn Rand’s work, and I don’t mean to start a debate on the merits and demerits of her philosophy, but the way our manager has gone about his work, his belief in his approach to football management, his fearlessness and courage in backing players, trying out new ideas, and in general, going against widespread public opinion reminds me in many ways of Howard Roark. This, of course, leads me to the question: who can be anointed as Elsworth Toohey… Allardyce? Pulis? I’d rather not dignify either of them with an honor of this magnitude… suggestions, anyone?

  • Common Sensei

    I have a critisism of Wenger ….. He never replies to my love letters!!! Pfffft 🙂 Haha great article as always Tony, this blog really is (in my humble view) the best place for GOOD discussion on football.

    Pinpointing how it is the philosophy we put our faith in so much as the man himself really nails down how I feel; and how I hope and imagine most ardent and experienced supporters to feel too.

  • DFG

    Tony, very well written post! Since the arrival of Wenger to Arsenal he has changed everything about the club (for the better)
    First and foremost the basic ethics are in place and we are still a club run by a board of directors. We have not been bought out by foreign ownership and we have not spent silly money on players. Since the arival of Wenger the club has never finished outside of the top four and we have played Champions League football every year. Yes of course we want to win trophies and it is understandable that Wenger is now criticised by some because we have not won a trophy in five years. However, does that mean we are not successful? How many other EPL clubs would like to be in our position? Wenger has bought players in and turned them into class acts and is constantly producing young players for the future of our club. So in my opinion our club could not be in better hands. I recognize Wenger for putting Arsenal FC on the world map of football and turning us into one of the most respected clubs in the world. Before someone replies and accuses me of being an AKB, don’t waste your time as I am proud to admit that I am!

  • Jonny

    TG – what I suspect you are suggesting is the board/Wenger could have bought players to fill gaps/shortcomings they knew existed. But nothing in the world of transfers is certain. If we bought Schwarzer we cannot know if he would have been the panacea many fans crave. We also do not know that we will not win anything with our new quartet of central defenders in front of Almunia.

    Fabianski is highly rated by so many people – he had a terrible time last season but that may prove to be the making of him. He has the belief of those who work with him so who knows best?

    Barthez for example, looked a great purchase at the time but flopped badly at Man Utd.

    There are many reasons why we have fallen short – not least an incredibly uneven playing field and a terrible shortage of luck.

    You are of course entitled to your opinion but it takes a rather strange POV to think that no manager makes mistakes and to say with certainty that the board didn’t believe they were making the right decisions at the time.

    I find it staggering that to this day a greater percentage of Liverpool fans seem to hold support for Benitez than Arsenal fans for Wenger.

    This seems to root in expectation and that after so many years of winning nothing he brought them the coveted CL trophy (largely through incredible fortune).

    Meanwhile Wenger has shown greater consistency and won more trophies but suffered a 5 year drought despite continuing to be the best manager our club has ever seen. His mistake was convincing too many Arsenal fans that success is the norm and a God-given right for all of our so-called supporters.

    Could we have done better – yes obviously. Did the board and Wenger make mistakes – of course (who doesn’t?)

    This team is still growing and getting stronger – the process of pulling this altogether was always going to prove fraught with difficulties and challenges in finding the right balance – it seems daft to obsess over mistakes when you should just be amazed at what has been achieved in the face of utterly overwhelming financial disparity.

    It’s the start of a new season and we are in 2nd place – we’ll be very close come the end of this season and, with luck, we will win something – to appease the AAA – and allow the rest of us to enjoy our Arsenal football in relative peace.

    What a shame we can’t all pull together a little more, rather than crowing and griping about what might have been and writing the season off because we haven’t brought in the replacements that the know-it-all pub bores say we MUST HAVE.

    Given their way we would have offloaded Song, Bendtner, Walcott, Denilson, Diaby never signed Vermaelen, Koscielny etc etc. What if Almunia comes good this season?

