Can Any Coach Teach Football To Wenger?

Around the time of the Fulham game, Wenger gave a statement in his press conference that caught me by surprise and forced me to think.

By now you probably have seen this line,

But it will be difficult to find a coach who teaches me how to manage a football team.

Some fans have read arrogance and obstinacy in that statement but I disagree. Those who have actually handled responsibility and have read or heard the complete comment will not make the mistake of assuming haughtiness on the part of Arsene.

For the sake of reference this is the complete comment,

We are open-minded. We always add people, you know. When you compare to when I arrived, how many people work with the team? Today we have so many analysts, you always add people. I don’t know yet [if someone will come in], frankly.

The problem when you don’t win is to always raise the right questions. Those who win the games are those on the football pitch and not those who talk in the stands.

I have enough experience to know what is important and what is less than important. It will be difficult to find a coach who teaches me how to manage a football team.

I think that is a pretty honest and intelligent statement just as one would expect from Wenger. You could say it has been taken out of context and misinterpreted by some just as one would expect of an Arsene comment that actually forces people to apply their minds.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a strongly in favour of adding to the coaching staff. I have been talking about it since before it became a somewhat popular notion. But as I have said about other issues, nothing at this level is as simple as some people like to believe.

Wenger has mentioned that he is open minded and has been adding people on a regular basis. I am pretty sure if he finds someone he will not hesitate to augment his staff. Therein lays the complexity.

I refuse to accept that Pat Rice, Boro Primorac, Steve Bould, et al are no good. They have been at Arsenal for a long, long time and have given a lot while making significant contributions that led to some glorious triumphs. I also reject the idea that they are all yes men. The club would never have been successful if that had been the case. Such opinions are extremely disrespectful and reflect poorly on the speakers/writers rather than men who have worked hard and achieved success.

That brings us to the question – Who do we need or what kind of coach will significantly improve this group of players and staff?

Before we get into that let’s consider a hypothetical scenario.

Suppose an uber-rich man is able to create a dream football project and hires the likes of Hiddink, Wenger, and Mourinho to work for his team. Do you think that team can become the best ever? Surely three great football minds will create an unplayable squad, no? Arsene knows all about attacking football, Mourinho is a master of the dark arts, Hiddink is somewhere in between and understands both sides; will the whole be greater than the sum of the parts? Can these three excellent managers combine to make one all-conquering force?

I’d say the answer is no. When three such people come together, the whole will be considerably less than the sum of the parts.

If you’re having difficulty in understanding that ask yourself this – Can three presidents do a better job than one? Can three CEO’s run a company better than one?

It cannot happen. If you have three equally strong people at the top decision making will go haywire because each one will have his own approach and vision. Three, or two for that matter, strong personalities at the top can never work.

It is safe to say the person that Arsenal need has to offer something more and different from the people we have at the club and should be one who can gel with the overall philosophy of the club. It is extremely hard to find such a person and that is what Wenger meant by his statement.

Of course, there is an option of changing the man at the top and bringing in an entirely new approach/vision. Some fans are in favour of that but I believe it will put Arsenal in mid-table obscurity so I don’t dwell on that idea for long.

Despite that I do hope that Wenger finds someone this summer. It seems highly unlikely but without that addition it will be near impossible for Arsenal to win the big trophies.

I realize there is a completely different viewpoint to this issue which says the same staff was good enough to win 3 league titles and 4 FA Cups in the past, including two doubles and an invincible season, so how come they are suddenly in desperate need of help?

I think it is a combination of factors.

Firstly, the Premiership has seen unprecedented investment in the last few years and the overall quality of the League has gone up by several notches. In the past a team could win titles despite some weaknesses because many of the games were easy. If you are struggling to understand this, just look at AC Milan. They won the Italian title this year but never looked like beating the fifth placed team in England. A few years ago the quality of teams in England and Italy was reversed.

Second factor is the number of injuries to key players. In the last few seasons, Arsenal have missed more than one key player for a long period. It could be a factor related to the increasing competitiveness of the league amongst others. In the earlier title winning years the main stars made massive contributions. And while people like to believe otherwise, it’s not easy to find players of the calibre of Van Persie and Fabregas even if you are willing to spend money. Just ask Barcelona.

The third factor is the impact of the referees. One might say the referees have always been that way. I don’t really have an argument against that but when combined with the first point it does make life difficult. In the early part of the decade and that of the Wenger reign, Arsenal could get past smaller teams even with the refereeing decisions going against them because those teams weren’t as good. The same can no longer happen. Experts in hindsight analysis who praise the winners and criticize the losers might not get it, but those who have been watching the football should be able to see the improvement in quality of the smaller teams.

