Arsene Wenger Great Manager or an Enigma?

There are many Arsenal fans, even those who ‘hate’ Arsene Wenger, who will reluctantly agree, when pressed, that he was — note the past tense – once a great manager.

This admission will always be immediately qualified by the use of such terms as ‘He was good when he first arrived, up until 2005, but he is past his best and doesn’t know how to inspire his players or, how to coach them properly, and he is clueless about tactics’. Yada, yada, yada.

Comparisons are also frequently made between Wenger and famous managers of the past or, rather more gallingly, with contemporary managers like Ferguson and Moaniho.

So, fair enough, let’s look at a fantastic Arsenal manager of the early part of the last century, Herbert Chapman, and see if there are any parallels that may help us decide if Wenger’s reputation suffers by comparison.

It is simply invidious, and unfair, to try and directly compare athletes or footballers of bygone eras with those of modern times. Human beings, generally, have grown bigger and stronger because food and sustenance is in plentiful supply, and medicine has improved hugely with micro-surgery available to combat career threatening injuries of great sportsmen and women, and prescription drugs have been developed to help keep us all fit and healthy, compared to those living in the 1920’s and 1930’s, when hunger and deprivation were the lot of many unfortunate people.

That said, perhaps it is possible, none-the-less, to compare the circumstances under which Chapman operated, and see if there are any pointers that we can discern which would usefully highlight any similarities or discrepancies between the modus operandi of the two managers, despite the different eras in which they worked.

A useful starting place is the 1925-26 season when Arsenal finished a creditable second in the old First Division.

It is well known, that Henry Norris a notorious tight arse, had previously advertised for a manager with the infamous rider declaring that applicant wishing to spend money on purchasing players ‘need not apply’.

As a consequence, after his appointment, Chapman was unable to spend to strengthen the side he had inherited, and had to watch as Arsenal only managed to finish eleventh in the League.

Nevertheless, Chapman gained a wonderful reputation for tactical innovation, and introduced the world famous ‘WM’ formation for setting up his team, coupled with devastating counter attacking play.

This tactical innovation depended upon the abilities of ‘world class’ players such as Alex James, David Jack, Joe Hume, Cliff Bastin, and Jack Lambert, the Messi, Ronaldo Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamps of that long ago era.

Before long, this combination of lateral tactical thinking combined with some of the best players ever to grace the Arsenal, whatever the era, started to produce fantastic results, and trophies began to flow into the Highbury cabinet room.

Sadly, at the beginning of 1934, after a short illness that many ascribed to overworking, in difficult conditions, Chapman died still yoked to the prestigious job he loved, at the club he helped make famous throughout the world, and mourned by thousands.

So, can we see a co-relation between Chapman and Wenger?

Well, both men struggled with a lack of funding, but despite that, and by using players bought cheaply, or by bringing through youth or reserve team footballers, as well as revolutionising the coaching and tactical standards of the day, they each managed to produce trophy winning teams.

In addition, many of us have been concerned with the obvious stress Wenger has suffered recently and the effect on his health is of some concern.

An additional handicap for Arsene Wenger was the building of a fabulous stadium, and the traumatic move from the famous halls of Highbury.

It is enlightening to remember that Ajax, once seen as one of the best and most successful clubs in the world, noted for producing gifted and technically advanced young trophy winning teams, moved stadiums in 1996, and have never won any tournaments since.

So what of Monsieur Wenger when compared with the best managers of the modern era?

Arsene Wenger has a vision for the style and manner of the football all his teams must strive to play, which many have come to liken to a modern day ‘Barcelona’ type.

AW believes in his vision with his whole being, and cannot encompass any other style as being worthy of any team he is associated with.

His early Arsenal career, in some ways, mirrored the Chapman era, as he was forced to develop his idyll while short of funds, and having to revolutionise the playing set up, starting with building a state of the art training facility, changing the players’ dietary regime and training methods.

These remarkable changes soon produced astounding results with trophies pouring into the Arsenal, courtesy of a fantastic scouting system which enabled the purchase of cheaply acquired ‘star’ players such as Thierry Henry, Dennis Berkamp, Patrick Viera, Robert pires and many, many more.

In recent years, consequent with the building of the new stadium, finances to purchase new talent or to replace older players have become ever more difficult to come by, and indeed many believe top players have had to be sold, allegedly, to balance the books of account, to enable the club to meet its desired aim of self sustainability.

In turn, this has led to the dimming of Wenger’s football vision of slick, passing, attacking football, for without the brilliance of the aforementioned Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp et al, the team’s results, each year since they left, have become increasingly inferior when compared with other clubs who have recruited the best players from around the world.

What then of his ‘competitor’ managers?

It cannot be denied, that, based on trophy winning, Manure also have a ‘great’ manager and his teams are said to be imbued with his fighting ‘mentality’ which is portrayed by their ability to win games with ‘late’ goals, when needed.

Umm … there is a slight flaw with that view, because they didn’t do that when they were 2:1 down against Real Madrid in the CL recently, did they? Or, let me think, what about in last year’s CL in Basle when all they needed was a draw? Noooo.

Manure has ‘earned’ that reputation mainly against ‘inferior’ opposition in the PL.

Am I being unfair? Well, I am sure he should have also been able to instil this same ‘fighting attitude’ into his players when he managed at East Stirling or St Mirren …… but hold on those clubs were not known for any such attitude, or ability for late revivals. Why?

The answer is simple, it is because he did not have the players with the wit or ability to conjure any such results, or win any trophies.

So, how do Manure, and Ferguson, get away with the unquestioning acceptance that the club and their manager have this ‘fighting ability’ which, by inference, Arsene does not have?