    We are football fans with a limited knowledge of the workings of the game and the players in question – why do so many of us assume we have a greater insight into the correct decisions that should have been made but were not? If we win the CL Wenger will be lauded as genius but if we lose unfairly in the semi finals to a dodgy ref decision he will be pilloried for not buying a new keeper/striker or whatever. The line is that thin and the crowing of the AAA and the bastard press that predictable.

    You will not this rant is not all aimed in your direction just an overview of my jumbled thoughts. Nonetheless I think you should accet the board have placed their trust in the best manager for the job of seeing the club through a difficult period – he is doing his best and he cares beyond doubt about winning.

    He’ll make more mistakes but he’ll see us to far greater victory given time.

  • walter

    Just as Chapman laid the first foundations in the 1920ties, so is Wenger doing the same now. Only if the board appoint a total lunatic (someone who will sell his mother for a title) after Wenger we could become in trouble but I trust the board that they will have the intelligence to appoint managers who want to continue the great work that has been done.

    Wenger has gone on new roads and will lead us to a new succes period.

    And the fact that almost all his old players only praise him speaks on how much he is admired by his players. I think not even Adebayor has ever said something wrong about Wenger personnaly. It just shows that even when having one of the most difficult jobs (handling professional footballers) he still has done it with respect for most players

  • God the passion is overwhelming.
    Its given me an appetite for the wkend and not long til chelski who havent had any hard games this season or havent fought back from 1-0 down.Im feeling very optimistic.
    Great article and great comments.

  • Menace

    There is a lot to cover but I will cover the five trophyless years followed by a brief interpretation of how I view the Professor.

    The five years have been probably the most successful years in Arsenal history. The measure is not silverware but the advancement of the club, team and business. To add a new stadium to a successful club is a monster change. Arsenal has done that without loss of position and with a change of personnel. The previous personnel were used to playing on a smaller pitch. The new stadium has a large pitch and has needed a change in fitness levels and modified playing style. The changes have been smooth and not noticed but they are there. The process of growth has begun to show fruit and our youth team reflects that in its success. Whilst this was happening, there were changes in the boardroom. There are clubs that would have caved in with the changes that occured in our club. In all this turmoil, the club has maintained its profitability and stability. Most of this is due to the focus of Wenger.

    Now to the Professor. I see him as a musician who creates operas, concertos and movements using the visual arts of football. He composes movement and has it reflected in the crowds reaction. His interpretation has football supporters everywhere gasping for more. His is what everyone wants to see, to watch, to enjoy. There are a few who really understand the difference between the Bertie Mee double and the Wenger doubles. One was mechanical, the other was fluid.

    The fluidity of Arsenal is magnificent and the kids that are watching todays team are so lucky to be seeing the best football ever.

  • indian_gunner

    spot on tony! nice articulation of the arsenal under le.Prof, don’t see disagreeing anywhere.. waiting for part2!

    @jonny : totally agree with you mate. nice post

  • Part two of the article is now on the site at http://blog.emiratesstadium.info/archives/7563

    While I had the article sketched out before I started writing, as I have gone along new elements and examples of what I am trying to say have emerged and the article has got longer.

    The third and (I think) final part will appear tomorrow morning. (Sorry, normally I put up a piece around 6pm UK time but I am going to see one of my three daughters, and that’s the one thing that comes before Arsenal in my life.

  • Arsene Apprentice

    Tony,

    I would be interested in what Wenger thinks about his biggest contributions to football and specifically to Arsenal.

    I would also be interested in the record you mentioned about Arsenal being most succesful team in the top four and by that who should get the credit? Wenger, The players, The Board, Dein all of them, Who?

    Jonnie makes good points that he retrieved from other bloggers in regards to rose colored glasses.

    As far as Wenger in the genre of a Plato and the other Twit you mention, I disagree. Wenger has not written anything I have seen that will be influential for or to an est. philosophy. My opinion is he would disagree with you completely. He definately would be flatterred but would give credit where credit is due.