Due to these factors everyone at Arsenal has had to work extremely hard just to maintain the position in the top four. But in order to go a step or two higher the Gunners need something extra. It could be in the form of some players but I have seen too many individuals make similar mistakes to believe that will suffice.

This summer’s biggest acquisition will have to be behind the scenes or it will have to be some conversations with other thinkers of the game that could lead Wenger to an epiphany.

46 Responses to Can Any Coach Teach Football To Wenger?

  1. askdfjkas says:

    can you for fucks sake stop protecting wenger..enough is enough

  2. Mungora says:

    The most sober & all rounded arsenal analysis i have seen since our season crumbled.

    • santori says:

      It’s a little apologetic but Desi always constructs a useful argument.

      That said, we should not blinker ourselves to the obvious problems and that’s the issue I have with excusing our current coaching set up. It’s been several seasons with the same results (and errors). I don’t think it is necessarily and issue of bringing in better players.

  3. Aussie Jack says:

    If anyone wants to pick the eyes out of that comment go ahead, you`d have to be pretty small minded.
    Managing a football team is one thing managing a winning football team another. All Arsene needs to do is listen and I think he`s finally done that. Let`s hope it`s not too late.

    • Waleed says:

      The point of the article, I think, was that Wenger DOES listen. He has people, he has experts that have their opinion that he HAS to listen to because he can’t do everything himself.

      This whole idea of a “stubborn” Wenger is a huge myth promoted by the media. He is not stubborn or rigid. He is a man who is always pushing himself out of his comfort zone and always pushing the boundaries.
      You’d think that if he was stubborn and unable to handle change he would’ve stayed at Highbury, kept playing the same style with similar types of players.
      To me the image of Wenger as a man who doesn’t listen and isn’t willing to change is all wrong. He has some flaws but this really isn’t one of them.

      The fact about Wenger is that he is a statistician and he trusts science and numbers above gut feeling. And the thing about numbers is that they often go against intuition. To me a man can’t be stubborn and narrow minded and be able to put his faith in stats.

      And however you take that comment, it is the truth. But it is a bit of a strawman on his part because no one said he needs to learn how to run a football club, but rather someone who offers something different might not hurt. But it also might hurt. We don’t know.

      • santori says:

        Stubborn is a streak that is in Wenger.

        It has its positives but also negatives.

        I do feel that on the whole though he is adaptable (just slow to recognise). I think he will understand that he eneeds to make necessary adjustments otherwise we will be in the same popsition end next season, and he will be gone.

    • Amit says:

      [Pick the eyes out of] Is that an Aussie slang? What does it mean?

  4. venky says:

    Even if it sounds arrogant thats the truth

  5. instead of buying a single player, how about buying two that compliment each other

    Porto boss Andre Villas-Boas has paired Falcao with Brazil striker Hulk this term and the move has paid off, with the duo scoring a remarkable 72 goals between them.

    Read more:

    • Steve says:

      Hulk has never impressed in the Champions League. People are reading way too much into Porto’s triumphs in a weak league and a meaningless European tournament. Let’s see what they do next year.

      Don’t be surprised if they flop like Huntelaar, Kezman, and a dozen others who plundered goals for fun in smaller leagues.

    • Bergkamp10 says:

      Porto were average at best in their previous Champions League campaign. Remember that Falcao and Hulk were absolutely useless against Arsenal when we won 5-0 at the emirates! They may have improved, but they arent supermen by any standards.

      • aravindvr says:

        But I think we need players in their mould…
        Sweating working powerful strikers ready to ponce on with both foot and head.
        How many in Arsenal squad can boast of that quality.
        We need 3 kind of players
        1. Player who puts ball in the net and nothing else.Just shoot and try thts all..not more passes please Mr(read Chamakh)

        2.Player who kick asses outta other team in midfield

        3.Player who can grab the strikers collars and stand there and more pases and tricks pls Mr(read Squillaci)

        ‘engine’ players are needed who does the job the hard way without beauty.
        These players lifts the team up.
        I think
        Parker are kind of players we badly need today.

        Falcao and Hulk may have been weak against Arsenal.But remember if theres Cesc or RvP or NAsri or Walcott playing alongside them providing passes after passes @ Porto, will tht make em more effective.
        So pls dont judge by one off matches played with lesser teammates.