Again, the answer is straightforward …… Ferguson goes out every transfer window, and regularly buys outstanding, expensive, match defining and sorry did I mention ‘expensive’ players capable of producing undoubtedly stunning results, and it is this that has made his reputation.

Who were these players I am thinking of? Think Rio Ferdinand, Ruud van Nistleroy, Wayne Rooney, Christiano Ronaldo, Sheringham, RvP and a whole host of ‘cheaper’ players who are way outside Arsenal’s historical spending limits.

And Maureenio? Well suffice to say, he has only really managed and made his reputation by working for ‘money no object’ Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid.

Buy the best (and most expensive) players, regardless of the cost, and the trophies will come looking for you.

Ask Ferguson – ask Maureen!

No!!

Give me Arsene Wenger any day of the week.

Give me a high class club, who eschew oligarchs and oily sheikhs.

Give me the Arsenal!

Written by Red Arse

104 Responses to Arsene Wenger Great Manager or an Enigma?

  1. Janman says:

    Big Raddy
    I cannot concur it would have been an injustice! Every team can have a bad game that is why the competition goes over two legs. Surely you cannot disagree that Bayern played as badly as we did in our home game, therefore where is the injustice, I just don’t see it that way. If that’s the case then you might as well only have the one game and be done with it…you are missing the meaning of a home and away leg! The game is based on results and fair results, injustice is nothing more than an opinion!

  2. OH WOW says:

    Ajax have won nothing since? Really? REAAALLLYYY?

  3. Redders(thanks for the well expressed, as ever, post), I often wonder what it would be like if every manager was given the same pool of money available for transfers and wages and we could see the results with the skill of the manager being the single variable.

    But then when I say to Formula 1 fans “Why not get them all to race in the same car so it’s only the skill of the driver we see a competition in?” and then I get laughed out of town.

    Mind you I hear audiences are falling for F1 so perhaps there is a long term lesson in it for football – salary/transfer caps anyone ?.

  4. Janman says:

    Sorry for any confusion my @09.39 is a comment to Big Raddy from the last post.

  5. Norfolk Gooner says:

    Chary,

    There will never be parity in football, despite wage caps, transfer restrictions and any other measure you care to introduce there will always be the human element.

    Players get injured, players suffer dips in form, Vermaelen/Szczesny for instance, players just decide that there is greener grass elsewhere and agitate for a move.

    Referees have good days and bad days, star players get arrested for driving while disqualified, and possibly, jailed. Others get banned for missing drug tests and not banned for appalling behaviour towards referees.

    No Chary, there are just too many variables and long may it remain so.

    Incidentally, isn’t it a bit suspicious that a certain Northwestern based central defender gets away with appalling behaviour towards a referee just before the England Manager recalls the scroat to the England squad?

  6. The Realist says:

    Bruce Rioch bought Dennis Bergkamp.

    Wenger’s only problem is tactics. He has the players on paper, but in recent years cannot get the most out of them?

    The main difference between us then and now (now being when we were competitive) is pace. Pass and and move but with purpose. Not just to keep possession. I loved it when every week they put a timer on the screen showing 10 seconds between us defending a corner and sticking one in the onion bag at the other end. Nowadays the timer is on us having a corner and conceding.

  7. Norfolk, I meant resource parity is all I would like to see – the random human element is what sporting contest is all about and long may it continue. I guess in the future we could have teams of androids operated by managers so it becomes purely a question of strategy and tactics – which ‘d make it more like chess than anything else, but I digress.

    I made a similar comment about Turtle face yesterday – when I said “surprised face”, especially since JT was no longer in the frame, that’s 2 infractions then: clapping sarcastically in the referees face against Madrid and then the hack from behind during a Howard Webb (aka Fergie’s rent boy) “officiated” game.

  8. nihirealist says:

    Sadly RA, I agree with you. Thus nothing to argue with you about 😦 Except I could go Oh WOW!!!! and REALLY?? about Ajax too. They did win the league a fair few times. However, the stadium did impact them for quite a while, and they weren’t competing with subsidised clubs like Chelsea and Mancity.

    Ferguson has always had a financial advantage over Wenger, and that Wenger could win out to the extent, and in the manner that he did, is testimony to his managerial ability. There’s no point comparing their abilities, but Arsenal could not have had a better manager than Wenger in their situation.

    Arsenal, though a big club, isn’t a true global giant in football. But we’ve gone down towards becoming one since Wenger got here. Our Uefa ranking has risen considerably, and with the stadium completed, in a few years, we’ll be right there in the true elite of clubs. These past few years are the equivalent of putting in the hard work to become global giants comparable to the Bayerns and Barcelonas of this world. Chelsea and City might feel they have found a short cut, but a) they still don’t have our history, and b) we don’t know how things will turn out if their owners decide they’ve had enough. It’s only been 10 years since Abramovich surfaced.

    I remember when the likes of Juventus, Bayern, and Madrid only elicited awe in my mind. These were the real BIG clubs. The likes we were lucky to be able to match, let alone beat. Gradually, we’ve become used to being worthy of being at the same table as these giants (I feel that lack of history was the reason the Invincibles never won the CL) and slowly, we’re going to truly be considered one of them. And Wenger deserves a big part of the credit for that. I’m not sure Ferguson could have done what Wenger has for us. I’m certain Mourinho couldn’t have even contemplated it.

  9. nihirealist says:

    chary,

    The idea of everyone having the same car to work with was tried by some Lebanese sheikh who started the A1 racing series, with ‘nations’ participating in it. I think it had a run of 2 or 3 years before going bust.

    What made F1 great was the characters and the battles between them. But in this day and age, everything is sterilised. PR is all important, and all drivers are generally careful about what they say. It’s not just true of formula1 of course. It’s the same in all sports. But F1 has less potential for drama than other sports, especially since reliability and safety has increased.

