Tag Archives: Arsène Wenger

Why Wenger deserves more respect

Arsene Wenger has received a lot of criticism over the last 12 months, perhaps more than ever before. In that time, Arsenal have averaged 1.9 points per game in the Premier League and won the FA Cup thanks to a final victory against champions Chelsea. Given that the club are only willing to make one high-profile addition each summer while other clubs spend routinely, that return is respectable.

After every defeat, it appears that almost all the discussion among fans and the media is regarding Wenger and whether he deserves his job and the power he has at the club. That debate is exacerbated by the team’s frequent capitulations in big games, for which the Frenchman must take a degree of criticism. However, the discussion has become self-perpetuating. When players see that so much of the blame is going on their manager, it becomes a sub-conscious excuse. If those players knew that a performance like the one at Liverpool would result in themselves facing a media hounding, we can be sure that those capitulations would be a thing of the past. The problems at Arsenal therefore say as much about player power in the modern game and the lack of accountability as they do about Wenger.

One of the major criticisms of him is that he is too trusting of his players and lacks the versatility to adapt his tactics based on the opposition. And yet, when he dropped Alexandre Lacazette at Anfield or Alexis Sanchez at Stamford Bridge, both in favour of the more industrious Danny Welbeck, he received a lot of pre-match criticism. If Jose Mourinho had made a similar decision and his side put in a performance akin to the one in the 0-0 draw at Chelsea, many would proclaim it a ‘masterclass’.

Some suggest that Arsenal have the same old problems, which is debatable. Immediately after the stadium move, the club signed too many lightweight midfielders who lacked the muscle to compete in physically games. For that, the manager was partially at fault. In the last few seasons though we’ve seen Granit Xhaka, Mohamed Elneny and Francis Coquelin join the first team setup, all of whom are powerful, even if they lack in other areas.

Wenger would like to sign another Patrick Vieira, who was excellent at everything, but those types of players cost the kind of money that Stan Kroenke and the board aren’t willing to spend. With that in mind, recruitment this summer has been positive with Sead Kolasinac and Lacazette impressing early on, and performances have been in line with what the expectations should be.

Away to Stoke, Lacazette had a perfectly good goal ruled offside and Olivier Giroud missed a late sitter. At Chelsea, they created the better chances but Welbeck, Lacazette and Kolasinac could not score from good positions. The Gunners could easily have an extra five points and sit third in the table, one point off the leaders, without Wenger doing anything differently – they are 6/4 with Betway for the top four.

It is understandable that a lot of Arsenal fans want their long-serving boss to be gone. However, focusing solely on him relieves some of the pressure on the players and board, which then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Maybe Wenger is no longer the genius that built the 03/04 Invincibles, but he is still doing a reasonable job amid the challenges he faces.




Which elite managers actually win trophies? – 6 Wenger replacements

So I recently wrote a blog about potential Arsene Wenger replacements. Men who previously have been put forward as good options and how their careers have ended up dwindling. The likes of Jurgen Klopp, David Moyes, Frank de Boer and Roberto Martinez.

One thing that came out of it, to my surprise, was how little Jurgen Klopp has won in recent years.

Since he brilliantly led Borussia Dortmund to back to back league titles from 2010-2012, he has added just 2 DFL-Supercup’s to his trophy cabinet. The DFL-Supercup is the German equivalent of our Community Shield.

It got me thinking, we all dig out Arsene Wenger for not winning enough. We are The Arsenal. We want to be winning trophies. Therefore the logical line in the ground for his replacement is a proven winner. Not someone with potential who might win things, but someone who is a proven winner with a recent track record of success.

So I did a spreadsheet. You all know I love spreadsheets.

I came up with a list of 21 managers. You would probably call them the elite in European football right now. A mixture of those who have won the league title in Europe’s top leagues in recent years, and those that are highly rated by many.

Having processed what they have won since the 2013/14 season (the year I have chosen to support an alleged agenda is what will be claimed – I just went for the last 5 seasons including this one), I then tried to weight each success.

So the winning a domestic league and winning the Champions League, in my opinion, are equal. So I gave them 10 points each. Same for the Europa League and the nations major domestic cup. I gave them 5 points each.

Then we have the nations minor cup. The likes of the League Cup. Not all nations have a secondary domestic cup. These get 2 points.

Finally we have what I call the glorified friendly’s. The domestic season openers, or Super Cups that every country has –Community Shield, DFL-Supercup, Supercoppa Italiana, Trophée des Champions, Supercopa de España. As well as the UEFA Super Cup and World Club Cup. Fairly insignificant competitions with limited participation. They get 1 point each.

This is how the table turned out:

Now of course, like with any statistical analysis, things can be interpreted in different ways.

