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The philosophy of Arsène Wenger: the total revolution

By Tony Attwood

(You can go back and read the article from the start, by clicking here).

So the revised Wengerian philosophy emerged out of practical considerations.  It had these basic points…

a) The new youth system is working and some of the players coming through (Wilshere is the most obvious but there are many others – just look at this season’s list of fringe players, or come to that the current reserve and loan list) are truly wonderful.

b) These players can be supplemented by young players from elsewhere – players young enough to be a gamble, but not be of too much concern to their home clubs (Ramsey, Theo, Vela, and of course Cesc, with others coming up behind them).  One doesn’t have to get each one right, because the fees will be small and at first the wages modest, but even a 25% success ratio is a vast improvement in money terms when compared with the regular transfer market.    Wenger has also realised the benefit of the loan system (hardly in use at all when he joined the club) with players such as Coquelin given the chance to play for a year to prove they really can step up).

c) The use of the Cups as games that more junior players can play has developed.  At first we were using it for virtually unknown players to play in.  Now the names are becoming familiar, as the system is bedded in.

d) To the notions of fitness and speed should be added intelligence.  Players need more than just an ability to play outside their own country – they need the brains to be able to handle their private lives.  Before footballers were expected to be as thick as the proverbial two short planks.  But no more.   They are selling their skill to the club and as such they need to nurture and refine that skill through looking after themselves, and that message is hard to put across to someone who believes that one is not being a man if one is not out all night.  I recall Wenger saying once that if he ever called Thierry Henry at home at 9.30 in the evening he was always there, preparing for an early night.  That’s how it is done, and that model has filtered through the club.  Of course we still have incidents – Bendtner and Wilshere have both been seen out late – but the move is towards an intelligent use of the body.

The tactical change

But even when this new approach was being implemented two other problems hit Arsenal.   Just as Arsenal’s approach in buying in players had changed as a result of other clubs’ greater awareness of the success Arsenal had in the international transfer market, so the tactics of how to deal with Arsenal’s play changed.   Wenger’s revolution in playing style and players was so overwhelming that it took a number of years before other clubs could even begin to think how to handle it – but they got there in the end.

So we got the notions of rotational fouling, parking the bus, rotational time-wasting, and “Shawcross” tackles came into the game.  Teams played Arsenal looking to put them off their free-flowing stride, and were aided in this by refs who had a very liberal approach to the rules.  If you ever want to see a film of just how relaxed refs can become, take a look at Arsenal winning the league at Manchester United.  It is one of the most shocking examples of unpunished brutality ever seen on a football pitch.

Part of Wenger’s response to this comes from his insistence on using younger players to give him more speed on the pitch, and as a result of this we saw the new problem: the eternal injury crisis.

It has run for the last three years – and there were early signs of it at Highbury when we had the year of the seven left backs.  Whether it is still going this year only time can tell.  I don’t think it was anticipated – and indeed how could it be?  No one has ever experienced anything like it before.

It came because of the belief that Arsenal can be knocked aside literally – a view that has been most overtly propagated by Allerdyce, and amplified by the media where journalists have responded to the issue by glorifying the leg breaking tackle.  “He’s not that kind of a player” has become a phrase used throughout football to excuse Shawcross style approaches.

But it also came about because the new insistence on speed increases the chances of injury, and the ever increasing number of cup games for the club and country games in friendlies and internationals, has put even greater pressure on players.  There is, it seems, a limit beyond which many bodies cannot be taken.

So problem upon problem:

  • Other clubs following Arsenal into the European transfer market
  • Home Office tighten regulations, Uefa stop the Beveren project
  • Chelsea and most recently Man City queer the transfer market
  • Clubs automatically up the price if Arsenal are interested or try to bring in Chelsea or Man City, who may pretend to be interested
  • The youngsters who joined aged 9 and 11 cannot be used until ready
  • The unprescedented injury run
  • The advent of the team bus approach
  • The advent of the Shawcross style of play.

And the solution:

It could have been, sign more and more players, but that was part of the problem – the more Arsenal move in the transfer market the more it puts the price up.  (Of course we are not the only club to have this problem – apart from Man City and Chelsea, Man U also face price inflation.  But the simple fact is that Man U don’t have the money they once had, and Liverpool have now dropped out of the running.  On the other hand Tottenham seem to want to spend money here there and everywhere.   So we can say that maybe four or five clubs have this problem – it is not Arsenal’s alone.  The difference is that Arsenal are the only club financed from their own activities rather than from oil wealth or companies hidden in the Virgin Islands and Bahamas.)

Wenger could have decided to change the approach to speed and youth to cut the injuries – and I think there has been a slight shift in this direction of late (not so much on the speed but more on the seeking to add a few more 27-28 year olds to the squad.  But this has not been done at a way that reduces the effectiveness of play.

We needed to hang on for a few years while the rest of the youth side developed (Lansbury, JET, Coquelin,  and the like), but there was nothing to stop us building up a bigger and bigger youth team – and that has happened.  Craig Eastmond, Chuks Aneke, Benik Afobe are now being added to the more established names while Watt, Sunu, Cruise, Barazite are all coming through to a level where they are approaching the point where they can slip into the “25” if need be.

So step one was to increase the numbers – not the numbers in the “25” – clearly impossible – but the number of under 21s who really could move in and play for the first team when needed.

On the pitch no protection could be expected from English referees who had been brought up in the English tradition, so instead we needed to change playing styles.  Not easy, but possible.  Not just one player who could reliably score, with a number 10 behind him, but four players on the pitch together who were goal scorers.  Of course it compromised the defence a bit, but it was a solution.

As time went on it became more of a solution.  How can a rotational fouling side cope with a central half who scores screamers from 25 yards out?  Indeed the move towards scoring from outside the penalty area was itself part of a reaction to rotational fouling.  What does a Shawcross orientated team do when facing a side who kick off with four (yes four) players standing on the half way line, as Arsenal are doing this season.

In fact the speed is now being used in two ways.  First in the traditional Henry way, which Theo can do when not crippled by England, second by the speed of passing, and third by the constant movement up and down the pitch of what might on occasion be called a rotating front six.  (You may have noted that Arshavin is listed by Arsenal as a mid-fielder – that shows you how much movement is going on and how the old positional approach has changed.)

So add that factor together with the expansion of the squad first in the league cup, then the FA cup and later the final group stages of the Champs League and we have an extra training grounds for the youngsters not in the 15 or so who end up on loan.   The players are got ready, and the injuries pour in, so there are more young men ready to stand up and be counted.

And this is the twist: whereas the reputation of Arsenal goes before the club now (as I mentioned before, it is a case of “if Arsenal want him he must be twice as good as I realise – the price is going up”) with youngsters it is the other way around.

Everyone knows that Arsenal look after and nurture their kids.  I think for many of us in England it is hard to appreciate the reputation Arsenal has world-wide for this.   So if three teams are looking at a young lad in the home counties, or five or six are looking at a 16 year old, Arsenal start head and shoulders above the rest.    That doesn’t mean we get everyone we want, but in this regard, the reputation of Arsenal for youth development, built by Wenger and this team, is unsurpassed.