    Salary caps. are a nice idea, and they could work if it were a pan-European effort. I don’t think we’ll see it though until we see the EU willing to treat sporting contracts slightly differently to regular work contracts. Maybe like the NBA, if we allowed only trades to happen (where the player stays tied to his contract even when switching teams) then we wouldn’t even need salary caps.

  10. Reddawn says:

    After watching Baca play AC Milan during the week, I noticed that Mr Wenger seems to have taken a leaf out of their book. Arsenal have started to hunt down the opposition by crowding the player on the ball with two or more plays. Although, our ball possession wasn’t as good as it could have been, we appeared more effective as a team. To all those who sneer at tip tap football, they should have watched the Baca master class during the week. I still think Mr Wenger is on the right lines to maintain his style of football.

  11. True Shard, for such a system to operate it would have to be Europe wide at the very least, if not world wide – which is why ideologies like communism can’t work and certain “other” ideologies masquerading as something more. I’ve got to stick to the point…

  12. TERRY MANCINI HAIR TRANSPLANT says:

    Thought provoking stuff Redders.

    When i was a kid i was pretty skint, came from a rough area of East London at a time when people knew there place. My old man used to work his arse off, normally juggling two jobs so me and my three brothers wernt deprived. At the same time he tried to instill vaules in us so we could go on with our lives in the hope that we could suceed. Now and again it didnt work out but he could do no more.

    Thats how i see Arsenes Arsenal. In the history of the club arguably only two managers have created dynasties and laid rock solid foundations for the club to advance. These are Arsene and Herbert Chapman.

    Its not about financial parity, or even winning things. Its about what you create and what you leave behind. I wont go into what Arsene will leave our club, if you dont know that then why bother.

    We can debate wether Arsene is the right man to take us forward all day, but personaly i regard Arsene as the greatest Arsenal manager in my life time.

  13. nihirealist says:

    chary,

    You lost me with ‘other’ ideologies. I don’t know what you mean by that 🙂

    I think Wenger once mentioned he would love it to be a true competition where each manager is given 20m pounds every season as their budget, and then see what the table looks like.

    He also once said it is impossible for salary caps to work. The example he gave was how can you check payments in cash or kind, being given to some kid’s grandfather in Brazil? (I suspect some form of money laundering through agents already happens. Something of the sort being raised against his son was the reason Ferguson refused to talk to the BBC)

    Still, the US seems to get it to work, but then they operate under one (or two) legal jurisdictions, so it is a less complicated process. I don’t know. I’d like it to happen. FFP might be a step towards that. But that is being very optimistic.

  14. I like Wenger’s attitude on selection that he has been explaining in today’s presser: “All the players are in the same position. Nobody is guaranteed places in the team.

    “Everybody faces the same competition and the players who (have) come in have been on the bench for a long, long time. They all have the same problem, the job of being a top-level competitor is to deal with that.”

    I hope he sticks with this and enforces it all the time now.

  15. Shard, it’s a bit of a political comment which I can’t express here as it is ultra vires the ethos of the blog. I thought you may pick up on it though, but no worries as it was a deliberately obtuse reference.

  16. Norfolk Gooner says:

    In my lifetime the following managers have taken charge of our club :- George Allison, Tom Whittaker, Jack Crayston, George Swindin, Billy Wright, Bertie Mee, Terry Neill, Don Howe, George Graham, Bruce Rioch and Arsène Wenger. Several of them brought multiple trophies to the club but only one has made such a dramatic impact in playing style and players lifestyle. There can be no doubt which of those is the greatest, Arsene Wenger by a country mile.

  17. nihirealist says:

    chary,

    I shall be wracking my brains to unravel the mystery 😀

    Does anybody know the origin of the term ‘country mile’? Is it to do with a difference in the actual distance, or is it just that the distance appears longer?

  18. Red Arse says:

    Hi Folks, 🙂

    I do not know the origin or the etymology of ‘a country mile’ as in ‘he missed by a country mile’ etc, other than to guess that, as its usage goes back many a year, it is associated more with how long it seemed to take to walk a ‘country mile’, because of the twisting, twining dirt track roads, rather than a paved sidewalk in a town, and therefore is not a direct reference to the measurement of an empirical distance. 😀

    Just a guess.

  19. GoonerB says:

    Excellent post Redders with a great Churchillian end. I fully agree that I would not swap AW for either Mourinho or Ferguson.

    Although I am not over keen on either of them as characters I feel in the interest of appearing fair and balanced on this site I would refer to Fergusons time at Aberdeen and Mourinho’s in his homeland (most notably Porto) as potentially thwarting the view that neither of them can win without significant funds. I don’t know the full details but I am fairly certain that both achieved significant success with limited funds at those times. In my mind I do grudgingly accept that they are both also great managers.

    For me it is not really about a direct comparison between AW and those 2 anyway, and it is more just about being grateful that we have one of the worlds greatest managers at our club, and to boot he is a far more honourable and classy character than either Sir Red Hooter or the self proclaimed deity.

  20. Merseforever says:

    Terry Mancini,

    Got a lot of admiration for people like your old man. My grandad was like that, (also from the East End but settled and raised his family in Islington, where in the East End you from?) but my dad was a complete waster, and unlike my grandad (his dad) and mum’s family who supported the Arsenal, supported Wet Spam…

    I would say GG also laid strong foundations. He instilled a never say die attitude and a gritty courage to Arsenal that meant we often played better than the sum of our parts, and I think we’ve lost that. On paper the team we beat 2-0 on that glorious day in Anfield ’89 was probably better than the team we sent out. He also built that rock solid defence which a lot of Arsene’s early success built on. Of course without Arsene, TA, Bouldy, Dixon and Winterburn wouldn’t have had their Indian summer but that defence coached itself and helped bring through the next great defence we had with Cashley, Sol, Toure and Ralph.

