Tag Archives: Wenger

In praise of Wenger and his 1000 games in charge

So, things didn’t quite go to plan for Arsenal or Arsene Wenger at the weekend. Everyone at the club was hoping for a victory against title rivals Chelsea to mark Wenger’s 1000th game in charge…

Instead this happened:


Combine this with a red card early on in the game and you can appreciate why I said…things didn’t quite go to plan.

As you can imagine, the press went to town:

The Mirror asked its readers ‘Will Wenger ever win the league again?’ after speculating why Wenger may have missed his Monday press conference.

The BBC simply states: ‘Arsenal boss faces criticism after 1,000th game‘.

The Metro holds no punches with its headline: ‘Arsene Wenger must go as embarrassing Arsenal drop out the Premier League title race‘.

It was this last headline that got to me the most though. To have a manager of Wenger’s ability and consistency and call for his sacking is…well…fucking stupid.

Think of it this way.

Sir Alex…one of the greatest managers to have graced the Premier League. He retired last season and departed with the words of pundits describing him as one of the greatest manager’s in English football. A completely fair accolade.

So let’s compare the two…

Games Wins Draws Losses For Against Win %
Arsene Wenger 1,000 572 235 193 1845 967 57.3
Sir Alex Ferguson 1,000 564 248 188 1784 944 56.4

Wenger has secured a win rate of 57.3%. Sir Alex 56.4%.

This is not to try and suggest one is better than the other, but to illustrate that we are talking about 2 of the all time greats in the game.

The only difference is that one is still a manager and Arsenal are lucky enough to have him while sadly Sir Alex is now retired.

If you need further convincing of just how lucky Arsenal are to still have Wenger, just glance over at Old Trafford now to see how they are getting on without Sir Alex!

No trophies…Wenger has lost it in recent years…blah blah blah…

At this stage his critics suggest that he should go because since 2005, he hasn’t got the same performace out of his players or attracted the same talent…

Well, where to start?

Wenger’s 1,000 games in charge gave him a win rate of 57.3%. In the first 500 games this stood at 57.8% and in his second 500 at 56.6%.

The observant among you will notice that this win rate for his second 500 games in charge is still higher than Sir Alex’s average. You will also notice an incredible consistency across the two halves of his time at Arsenal.

Find me another manager who has qualified for the Champions League for 16 consecutive seasons!

Then lets look at the ‘not attracting talent’ argument…well, there was of course Ozil, Carzola, Podolski, Oxlade-Chamberlin, Arteta, Mertesacker (all in the last 3 seasons) to name but a few.

The issue here then is not that Wenger does not win games,or that he doesn’t attract big names, but that Arsenal too often buckle in the big games. But this is another blog for another day…

For now, I’m happy to leave it that Arsenal are lucky to have one of the greatest managers in the game and anyone stupid enough to call for his sacking must be able to have a good answer to this question:

What next? Who do you think could get Arsenal performing better than Wenger?

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A new dawn at the Emirates?

This article was originally published on the Tattooed Football

There is a new dawn at Arsenal. In the words of Gazidis this is a new era of “financial firepower”. Arsenal are fighting it out with the big boys, not just in the transfer market but, for the 17th consecutive season, the Champions League.  Could this be the season that Arsenal live up to their potential?

Of course bloody not!

Arsene+Wenger+at+AGMSelf-delusion is something central to a diehard 21st century Gooner. No more so than for Gooner-in-chief, Le Professor, Monsieur Wenger.

Despite the talk, the promises, the expectations, what do Arsenal have to show from the transfer window…a free transfer from Auxerre in the form of ‘next big thing’ Yaya Sanogo. He is a classic Wenger signing, off everyone’s radar apart from Wenger’s. Why? Because he shows promise, he shows talent, he might just be, to coin a phrase, ‘the next big thing’ (where have we heard that before)?

For all the talk of signing a racist Uruguayan (can’t see that one going wrong) Wenger is still dangerously close to not making the signing that everyone (literally everyone) says he needs.

