Wenger’s Way is Back in Fashion – SUSTAINABLE – CONSISTENCY – STABILITY

At this time of year you naturally tend to reflect on the year just gone and what lies ahead. So let me indulge myself.

A serious read so you need to be sitting down!

Given the recent cult of the ‘superstar’ manager and how many of us have become swayed by their influence and supposed ‘super powers’ it got me thinking about our own manager Arsene Wenger runs our club ‘The Arsenal’

When Wenger speaks you often hear the words ‘consistency’ and ‘self sustaining’ words that many assume are ways to drive Wenger’s vision. This is at times at odds with the quick fix models at Chelsea for example.

Sustainable – It feels slow and certainly not quick enough for some fans. We don’t want self-sustaining that means time – we want to win and to win now!

Did someone mention Chelsea? – Ah yes their implosion is certainly overdue. They cannot do what they did post AVB and let the players lead them forward to a fortuitous Champions League. They need a leader and it’s not Jose and it’s not Guus Hiddink.

Football is and always will be about the collective, the players, the coaching staff, the tea lady, the chefs, all giving a club that family feel and yes…the manager. They all represent a framework by which a club runs. The Chelsea model for example is not driven by the correct structures and although it’s hard to argue that their trophies make their model work – but people forget that they have had the extra £1billion pounds directly from Roman to speed their ascent.

SUSTAINABLE – CONSISTENCY – STABILITY – Those words used to annoy me when we came 4th every year but it’s doesn’t feel so out of fashion anymore. I’m starting to appreciate what this truly means.

FOOTBALL – It calls itself a business yet it surrounded by too much instability and money not allowing for smart longer-term decisions.

How can you have leadership and a culture in a club where the players are more powerful that it’s leader – the manager.

If players have more security than the manager – then you run the risk of having a situation where the players rule.  We don’t see that ever at Arsenal.

Many think Wenger gets paid too much but I understand why. He needs to be top of the financial tree for respect. Would you happily work for a boss if he earned less than you? It must impact respect levels.

I love the way Wenger runs Arsenal.

I love his positioning, his emotional intelligence, and the analytical foresight. I love how he creates pathways to playing. Always giving a path. Never blocking off the top table.  He has created and been allowed to create success criteria unique in the world of football.

The time given has allowed him to fully implement his philosophy without fear and more importantly confidence he will be there to execute against his plan.

That confidence drives the culture of consistency year on year.

Consistency – Arsenal win the league for being the best team in England 2015.



I’ve always felt Wenger was way above normal football people.

He is like a CEO that believes in marginal gains, forward thinking and understanding that success has different measures for different people.



I’ve heard Wenger say at press conferences in a frustrated tone ‘What is Success’ the press look back at him and immediately think trophies or the last big game but Wenger was thinking about goals that are beyond the last result.

He wants Arsenal to be the best sporting organization in the world. To have an identity like the ‘All blacks’

Soon as you say the ‘All blacks’ it promotes memories of excellence and a way of playing and a way of operating.

A man that has kept Arsenal in the top 4 for nearly 20 years and consistent CL qualification despite all the changes around him in the game he is supposed not to be up to date on.

A man of his senior years manages to stay ahead of the game – just!

But Wenger is about to be challenged like never before:

  1. Man City the coming force with a £200m Etihad Training complex and recent £265m Chinese Investment are propelling themselves globally at a pace that not even Chelsea can compete with. City are for real they are trying to create a strategy that is super funded – they want domination that propels Manchester as a City and propels their name. They support that with top people. Costly yes and mistakes are made but mistakes are funded. How can we compete?
  1. Spurs new 61000 Stadium (so petty – Lets add some seats Arsenal) has just got planning permission and of course it’s going to be better and bigger and shinier and have a better atmosphere and it has NFL and blah blah. I have heard it all before but it will happen. It maybe late it maybe costly but it will happen. Spurs have a wonderful training ground also that England now use instead of Arsenal’s. How can we compete?


  1. Chelsea also have a new 60,000 seater stadium coming by 2020 at a cost of £600m which means Cfc will play at Wembley for 3 years. Another club looking for that big leap in revenue and profile. They too have a new training ground and unlimited funds with the best youngsters in the country with 35 players out on loan – a funded talent player factory. How can we compete?
  1. West Ham also are about to move to a new 54,000 seater stadium and at a cost of only £15m – they also have a new training ground being built and have a legitimate strategy (funded by the taxpayer) to lift the club. How can we compete?
  1. Liverpool with their new Anfield extension finally taking shape. A super power with a superstar £7m a year manager smiling a lot and getting people to hold hands.