    The way I’ve always seen Arsene is that he is an idealist. He has a way he wants to play the game. He will then try and find the personnel to fit that game (for the most part). This is supported by what players from Tone to Cesc have said. When it works, it is a joy to watch and unbeatable. That’s why through the majority of the Wenger era we’ve seen adopt reactive tactics against us. But it is dependent on Arsene identifying and developing talent to the extent that they can fit into that system. He did that unbelievably well for a very long time.

    BUT, this is why I see his time as coming to an end. In this day and age, everyone has the scouting system that Arsenal has. Some clubs probably have better ones than us. With social media, there are very few undiscovered diamonds in the rough out there. His recent record with his attempted budget buys hasn’t been very impressive – I think most of us would agree on that. The Wenger teams SINCE 2006 have also seemed characterised by physical and mental brittleness and an inability to get it going when it really counts (something I think a lot of us would agree on too). The man himself lost some of that Gallic swagger and abrasiveness he had when he arrived and in my opinion the team reflects that. Remember how bad our disciplinary record was? How everyone hated us because we could rough them up and then cut them apart with our swashbuckling play.

    If we resign ourselves to not being able to compete financially (not sure how true that is, I personally having looked at Swiss Ramble’s page believe a lot of our lack of spending stems from Arsene himself) then in my opinion we need a manager who can take the team and make it play better than the sum of its parts, ie a manager who is a great tactician and a pragmatist and will reinstill the fighting grit GG put into the team AND Arsene himself put into the team in his early years.

    It’s like a politician. Every great prime minister lost an election in the end. Churchill, commonly regarded as our greatest ever leader, got hammered in the 1945 election. He suited the war period, but his time was up, doesn’t mean he wasn’t great (although he was a terrible racist). This is why I think we need a change in manager ASAP! Doesn’t mean I don’t regard Arsene as the greatest!

  21. Red Arse says:

    To Mr OH WOW, I apologise for not spelling out my reference to Ajax in more excruciating detail, as it was just a side bar to the point of the article and would have increased the length of the Post.

    But, just for you, I referred in the Post to Ajax’s worldwide reputation, which was gained not simply because they were one of three clubs to dominate a rather ordinary league , the Eredivisie, but because they won the European Cup multiple times, and supplied some of the most gifted internationals to a fantastic Dutch national team, who in turn were stunningly successful with their ‘total football’.

    So, for completeness sake, let me say this about Ajax;

    Ajax is historically one of the most successful clubs in the world; according to the IFFHS, Ajax were the seventh most successful European club of the 20th century.

    The club is one of the five teams that has earned the right to keep the European Cup and to wear a multiple-winner badge; they won consecutively in 1971–1973. In 1972, and they also completed the European treble by winning the Dutch Eredivisie, KNVB Cup, and the European Cup.

    To date, they are the only team to keep the European Cup and accomplish the European treble. Ajax’s last international trophies were the 1995 Intercontinental Cup and the 1995 Champions League, where they defeated Milan in the final; however, they lost the 1996 Champions League final on penalties to Juventus.

    That CL Final defeat just so happened to be the year (1996) when they moved to their new stadium. Hence the reference in the Post!

    Now, OH WOW, of the monosyllabic avatar, why don’t you write a Post of your own for AA, rather than hiding in the shadows, and glibly criticising others.

    failing that, fuck off and learn some manners.

  22. Red Arse says:

    Thanks GoonerB 🙂

    You are right to be balanced about Sir Fungus and Maureen, altho I left out Aberdeen and Porto in their CV’s 🙂 because that is not what they have become famous for.

    In like manner I did not include Monaco and his Japanese adventure in the CV of AW, as he was not famous for that either.

    A sort of balance, at least in my mind. 🙂

  23. TERRY MANCINI HAIR TRANSPLANT says:

    Hi Merse, originaly from Stepney Green, but when i was 14 we made the long trek up north, to Wood Green. hahaha

    I totaly understand were your coming from about Arsene. You could well be right that in essence his time is up or could be up very shortly. Maybe some one new could do a better job now, who knows?

    Looking at it from a historical point of view, the great Herbert Chapman only won one league title and his succesor George Allison won more.

    Thats how i feel about Arsene. For me he is a living legend for Arsenal. Even though i admit, in my support and respect for the man i do sometimes get a bit carried away. hahaha

  24. Interesting post. I think no judgement can really be made until the end of the season. If we find ourselves out of the top 4 questions will be asked, however if we make it in, you have to fancy he will be the man to take us forward. That is if he finds his wallet! Have a read of our preview for Swansea if you get a chance!

    http://backpagebanter.wordpress.com/2013/03/15/a-final-swan-song-for-arsenal-in-the-league/

  25. dandan says:

    Bravo Red Arse, I like Norfolk, Remember a fair few managers and none as they say as fair as Arsene, a man ahead of his time, held back by finance and the clubs best interest, Whilst being continually derided by myopic media louts
    His contribution to the club in particular and football in general, far out ways the tawdry performances of so many of the the money obsessed shopaholics who drive clubs into debt, whilst conspiring with the legions of agents of questionable worth to deprive the mega rich playboys of copious amounts of. money in the pursuit of a so called dream.

  26. Red Arse says:

    Hi Merse4Ever, 🙂

    Excellent points, and your concluding sentiment that perhaps AW is getting to the point that he needs to re-establish himself with another brilliant team, or hit the high road, is something along the lines I have become more willing to believe, but as you say, that does not diminish his brilliance and the great service he has done for Arsenal.