        So Come on Wenger a New POWERFUL ARSENAL IS WHAT WE NEED.

        Falcao RvP Hulk
        ?(not Arshavin) Wilshere Parker Walcott
        Vertrhngen Vermaelen Cahill/Samba Sagna

      • santori says:

        1) Agreed. We need a quality striker to supplement RVP and compliment Chamakh. It’ll be worth our while paying for a player who has a pedigree of putting the ball in the back of the net. Both Falcao and Benzema are not priced terribly high and there is wiggle room to negotiate the price down further.

        That said, I think this position is least important and Wenger can afford to drag negotiations out to the very end pitting prices against each other or if there is an attractive price reduction, he would snap it up quickly. It may however dictate against the pricing of other players we have to bring in in other positions so he will have to be careful.

        2) I think Song has been excellent. Diaby is physical enough in winning balls back but is not naturally defensive (although this side of his game has slightly improved) To me, Wenger will be making a mistake relying on Diaby as the back up. I see Diaby more as a link man (Like Jack) who carries the ball forward, does a bit of both defendingand attacking.

        We will need another enforcer to cover Song. And I suspect we have an overlooked solution inhouse in Kos. If we get a good senior man to back up TV/Djourou, then Kos should have another role as an alternate enforcer.

        3) Players with extra lungs. We mmight have that in Jack and to some extent Ramsey. Being British, they have enough of an engine to keep at it for long spells. What we may be lacking is more options out wide being that AA has visbly tired due to age and Walcott can at tiems be one dimensional. This is IMO an important area we need to reinforce.

      • santori says:

        BTW, Hulk is not good enough.

        IMO, we need someone with some height but more importantly pace.

        We have been lacking a fast outlet right up on the apex to translate our counter attacks quicker since Henry left.

        Walcott aside, we could well do with someone up front who is a threat in beating the last 2 defenders for pace. If anything, it will force the opposition to have to look behind their backs when going forward. BUt we simply need to break quicker and more direct. Just the reason why IF benzema is available in the low 20mil, we should snap him up.

  6. Ife Ade says:

    I need the seriouness of arsene this summer becos arsenal team not the team which suppose not to win any trophy in seven years now…

  7. Steve says:

    Those comments pretty much confirm there will be no changes to the coaching staff. The improvements will have to come in the form of new and better players. It might not work but Wenger has to try.

    • santori says:

      I don’t think he is necessarily discounting changes in the back room. he has mentioned this before in the prior season.

      Pat will still be there but that does not necessarily mean Wenger won’t rejuggle some of the responsibilities, promote some coaches, hire a new face or two.

  8. dev says:

    u can put as much spin as you want into it but its a sraight forward arrogant statement which is a further proof his days are numbered.

  9. Dhruv says:

    You say Pat Rice, Boro Primorac, Steve Bould have been there for a long time that led to glorious triumphs and then later in the article you rightly point out that the premiership quality has risen many notches higher. Maybe Pat Rice et al were good enough when the quality of the league was weaker and have just not been able to keep up for the past few years.

    The mid season collapse of Chelsea just goes to show how the removal of an assistant coach can seriously derail a campaign.

    I really do think changes or additions need to be made to the management staff. Remember when Keown took over as a defensive coach and we had the meanest back five in the 2005 Champions League campaign. We got all the way to the finals relying on the trickery and pace of Henry up front which was only made possible by the stingy defence. I hesitate to use this as an example since it was only 1 season but given that Senderos was at the heart of that defence you have to give Keown credit.

    • Waleed says:

      Or maybe it had nothing to do with Keown? Why do people assume that because he was there at the time it was all his doing?

      • santori says:

        Or maybe it was?

        I don’t know if Keown is the answer (although I’d certainly love him patrolling our touchline as Wenger’s Sergeant Major) but there is no risk in gettinga couple of specialist coaches (revamping the set up) to concentrate on constant niggling errors because we are not set up properly to deal with set pieces etc.

    • bc says:

      And eboue was right back and flamini left back!