Juergen Klopp

Surely it’s only a matter of time before LFC take over the world again. How can we compete?

This is where I think Wenger is a genius. We just keep doing what Arsenal do.

  1. Arsenal already has a stadium that is modern and the best in the league. Foresight is a huge strength of Wenger and the board. Whatever the others do it will not massively surpass what we have and what we are building. We have a stadium framework that can be built on if we need to and has transformed our clubs revenue structure. It’s here and every year we continue to widen the gap.
  1. Arsenal is focusing on the training ground. Quietly building with a completion for the 2017/18 season. They are enlarging the facility. A new gym and an innovative performance center including a running track. Also includes 3 new pitches with a new innovative surface. Development areas for hydrotherapy innovative treatments.
Colney Upgrading

Colney Upgrading


  1. Developing the Hale End youth Academy with new pitches, onsite schooling and propelling Arsenal to the forefront of youth development where we once were. Arsenal is well into the last phase of this. No shouting. Just delivery.
  1. Data analytics and recovery analytics. This is an area where again Arsenal is looking for that marginal gain. The ability to scout and understand true player performance allied to the human eye. Arsenal has their own data analytics company and is looking to develop that relationship. It takes time to understand data requirements and the more data you have the more accurate decisions you can make.


It’s the only way for Arsenal to compete and at the top of this we have our manager.

He drives all the playing strategy and much of the off field strategy.

I look at Jose and Jürgen and LVG and think none of you are anywhere near the man Wenger is.

He is beyond football and my only issue is maybe he is bigger than the club. My issue with Arsenal is we have not got 2 or 3 Wenger’s we need more to challenge him or people he fears. We all need that scary meeting to prepare for.

I’ve always said Arsenal only has a hierarchy problem and by that if the day ever came – who could sack Wenger or call him to account?

For Arsenal to move to the next level for me its how we forward plan for the day when Wenger slows down.

It will happen and there is one man who is also special in how he sees football and coaching. Pep Guardiola – He is referred to as a football genius and his football culture aligns to Arsenal so perfectly.



Arsenal a team and a club built on sustainable traditions.

Will we take the final leap or continue to improve – Marginally?

I don’t know but I know the club feels ready to leap in 2016 and reap the rewards of years of patience and smart thinking.


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10 Responses to Wenger’s Way is Back in Fashion – SUSTAINABLE – CONSISTENCY – STABILITY

  1. Paduhene December 31, 2015 at 8:59 am #

    Great article with facts to back. Sad how the world now sees success. Arsene will be seen as the genius he is when he finally retires.

  2. Paula December 31, 2015 at 11:18 am #

    When he retires as manager hopefully he will still have a job at Arsenal because we need him in some capacity. Pep as manager, Arsene upstairs would be a fantastic combination.

  3. Andy December 31, 2015 at 11:54 am #

    Funny how my non conplimentary message doesn’t appear

    • Dave Seager December 31, 2015 at 12:03 pm #

      I approve every comment good and bad as you know mate and there are no unapproved comments. Dave (Goonerdave66)

  4. Victor Thompson December 31, 2015 at 1:23 pm #

    Hi Clive,

    This is such a well written article that I am loathe to contradict you. I appreciate the term “THE ARSENAL” as it is how I often describe Arsenal and that alone raises many unsaid connotations about Arsenal which you have so brilliantly described.

    However I disagree with your unconditional admiration for Arsene`s ability to have kept us in the top 4 for twenty years. Arsene fully deserves your admiration. There is no argument about that. I believe that he is uniquely skilled in many aspects of running the club and none of the present managers around can match his ability in terms of forward planning and for the groundwork in maintaining the club`s status in the game.

    Where he has fallen down in recent years is in not catering for the regular implosion of the team at the business end of the season. We know that there will be multiple injuries and I don`t even blame him for that. It is simply a fact which he continues to ignore. He had opportunities last June to sign at least two players. He did not do so and he is apparently going to try to remedy that next week. Whatever has been done to fathom the cause of our injuries, it has not been enough. If he is not responsible for that, then whoever has been tasked to do so is at least accountable to him.

    As to the lack of patience by the fans which you set against the background of the “sugar daddy” clubs, I would argue that Arsene was appointed before any of these clubs emerged and he inherited the best defence in the Premier league. His early success was based upon that defence and the acquisition of fantastic signings, Henry, Viera, Petit, Pires etc. and that was to his credit. The Invincibles were his prime achievement.