    Now AW the contributor I am all for that… Let’s talk about the Why’s… Why is he adamant about the youth policy, the rebuilding of Colney, The impact of his days at University and has it contributed to how this club is being run, his dealings with finance is it him or is the board responsible or both for our current place in world football.

    You see I think when you lose site of the man because you see him in the clouds with the Angels and GOD it makes it difficult to ask the why’s. You assume a lot and you miss a lot. Bring Wenger back down to earth and take the mysticism away and start asking the how’s & the why’s because I would like to know that.

    I would like to know what prompted him to develop the fast paced game we see, what is his ideal etc… Just my view.

  • Johnny

    Re. Shard, I think you are right about the champions league targets – when we moved to the new ground we budgeted ourselves on the premise that we would play in it, 3 out of every 4 years. However, this target may well have changed considering the fact we have consistently made the knockout stages and our average crowds have been higher than we budgeted for. Whatever way you look at it, it was a hell of a financial challenge for the club to take on. This is the reason Arsene maintains that it is more important to finish in the top 4 than it is to win one of the domestic cups, it could be financially crippling for our club if we were too miss out on the ECL league. The Wenger bashers should take this into consideration before spouting their usual drivel, we are so lucky to have a genius in charge, a man who put our club ahead of his own personal glory. He has set us up for the next hundred years and all our future managers will benefit from his reign.

  • Dark Prince

    Nice Article. Though I would like to know Tony, Whom do you support more?? Wenger or Arsenal?? 🙂

    Anyways, I love what Wenger has done for the club. Its sad we cant have him forever. But still Arsenal has matured into a big established club in the Wenger era.

  • Giddy

    Tony Attwood you are my favourite in reading this arsenal blog and thank God there are people outside there who sees the bigger picture of the le. Professor. He is my role model of how a football manager should be. Credit to him and to those who are blinded, we are soon joining the next phase of those winning trophies. Watch this space!

  • Ronnie Brown

    This is a good piece, I would say it is Wenger too I admire aswell, he always stands up for the right thing, supports and defends Arsenal and has an incredible rare amount of loyalty to the club. His philosphy is visionary though and I believe we are seeing benefits of it now but in the future we will witness extreme benefits due to what he is putting in place and we could have our period of dominance which I believe Arsene has been wanting to achieve.

  • TommieGun

    @ Jonny – it seems you keep ascribing various AAA notions to me – which is totally baseless, as well as a bit offending.

    I don’t know whether signing Schwarzer was a good solution. I do know that Wenger thought it was; and I do know that it didn’t happen, ultimately. I don’t know why it didn’t happen, but I do know that certainly Wenger thought that Almunia might not be good enough for us.

    I am not comparing us to Liverpool, ManU (who, as a side note, actually did pretty badly in those years where they didn’t have a good enough GK) or the KGB. Each of those clubs have their own problems. I am just looking at us.

    I totally support the argument that we did incredibly well, financialy and professionaly, in recent times and I’m not moaning about not winning. Other clubs had better results. End of story for me. The word LUCK is not relevant to these dicussions, in my opinion.

    Better refereeing? Yes. Protecting players from assault like tackles? Hell yes. Youth development and future prospects? You bet. The passing game, fluidity, new-age-total-football? I’m on. I love reading the posts on this site. But my point is – sorry for repeating myself – is that as someone who thinks of himself as a true supporter, I find the arguments, sometimes, not always, too biased, not balanced enough, and exposed to criticism.

    Do I say I think that the AAA arguments are valid? Of course not. They make ridiculous point using vile language.