  10. bc says:

    The falcao and benzema links are just rumours devised from wenger comments about the players. We will not shop in Harrods this summer. It is m&s or even primark for us. We wont get hazard we will probably get chamberlain. We won’t get cahill we will probably get Samba. We won’t get benzema or falcao we will probably get Gaimero or gervinho. We won’t get parker we will probably get Barton. We won’t get baines we will probably get gutierrez. We won’t get Stekelenberg we will probably get Lehman. We will sell either sagna or eboue and replace him with jenkinson thats the sort of deals wenger likes. £1m spent £5m or £10m brought in. Sell clichy for £8m get gutierrez for £6m. Sell denilson for £6m get Barton for £4m. I am not even convinced he will go for a centre back with bartley joining vermaelen koscielny Djourou Squillaci and Miquel that is 6 centre backs. Unless 3 leave or vermaelen switches to left back i just cannot see it. When he talks of our defensive solidity he is more likely to spring a suprise next season and play 3 centre halves next season with 2 wing backs. Hence sagna and clichy could be replaced by eboue and gibbs with jenkinson and coquelin covering eboue and traore and botelho covering gibbs. Koscielny Djourou vermaelen across the back with squillaci bartley Miquel as the back up.

    • santori says:

      As you said, those are rumours.

      But I do think he will have to reinforce with a striker IF Bedntner leaves (looking likely). That said, this position is least priority and he may therefore be able to punt for a more ‘unknown’ quantity. Benzema/Falcao only if the price is right (low 20m IMO)

      With regards your defnse assessment, I think we pretty much play ‘3 at the back’ with Song as is.

      Therefore you are somewhat right in viewing Koscielny as a possible cover for SOng playing as a screener for the CBacks.

      Squillaci should be sold. We should buy a better senior player as an insurance for TV/Djourou. Either someone who has won it all and can organise (Lucio @33 he will be reasonable)or maybe someone from the PL who has a decent record (I don’t know why Samba is viewed with such favour but I’d prefer Hangeland. again he is off radar and may be more reasonable plus @29 and captain of Norway, I would think he has some organisational/leadership ability. Fulham has a better defensive record in any case than Blackburn)

      I wouldn’t replace Clichy with Eboue for a moment (Have you forgotten Liverpool?) If anything, the Ivorian should be the first on the replacement list.

      Some of the younger players you mention (Coquelin, Jenkinson etc) are inexpeirenced. They could get a run out with the CCup but you must be dreaming if you think we could depend on them for first team action.

      You only have to look at Gibbs (who is a good developing player) to have an appreciation for Clichy. I hope Wenger keeps Gael. We have more priorities to reinforce without worrying about LB.

    • AP says:

      Wow, if there ever were a castle built in thin air…

  11. Aussie Jack says:

    Statistics are always out of date but they can be used as a basis to convince people who otherwise would be sceptical.”There are lies, damned lies and statistics”.

  12. Arick says:

    Agree on everything except the bit where you say “3 great minds cant work together” in mourinho’s case you’re right but hiddink and wenger are pretty open minded and dont mind teamwork afaik. It’s allways possible aslong as you communicate enough.
    nice read! and hopefully the needed changes will happen but if it doesnt I shall still enjoy watching the arsenal.

    On to better times!

    • Henrik says:

      if barton becomes an arsenal player i just might throw up a little. hope diaby gives him a dropkick next time!

      • Henrik says:

        why did my comment end up here when i replied to bc’s comment?

      • alan b'stard M P says:

        At least Barton has balls enough to make his presence felt. I’d be happy with He and Shawcross. Some of the nancy boys on the other teams will shit themselves

        At least then…we have a defence that others are wary of

      • santori says:

        Barton. Waste of time.

        He’ll get himself sent off (or incarcerated) before he can play 10 games for us.;)

  13. joeduke says:

    stop using referees as an excuse. Arsene’s tactics n motivational strategy has failed again. We r not the only team in the league. We may say d players r crap. But i tink any gud coach cud win wit this team. Mourinho won d CL wit an unkown porto team in a so called poor league

    • santori says:

      I agree.

      I do think Arsenal have had an unfair rub of the green myself BUT if we harp on about the injustices done to us by Refs, we will merely reinforce the negative in the minds of the players.

      The dark lord MOurinho trains his teams 10 against 11.

      We should adopt this and add an extra goal advantage to the opposition (in expectation of decisions that go against us)

      That should at very least help to strengthen our soft mental state at the moment.

      • santori says:

        I won’t say he is a woeful tactician.

        But he can be found out.

        He hasn’t done particularly bad this season against some of the top opposition.

        However we need a variation in approach when dealing with teams sitting deep and defending in strength.

        We have seen some inclination towards that with 4-4-1-1 switch (admitedly in desperation) in recent games.

        But there is much more to be done to keep us unpredictable and fully maximise our strengths.

        EG. Up front, we had so much firepower (untapped) in both Bendtner and Chamakh with their aerial strength but we stuck Bendtner out wide and could not put enough quality balls in from out wide to Chamakh’s head.