For example, topping the table is Laurent Blanc. I was surprised by this. But he oversaw a very successful a very successful PSG team. Now does winning a lot of trophies for PSG mean you are a great manager? Probably not. I probably could have gone to PSG and managed them to a league title.

Likewise at Barcelona and Bayern Munich. They are in tougher leagues than PSG, but is Luis Enrique really that much of a great manager having overseen 9 trophies? Likewise Pep Guardiola’s time at Bayern Munich.

Is it a bigger achievement for Leonardo Jardim to have won 1 League title with Monaco, than Laurent Blanc to have won 3 with PSG? Same with Diego Simeone. Is a single title for Atletico Madrid worth more than Massimiliano Allegri overseeing a dominant Juventus side? Possibly.

You also have the likes of Antonio Conte. He was not in domestic football for 2 years of the 5 as he was managing Italy. So he actually does very well to be mid-table, above the likes of Jose Mourinho who has been in a domestic role for every year.

What the table highlights is that whilst the likes of Klopp, Thomas Tuchel, Mauricio Pochetino and Luciano Spalletti are highly rated, they have won next to nothing between them in the last 5 years. The later two winning sweat FA.

Now you could argue this is because they all manage lesser clubs, but then you see the success of Unai Emery at Sevilla, who has won a lot despite being at Spain’s 4th club.

Likewise the league wins for Claudio Ranieri and Leonardo Jardim are remarkable. If they can achieve their success at their relative clubs, why not hold Klopp, Tuchel, Pochetino and Spalletti to a higher level?

But as Ranieri showed, his title was a one off. Is Jardim’s the same? To talk of Jardim as a Wenger replacement after one good season, is that premature?

What might surprise you all is that Arsene Wenger, La Failure, La Flop, La Fraud, or whatever idiots want to call him, is exactly 10th on the list. Make of that what you will.

He has certainly had the advantage of being with his side the longest, and 3 FA Cups, when taken over the longer period of 10 years, is a massive underachievement.

So from this list of 21 elite European manager, 20 of which are not Arsene Wenger, who would my top 5 replacements by – taking into account all of the above?

Massimiliano Allegri – Proven winner. We should have pushed for him aggressively for this year. Signed a new contract with Juventus recently that keeps him at the club till 2020.

Carlo Ancelotti – Proven winner. Always been a big fan. Won trophies everywhere he has been. Felt Chelsea made a huge mistake to let him go.

Unai Emery – Serial cup winner. 3 Europa League wins for Sevilla. Been given a chance at PSG. Failed to win the league last year. Likely to be available in 2019.

Leonardo Jardim – Single league title with Monaco. Wildcard. Still needs to prove himself. Has 2 more years to do so.

Antonio Conte – Proven winner. If Chelsea are stupid enough to let him go, we should make our move.

There are plenty of options to replace Arsene Wenger. Joachim Lowe is another who is set to come available this summer.

I have always been of the opinion that whoever comes in for Wenger has to take the club forward. I want a proven winner. There are many on the elite list with a high reputation who have just not won very much.

It will be interesting over the next 2 years to monitor those lesser, younger managers. See if in 2 years time they have actually won something.

This started off as brief blog where I was just going to embed a little spreadsheet. It has ended up with me deciding on my 6 man short list to replace Arsene Wenger.

I will probably revisit it in a year, see how the 6 have got on.

Enjoy the Europa League tonight


4 failed Wenger replacements: Klopp, Moyes, Martinez & de Boer

I have to start this mornings blog with some chat about Frank de Boer, sacked as manager of Crystal Palace after just 77 days.

Roll the clock back to 2013 and de Boer was top of many fans list as next Arsenal manager, alongside the likes of Jurgen Klopp, David Moyes and Roberto Martinez.

It is interesting to see how all 4 have performed in the last 4 years.

Klopp got his big move to Liverpool, where he has impressed a lot of people. But the impressive performances are more his own performances off the pitch, the way he deals with the press, the passion he shows, rather than Liverpool’s performances on it. They finished 4th in his first season, and trophyless. Fairly average.

And they have not started this season in sparkling form. Just 7 points from the opening 10 games.

Due to his relationship with the media, he seems to be able to live an easy life. Liverpool lose, he makes a joke, everything is right in the world. It will be the same if Liverpool do not win anything. He is able to create an illusion of success when there is none. He actually has a worse record than the much derided Brendan Rodgers.

It is also worth noting that Klopp has not lead a team to a trophy since the 2012 German Cup, and in his last season with Borussia Dortmund, he led them to 7th.

It will be interesting to see the response if he delivers a 2nd trophyless season, as Liverpool close in on 30 years without a league title.

Like Klopp, David Moyes also got a chance on the big stage with Manchester United where he was sacked before completing his first full season.