    I’ll end with a quote – Proverbs 13:24

    “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes”

  • RedGooner

    I think AW is trying to change football in our country and move it forward,
    1) The example he expects players to set in public he understands if you are not right mentaly you wont be right on the field. Capello never stood a chance with england when theres about 4 or 5 players with super injuctions because they are affraid of what is going to come out about them sadly England in general accepts because they are footballers they can get away with most of it.
    2) Tackling I remember when Paul McGrath played in the First division most of the defenders back then were so good including the english ones there was an art in defending a good well time tackle was an art a thing of beauty no muppets like shawcross would be tolerated let alone get in an england team. we couldnt defend at the world cup because we are let defend like morons at home, when we play internationals you cant get away with that crap.
    3)Technical ability as coaches half the EPL managers dont have their coaching badges and it seems ok education is non existent among managers and players at Arsenal each player gets an education and the staff certainly have their qualifications also.
    No wonder the FA think its ok for referees to represent us at world cups and give out 3 yellow cards before sending a player off and hes considered one of our best at home NOTHING is done to see fair play is ensured its still ok to break a leg and get a 3 match ban.
    Wenger has fought hard to make so many changes that would change us for the better at club and country level but gets knocked for it all in the press.
    Im amazed he keeps fighting a lot of what he wants would improve not just arsenal but also england and from the press he just gets crap for it all.

  • Jonny

    Dark Prince – I don’t want to answer for Tony but I know that, like me and many of us, Tony supported Arsenal long before Arsene arrived and will continue to do so afterwards.

    The club is more admirable to my eyes than it was before Wenger’s input and vision implemented such wholesale changes – he has made the club all the easier to support and admire and he will therefore always deserve my total respect.

    In contrast the club will always get my ‘support’ because that’s what being a football fan is about. As I have said before the times I have been most ‘into’ supporting the Arsenal were the dark days under Rioch/Houston.

    Wenger is an incredible visionary and should get more credit than he does from the football world for daring to take a different route and for succeeding beyond any reasonable measure but I don’t think any Arsenal fan ‘AKB’ or otherwise would follow him round chanting his name day in and out and pay money just to watch him go to work.

    The whole AKB thing is just a term used to describe those fans who have more faith and patience and can see the larger picture outside of the burning need to win another trophy as soon as possible and at ANY cost.

  • stubby225

    Tony, Its the same old tired spin.

    Hes signed a new contract, so hes flame proof. Hes just lost the plot.

    He isnt a winner anymore. end of story.

    No power players, no goalkeepers, tired old system of playing players out of position and finally seeing Wenger propped up by his past.

  • King Kolo

    Sorry Tony to bracket Wenger with Marx or Plato, let alone suggest he goes further because he applies these principles practically is tosh. Humbly…calm down. I think Wenger is much less a philosopher than a man with vision frustrated by his own pride. Wenger believes that football should be played in a certain way and sticks rigidly to this as though it were the only way worth playing. As though the game is only an aesthetic experience. He has a right to this but you could argue managers with a vision of the English game as fast-paced, efficiently and ruthlessly using players in a long ball tactic are also philosophers. Don’t get it twisted…I rate Wenger highly and as a gooner appreciate his ability to build a club in the face of quick smash and grab management seen at the Lane, the Boleyn, Citeh and so on. To suggest part of his philosophy was to introduce English football to the success European players could offer is also stretching it a bit…Wenger buys European players because he feels they are better value for money than English one’s, not necessarily better players. In fact you could argue that Adam Johnson at 8m is a better bet than Arshavin and Nasri at more than that. So, hmm. It is an economic policy. Wenger inherited Bergkamp. And before that Ardiles, Molby and others had left there mark on the game. The revolution was already coming. Where Wenger may be proven as amazing is if Arsenal in a few years, have 5 or 6 English players delivering the kind of footy we have all enjoyed thus far. But still I will say great plan rather than philosophy, but probably just being pedantic.

  • TobbytimmyNG

    it is true the saying by Goethe that man’s greatness lies in his power of thought. AW has displayed this in many respect and this article only brought it to the fore. what we only need as fans is to be together and be objective most often.
    Arsenal is not like most other clubs, we are different, and our difference is so huge it constitute threat to others. in short, i love this club.