We have one of the biggest youth squads ever assembled by any club in the UK, possibly in Europe, maybe in the world.  56 registered players – an extraordinary achievement.

So Arsenal, under Wenger’s leadership, have changed the model to cope with the changing world, and revolutionised football once again in a whole series of ways.

a) We have five flexible squads (the 25, the cup teams, the loanees, the reserves, the youth team) and below them a whole production line of 9 to 16 year olds playing the Arsenal way.

b) We found players who could score goals all over the pitch as a way of handling the negative tactics developed by Blackburn and Bolton.

c) Young players like Theo, Ramsey, Vela and Cesc are brought in very early on from other clubs.

d) Arsenal moved from fluid 4-4-2 to 4-3-3 and amazingly even 4-2-4 in some games this season.

e) The loan system was expanded and expanded again.  15 loanees at any one time is not unusual in the second half of the season.

e) And then at last, at last, at last, the great youth team started to come through, and this season we see the earliest signs, while knowing that not only will they mature, but also there is another lot coming up behind them.

The whole thing is complex (changes of tactics on the pitch, Chelsea and Man City in the transfer market, clubs putting prices up because it is Arsenal, etc etc etc), and as a result the solutions have been complex.

Is it surprising that such an amazing revolution (following hard on the heels of the first revolution) has taken five years?  Not at all in my mind.  Is it surprising that we have managed to stay in the top four, for a record amount of time in the English top division while all this is going on?  Absolutely – it is an extraordinary achievement.  While every other club has dipped in and out of the top four, we have been there, year after year after year.  I doubt any club will ever achieve this again.

So why do many people not  see Wenger as the great reformer and saviour of Arsenal?

I think to answer this I would like to quote a piece that was posted on this site, in response to the first part of this series.  Here it is in full…

————-

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.

——–

I think that shows the point. It has taken me something around 5000 words to explain how I think the Wenger revolution has worked and what he has been doing all this time.  That reply, which I believe is symbolic of many who are against Wenger is written in under 50 words.

My argument is not that just because I can make an argument long it must be good.  Rather that if you believe that the debate about Wenger can be conducted in 50 words, then the chances are you will be against him, because that is the only argument that can be built in 50 words.  “It’s obvious we need a new goalkeeper – Wenger can’t see it – so he’s lost it and must go.”

For a century football in the UK was simple.   Tactical changes were virtually non-existent.  Everyone played 2-3-5 until Chapman, and then everyone played 3-2-2-3 (although the programmes always drew the squad as 2-3-5).  That was it – one tactical change in almost 100 years.  A simple game played in the mud.  England managers chose big centre forwards because foreign goal keepers are dodgy.

With such football you can write about a manager in 50 words.  It wasn’t Wenger alone who made football infinitely more complex, but he has been one of the men who has changed the game, and quite probably he has had more influence than anyone else.

And best of all, he has built up a heritage that others can follow.

I mentioned before that the Chapman revolution lasted for 20 years and two subsequent managers before the club finally slipped back.  I would like to see this revolution last for 40 after Wenger goes.  I won’t be there to see it all, but it just gives me a nice feeling to think it is possible.

Wenger has delivered, I believe, a total revolution that is already moving out of Arsenal and into other footballing arenas.  I am sad that my father, who watched the Chapman revolution in the 1930s, has not been here to see it, but I am so thankful that I have had the chance to watch the greatest period in Arsenal’s history.

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

64 comments to The philosophy of Arsène Wenger: the total revolution

  • walter

    Amen to that, Tony.
    You have written a trylogie of the highest quality.

    One should be careful on using words like ‘the best ever” but I cannot but think that this is the best ever article(s) I have read on Arsenal and Arsene Wenger.

  • Jonny

    Perhaps a few moments of hyperbole and messianic zeal but well thought-out, rousing and thought-provoking stuff throughout.

    I recall when we were at our best with Bobby and TH terrifying opposition my dad turning to me and saying, off his own bat,

    “He really has invented a new kind of football hasn’t he?”

    My dad is 81 and he had simply never seen anything like it in all his years.

  • DFG

    Brilliant article that completly covers in detail exactly what Wenger has brought to Arsenal football club. I wonder how the LeGrove bloggers would react to this three part triology? Perhaps Tony should forward them a courtesy copy!!

  • Jonny

    DFG – you might as well ask how a mosquito would react to “A Brief History of Time”.

    You’d get more sense and it would prove far less annoying.

  • Jonny

    Ha! This just in from the odious Wenger-hater and all round miserablist “Jaguar” from the comments section on
    Le Moany-Moany-Bitch-Whine-Gripe

    Jaguar reloaded says:
    September 8, 2010 at 09:31
    a) We have five flexible squads (the 25, the cup teams, the loanees, the reserves, the youth team) and below them a whole production line of 9 to 16 year olds playing the Arsenal way.

    Our youth squad is one of the best if not the best in the world,but once they get into the first team,most of them are just like headless chicken.Purely hypocritical as our senior team hasnt won anything in the last five years
    —————————————-

    b) We found players who could score goals all over the pitch as a way of handling the negative tactics developed by Blackburn and Bolton.
    ———————————————–
    Another blatant lie.We havent got enough players who can stand up against the thugs from Lancashire?Wenger failing to win a single match against Sam Allardyce for the past eight years(before the last Blackburn match) vouch for his tactical ineptitude
    ——————————————
    c) Young players like Theo, Ramsey, Vela and Cesc are brought in very early on from other clubs.
    ———————————————-

    Theo has regressed from his Southampton days.Vela doesnt get chances because he doesnt speak French.Cesc,we all know,he wants to go back home,because he knows we wont win anything anymore under the loser Wenger.Ramsey was a great talent at Cardiff City and Wenger cant take any credit for developing him.
    ———————————————–

    d) Arsenal moved from fluid 4-4-2 to 4-3-3 and amazingly even 4-2-4 in some games this season.
    ————————————————-
    No,the hypocrite Wenger tried out a 4-3-3 formation to copy Barcelona,and we failed miserably against any half decent teams.
    —————————————————

    e) The loan system was expanded and expanded again. 15 loanees at any one time is not unusual in the second half of the season.
    —————————————————
    The loan system could be scrapped by the FA
    ———————————————–

    These are copied from that article on Wenger by the sycophant. Dont want to increase the number of comments on that shite site by posting there.

  • indian_gunner

    @tony : a brilliant article.Wenger’s genius needed an article that lived up to his work, his ethos and this article is exactly thata

  • A Casual Observer

    Nice!

  • DFG

    Johnny; Good point! By the way, Jaguar is a perfect example of the type of so called Arsenal fan that posts on LeGrove. Gambon and DDM are another two. I used to read their blog as there were a few good posters but the double standards of the blog writers along with the majority of posters turned it into a site for imature adolescents.
    On a more serious note I hope the injury to Theo does not keep him out for to long as at the moment he is playing some of his best football ever.

