Archive for the ‘Arsene Wenger’ Category

Arsenal's manager Wenger points during their English Premier League soccer match against Manchester City at The Emirates Stadium in London

The Telegraph’s Matt Law has a bizarre piece on the site now, which begins with this saucy paragraph:

Arsenal players believe that manager Arsène Wenger’s refusal to work on the opposition has cost them a shot at the Premier League title this season.
The defeat at Everton last weekend meant that Arsenal have lost away from home against all their immediate rivals, conceding 20 goals.

This alleged difference of opinion between players and manager is reiterated throughout, except there isn’t even a “sources say,” just a vague reference to “a section of Wenger’s squad” (does this include any members of the first team?).

Far more interesting is the example of football’s wider echo chamber resonating (we presume) within the club walls. First articulated by Gary Neville in his Sky Sports 1 commentary, and generally agreed upon in the journalistic Twittersphere, it seems Spring of 2014 was the moment when the world agreed: Wenger’s problem isn’t his nose for players or his ability to motivate—rather, it’s his failure to adjust tactics based on the quality of the opposition.

This isn’t an implausible explanation for Arsenal’s faults this season, either. However, there is some argumentative ballast provided in the fact that if Arsenal had drawn or lost against all of their top flight competitors this season but, at the same time, picked up all three points against lesser competition, they’d be in first place.

Even so, Wenger is not a man usually associated with tactical versatility (the “passing it into the net” jibe still applies now as it did ten years ago). Many of the best sides in the world weren’t either, and maybe that’s the bigger problem. If Wenger isn’t going to pay for a World Beater, he shouldn’t drive his Corolla as if it’s a Ferrari.

Liverpool's Sturridge celebrates with teammates Gerrard and Henderson after scoring a goal during their English Premier League soccer match against Sunderland at Anfield in Liverpool


Devang Desai, Richard Whittall and James Bigg sit down to talk about another Manchester Derby dominated by City, the future of Arsene Wenger at Arsenal and Bayern Munich’s latest triumph.

You can download the podcast here and subscribe on iTunes here. You can also find the RSS Feed here.

Arsenal's manager Wenger reacts during their English Premier League soccer match against Liverpool at Anfield Stadium in Liverpool

In light of Jose Mourinho’s quip on Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, whom he said was a “specialist in failure,” we take a look back at managers insulting Wenger over the years.

1. Alex Ferguson

From the Telegraph:

Jan 2005: Ferguson calls Wenger “a disgrace”, saying that for Wenger not to apologise for his player’s behaviour after United’s 2-0 win in Oct 2004 was “unthinkable for a manager”. He goes on to say that he expects nothing less from “that type of person.”

2. Martin O’Neill

“He’s made a few ridiculous statements in his time here and that’s probably as good as any.” -the then-Villa coach in 2010 responding to the assertion his side played long-ball football.

3. Roberto Mancini

“I’m not Arsene Wenger. We’re different. I want to win.” -February 2013.

4. Harry Redknapp

“…suddenly then you start losing a few games and it all changes. Now he’s joined the nutters. In fact, he is one of the key nutters!” -Sept 2010.

5. Kenny Dalglish

“Piss off!”

6. Jose Mourinho

“I think he is one of these people who is a voyeur. He likes to watch other people. There are some guys who, when they are at home, have a big telescope to see what happens in other families.” -October 2005

7. Pep Guardiola

“[Jack Wilshere] is lucky because we have many players like him in the second team with us but it is simple to play with Arsenal because they have time and have no pressure to win titles as quick as possible.” -March 2011

8. Sam Allardyce

“I don’t know him well enough to like him or dislike him but I think his own self-importance takes him into an area where he can become rude with what he does, in terms of ignoring you and ignoring what you do.” -April 2011


The Lead

Now I’m going to link to a Daily Mail article to kick things off this morning, so I will warn you in advance, it contains a pair of sentences that may be among the more cringe-worthy you’ll read either today, tomorrow, or the day after that. So I will post it here first to get it out of the way. Ready? Good. Here goes:

His scouting team, headed by Steve Rowley, are asked to identify players with three distinctive characteristics: pace, power and football Intelligence.