  • Tarun

    Great analysis is boths part 1 & 2.

  • george

    Here is a thing to consider.When Arsenal lose,i cant sleep for about three days.I don’t really enjoy watching live play as I fell sick with worry.I spend hours a day either reading or thinking about Arsenal.I am ,I feel, the very definition of a “fanatic”.However it is the essence of Wenger that I am fanatical about.If ,for instance ,a Fat Sam type of manager was to replace him,I would be seeking a divorce.So when someone asks if I am a fan of Wenger or Arsenal I take it as an implied insult,as if that makes me somehow less of a fan.I can assure you that I am not.

  • Jonny

    Stubby – you’re right the system has definitely failed and Wenger is past it. Now that he has his contract and gets even more money he no longer cares about winning anyway. He’s just sitting there collecting his retirement funds and laughing at the gullible board and fans. I donlt think he even bothers to do any management any more – he just sits in his ivory tower playing with his wand day in day out.

    There is no realistic possibility of the club winning anything under this manager we should scrap all that he has built starting with the youth set up (which has obviously failed) and the world wide scouting which hasn’t brought us a mega star since TH. We could sell the stadium and use it to buy mega stars or hey just burn it to the ground – it’s rubbish anyway, like all of Wenger’s ideas.

    Let’s get Benitez in – he won stuff for Liverpool. Yeah I’m sure he could almost definitely get us the CL, so long as we can raise £300M pounds.

    Why didn’t I think of this sooner. Thank God your here eh?

  • Bootoomee

    Jonny
    September 7th, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    You spoke my mind! I have nothing to add but kudos!

  • Dark Prince

    @Jonny- Agree with you that Arsenal definately comes before Wenger. Wenger has done incredibly well for Arsenal. He has done everything that was needed to be done to make Arsenal into a European Elite. Now the only thing left now is to fill back the trophy cabinet. Hopefully, we can start that from this season.

  • Jonny

    Thanks Botomee.

    DPrince – yes we do need this team to stand up and be counted – Fab’s desire to leave is indicative of this. Serious questions will need to be answered if we have no trophies come May.

    The amazing thing is that some people think that Wenger is unaware of this or doesn’t care. The amount of pressure he places on himself by sticking to his guns is staggering.

    Our job as fans is to have as much belief as he does until we have lost on all fronts – and THEN the questions can start again.

    Anyone would think we have come nowhere near a trophy in the last 5 years!

  • Dark Prince

    @jonny- I completely agree with u. I think the time has come for players to reward Wenger for his excellent managerial abilities. I want Wenger to win more trophies before he retires. He deserves so much more. Also only Wenger has the ability to win a trophy with a team like ours. Thats why i want our team to have a habit of winning trophies before he retires so that they have the right winning attitude after he leaves. I really hope that Wenger stays our manager for the whole of this decade as well 🙂

  • Paul C.

    To Various – it was indeed CL Football only ONCE every four seasons that is in the Clubs break-even plan. But that was assuming that the wage/turnover ratio was at it was back then as well. With wage increases at the club we are probably getting closer to requiring CL Football every 3 out of 4 seasons now. The difference is that we now have loads of cash in the bank.

    Tony – really good, thought-provoking piece and some fantastic comments (especially Jonny and Arsene Apprentice).

    My own two cents worth:

    Arsene really DIDNT do anything too radical in his first 8 years at the club. Of course he changed diet, brought in foreign stars, spent wisely, and revamped the youth system. But those are all tenets of good management for decades. Be fitter, pay low and sell high, get the best talent regardless of nationality (Spain and Italy had been doing it for years), and develop young players internally. That is not revolutionary, it is just good management. Arsene winning 3 Championships and 4 FA Cups during that period shows he is a GREAT manager.

