Daily Archives: October 24, 2014

Arsene Wenger is Arsenal, yes, Arsenal

Arsene Wenger was once an enigma, or maybe he is still an enigma who was young, fresh with ideas and had a fire in his eyes. He could go toe to toe with the legendary manager, Sir Alex Ferguson and come out unblemished. He wrestled the title from Manchester United more than one time and he made history with the last Premier League title he won in 2004, earning him a place in English folklore as the manager that was the mastermind behind the Invincibles. 26 wins, 12 draws, 0 defeat. History makers.

The last time I saw that fire in Arsene’s eyes was the recent defeat against Chelsea. You won’t like this but the only man who inspires or challenges or pisses off Wenger off these days is the man you love to hate, Jose Mourinho. In 12 duels with the Portuguese manager, Arsene Wenger is still searching for his first victory, and many wonder if it’s ever going to come. The Gunners lost the Battle of Stamford Bridge thanks to goals from Eden Hazard and the hotshot, Diego Costa, but for the first time in a long while I saw something stir inside Wenger. Energy which I think can be channeled properly, not in shoving Jose but in inspiring him to be better than we are now. Take a cue from last season – he labelled Wenger as a “specialist in failure”, Wenger won the FA cup while he went trophy-less.

It’s quite puzzling to know that the Arsenal board and entire management only makes him relaxed and contented with where we are. They have fueled his arrogance and they have exaggerated his capacity especially in these modern times. In an organization as big as the Arsenal, someone has to call the shots. I won’t dispute that but a look at the modern football world and you would see a common trait; a football structure which self-innovates, a structure that motivates, inspires and challenges everybody in the club to be better. Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, FC Barcelona, Manchester United and most recently sides like Altetico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, models which was mentioned just recently by Ivan Gazidis as models we aspire to become and exceed. We can’t achieve that when one man thinks for all of us, when one man’s head is empty and we would all keep quiet, when one man seems to lack modern ideas and we all sit and watch.

When I think about Sir Chips Keswick’s quotes in the AGM, it gives me a food for thought,

 “If he (Wenger) has a plan, we back him. If he doesn’t have a plan, we keep quiet”

The chairman openly admits that we pay poor ol’ Arsene to do all things for us. In all things, I mean everything and everything can be turned into everything else. Contrary to what some Arsenal fans would have you believe and no matter how good Arsene was he can no longer do all these things by himself, not anymore, not in these football age when everything has changed. In football world these days that can be quite exhausting and a burden on any young man like Pep Guardiola, let alone an aging man like Arsene Wenger. That was part of the reason Pep left Barcelona because at a stage he became exhausted from all the work especially during the Barca presidential tussle when he did everything by himself with little support.

Scouting of players, player transfer business, senior and youth team management, football philosophy and tactics, players health and fitness management, corporate business management, day to day running of club, balancing the cheque books to keep the board and owners happy at same time winning games and trophies to keep the fans happy; all these in modern times have been innovated to a whole new level that one man cannot control them any longer. Even Liam Brady’s replacement, Andries Jonker said recently he noticed before you get anything done you have to go through Wenger.

“Almost every day, Wenger and I go through a number of things. “He is approachable, but I do have to show him what we are doing. We must not go behind his back. Everybody at the club has the feeling that they need to have the green light from Wenger before they do anything.”

The situation we find ourselves now is that if Mr Wenger doesn’t think, no one else is allowed to think and believe me Arsene hasn’t been wearing his thinking cap lately or at least not to full capacity. This is evident in the poor run of games despite acquiring priced commodities in the face of Alexis Sanchez, Calum Chambers, David Ospina and Matt Debuchy for some serious quid.

I welcome the effort we are making in some of these, though their fruits are yet to be seen. I see some movement recently from Ivan Gazidis towards this. I admit it won’t be easy but we have to plan it to coincide with Wenger’s three years contract. He either goes at the end of three years to allow the structure take place or we whip him into accepting the new order of things. What if the Arsenal management decides to push Wenger, to help him think? What if they set up a structure which lifts the burden from Wenger so he can concentrate mostly on football coaching? What if they compartmentalize Arsenal into the modern structures all working in synergy to rotate the full machine called Arsenal?

But as it stands, Arsene Wenger is Arsenal, yes, Arsenal.

This guest post was written by Austine Onono, or @nwakibie, as he’s known on Twitter. Feel free to follow him.

Bonus Reading: Only Wenger plays the piper and dictates the Arsenal tune – Canon Crested

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