  • kurt

    brilliant article tony… i can see all the wenger detractors rolling their eyes in disgust…but the fact is…you’ve made one point very clear… arsene wenger has created a style of play and positive philosophy that will see arsenal turn the tide on the opposition with time to come…

    in arsene we trust…as always…

    kurt

  • Jonny

    DFG – one of the things I keep noticing about the comments is this tendency towards flights of fancy about players.

    Geoff always has maintained that Theo will come good – he might prove to be right but he was stating this supposition from a gut-feeling rather than basing it on evidence and reason.

    Today he has said he thinks it will be Denilson’s season (having slated him for the last 3 years). Why? He hasn’t kicked a ball yet – again just a feeling.

    And today again Stonroy in the comments – “I’m putting it out there, I think Almunia is going to have a blinder of a season…Yes I know that’s a massive statement but I’m putting it out there.”

    WHY?! Because if he does you can say I told you so or is their any evidence for this outlandish claim?

    I mean really! One might as well put, “I am confident that proof of alien existence will be found in Epping just off the M25 by the end of the year. I can feel it in my bones”.

    The problem is that on the basis of nothing a player is built up to be having a great season and then if he fails he has personally let you down.

    Geoff’s reasoning on it being Denilson’s season seems to be ‘well it’s about time, isn’t it’ and that writes off the good work he has done for us in a stroke as well sets it up for him to say if he doesn’t have a great season he can go because 4 years is too long.

    And now, with sad predictability, we have the calls for RVP to be offloaded and the medical staff to be sacked (even though the medical staff have already changed from last season!).

    Sorry Tony, to go off topic and stoke the fires, and YES!I KNOW if you lie with dogs you pick up fleas – but it is worth seeing these thought processes for what they are – childish and devoid of reasoning.

  • GroovT

    As an investor, I have to notice how close are Arsene Wenger and Warren Buffet in their philosophy. I will try to explain (and maybe Tony you can develop it better):

    1- Buffet buy under estimate companies, with high potential Wenger buy young player (often relatively unknown) with high potential.

    2- Buffet don’t care about modish industries. Wenger don’t buy the new trendy player. Wenger had never buy a player just after a good international competition. Very often, players do a good competition and become very expensive and finally not so good (Cannavaro at Real, Owen, Okocha etc.)
    Maybe someones will see Arshavin as an exception, but it was not just after the competition.

    3- Buffet will never pay more a company than its fair value. Wenger is well known to not overpay players in the transfer market.

    4- When Buffet buy a company, he will keep it for a very long time (which is very exceptional in the finance industry). Wenger also keeps its players for a long time. It is the opposite of a lot of clubs (Spurs, Man City, Madrid, Chelsea under Mourinho…)

    5- Both of them have developped a particular philosophy in comparison with their peers.

    6- Both of them stay humble after winning.

    I hope you guys will agree with me!
    Thanks Tony for the free space & all of your excellent articles

  • ignatz

    I think one revolution is enough for any career. Project youth and the new possession football are yet to be proved a success. And I’m not sure they could even be described as a revolution.

    It’s true we have an unprecedented number of youth players on the books. But this is more of a business model than anything else. They will all end up paying for themselves. Other than that, it’s quite a traditional way of running a club – developing players and buying promising players rather than established stars – and as such, business as usual for Wenger.

    And the “strikerless” rotating 6 forwards, possession football style that we’re developing is not new, although it might be new to Arsenal. Already we’re seeing its weaknesses as well as strengths, as on many occasions we struggle to find penetration; and we have gone from a team that ruthlessly exploited transition phases to a team that itself tends to get exploited.

    I think what you call a second revolution is more of a forced adaptation, both to financial and tactical constraints and to the increasing meddling from UEFA and the FA. He’s pulled it off so far by keeping us in the top four, but he’s yet to prove he can do more than that. Fingers crossed!

  • Jonny

    Like it GroovT

  • Gooneraside

    Jonny.

    How can you show such disrespect?

    It’s dogs that lie with LeGroaners that pick up fleas. 🙂

  • Terence McGovern

    Great overall piece Tony.
    In the end those capable of higher brain function will agree or at least be challenged by it.

    Those knuckle dragging types will still beat out the mantras of “Wenger bad lost it must go” etc because they simply are incapable of debate and having to actually consider an issue from more than one angle whilst remembering to breathe presents a health risk.

  • Arsene Apprentice

    Great Finale… “50 words or less” Don’t think I won’t be counting my words. Ha. Ha. It is fascinating that you are documenting this simultaneous to it going on.

    Last thing Tony I asked the question yesterday… I just can’t see Wenger leaving ever. But, you have alluded to it here in fact. Is it even possible? Where would he go? You don’t create, develop, & execute this masterpiece and move on do you? Would he retire? Can’t see it…

  • Jonny

    AA – he has said he plans his next contract to be his last. He may change his mind but somehow I doubt it.

    He’ll either move upstairs or go into international management I guess.

    He is pretty old and if the stories are true puts more into his management than any manager in history. Something else the AAA’s never understand or accept.

    :0)

  • Common Sensei

    I honestly think that the fans who chant for his head will be long gone before he is 😀 “Practically a board member” they said it themselves hehe like it or not he is going nowhere but upstairs after he retires as manager.

    Too fucking right because he is the best manager for the moment

  • Akakievich

    Can we stick to the topic of the article, rather than discuss the comments of some other blog?

    Thanks Tony – always informative and thought-provoking. I was also wondering what your or any of the readers’ take is on the community work that Arsenal is involved in. How has that changed historically? How is Arsenal involved locally and internationally, and did Wenger and his reshaping and rebranding of the club affect that side of the operation?

  • “I am confident that proof of alien existence will be found in Epping just off the M25 by the end of the year. I can feel it in my bones”.

    Yeah, I’d go along with that. I was only saying much the same to my mate Phtzoga from the Planet Zog in the Constellation of the Pig the other day.

    Oh and actually Denilson has played a match. He played for the reserves

    Venue: Zlorg Minor V in the Daffodil Galaxy

    Lukasz Fabianski
    Nico Yennaris
    Ignasi Miquel (c)
    Sebastien Squillaci
    Johan Djourou
    Craig Eastmond
    Denilson
    Chuks Aneke
    Mark Randall
    Benik Afobe
    Jay Emmanuel-Thomas

    One or two names ring a bell I think

  • Common Sensei

    The daffodil galaxy! Honestly Tony 🙂 Watching too much Sci-Fi mate!

    How did Fabianski do in goal then?? Somebody told me he conceded 3 but I don’t want to believe them …….. D’oh!!

  • Akakievich – quite right about sticking to the topic. Sorry about that.