  27. Red Arse says:

    Norfolk and Dandan, 🙂

    I do not have your historical knowledge of each of the managers mentioned, but you are both expressing sentiments that I find irresistibly accurate when using them to shine a light on AW’s achievements and ethos.

  28. GoonerB says:

    Thanks Redders, I am just pleased I didn’t upset you with anything I said having seen how you dealt with Oh Wow. I was about to write a furious retraction so as not to incur your wrath. I found it both scary and slightly erotic at the same time.

  29. GunnerN5 says:

    Terry,

    To be correct HC won two League titles – our first as a club in 1930/31 and the second in 1932/33.

    During George Allisons time we won three titles the first was in 1933/34 and was won almost entirely with HC’s team and tactics, the second in 1934/35 can again be attributed mostly to HC with the third in 1937/38 being the only one of the three that can be said was entirely Allison’s.

  30. TERRY MANCINI HAIR TRANSPLANT says:

    Thanks GN5, i thought Chapman died half way during our 2nd title season. Allisions record is great too. We have been blessed with some great managers.

  31. GunnerN5 says:

    RA;

    Thank you for your post, it lifted my spirits to see that one of our “younger” AAers thinks so highly of Arsene.

    Like both Norfolk and dandan we’ve all been there and seen it, so we have a different perspective that most, which doesn’t make “most” wrong – simply misguided……..

  32. Red Arse says:

    Hi GN5, 🙂

    Thank you for that, and also thank you for your posted comment a couple of days ago, which gave me a reference point for my Post today using Herbert Chapman as a comparator for Arsene. 😀

  33. GunnerN5 says:

    Terry,

    Of our 20 managers there are only four that I was classify as great.

    1st – Arsene Wenger
    2nd – Herbert Chapman
    3rd – George Graham
    4th – George Allison.

    Special mention goes to…

    Tom Whittaker and Bertie Mee.

  34. GunnerN5 says:

    Cheers RA.

  35. Red Arse says:

    GoonerB Good, 🙂

    I doubt you could ever upset me! You are always amiable and thoughtful.

    It is true that I have never objected to another blogger’s opinion being different to my own — that is the point of a site such as AA, however, I find the hit and run merchants are anathema to me, as they rarely contribute anything worthwhile.

    It is in any event difficult to take seriously anyone who seems to have a blog name that boasts of a “W” on each arse cheek!! 😀

  36. Only 20 managers N5 ? The Spuds and the Chavs combined have got through that number in the last decade.

  37. Merseforever says:

    Terry Mancini,

    Stepney! Was that not more a hammer area? Although, I’ve always found it funny that West Ham portray themselves as the cockney sparra club and Arsenal as the cosmopolitan posh club. The Arsenal are the closest club to the Bow Bells and Bethnal Green and Whitechapel, traditional parts of the East End, always seemed like Gooner areas to me when I was growing up. Technically we are the true cockney Geezer club! I reckon we have just as much support out in Essex as they do as well. Romford especially!

    Wood Green must also have a fair share of Tiny Totts supporters. Your school days cannot have been fun. Actually, sorry they probably were, after all they’ve always been pony and they’ve always been in our shadow! 🙂

    RA,

    thanks for your response. I’m just trying to get across the point that there are a lot of Gooners who are vehemently in the Wenger out brigade (to use the crude label) who still love and respect Arsene. We just see him as having run his course.

    One point I would like to make is how GG is overlooked a bit in our club’s history. Or at least he is in my opinion. He’s obviously been overshadowed by Arsene (probably correctly) but I don’t think that’s entirely fair. He was a true Arsenal man, had the cannon on his blazer at every match and just exuded classiness. He made all the young gunners wear the Arsenal blazer, knew what it meant to be a player. I miss that regality that he had, surely I can’t be the only one who thinks GG just had this powerful, regal presence to him?

    My cousin worked in the club shop (which was tiny in those days) in the late 80’s as a weekend job when she was in school. She said often Graham would just come in have a chat with everyone working there, just to make sure they were all happy! He had his flaws, but I always though it was unfair that he copped the flak for what many many managers did in that era of football.

  38. David Stewart says:

    GunnerN5 – I would certainly elevate Tom Whittaker and Bertie Mee into your list of great Arsenal managers, apart from what they won as managers, but also the longevity of their loyalty to the club.

  39. GunnerN5 says:

    David,

    I can’t disagree with you as I said they both require (at least) special mention and to be fair Terry Neill did win a 2 FA Cup.
    .
    That leaves 13 others that get no mention and won no trophies……….

  40. GunnerN5 says:

    That’s one FA Cup.

  41. Red Arse says:

    Merse,

    I have to say that i am slightly conflicted about Gorgeous Goeorge.

    At the time I was delighted that his teams brought trophies to the club, and indeed the inestimable 26May89 has his avatar name based on a thrilling night in Arsenal history, courtesy of George.

    I think when Arsene joined the club, he spoiled me with the superb, and to me at least, revolutionary style of fast slick football that he introduced, and by contrast the George Graham “One nil to the Arsenal” defense based football seemed boring and outdated as a result.

    Like many matters football, I sometimes wear two hats — on the one hand I loved the Graham era trophies, but, on the other, I was less than enthused by the brand of football he espoused.

    None-the-less Georgie Boy has an important part as a manager in Arsenal’s footballing history, and it is unfortunate that he allegedly succumbed to a human weakness for money he was not entitled to.

    So too with Arsene. I love his vision about how football should be played, but even though trophies are not the be all and end all of my support, I dislike the unrest and quarrelling that a lack of trophies over recent years has brought to the fan base.

    I doubt that we will ever have another manager of AW’s sheer brilliance for many decades, if ever, and I am not looking forward to the Arsenal era after he chooses to leaves.