        Instead, we tend to thread to the middle as usual taking one pass too many, not electing to shoot when opportunity presents itself.

        In fact, we were just about finding our passing range with our crosses from out wide when Wenger elected to keep Chamakh on the bench and play RVP exclusively. He should have at least kept CHamakh involved with the C CUP to keep him sharp and more importantly keep up our crossing skills.

        We then played 4-3-3 which seemingly works when teams come out to play against us but is less effective when teams sit deep as RVP tends to drift out of position thereby depriving us of presence in the box.

        Again not saying Wenger is a poor tactician by any means but he could well do with better counsel by his side. His tactical changes at tiems were baffling and was too slow to make them.

        I think ignoring the coaching situation is really asking for it.

  14. alan b'stard M P says:

    his tactics are woeful. We need two strikers, RvP & “whomever” playing alongside each other, and decent defenders with guts

  15. santori says:


    respectfully, no one is saying replace Wenger or have 3 CEOS.

    But as you mention, the game has gotten more complex and competitive in recent seasons with more teams able to invest in top players AND managers.

    Wenger’s job is a complex one as he oversees much more than developments on the field. In essence, he has a holistic approach to the club which sees heavily involved in everything from youth devlopment, to finance and player purchase.

    This can get a little overwhelming and I fell he is seeing the woods but missing the trees at times.

    What i argued for is better help.

    Pat Rice may be decent but he has been in that seat way too long to be able to offer differing opinion to Wenger.

    I may be wrong in my assessment of course as I am not privy to the inside workings of the management team but based on our tactical reactions to situations on field during a game, we could do with far quicker and (at times more lucid) decision making.

    That’s where a new assistant may be helpful (Again not saying it will be easy to find this bloke..especially someone Wenger doesn’t mind taking advise from)

    But he should.

    Fergie did it with Carlos Quieroz. He is an equally stubborn man but not inflexible enough to realise at that point that he needed some extra help.

    Now since Wenger is not prepared to let Pat leave as yet (for whatever sentiment sake)

    The next best thing is for him to arm himself with a pair of decent assistant coaches to concentrate on working repectively on defensive and attaking issues that have been our constant plague.

    He can fill one of the positions with existing coaches (Say Steve Bould) if he sees fitbut on evidence, a restructuring of the coaching system will be healthy for us.

    They will still be under his ‘command’ so I do not see a clash of control here.

    If anything it has a double positive in affording him a chance to groom an eventual succession from within if need be.

    Sorry, but to ignore this issue (as you latently agree on) would be extremely myopic.

    We can purchase all the players we want but to carry on with similar tactics will merely serve to handicap us further and produce similar end results.

  16. Tim says:

    Remember the good old days with Overmars, Bergkamp and Anelka or Henry, Pires and Vieira?

    We used to shift from one end of the pitch to the other in 7 seconds with 1st time passes bang, bang , bang -GOAL!

    Why did wenger abandon that style of play? all this tipy-tapy Barcelona worship doesnt get us much reward.

    • santori says:

      I absolutely agree with you and was just making this point further up the post.

      We need to break quicker.

      I think we could benefit from a pacy striker (but someone with height and physicality). We are missing this option at the moment.

      If Benzema is available for low 20mil, he would be a bargain.

      • santori says:

        …of course Gervinho seems cheaper and with a possibility of being deployed out wide.

  17. sameep says:

    Desi,little off the topic and referenced to the point we discussed under ‘Arsenal-Fulham game’ about Arsenal defence and Keown’s involvement in the 2006 champions league team..etc..

    I was searching for a good link to the topic and found something, hence sharing it here.…-a0144737927

    I don’t know how to interpret it exactly but certainly worth a read.

    • desigunner says:

      Sorry wasn’t able to read earlier. Excellent link. Thanks. It doesn’t say whether they were working as coaches or not but they were providing some inputs to the players after training, which certainly makes a difference.

  18. 1-eight-7 says:

    wenger apologists, you all.

    how can a club as big as Arsenal not win trophy for 6 years and we are talking crap?! how pathetic we are?

    something has to give. Arsene won’t change. let him resign and leave our club. don’t delude yourselves!

    • santori says:

      He won’t be resigning any time soon so don’t delude yourself either.

      Of course there isn’t much we can do besides prattle on on these forums but I firmly believe he has to set some sort of refresh button on our coaching set up.

      If he doesn’t and results persist, you’d probably get your wish down the line anyway.

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