Despite the demands from the terraces, the back pages and the pundits, Wenger is dangerously close to coming out of the transfer market essentially empty handed. Depressingly, you can picture him now at the first press conference of the season, brow furled, “my squad is strong enough, and they have a good mental attitude. I am sure we can win”.

Of course, the media focus on the (yet to materialise) centre forward misses the point. Arsenal are missing a solid centre back. I cannot believe that Steve Bould cannot see that. Oh and of course Arsenal could also do with a new goal keeper, left back and someone confident playing left wing.  But these are just side issues I am sure….

And so, they stumble ahead (the talk of unbeaten pre-season out of the window at the Emirates Cup), with Wenger defiant, proud and to the outsider, confident. The fans are still behind Wenger but they’re also still asking the same questions that hung over the squad at the end of last season– is there the strength, depth, spark, talent? Does anyone expect anything other than a scrap for 4th place?

Although talk of a mutiny is overstated the feeling of discontent grows within the emirates with every season where the trophy cabinet is left empty.

There is an irony of being the only top four club with the same manager as last season and yet simultaneously the club that seems most on edge, most likely to drop out of the top four, and most likely to fail to pick up any silverware.

The fans are calling for a big name player to be brought in but this will only be of any significance if, as Gazidis suggests, it marks a new era of “financial firepower” at Arsenal. Without this firepower, Arsenal, with all the managerial skill in the world, will not be able to keep pace with the big boys.

It is not just the 2013/14 season that depends on this but the entire future of the club.

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Money talks – Shame ‘le professeur’ doesn’t listen

This post was originally published on the ‘In Off the Bar’ blog.

I am loyal Gooners fan, who for the last 6 years has defended ‘le professeur’ and his frugal spending. Since the ‘Invincibles’ (2003-04), Arsenal have been one stride short of perfection playing what is widely recognised, as some of the most scintillating football in the world. Yet increasingly cracks have appeared in the depth and resilience of Arsenal’s squad. Even the most blinkered of Arsenal fan would have spotted this on Tuesday night.

Arsenal was caught short against Udinese with embarrassing consequences. Seeing Eboue move to shores a new, Gibbs limp off with a hamstring injury and Djourou following shortly afterwards, resulted in the lack of depth of Wenger’s quad being left bare for all to see. Even Wenger with his commitment to his younger players would admit that it was not ideal to give the talented, but still inexperienced, Jenkinson his Champions League debut. An away goal would have left the return leg a nervous affair that we could do without at this stage of the season – not to mention the very real possibility of missing out on the £25 million for reaching the main stage of the Champions League.

Equally, going forward things are looking a little less comfortable than a few years ago. No one except possibly Wenger would still insist that Chamakh was a good buy. Is there a more one dimensional striker on the books of one the top clubs? With Arsenal missing Van Persie and Nasri, both banned (and the latter soon to depart?), and Wiltshire out injured and Fabregas back to Barcelona, Arsenal’s weakened squad suddenly faced a problem that they haven’t had since the start of the inglorious reign of Bruce Rioch – a lack of creativity. On the odd break they looked uncharacteristically sluggish and disconnected. The addition of Gervinho to Arsenal’s books looks like one of the few significant additions and at least he looked like he was interested. Yet Arsenal looked short of ideas.

Wenger has the money to spend, and sadly we can see that money does talk. When you look at the bolstered squad of Man City and how they swept aside a less than impressive Swansea you begin to resign yourself to their business model. Can you buy success? Clearly. Is it right to buy success? Clearly not. Does this fan want the moral victory or the actual victory? Guess. Just look at the world of difference between Chamakh and Aguero. Would any Arsenal fan really not welcome a big name signing to stick up front?

I still believe ‘le professeur’ is one of the greatest footballing minds in the modern game and he is an invaluable asset to the club. If this does turn out to be his last season then it would be to Arsenal’s detriment. Yet, now more than ever has to be the time for Wenger to act decisively in the transfer market to start to fill in these cracks and not just paper over them. It appears money talks – but is Wenger listening?

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