    Arsene might be forgiven if he thought of Louis XV of France who said; “Apres moi le deluge”, by which he meant. “If you think things are bad now, just wait until after I have gone!”

  42. GunnerN5 says:

    RA;

    Our 1st manager Sam Hollis may have also used those words because after his start, which yielded nothing, it was 6 managers and
    33 years later before Herbert Chapman won Arsenal’s1st trophy – the FA Cup beating his old club Huddersfield 2-0.

  43. Merseforever says:

    RA,

    I get your point of view on George, but I think people forget that the boring boring Arsenal and one nil to the Arsenal era came after 92. If I remember the 89 season correctly we won several matches that season by pretty large margins. We were a slick. well oiled machine, not a boring defensive outfit up til 92. If you cast your mind back, think of all the moments of magic Rocky, Limpar and Merse provided. GG’s teams were boring towards the end but I think it’s a disservice to the title winning teams of 89 and 91 to label them boring. The 91 team were after all one game away from being invincible with most of that team homegrown and they played some great stuff.

    The thing with Arsene is, I’m not sure I agree with what his vision of how football should be played anymore. I don’t agree with neglecting defence. I don’t particularly like tippy-tappy either. I still think the most ‘beautiful’ we played under Wenger was while we were at Highbury. I find a lot of our matches very boring these days. There’s only so much one can take of the boys on the pitch knocking the ball around outside the opposition’s box ad infinitum!

    One thing Arsene can learn from George, was George’s ability to instill a real mental toughness to our team. That’s something I think has been missing for a long time from the Arsenal.

  44. David Stewart says:

    Red Arse, really don’t think you should buy into the myth of ‘George Graham’s bland defensive football’. True, his latter years were marked by a decline in quality but for the most part he combined an excellent defensive unit with a potent attack. Indeed, between 1986- 1992 we were always amongst the top scorers (if not top) in the division and that doesn’t occur with defensive football. Attendances at Highbury really started to grow during Graham’s tenure. We had the two best attacking fullbacks, the flair of Rocky, Merson, Limpar, Marwood on the wings allied to the creativity of Davis in the centre and Wrighty up front. That certainly wasn’t a dull, defensive team.

    Apart from that, I always find your input spot on!

  45. Belfastgooner says:

    RA you are a genius, a visionary. We have defied gravity since the stadium move thanks to AWs ability. If we can manage some consistency between now and May we’ve a great platform to start afresh next season without the prospect of any unintended major player losses over the summer.

  46. Afternoon all
    I loved GG and the discipline he brought to arsenal and the club .
    All English based players with a few from abroad,and we had Alan smith a pre Peter Couch,can never knock king George after what he done for Arsenal.

    And he was made a scapegoat of the brown envelope bung. Just as tony Adams was made a scapegoat and did some time in jail For drink driving

    Will Carlos Tevez go to jail he’s been caught drink driving we will see .
    Ps it’s Red Nose Day in the uk today Alex Furgerson got his own red nose every day
    Much love
    Sheep Haggers ™

  47. Red Arse says:

    Merse,

    I could argue with you and deny your view about ‘tippy tappy’ but I would end up with a really long nose!! 🙂

    I am slightly concerned about opening up a new thread, as everyone else will say ‘no … not that again’, but keeping it brief (OK, I am also in the middle of what I call my ‘Friday Beethoven break’ and loving the Piano Sonata No.8 in C minor, Opus 13, “Pathetiques”) 😀 but I can say the following.

    — The current style of play (the vision, if you like) is still an attempt at the slick, quick passing football of the pre- 2004 teams.
    However, it is limited by the current lesser technical quality of the players we now have available, and I agree it is marred by the sideways and backwards passing, (often back to the keeper) because there are so few outlets to the more forward players.

    — In addition to the lesser technical quality of our players, when compared to some of the earlier Wenger teams, there is a great disparity in the pace, physicality and athletic prowess of those self same players when compared to their predecessors, with the inevitable consequences.

    — Occasionally the team hit the heights when all they are trying to achieve pays off, and we see the superb, counter attacking and skilful football we were once renowned for, although usually this has been against ‘lower’ Premier League teams, as we have not yet beaten a club in the top 4 this season.

    — Comparisons with the Invincibles, and other early era Wenger teams, have to be weighted against the obvious improvements in all teams, as a result of the Premier League deal with Sky putting more money into every club, and the stuffing of the ranks of Manure, Chelsea and Shitty with the highest class of player money can buy, as a result primarily of the largesse of a Russian oligarch and an oil Sheikh.

    If there was anyone about on AA, this afternoon, that may be seen as tendentious and cause a furore of claims and counter-claims as to the whys and wherefores of those comments — but I rest my case, m’lud!! 😀

  48. Red Arse says:

    GN5,

    You have enlightened me once again.

    I never knew the name of the first Arsenal manager, and never knew I did not know (if you can understand my warbling) so that is another piece of info to store away. Thanx 🙂

  49. Red Arse says:

    Thanks, David S, 🙂

    I was comparing GG’s teams with the AW teams in terms of the style of play, and I started from a pretty low pass with ‘Arsene Who’, as I had never heard of him, but was quickly blown away by the way he set his teams out to play.

    It was not my intention to knock GG’s teams, because you would never have seen a more crazy, ululating, frenzied exhibition of sheer wild, totally abandoned exaltation from a berserk 6’5″ Yank than me as I succumbed to gibbering incredulity on the night Micky Thomas nicked THAT goal into the ‘Pool net on the 26th May 1989. 😀 😛

    Would that I could relive those moments again!! 🙂

  50. Red Arse says:

    Hi BelfastG 🙂

    You have made me blush!! 😀

    I, too, cannot wait to turn the screw on the Spuds and the Chavs between now and the end of this season, and clinch 3rd or 4th spot!