If only they had added a fourth — the mentality of champions — they really would be in business.

That out of the way, here’s the link. For all its sudden lurches into talk radio pablum, it does paint a very different picture of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger than we’ve been used to from the critical British press.

In the old days (last year and perhaps the couple of years before that), the going perception of Wenger was that of an old school European economist, a powerful technocrat who performed a little summertime Punch and Judy show to ward off anxious fans but who in reality was loath to spend big money in the transfer market to compete.

This view has been augmented somewhat, and it’s easy to see why. For one, according to many pundits Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis practically fired a pistol in the air at the start of the transfer window when he relayed that “Arsene is not scared to spend money, but he has to believe they are top-class players who will add to the squad. Can I guarantee he will spend all of the money available to him? That depends on the talent.” Obviously Gazidis would not say this without the approval of Wenger, so it raises the obvious question: why, therefore, since June 11th has Arsenal failed to pick up any ‘top-class players’?

That had led to a growing understanding that Wenger does, in fact, want to spend money, but has been failed by an outdated transfer market strategy that ruined several potentially valuable deals for the club. And while this is all based on very limited information, and while this particular Mail article plays fast and loose with some of the facts (particularly over Oxlade-Chamberlain’s playing time), the lack of a coherent transfer strategy seems the most plausible explanation for the club’s failure to match its public ambition in the transfer market. If you don’t buy that, I suggest you cozy up and read Swiss Ramble’s economic assessment on Arsenal from the other day:

If there is a modern, coherent transfer structure in place at Arsenal, then it seems remarkably well hidden. There may well be a great deal of activity behind the scenes, but the results speak for themselves.

So the next time you want to print out an angry sign to bring to the Emirates, you might consider printing “Hire a technical director to assist you in acquiring your transfer targets!” on a piece of paper three times in bright, bold red letters.


Arseblog’s great response to Ashton’s Daily Mail piece linked above [Arseblog].

John Brewin twists the knife a bit [ESPNFC].

The Premier League opening weekend featured the fewest number of England-eligible players in league history, writes Louise Taylor [the Guardian].

Alan Pardew calls Arsenal bid for Yohan Cayabe ‘derisory’ [the Telegraph].

Michael Cox on Pellegrini’s love of touchline huggers at City [the Guardian].

Scott Parker is Fulham. [Twitter].


When the best you can do to create some hype around yourself is use Wayne Rooney as a hypothetical example of who you could sign if you really wanted to, you might not actually be in a great footballing situation. I’m talking about Arsenal. Sorry in advance. (Not really sorry.)

I always find the he trick with bigging-up your buying power is not to say you could do something, which tells everyone that it’s a potential world which might never exist, but to say that you will do something. Use strong, positive signals, not ‘maybe we’ll sign a pale English bloke. We’ll see…’ Because no matter how much you wink, that possibility isn’t going to turn anyone on—you may simply appear unhinged. Also, if you really want to impress everyone, don’t say that you might sign someone who spent last season looking a bit bloated. There is nothing romantic about a bloated striker. Or a bloated anything, in my opinion.

Which brings me to the thing about Arsenal and their potential new money (announced by the co-owner this week); they still can’t really compete, can they. Ivan Gazidis declared that Arsenal are ready to “compete with any club in the world,” but he has done a mistake. Someone tell him, quick!

It’s a rubbish world where one of the only properly profitable clubs can’t produce as much cash for players as their nouveau riche rivals, but can we all admit now that it is the world that we currently exist in? (my editor Richard Whittall aside, he told me he is an alien). You can’t just make up a different world where Arsenal are competing with Chelsea and Manchester City for big name players, which appears to have been happening this week. It’s not allowed.
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Another tumblr. Tip of the that to our Hockey Mastermind Justin Bourne.

Arsenal took care of business at Loftus Road, winning 1-0 in a game that was the opposite of enthralling. Wenger’s reaction to another missed chance is the Gif of the day.

Gif via gunnersaurus