    I don’t think Wenger has much to do with Arsenal in the Community – but others might prove me wrong. I can only speak for my experience within the club and it seems to me that the growth in the Arsenal in the community programme has been because of the organisation Ivan Gazidis has set up, and of course the tireless work Bob Wilson does for his charity, which links in to the project.

    It is interesting how far Arsenal in the Community extends. This summer I did a little bit for them on a book about being a fan, which they were kind enough to enthuse over, and then asked me to expand on it, and from that we got talking about another project, and on and on… There seems to be Arsenal in the Community connections everywhere.

    I am certain it is bigger now than ever before.

  • Dark Prince

    Nice article!! 🙂

  • Jonny

    Interesting to see Iguana Miquel was made captain of the Arsenal lizard reserves.

    He has risen to prominence amongst the youth/reserves with alarming alacrity – another one for the future.

    :0)

  • DFG

    Tony, Without getting personal, could you clear up the subject of Geoff from LeGrove saying that you were begging him to have a photo taken with him, what’s that all about.

  • Richard B

    @GroovT – I’ve mentioned Warren Buffet before on this site referring to perhaps his most famous piece of advice when it comes to investing, namely ‘have a plan and stick to it’. Tony has laid out the Wenger plan which was pretty eveident from the relatively early days of his reign and despite the, sometimes extreme, reactions of other clubs (both on and off the pitch) he has stuck to that plan and delivered remarkable results across all aspects of the Club.
    I think one aspect of the mans character that Tony didn’t mention is that of loyalty. It may be both his biggest strength and, too often viewed as his greatest weakness. He has said himself that you cannot go to great lengths to pursuade a young player to move from half way round the world to play for the Club and then just let him languish in one of the lesser ‘squads’. You have to give him great traing and exposure at the highest level that he can reasonably manage at the earliest possible time. Ivan Gazidis described Wenger as the least selfish manager around. He is willing to take the risks associated with giving young players a chance and take the flak when things don’t turn out as hoped. But he never hides and is never more protective of his own reputation than he is of his players.
    A manager can only be like that, in any business, if he has the support of his own bosses and that’s why Arsenal is such a well run Club from top to bottom.

  • Menace

    Nice article Tony. It is a shame that some great Arsenal supporters are no longer here to see how the team plays football. It is however, great for those young fans to be seeing football of the highest standard being played in spite of dreadful officiating by the biased referees.

    I love Arsenal for all of its quirks and its wonderful move to a moral highground that mistifies the moron.

  • Paul C.

    Tony – great series of articles, although I agree with GroovT, Ignatz and RichardB that AW just does what other great businessmen (and football managers) do. I actually think very little of what AW has done is revolutionary, it was simply brave to do what he did in the face of so much criticism. But it was the smart thing to do.

    To me, AW’s greatest strengths are seeing that way trends are moving, and you did call that in your series. AW could see what the influx of foreigners was going to do, what the introduction of Abramovich was going to do, what debt in football was going to do. From there he simply applied tried and trusted principles of both football and business to the problems that he saw coming.

    If I was going to call AW revolutionary, it would be in that sense, the way he melded his background in economics with the business of football.

  • Paul C.

    Jonny – with regards to the persons “responses” to Tony’s key points, I think it shows how blinded many fans are by “the pursuit of trophies” and miss out on the fact that, as Tony has highlighted, an Arsenal Way is now in place, a system for the top from top to bottom that is far-sighted and easily repeatable year after year after year.

    Each one of the responses just twists the truth so much.

    1. “Our youth squad is one of the best if not the best in the world,but once they get into the first team,most of them are just like headless chicken.Purely hypocritical as our senior team hasnt won anything in the last five years” – this one is utterly ridiculous as the first group of youngsters is only just making its way into the 1ts team. Most are 19-20 and some are even younger. They will take time. To say the likes of Wilshire, Eastmond, Gibbs and Frimpong have been headless chickens when they have played is amazing to me.

    2. “Another blatant lie.We havent got enough players who can stand up against the thugs from Lancashire?Wenger failing to win a single match against Sam Allardyce for the past eight years(before the last Blackburn match) vouch for his tactical ineptitude” – agai, totally wrong. AW has beaten Allardyce on many occasions, it is AWAY FROM HOME that AW had struggled. I think AW has played Allardyce teams 27 times now – and has lost 5 times. 5 losses in 27 games!!!!!!!!! And that is against a manager who has consistently (according to some) gotten the better of AW?

    3. “Theo has regressed from his Southampton days.Vela doesnt get chances because he doesnt speak French.Cesc,we all know,he wants to go back home,because he knows we wont win anything anymore under the loser Wenger.Ramsey was a great talent at Cardiff City and Wenger cant take any credit for developing him.” – again, utterly amain. Theo has regressed? Did this guy actually see Theo at Southampton, or in his early days at Arsenal? Theo had pace and nothing, absolutely nothing else. He is 500 times a better player now than when he arrived. Vela doesnt get chancs because he always flies 4000 miles for international matches. Utd will have the same problems with Hernandez. It is why Brazil and Argenina play so many friendlies in Europe now. Has Wener taken credit for developing Ramsey? I always heard AW say that he thought Ramsey was ready for the 1st team from the moment Rambo arrived.

    4. “No,the hypocrite Wenger tried out a 4-3-3 formation to copy Barcelona,and we failed miserably against any half decent teams.” – ha ha, I wont even bother against this one.

    5. “The loan system could be scrapped by the FA” – so because it MIGHT be scrapped, AW has been wrong to use it to its fullest extent in the past????? Strange logic on this one.

    When you just look at each of the individual responses you see how shallow so many of these objections to AW are and how rooted they have become, as if repeating the same old tired arguments has just become habit.

  • DFG – incident with Le Grove

    I have not seen the piece on Le Grove since I don’t read it – remember I didn’t write the article recently about it, and merely commented on it.

    But I think what is being referred to is this…

    Walter wrote a comment on Le Grove, and then to his amazement found that his comment had been changed when it appeared in print, in a way that was highly uncomplimentary.

    I thought the situation very strange – and had not heard (at that time) that Le Grove would indeed take people’s comments and change them.

    So I wrote to Le Grove, introduced myself (no reason to think they would know Untold, and less reason to think they would recognise my name) as the editor of Untold, and said that this incident had been reported to me and did they have any comment.

    One of them wrote back and said that whatever had happened (I recall they were a little vague – but this was six or nine months ago, and just an email exchange), but said it was “a misunderstanding”.

    Being a reasonable sort of guy (or so I like to think of myself) I wrote back saying fine, no prob, and then asked them about themselves, were they season ticket holders etc, trying to strike up a conversation as it were. The reason was quite simple – I was fascinated to know if they were regulars at the game, and what gave them their particular perspective.

    Whoever it was I was talking to wrote back and said they were season ticket holders, and I replied saying I thought it would be interesting to meet for a drink before the game sometime, and that it would actually be very funny (in my own mind) to have a picture of us together. The two sides of the coin, as it were, in a friendly pic.

    It didn’t happen, they didn’t seem to think it was amusing, and so it was left.