    But come what may, I cannot wait either for the next transfer window, because I truly believe AW has been given the green light to go get the missing pieces so he can assemble his next top team.

    A little more quality in the forwards, a little more physicality in midfield, and perhaps another ‘hard nut CB would do the trick.

    We are that close! 🙂

  51. Red Arse says:

    Right — too much of me — Beethoven is calling! 😀

  52. Norfolk Gooner says:

    Sheepy,

    Tevez has been charged with driving while disqualified and driving without insurance. I believe he was previously banned for driving without a valid license. He was arrested because he had failed to respond to a notice of intended prosecution, apparently he didn’t know what the word “Constabulary” meant. If found guilty he could well face a few weeks in clink.

  53. Big Raddy says:

    RA. Super post a very enjoyable read.

    It is difficult to compare but considering the long term effect of Chapman, he has to be the better manager, especially when taking into account his work at Huddersfield.

  54. Red Arse says:

    So that’s you and Herb then Raddy! 🙂

    You are correct that such comparisons, 80 years apart are interesting but unprovable.

    For me, given the duties and responsibilities of Monsieur Wenger, which extend well beyond the narrow confines of the footballing duties of a coach, is what edges him ahead of Herb Chapman.

    Well, that is to say, miles ahead!! 😀

  55. Any one from here coming to SWANSEA for the game tomorrow.

  56. RockyLives says:

    Excellent Post Redders

    I am always astonished at how overlooked is Arsene’s feat in keeping us in Champions League footy for several years while spending less than just about every other team in the Premiership.

    Teams have spent tens of millions more than us and got relegated. But AW kept us competitive year after year.

    Ironically, now that the spending handcuffs are coming off, he may find that this is his biggest challenge… evolving away from the enforced austerity of 2005-2012 into a world where we can spend – if not as much as everybody, at least more than most.

  57. chas says:

    Great post, RA.

    Can you imagine playing Barcelona style tippy tappy with unbreakable toe puffs and a ball soaked in mud and rain?

  58. evonne says:

    Raddy !! BBC 2 showing a programme about George Mallory

  59. Big Raddy says:

    Record it for me!!

    Tomorrow we have a fantastic chap. An astonishing life and man.

  60. Hi Evonne
    It’s mate sheep haggers
    Much love

  61. If u coming to the game tomorrow u can park ur motor a.long with peaches on my drive .
    Much love

  62. evonne says:

    sorry Raddy, don’t know how to record it 😦 Fantastic story! I am watching because of you!

    Much love sheep

  63. Gooner In Exile says:

    Lovely post Redders top work sir.

    Someone said earlier that recent budget buys by Wenger haven’t been successful…..Jenkinson and Koscielny are two that in my opinion disprove that theory.

  64. I’ve moved my sheep so u can all park on the farm

  65. Ramgun says:

    Ferguson got the better of Rangers and Celtic with Aberdeen and Mourinho won the Champions League with Porto. The article was ridiculously one-eyed.

  66. RockyLives says:

    Ram
    If all the personal opinions expressed in these Posts were ‘two eyed’ life would be very boring.

    I’m surprised you’re blind to that fact.

    And you know what they say: in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king 🙂

  67. Gooner In Exile says:

    There is a new challenge bloggers of AA, Arsenal.com now has a best of the blogs section where they use articles from us the fans, notice Ladyarse and Arseblog have had columns reblogged.

    I think if we actually did a comparison of buys by Fergie, Maureen and Arsene we would see that the others have made just as many missteps in the market as Arsene, difference being the prices paid. For example Veron and Wright-Phillips are two that spring to mind, difference is that when they were bought the teams were still winning and are overlooked, just like the failures of Jeffers and Reyes were when we were winning league titles.

  68. chas says:

    Jeffers is always used by the haters as a stick to hit Wenger with.

    How we could do with him now. Instead of winning a trophy, just buy a player who looks like one. 🙂

  69. mickydidit89 says:

    RA
    That post was akin to an eight legged bottom dwelling marine creature. And a magnificent one at that 🙂
    Am I surprised? No, because early yesterday I sent in a post of my own, and I had a swift reply from ‘Err Wot Is On High saying she already had one from The American. Thank God I say.
    Naturally, I’ve heard the question before (I know that wasn’t the Question): Arsene or Herbert, but never been forced into an answer.
    On trophies: Arsene.
    On football: Herb, as he took us further from humble beginnings. Herb tried the total football of the Austrians and the WM, while Arsene’s only real shift was to the Barca Tippy Tappy, which failed.
    Arsenal FC in General: Herb. Without him, there would be no Clock End as he shifted the thing from the North End 🙂 Also, AW is given too much credit for the new stadium, and what I mean is, it’s not that good. It’s a rubbish football arena and partly responsible for the lack of atmosphere.
    Style, Longevity and Coolest Name: Arsene.
    Still can’t separate them

  70. Red Arse says:

    Morning Chas, 🙂

    I have been sitting here for the last hour and a half watching the F1 Qualifying in Melbourne. Well that is what i was hoping to see, but it is bucketing down and looks freezing, so one delay after another.

    Have you seen Daffy Duck around lately? Sssh, don’t tell him I am having one of his mates for lunch tomorrow! 🙂

  71. mickydidit89 says:

    And, Motning everyone.
    Where’s the duck? Could it be? Is that the one?

  72. Red Arse says:

    Hi Micky, 🙂

    If I had known, I would have deferred to the mighty Micky mantra! 🙂

    Rehashing an old subject in a Post is difficult — and I suppose a quiet Friday is as good a place as any for it to keep things ticking over.

    Still we have a ravishing Raddy pre-Match later on — that’s worth waiting for!