    But it is what he has done in the past 5 years that will be his legacy (as I am sure you covering in Pt 2, which I havent read yet). As Jonny says, it was enormously brave to commit to the rebuilding needed once the club decided it was spending 350million on a new stadium. Many managers would have decided it was time to move on and find somewhere that would afford the top players. Arsene didnt. Instead he staked his entire legacy on the rebuiling not just of a stadium, but of an entire club.

    Herbert Champman built Asenal.

    George Graham made Arsenal relevant again.

    Arsene Wenger rebuilt Arsenal for the 21st Century, as a true European power (we have quickly solidified our position as a top-10 economic force in Europe and our wages are getting up to amongst the top levels in Europe as well). Think about all the “worst case” scenarios thrown about in the past 5 years. None of it happened, althogh we had a couple of scares.

    In many ways you could argue that the last 5 years have been AW’s best years in terms of management. He has taken a young, inexperienced, at times fragile, team and remained in the top-4 every season, challenging twice for the League and providing us with top-level European Football every season, including the fist 2 CL Semi-Final appearances in our history.

    On a budget of virtually zero.

    If that is failure, then let ALL of our lives be just as ridden with failure. Rejoice failure!!!

  • Paul C.

    And I must add that I also now think it is time for the Club to take another step up and start winning some trophies. If in 2 years time we are all still sitting here saying “next year” then I think that even I might then be saying “Thank you Arsene for making our club everything it is, but it time for us both to move different directions”.

    This team is built now (with the exception of a goalkeeper). It is time to be serious challengers for everything. I can actually handle not winning trophies if we are challenging for everything.

  • Jonny

    Hear hear Paul.

  • Hugh

    Tony

    It is a real pleasure to read your well researched, well articulated articles. Your perspective is a rare treat in this age of repeated, instantaneous, regurgitated news and “analysis”.

    I commend you for your passion. I stand by you in your cause to promote a better understanding and appreciation of Mr Wenger and his employers. I applaud you for your product. And I thank you for the joy your piece bring me.

    Faithfully,

    A thoroughly avid reader.

  • Micheal

    I’ve been following Arsenal since Arsene came aboard, though I’ve been watching English football for many years. Straight away I noticed the type of football he prefers is different than other english teams. He is a big fan of pace, movement and technique brand of football and inspired by the 1970 Brazilian World Cup winning team. None of the English team at that time played this type of football including SAF’s Man Utd. The reason for sudden success at that time was the opponets were caught dumb-founded by this type of football and did not know how to counter-play Arsenal. The position-swapping among the front four, the bombarding wing-backs, the advancing central defenders, the skillful midfielders, the speed of counter-attack and breathtaking possession play was a culture shock among tactically and technically frail English players. I used to watch Arsenal with a couple of Asian guys and I’d never seen their eyes open that big… That was the bejesus sight of Arsenal football. Unshamefully, many English teams had adopted (or rather copy-cat) this type of football including Man Utd, Chelsea and Aston Villa over the years and assumed its ‘their’ type of football. As always Arsene was innovative and came with a new total possession football and English teams again struggled to keep up with it. Thus, the rotational fouling, rotational time-wasting and breaking legs. Arsene built a magnicifent stadium with a fantastic youth academy. Now they want to do the same thing but failed miserably. Therefore, the English media had always screwed Arsene again and again out of jealousy. Jealous cause the impotence of their own club team. “Hey, whose this Johnny Foreigner who came to our land, teaching us how to play football and proper club management. Who the hell does he think he is, huh? Let’s screw him so he will leave our country. We all like the stone age.” I’m still waiting for these idiots to see the comfirmed rewards Arsenal FC due to enjoy in a couple of years. I wonder what they going to do then…?

  • zakariyau Jelyll

    To me personally there is nothing any body can say wrongly about Wenger that l will admit cause Wener is exceptional among the coaches in the world Arsene has brought life to the youths in the world through his philosophy he has intergrated Arsenal FC into a World class football club AW produces World class player through his youthful programme Aw achievement cannot be under estimated compare to other coaches in the world l give kudos to Aw. May he live long