    I can’t imagine what I said that would have given the impression that I was “begging” to have a picture taken, or indeed why they would remember such an exchange now – I only recall it because it is mentioned here.

    Since then I have witnessed a number of occasions on which others have told me about views that (seemingly) Le Grove does not like either being edited out or changed (although obviously I can prove nothing, and I admit that since such events leave no trail that I can follow). And it does appear from what I have been told (and I make it quite clear that I don’t read the blog) that there are racist comments within the blog, which if so, I find rather offensive.

    That’s about it.

    In case you are wondering what the hell I was doing suggesting a photo I should explain, that somehow in my nature is a desire to understand other people’s views and opinions (possibly from having studied psychology and sociology at different times). Years ago, for example, I subscribed both to the Sinn Fein email newsletter, and that of the DUP (for non-UK readers I should explain – these are the two wings of opinion in N Ireland) just so I could understand a little better. Nothing more sinister than that.

    Personally I would like to drop the whole issue of Le Grove and focus more on what this web site is set up to do. But since you asked the question, that’s the answer.

  • Ronnie Brown

    Brilliant in depth piece, an excellent read, it makes such a change to see articles like this rather than some just repeating the same thing/compliants over and over again, this actually has depth to it.

    I feel some people are short sighted, I do not think ARsene is perfect and feel he has made some mistakes but overall I believe there is certainly a plan there as there is an abdudance of evidence there, just last night I sat watching some of the reserves games and some of the football was exceptional for a 2nd string side, they played the Arsenal way and were effective, I have realised just how good Jay Emmanuel Thomas is and pick him out to be a big player here, it’s also interesting the level of physicality within some of these players, I believe in a few years time we will be a very very strong physical team aswel as retaining our technical quality, this could build an absloutly deveasting team.

    I think of Diaby, Jay Emmanuel Thmoas, Chamakh, Song, Vermaleon in the same team complimented by different players such as Wilshere, Wellington Silva, Fabregas, Ramsey and others and realsie we are going to have one hell of a team. I think we are very very good now but the future will be extremely bright, some of these youth players right now will certainly make it, Wilshere I picked out the very first time I saw him play and now I have seen more of JET I am extremely excited about him, he has some incredible abilities, he could potentially be an offesnive option even this season.

    I am proud Arsene is our manager and support him 100 percent, I don’t always agree with everything he does, however I am not privy to all the information he is, but I KNOW that everything he does is with Arsenal’s best interests in mind and I know I can trust him to do the right thing and put Arsenal even before himself, he loves the club very deeply and I respect that hugely. I am delighted he has committed to us for another 4 years and I don’t think he is very far at all for completing some kind of AMAZING feat… like going unbeaten again, winning back to back titles, a treble, winning champions league for the first time or something, what he is building is starting to come through and we will be seeing the benefits of what he has done and his vision many many years down the line.

  • Ronnie Brown

    Iguana Miquel… I think Johnny mentioned him, have been watching him, he seems very good, comfortable with the ball and can push foward, defensivly I have seen him do a few good things to but this is only from one or two games, but I will be trying to track him further, interestng.

    Anyone have an idea of what the CC side will be?

  • Ronnie Brown

    I think sometimes we are tactically naive, we will be winning a game 1 nil or something and we will go ALL OUT for the 2nd goal like we are 2 nil down, of course we should still attack but sometimes having Vermaleon in the opposition box instead of defending isn’t wise in my opinion, that’s why there were times we were ripped apart by counter attacks because we were just to eager to get foward all the time somtimes ignoring the dynamics of the game, I think Chelsea and Man U do this a lot better than us, I hope we improve in this area.

    Can’t wait for Saturday, miss seeing Arsenal play already lol.

  • Gooner Gal

    Thank you Tony for these three articles as there seems to be a strong desire to focus on his percieved faults instead of Wenger’s ongoing achievements. In my opinion, these are probably the most intelligently articulated pieces expressed to date about Arsene Wenger’s modern revolution of Arsenal. The man should be applauded instead of abused by ‘suppoters’.

    If your lucky Tony they are might even make the Guardian newspaper’s weekend edition.

    GroovT @ 10.44am – I am impressed by your well reasoned correlation, as I have a lot of respect for both men. One of Warren Buffet’s fundamental rules is that he doesn’t believe in ‘punting’. He does his homework and if he doesn’t understand a business, industry or how it will fit his portfolio he doesn’t invest. Wenger is the same, hence the very detailed scouting reports on a players ability, work ethic and behaviour on and off the pitch.

  • DFG

    Hello Tony,
    Thanks for the detailed response. Your explaination of events is perfectly understandable and I fully understand your point about meeting for a friendly drink before the game. Your version makes much more sense then the way they were trying to portray it. I fully agree with you that we should move on from discussing the other blog and concentrate on this one and talk about our beloved Arsenal. Thanks again.

  • LRV

    A big, nay, huge thank you Tony for these most articulate of articules. Bravo!

  • Charlie Munger

    GroovT.

    I find the positive comparison of Warren Buffett and Arsene Wenger more worrying than glowing. You’re completely correct to point out the similarities but last time I checked Wenger was the manager of a football club not a fund manager. I’d be delighted with Wenger if I were an Arsenal shareholder but had little or no interest in the small matter of what happens on the pitch. Unfortunately my investment in Arsenal is more emotional than financial.

    The phenomenon of the rising transfer valuation when it’s Arsenal calling can also be explained by a principle Buffett is more than familiar with – supply and demand. I’d suggest the price goes up when Arsenal call not because we’re so wonderful and therefore the player must be too, it’s that we allow the first team to be run into the ground before we bother finding adequate replacements. There are many examples with the most recent being the goalkeeper. I’d put forward the argument that most Arsenal fans were in agreement 2/3 years ago that a new ‘keeper was needed to replace Jens. We knew this, Lehmann even knew this but we spent the next two years making it apparent to the rest of the footbal world that Arsenal were in dire need of someone remotely approaching reliable between the sticks. It became a sellers market and Arsenal were over a barrel for want of a better term.

  • Charlie Munger

    In addition, the fact that it takes 5000 words to defend Wenger is a statement in itself. Shouldn’t it be obvious to the vast majority of Arsenal supporters of reasonably sound mind why he’s doing a good job rather than having to take so much effort to explain it? Are droves of Arsenal fans too ignorant, too stupid or too impatient to see the merits of Wenger’s recent work?

    Call me a doomer but Wenger and Arsenal’s penchant for the moral high ground coincides with our recent dry patch and provides sanctuary from being compared unfavourably with our bigger spending and more successful rivals (the same point applies on a personal level between Wenger, Ferguson and Mourinho). Having money to spend and actually making use of it puts Wenger’s resources and the expectations of him on a par with the truly great managers which I don’t believe he has the stomach for anymore. Far easier (and cheaper) to pursue an ultimately flawed version of football utopia where the excuse of having not spent millions and having done thing’s according to a moral high ground can be served to the knuckle-dragging masses stupid enough to pay the highest ticket prices in Europe.