  73. The font says:

    Reading the news paper this morning it turns out we have not won a trophy for 8 years. That’s the final straw I am moving to swansea

  74. mickydidit89 says:

    And in Raddy’s own words “a fantastic chap” of an explorer.
    Might have to iplayer the Mallory thing Evonne mentioned.

  75. Big Raddy says:

    Morning All,

    Looks like an all -English Europa Final. Good.

    People like Ramjam surprise me. Would I go onto a MU site and expect an even-handed view of Wenger or Arsenal?

    What a plum.

    Anyway, post to write …..

  76. mickydidit89 says:

    Should be an open and entertaining game to day. Really looking forward to it.

  77. mickydidit89 says:

    Morning Raddy,
    I’m glad Chelsea and Spurs have been kept apart, as I think they will both progress which will help our cause. As for an all English Final, don’t count Newcastle out. They are mid table and can put all their eggs in one basket, and have real match winners in their side that could damage any opposition on a good day.

  78. The CL draw must be rigged. They want an all spanish final

  79. mickydidit89 says:

    GM
    Anything that sees Maureen losing on the biggest possible stage is good for me 🙂
    Rig away, I say!

  80. kelsey says:

    Morning all.

    I haven’t got time to be on here as much as I lke as we are off 5 weeks today and so much to organise.
    No ifs we have got to win today otherwise our top 4 position is over and in fact there is only one Europa Cup place left whoever finishes 5 th and I heard on Radio 5 last night depending on results in the FACup Final and Europa Cup final fifth will not qualify anyone.
    I would add that as i haven’t commented since Szsney was dropped i find it all baffling,he hasn’t had a good season but is still very young yet fabianski hadn’t played a competitive game for 13 months.
    Was Fab given a chance as Wenger thought beforehand it was a no rubber because as a team we played pretty well,but one can’t really judge bayern as if it had een a one off game we most probably would have seen a different game.
    If we don’t make top 4 i would prefer to be out of europe altogether,spend the money that we really appear to have now and get rid of the deadwood and the likes of Santos (even at a loss) i expect Sagna to leave and Vermaelen (who i said would leave weeks ago,before the rumour mill started.)
    one more season of Wenger at the helm and the transition period will seem like nothing if we really go to town and buy at least 3/4 players.I would wave goodbye to Diaby and rosicky and hope gibbs can become less injury prone.Arshavin,Squillacci are off, bendtner has to be sold. Fab, who knows. denilson who knows ?Chamakh ? Park ? A lot for the club to think about.

  81. mickydidit89 says:

    Hi Kelsey,
    Agree. If we end outside top four, I’d rather give Thursday Nights a swerve, as you end up with sunday and monday fixtures, which will hit my already appalling attendance stats very hard.
    The other day GiE mentioned taking a step backwards if we end outside CL, but I totally disagree. Clearing out the non-playing wage earners and adding two top class players would constitute a massive step forwards, and going forwards would be the right direction in me humble opinion.

  82. Big Raddy says:

    Micky. There are good arguments on both sides. A win/win situation 😀

    kelsey. Good luck with the move. Leaving homes is hard enough … countries is even more daunting!

  83. Big Raddy says:

    kelsey. Re-reading your comment there is so much to chat about.

    Some players are sure to go in summer but can we attract the level of player to replace the “deadwood”? None of these chaps are first teamers, so what type of player should we go for? Automatic first teamers relegating a current first team player? – if so who and where?

    If we keep Sagna we are covered at RB etc ….. actually this is definitely a subject for post

  84. mickydidit89 says:

    Two sides to the Kelsey move, Raddy.
    There’s the shifting from the sun of the Med to a freezing cold damp rock in the North Atlantic. Then, there’s coming home.
    Put on a coat, and come home, I’d say 🙂

  85. mickydidit89 says:

    Oh, and Kelsey, a coat is an outer garment worn……..in case you had forgotten
    🙂

  86. mickydidit89 says:

    An epic day ahead.
    The Raddy. The Arsenal playing a Laudrup side. Then the rugger, and a massive encounter in Cardiff.

  87. mickydidit89 says:

    Post it Raddy!

  88. Big Raddy says:

    Micky. We are in sync! (as you will see)

    We have snow underfoot in CPH and are expecting another huge dump next week. And Denmark has 170 rainy days a year.

    Don’t give me cold and damp …… UK is almost sub-tropical

  89. Big Raddy says:

    Post needs some Rasping. I will wait a few mins.

  90. Rasp says:

    Just on it Raddy, I’ve got a cold and overslept 🙄

  91. kelsey says:

    Rady
    I think it depends where we finish this year. Europa Cup is a hell of a lot of games much more than CL
    If we make CL we still ought to attract top quality if we miss out on both then there is a good argument for a smaller squad providing we do get rid of the deadwood.Then we can concentrate and focus on the league or top 4, the FA Cup and go back to the League Cup for experimenting to an extent.
    Too early to judge,have to wait until the season is over.

  92. Rasp says:

    Better late than never …… Its match day and Raddy’s in the house…..

    ….. New post ……

  93. Big Raddy says:

    kelsey. IMO we desperately need a finisher. David Villa would fit perfectly. Coming to the end of his career and would accept a short contract.

    Problem with no European football is less games and that means less football fixes.

  94. mickydidit89 says:

    Kelsey,
    There are plenty of top quality guys outside the CL, so son’t see that as an excuse or reason.
    We would have to make ourselves a better team to have a chance of getting back, as those around would strengthen.
    I simply see no reasonable case for us being able to tread water, so to speak, without us sinking.

  95. gunner4life says:

    Hey Kelsey, he has done good for us (Invincibles 03/04) but he should move on now, he made good signings (Cazorla, Podolski, Monreal, Giroud) but we need to stop selling players

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