A Tribute to Arsene Wenger

Arsene Wenger celebrated his 16th anniversary at Arsenal yesterday. I am not an ‘Arsene Knows’ type of fan and many a times a critic of his methods but there are multiple areas I admire this old wrinkled professor for.

Le Prof

Le Prof

Principles 

Arsene is a man of values and principles. He is not an explosive figure like the more successful Ferguson or suave like his nemisis Mourinho. He is a quiet, thoughtful (and rather old) man who calmly handles the pressure of English football.

Arsene has rebuilt Arsenal over and over but the Arsenal he produces have always been of the same kind. Stylish attacking play mixed with a strong desire to play football for the beauty of the game. Of course, I do not agree with most of this because to me winning efficiently rather than stylishly is more important. But a man who has stuck to his beliefs and trained over 60 players in 16 years with the same philosophy must be admired for consistency and conviction.

 

Perfect Corporate Man

He does not ring in trophies but as an economist – Arsene maximized the little money he had. Arsenal winning things has always been more of a miracle than an expectation. We are no where close to the big boys in the money league. Many made fun of Manchester City for their huge expenditures – no one noticed that Manchester United spent almost the same ridiculous amount for their first XI just last season.

 

Before sudden fortunes of the blue teams arrived, Arsene found a formula that could match United’s former league-topping budget. The golden years between 1998 and 2005 were miraclous years.

 

The truth is simple. If you want to win, you have to invest. Sugar daddy or a global marketing reach – you need money to win things. Before sudden fortunes of the blue teams arrived, Arsene found a formula that could match United’s former league-topping budget. The golden years between 1998 and 2005 were miraclous years. Years that marked how properly managed funds could beat investments that were far larger in quantity. Of course, the moment Russian roubles and oil money from the Middle East came in – only United could continue competing due to their inherent global merchandise base.

Wenger has had to endure much in his tenure.

Wenger has had to endure much in his tenure.

It must be frustrating for Wenger to have to deal with this. He put in painstaking work to build something that could rival a richer opponent, only to be crushed by a mega rich intruder. But he never quit. Most with a rational sense would go – ‘screw this, it’s a waste of time, it is impossible’.

Most managers renew contracts based on promises of bigger transfer funds, Arsene stayed loyal even though he was continually asked to work economic magic against increasing odds. Yes, Arsene is being paid handsomely. But he could have received a bigger paycheck from Real, etc and a far larger transfer budget.

He stayed for one reason, this club gave him the free reign to completely stay true to his principles. He is an old fashioned man. Stubborn and old but it kept the club alive in torturous financial competition.

 

A Man of Stability & Tolerance

Arsene has gone through the pains of losing his best players. He groomed Fabregas only to see him leave for his boyhood club. He had to go through the same pain that the fans had to, seeing RVP join former arch rivals United.

Fans are not only the ones suffering when the club loses top players.

Fans are not only the ones suffering when the club loses top players.

This is on top of difficulties in trying to keep a club high up the league with a budget a fraction of the Manchester clubs and Chelsea.

 

Yet, unlike many managers who moan publically at their board of directors, he kept silent and just worked hard.

 

Yet, unlike many managers who moan publically at their board of directors, he kept silent and just worked hard. He could have thrown the club into turmoil by making financial demands. He could have filled the press with the same disgust Nasri and Robin have – about finance and by extension, ambition. He had every right to but he didn’t. Arsene understood what a team meant both on and off the pitch.

 

A Manager the Club Needed and Still Needs

Arsenal is a top tier club mainly due to the miracles wrought by Wenger. Fans who believe Wenger is a scrooge are mistaken. There is no incentive for Wenger to save. He is already paid sufficiently to retire very comfortably at least 6 seasons ago.

Arsenal has a weak board of directors. They are slow in business decisions. Our sponsorship deals are really poor compared to many EPL clubs. Our marketing efforts in Asia only started 2 seasons ago when most clubs moved into the lucrative Asian market far earlier. Wenger has to put up with that crap and use player funds to supplement bad business decisions. On top of that, he takes most of the blame for delivering no trophies.

My criticism of Wenger is more on the tactical side rather than management. Sure, I wished he would be more of a no nonsense hair dryer type rather than a fatherly figure. But he has done so much for this club, it would be criminal to crucify him just for that.

 

I supported Arsenal when they finished 5th in the league (1996). Mind you we were 12th in 1995. Without Wenger, there wouldn’t even be talk about trophies because Arsenal would have never moved past that especially in the current financial competition.

 

I supported Arsenal when they finished 5th in the league (1996). Mind you we were 12th in 1995. Without Wenger, there wouldn’t even be talk about trophies because Arsenal would have never moved past that especially in the current financial competition. Who knows what it would have been if the sugar daddies didn’t arrive. As the saying goes, you make your own luck. I don’t expect Arsenal to churn out title winning sides until the board changes its business strategies and actually make decisions that can push the club financially forward.

Arsenal fans have much to thank Arsene Wenger for. Thank you for the 16 years of struggling against the odds. Thank you for turning a mid table team into a top tier one. Thank you for creating EPL’s only invincible team with funds a fraction of your rivals. Thank you for your loyalty and persistence. Thank you, Arsene.



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