  • Samuel

    Ronnie, my guess is:

    Fabianski
    Eastmond – Squalliaci – Nordtveit – Gibbs
    Wilshere – Henderson – Lansbury
    Afobe/Wellington(post.Jan) – JET – Vela

    Sub in any first team players not getting any playing time or returning from injury needing to regain match fitness.

  • taeryn

    Well done, Tony. Really enjoyed this series.

  • GroovT

    @Charlie Munger
    You are completely right, our investments in arsenal are more emotional than financial (at least for both of us). Nevertheless, in my opinion, it is a good thing to have a manager who is doing the best for shareholders. Because the club will win in the long run. Buffet doesn’t have every year the best return, he has it on 10 years. I hope Arsenal also will have it in the next few years.

    As Tony mentionned, it is already an outstanding performance to stay in the top four and to rebuild entirely a very young team, without big money.

    Thanks for answers

  • goonergerry

    Tony I remember well the Scottish experience of a celebration before they went to the world cup in Argentina in 1978. As I recall it Hampden reverberated with the sound of “why are we so good”- a Scottish favourite! This same Scottish team were thrashed by Iran and humiliated by Peru. It taught me a lesson- don’t celebrate until you have something to celebrate. I suggest we don’t start telling the world how successful our youth policy is until we start winning games with these players- and to do that we have to start playing them. Looking at the Carling cup performances last year i am not as confident as you are. Wilshere- yes very promising, Gibbs equally so. JET? maybe. Who else could play in the EPL in a big game? How many are defenders? Optimism is one thing , over optimism is something else it can have the opposite effect.

  • walter

    Are droves of Arsenal fans too ignorant, too stupid or too impatient to see the merits of Wenger’s recent work?

    Yes. 😉

  • Charlie Munger

    GroovT (or anyone for that matter)

    At what point would you begin to question Wenger’s methodology and how do we define it’s success and over what period? Another three years, five, ten? We both seem to agree that the end game of any football club is to win trophies or to at least make the genuine effort to compete for them.

    Even without trophies the Wenger plan isn’t such a bad one as long as the club’s ownership remains stable and that those in power have the conviction and ability to turn on the taps when required. A doomer like me would put forward the case that the Wenger plan plays beautifully into the hands of an ownership structure concerned with paying down club debt, increasing revenue and ultimately asset appreciation. As soon as the share price reflects this I fear the current owners will cash in their chips and sell to the first highly leveraged buyer that comes along. I supposed it comes down to what you believe the intentions / priorities of the clubs owners are. If you beleive they have Arsenal at heart then frugality is excusable. If like me you believe their only loyalty is to a pound note or two then we’re nothing more than a goose being fattened up for a corporate killing.

  • Charlie – if in 10 years Arsenal remains profitable, and has managed to extend the current amazing run to 22 years in the top 4 then I would claim that a huge success. If in addition we won a trophy, then a double success.

    If in 10 years we have won a couple of league championships but in doing so have reversed our economic policies, and are then teetering on the edge of administration or a winding up order, as many clubs are now, then I would deem that a failure.

    Ideally both trophies and survival at the top, but if i have to take one of them, then I will take survival at the highest level.

  • Paul C.

    Charlie – you make the classic “doomer” mistake of saying “if this-and-this happens, then it will be a disaster” when you say “I fear the current owners will cash in their chips and sell to the first highly leveraged buyer that comes along”. Okay, so even though the shareholders have shown no indication of doing that in ANY of their business ventures, you still think that. It is like a blog title I saw yesterday which said “What happens if Chamakh gets injured?” as if every club in the country couldnt ask that of their best players.

    How about this one: “If RvP, Cesc, Song and Vermaelen all turn into jelly babies, then we are really screwed”. Yeah, it is as likely as anything else people are saying, based on available evidence.

    Why worry about what will happen in the future. That is an invitation to suffer. Enjoy the present. Enjoy the fabulous football our team plays. Enjoy the unrivaled consistency we have shown in Europe in recent years (we have a better record than Real Madrid the past 5 years!!!!!!). Enjoy the way the club is set up for the long-run. Stop thinking that we have any right, or expectation, of winning trophies.

    Just enjoy being a fan. Life is hard enough without making the act of being a football supporter hard as well!!!! This should be our guilty pleasure, our joy, our love, our baby. Winning and losing shouldnt affect our joy at supporting. Arsenal could be relegated and it wouldnt affect my love for the club one single bit. Can you say the same?

  • Charlie Munger

    Tony, cheers for the reply.

    I see your point but that’s setting the bar a little bit too low for my liking. Why is remaining profitable such an accolade? Do we invest our time, money and our Saturday afternoon mental wellbeing in supporting a business model or a football club? Surely the ideal (albeit an unrealistic one) would be for Arsenal to be non-profits run to break-even? I’d imagine in those circumstances the football side would benefit at the expense of being an attractive business.

    I’d never want to see Arsenal overstretch or risk bankruptcy in pursuit of silverware, that would be reckless. Arsenal’s policy is the polar opposite – sacrifice today for the hope of a better tomorrow. I’d like to see a bit of balance, be as ambitious as we can afford to be in the here and now without risking our future existence.

    I’m led back to the other point I made regarding the club’s ownership. Again, being conservative and taking short-term hardship is frustrating but forgivable as long as we work on the assumption that any profit made is retained in the club’s accounts and the trophies arrive one day. I don’t think my suggestion of a sale of the club when the price is right is a particularly outlandish claim. If and when that happens, that’ll be the point that the profit we’ve accumulated over all those uncompetitive years will go straight into the pockets of the current owners completely undermining the long term security of the club not to mention the “total revolution”.

  • Charlie Munger

    Paul C.

    You make the classic “AKB” mistake of using a silly analogy to have a doomer’s case laughed off. RvP and co turning into Jelly Babies would be a world first but businessmen selling an asset at a premium happens every day. The truth is we don’t know the intentions of the owners one way or the other but as I say I don’t think it’s unreasonable or particularly negative to look at the possibilities

    I’d support Arsenal if we were in the Hackney and Leyton League over Hackney Marshes. It’s not about the winning and losing believe it or not. Another “AKB” assumption is that the doomers expect open top buses every year. It’s an incorrect generalisation that deflects attention from the point that there are issues worthy of concern at the club.

    Anyway, I’ll leave it there. It’s been good to read from the other side of the fence so to speak (it’s sad there even is a fence), it’s been a pleasure exchanging views however much we disagree.

    Gooner and proud.

  • Paul C.

    Charlie – your response has quite obviously shown that you are not a “doom and gloomer” at all but someone who enjoys debate but may not see things quite as positively as many of us here. I apologise but this site gets a lot of traffic from people that come onto every single blog posting and make a few very negative comments about the same stuff every single time, no matter what the topic of the blog may be. Most are treated very shortly because there is absolutely no wish for debate from the poster.