I actually feel sorry a bit for David Moyes as it is almost like he was set up to fail. He joined the side on the recommendation of Sir Alex Ferguson, who left him an ageing squad. They were champions in Fergie’s last year, but pretty much that summer the squad collapsed.

At the same time that Ferguson stepped down, Manchester United’s key negotiator in the transfer market – Chief Executive David Gill – also stood aside. This led Man U to have a new manager and new CEO in Ed Woodward.

A poor transfer window which saw the club miss out in a host of major targets, most famously Cesc Fabregas, Leighton Baines and Ander Herrera (who they signed the next year) and secure just one senior signing. Marouane Fellaini.

Moyes was sacked with a win percentage of 52.94%, which is favourable to the likes of Klopp (7001514000000000000♠51.4%) and Louis van Gaal (52.43%) and not too far of Jose Mourinho (57.97), who’s win %age is boosted through Europa League success.

Having been let go by Manchester United, Moyes tried his hand in Spain with Real Sociedad, before returning to England and being the man to finally get Sunderland relegated. You have to feel his reputation is now tarnished enough that he will struggle to get another Premier League job.

Replacing Moyes at Everton was Roberto Martinez. Another with a big reputation that was perhaps undeserved.

His reputation was built on playing free flowing football at Swansea City, and putting in a lot of the groundwork that saw Rodgers take them into the Premier League.

He then joined Wigan who he led to the FA Cup in 2013. Often praised for continually keeping Wigan in the Premier League against all odds, it was kind of forgotten that every time they found themselves 10 points adrift, he was manager. He was the arsonist who sets a fire and then puts it out so he can be praised as the hero.

A good first season at Everton saw them finish 5th. But they quickly slid down the table finishing 11th in the next two seasons and he was gone. It was not just the results but also the performances. Everton were trying to play like Barcelona with players who were more suited with being at Stoke.

Interestingly his replacement, Ronald Koeman has re-addressed the balance at Everton finished a solid 7uth last year.

Martinez is now manager of a very talented Belgium squad, who he has led to World Cup qualification – the first European side to be in the hat for Russia 2018 (bar the hosts). It will be interesting to see if he can complete his rehabilitation by taking Belgium’s Golden Generation all the way.

And lastly we get to Frank de Boer.

Many Arsenal fans wanted him when he was at Ajax. Partly to do with Dennis Bergkamp being involved as his assistant manager.

de Boer led Ajax to 4 consecutive Eredivisie titles, breaking a 7 year drought. Ajax have also failed to win the Dutch league title since he left. But it was a record in an inferior league. Like Brendan Rodgers in Scotland. Does it really count? Possibly not.

He went to Inter Milan in Italy, where he last 85 days before being sacked on 1st November 2016. At the time he claimed he “needed more time” in order to make a mark as manager.

A few months in the wilderness where he linked himself to many Premier League jobs, but ultimately failing to get beyond the interview stage, he eventually got himself a job at Crystal Palace.

His 85 days at Inter was beaten by his 77 days at Crystal Palace.

In hindsight, he was probably the wrong man for the Palace job.

They wanted him to change their style from a defensive, counter attacking to a possession based game. But the wish was to change tactics but without investment, using the same players who had been at the club for years. They wanted him to teach old dogs new tricks.

When Arsene Wenger came to Arsenal, he did not overly change the style of play of the club. It was still based on a solid defence, and pace upfront. It was not until his second generation of players, led by the likes of Theirry Henry and Robert Pires, when Arsenal started to play a more attacking style.

Palace seemed to demand change, but did not give him the resources for change.

He was further hampered by their two best players from last year – Sakho (unsigned) and Zaha 9injured) – being out.

After 4 games and 0 goals, Palace did the brave thing and realised that de Boer was the wrong appointment for them, Rather than battle through and risk being cut adrift before the clocks go back, de Boer was dumped.

In 2013, Arsenal had gone 8 years without a trophy. Arsene Wenger was entering the last year of his contract. Since that time, 4 of the names linked with replacing him have failed to win a trophy, have struggled at jobs big and small. In that time, Arsenal have added 3 FA Cups to the trophy cabinet.

Whilst Wenger’s time at the club is really up .The journeys of Klopp, Moyes, Martinez and de Boer over the last 4 years show just how hard it is to get your managerial appoint right.

Changing manager is no guarantee of success. And Arsenal fans need to realise that. The years of managers being in charge for 5 years, yet alone 25 years, have gone. When a man does come in to replace Wenger, it will feel like a breathe of fresh air. Until he loses that first game of the season.

I want a new manager at Arsenal .The majority of us do. But a change of manager will not guarantee a change of fortunes.

What started as a mini blog has ended up over 1,000 words as I babbled on. Sorry about that, and up The Arsenal.