    I hope you can come back and actually discuss your views. I think you will find that the people here also want a new goalkeeper as badly as anyone, are getting desperately worried about RvP’s inability to stay fit, and wonder if we are defensively mature enough to win a Championship.

  • Paul C.

    Charlie – and I also wanted to make a further comment about the ownership. You are right, I should not have laughed off your analogy so quickly. I should have responded to it.

    You say “businessmen selling an asset at a premium happens every day” and you are right. But we all know who those businessmen are. It is their business and they make no attempts to stay hidden. Then there are businessmen who have made a career of building companies and for them, selling an asset at a premium for financial gain ONLY would be bad reputationally.

    Kroenke is a sports owner. He has owned teams for years and loves them all. He is a good owner.

    Usmanov may have broken a few rules in his time, but they were always to build companies. He is a builder, not a wrecker.

    Peace has broken out. Neither Usmanov or Kroenke want a full takeover battle right now. Usmanov because he’d be seen as the bad guy right now and the Russian economy (and therefore some of his assets) is down, and Kroenke because he has just been given the go ahead to spend $640million on the St Louis Rams, an NFL team. They are content to sit on shares that will only continue to appreciate given the business of football and Arsenal’s place within it at the moment.

    The Arsenal ownership structure and board look as united and peaceful as they have for years. Usmanov and Kroenke both publicly backing the fanshare scheme was a very symbolic gesture. That was coordinated. I think things seem very agreeable at the moment.

  • Mugisha

    Tony,
    What are made of. I have to say that Wenger has made many of us believe that it is possible to succeed in life out of rags. To read what you have written only tells me why I am a supporter of Arsenal and Arsene Wenger. I can only add that I am one of those lucky, as Tony said, to be a supporter of Arsenal at this time. These lessons are important for me, and Tony thank you to bring all this out.

  • Charlie Munger

    Paul.

    No problem at all. Likewise if I came across badly, it wouldn’t be the first time!

    I read two blogs everyday, each are probably #1 and #2 in terms of hits. One is consistently well-reasoned and occasionally touches on the notion that not everything is completely rosy and the other caters for my view that stronger questions need to be asked. Many of the posters on the second site let themselves down in the manner they express themselves but I don’t think it makes the points they intend to put across any less valid.

    Make no mistake, I see Wenger as one of the most important people in Arsenal’s history. I honestly think beneath all the knee-jerk anger towards him most people would share that view. I don’t condone abuse of the man for one minute but I do understand how the sceptics case can quickly overspill into agression and ill-thought out rants. By it’s nature the sceptics argument needs to be strong because it bucks a very established status quo that’s almost become dirty to even dare question. I think if those people who had a less optimistic viewpoint got the sense that their views were taken on board by the club, let alone having them addressed then you wouldn’t see some of the bile we do in comments sections.

    Totally agreed Paul. I can’t help but feel a sense of inevitability about Arsenal’s seasons. The things you mention are problems that have been there for a while but simply left unaddressed (in my view). The longer it goes on the longer the players we have who are capable of winning a title must consider their own position at the club. Cesc springs to mind for starters.

  • Elbert

    Amazing!!!! Bookmarked this web page that has this striking guidance. Will come again to see if there are any updates. You, the author, are a master. Thanks

  • Charlie Munger

    Paul.

    It’s the running of he club for the purpose of asset appreciation that I object to. Neither Kroenke or Usmanov is in a position to make a full takeover. Lady Nina is a willing seller by many accounts so what better potential owner of Lady Nina’s shares than a friendly fan group in the interim. I’d say that the fan share ownership scheme is the most noble course of action within a grander scheme that isn’t so noble.

    I have a very different opinion on a certain individual and their “business” history. Mention of moral high ground and that man on the same forum is hyposcrisy of the highest order. That’s not a swipe at you Paul. I just find it difficult to reconcile the idea that we promote certain values on one hand whilst completely turning a blind eye to the history of one of most influential men at the club. Still, that’s another discussion altogether.

  • Terence McGovern

    Interesting idea Charlie! you ring up the rest of the fans and have a whipround for the £200,000,000 and I will tell Nina to expect your call.

  • Charlie Munger

    Terry.

    I may be wrong but I thought it was nearer 95million than 200 but I stand corrected if not. Sorry, perhaps I wasn’t clear enough. These things won’t happen overnight and all the while the fanshare cash pool will grow. In simple terms it serves as a mechanism for existing owners to sell at full market price to a known friendly buyer obliged pay whatever the going rate might be. Still I think you knew what I was getting at but chose to poke fun instead.

  • Paul C.

    Charlie – believe me, I dont like the idea of Usmanov any more than you do. But the guy isnt interested in breaking up the club. With Usmanov you’d probably get a massive cash injection then a very HANDS-ON ownership. Not terrible, not great. The guy is a crook though. But Arsenal are publicly traded shares and anyone with enough money can buy them, and that is why they have the 30% takeover bid provision. It gives the rest of the shareholders a chance to mobilize and establish majority over any aggresvive bid. Until Usmanov actually does anything NOT in the best interests of the club then I think we should wait and see. But with the wealth of football clubs now, Arsenal will always have ownership issues, as Utd do and Liverpool and many others.

    Fan ownership is great and all but it has its own drawbacks with the need for a president and then the risks that entails (ask Barca as they clean up their finances after Laporta).

    The German model is the best, and I would love to see that made a rule in England.

  • Paul C.

    And in response to your other response (this will get confusing very quickly) you say “I think if those people who had a less optimistic viewpoint got the sense that their views were taken on board by the club, let alone having them addressed then you wouldn’t see some of the bile we do in comments sections.” and I think that touches an interesting subject. Read what you wrote and tell me that doesnt sound like an implication that those with a “more optimistic” viewpoint had their views “taken on board” by the club. Believe me, the club doesnt listen to me either, or Tony, or Walter, or Terrence or any of us. Believe me, the club ignores all of the fans very intentionally. Their is too much emotion in fans, too much division, too much silliness. I would hate the day that club officials actually started taken supporters viewpoints seriously. Can you imagine “well we got the poll results back in and 21% want Akinfeev, 20% wanted Lloris, 18% wanted some guy named Harold, 14% wanted “Your Mother!” and 12% wanted Charlie George. Akinfeev it is and who cares how much it costs!!!!” Of course that is a parody and ridiculous exageration but the point stands. None of is gets taken seriously and that is fine with me.

    As long as those involved at the Club are trying to win, and trying to play great football, and bring pleasure to the fans (whether through trophies or great football or ideally both), and run the business side of things well (for that is what guarantees long-term success, far more than managers) then I figure that moaning that the club doesnt see my point view is a bit rich. I mean really, do Arsenal fans really have it so bad?

    We want Arsenal to be the best. But never think that the club owes us anything more than trying to put out competitive teams which cost as much as we can afford. After that our demands fall on deaf ears. You want a say in the running of the club, then stump up the hundreds of million it costs to get a say in the running of the club.

  • Gooner Gal

    Charlie Munger in response to your comments at 12:31pm

    I think the gist of what GroovT was doing was highlighting the similar traits of two very successful people (I am sure he/she will correct me if I am wrong). These attributes are largely transferable and no matter what industry could be briefly listed as the following:-

    1. They constantly set higher goals and avoid comfort zones.

    2. They are primarily driven by accomplishment, not money

    3. They solve problems rather than place blame.

    4. They are risk takers, but these are managed/evaluated risks.

    5. They are confident visionaries.

    Top businessmen and football managers have themselves recognised each other as peers for sometime now. In fact there was an event held last year at the Emirates which recognised this. http://www.leaguemanagers.com/business-club/f1.php

    You said:

    I find the positive comparison of Warren Buffett and Arsene Wenger more worrying than glowing. You’re completely correct to point out the similarities but last time I checked Wenger was the manager of a football club not a fund manager. I’d be delighted with Wenger if I were an Arsenal shareholder but had little or no interest in the small matter of what happens on the pitch. Unfortunately my investment in Arsenal is more emotional than financial.

    I say:

    Why is it worrying? and why disconnect money and emotion from each other? I am an Arsenal (minority) shareholder because of my love for the club and therefore am emotionally and financially invested – I put my money where my mouth is so to speak. For anyone to of spent the amount of years at Arsenal that Arsene has and put up with the abuse and intense pressure is surely an example of loyality and dedication, when it is clear that he could easily earn more elsewhere at a different club or entirely different field of work. Wenger is a loyal man extremely invested emotionally and with a hunger to win. He loves the club and has worked hard to ensure the club keeps on succeeding long after his departure. Tony has already explained this in depth the great legacy he will leave behind in a 3 part series.

    You say:

    ….. we allow the first team to be run into the ground before we bother finding adequate replacements. There are many examples with the most recent being the goalkeeper. I’d put forward the argument that most Arsenal fans were in agreement 2/3 years ago that a new ‘keeper was needed to replace Jens. We knew this, Lehmann even knew this but we spent the next two years making it apparent to the rest of the footbal world that Arsenal were in dire need of someone remotely approaching reliable between the sticks.

    I say:

    There is some merit to this point, however I don’t recall a time in the last 5 years when ‘the team had been run into the ground’. Almunia in his first year as No.1 GK was good, so I don’t know who you surveyed 2 or 3 years ago to reach your conclusion, I for one was willing to give him a chance. You then followed this up with comments about Lehmann knowing Almunia wasn’t good enough – really? That’s strange because Lehmann has given interviews saying quite the opposite. Also I think you’ll find Portsmouth and Liverpool more accurate examples of clubs being ‘run into the ground’ and not having Almunia in goal.

  • Gooner Gal

    Also with regards to your comments Charlie Munger at 1:56am

    You said:

    In addition, the fact that it takes 5000 words to defend Wenger is a statement in itself. Shouldn’t it be obvious to the vast majority of Arsenal supporters of reasonably sound mind why he’s doing a good job rather than having to take so much effort to explain it? Are droves of Arsenal fans too ignorant, too stupid or too impatient to see the merits of Wenger’s recent work?

    As you seem to imply that brevity is a sign of excellence I will keep my points short.

    Tony could of said ‘you know that Arsene Wenger, I think he’s well good cos of all the stuff he’s done and that’ and left it like that. However, I am guessing he knew that some people might ask why he was so supportive. So he articulated his critical thinking and logically broke down his thoughts. As there were so many things to highlight, he split them up into 3 parts. I have no idea if you are somewhat annoyed that he did this or if your questions about some supporters are rhetorically in jest.

    Neither I can’t understand your criticism of a person whom runs a blog clearly supporting Wenger, writing articles…..funnily enough espousing Wenger. If he didn’t there would be a lot of disappointed people whom regularly visit this site seeking information and discussion. The fact that Tony was able to write 5000 words expanding and developing his point of view illustrates the depth of the Wenger revolution.

    You said:

    Call me a doomer but Wenger and Arsenal’s penchant for the moral high ground coincides with our recent dry patch and provides sanctuary from being compared unfavourably with our bigger spending and more successful rivals (the same point applies on a personal level between Wenger, Ferguson and Mourinho). Having money to spend and actually making use of it puts Wenger’s resources and the expectations of him on a par with the truly great managers which I don’t believe he has the stomach for anymore. Far easier (and cheaper) to pursue an ultimately flawed version of football utopia where the excuse of having not spent millions and having done thing’s according to a moral high ground can be served to the knuckle-dragging masses stupid enough to pay the highest ticket prices in Europe.

    I completely disagree and I don’t feel like repeating what has clearly been explained already (in around 5000 words) the reason we as a club have chosen to go down the route we have. So I will just say you are completely wrong and your comments unsubstantited as well as being incredibly myopic. Are you saying that watching Arsenal play at the Emirates makes me a knuckle-dragging idiot because we haven’t won anything in 5 years and Wenger hasn’t spent enough money for your liking? The tickets aren’t cheap but I still think I get value for money.

  • Arun

    Tony, probably you are the luckiest if you are not able to see 40 years from now after witnessing the golden era.. I started watching Arsenal when Wenger was at its helm and i cant imagine how the club will be when he is gone.. For me, Arsene and Arsenal dont have separate meanings. Its difficult for me to imagine another person in Wenger’s place.

  • Dan

    I really enjoyed this article and some of the comments I have read. I find myself constantly defending this great manager against Arsenal haters and Arsenè hating fans who suggest we should do away with our manager. I do think that football now days is all about figures, how much a player cost or how much a team is worth and in turn we tend to believe that the higher the price the better the team. Man city won the league on just goal difference how much did they cost to be assembled, yeah chelsea won the champions league( for the life of me I still trying to figure that one out) but they finished below us after having a striker that cost them 50 mil, they have been recently beaten 4 1 after spending 80 mil. My point is it doesn’t mean because you buy an expensive jacket that it can’t rip. Good management is what determines the long lasting quality, manage your jacket better and you will still be warm and toasty while the guys with the ripped jackets freeze. Yeah they can buy new ones but you miss the point, long lasting quality. I think a reality check is in order, it is often said that our team is not world class, well I guess we’re punching above our weight and not to mention scaring the opposition in the process. That is all down to the A factor( Arsenè factor), the embedded style and Philosophy. I for one will continue to support this great club, this great manager without fear. I believe that we can win the title, you might think I’m blind but no I’m not I have faith, I believe with my unshifting support to create that 12th man will help the team cross the line and once again Arsenal will be back where they belong and Arsenè can laugh at all who doubted him, and our team can finally get what they deserve recognition of being the best team in England

  • Stuart

    Where did you dig this one out fro Dan? I’m glad you did as I missed this article, it’s also good to look back and see predictions and if they came to happen.

  • Persian gunner

    Nice nice nice
    Well done!
    Thank you Tony, thank you!