    Moving on from there, it was 10 years before we won the FA cup and on more than one occasion we were in contention to win the league and ended up being fourth. During that time the fans have paid the dearest tickets in the world to watch their team. They accepted the restraints he worked under while our stadium was being built. There is no doubt that our neighbours looked on enviously while this was happening. The fans are now entitled to see the rewards for their support and last year they should have had it. The Premier trophy was grabbed from their hands due to injuries again.

    Due to the circumstances within the other mega bucks clubs, if we don`t win it this year, we are unlikely to win it any time soon.

    I am so disappointed that given his magnificent achievements Arsene will not reap the awards he deserves due to his stubborn refusal to loosen the purse strings and make a few tweaks to the team he already has. The fans can see it and of course they are frustrated when success is so near yet so far away. There is nothing wrong with wanting trophies. Arsenal were always a trophy winning team. It is part of our stature which contributes to our status as THE ARSENAL.

    I am almost 70 years old now and I hope I get to see Arsenal win the Premiership before Arsene and I leave this earthly coil.

    The answer is to use Arsene`s undoubted abilities elsewhere within the club and get a football manager to run the team. I would happily entrust the running of Arsenal PLC to Arsene, but I feel that all of the duties he currently fulfils are beyond anyone.

    • Kon Pappas January 1, 2016 at 11:14 pm #

      Victor, I agree with everything you wrote, I have been a die hard fan for over 40 years. Yes he did inherent a great team and then made it even better, went to the champions league final 10 years ago nearly and was 15 min. away from winning it. Then as if all of a sudden bang ! nothing for 9 years. I think thats were fans like me are frustrated knowing what he can achieve but our goal was trying to finish at least 4th, even that was a struggle on occasions.I was upset when Flamini left for Milan after having his best season for us, Henry left Nasri left after having his best season with us Van Persie had his best season when he left aswell.But the most dissapointment for me was the Fabregas saga that went on for a couple of seasons, if you can recall there was a photo doing the rounds after Spains world cup triumph were spanish players , mostly Barcelona players, trying to put a Barcelona jumper over him it was all giggles and laughter,a year later our skipper was sold to them. My point is that would never have happened at Man. united under sir Alex a player doing something like that, Wenger did nothing I lost respect for him then.I think going forward, hopefully as we speak there is a deal done to lure Pep to Arsenal and that Wengers greatest send off would be win the title or champions league .

      • Victor Thompson January 2, 2016 at 11:02 am #

        Hi Kon,

        Thank you for your comment.

        I think we have to accept that there were reasons for the sale of the players you mentioned. At the end of the day, they all wanted to leave and there is no point keeping players who do not want to be there. At least Nasri played his best right up to the day he left.

        In general, apart from Van Persie`s first season with Man Utd, I don`t think things worked out for any of them as well as they expected.

        Victor Thompson

  5. Clive December 31, 2015 at 9:08 pm #

    Wow what a reply. It deserves some thought in return.

    I do appreciate Wenger and his achievements but no one is perfect and he is human like me and you and I have in hindsight recognised many things I feel he should of done better.

    1. Held on to Almunia far too long
    2. Should never of let Lassana Diarra go when he did and trusted Flamini who then left us.
    3. A CH when we needed one 2008
    4. Not chucking the 2004 FA Cup semi so we could win the CL
    5. Not made an in print on Europe for a club our size.

    The list is long as it should be over 20 years. I am a fan and we never have that smooth road.

    I did sit down and recognise he has been the best custodian we could ask for to navigate our club though the cash explosion era. At times I have felt we have been left behind but let me give you a thought process.

    I work in investment banking and worked for the largest investment bank in the world. A US bank driven by revenue and risk. Always in the media for bad practices. I earned well learned but I was not always proud.

    I now work for a Canadian bank and they are very proud of their brand and cherish it. They protect it with the proper strategy and controls.

    about 10% of total revenue comes from the investment bank and each year the seniors ask ‘ can you guarantee that 10%’ what that does is drive longer term smart decisions without short term boom and bust risk based decisions.

    I look at Arsenal and recognise the Canadian approach. Small incremental improvements lead to year on year success. I’m a lot more proud to asscosiate myself to a club or organisation like that.

    I do recognise not everyone thinks like me and are much more impatient. I do think like many it’s time for a leap and hope beyond hope it’s this year for Arsene to reap rewards and honestly I want us to move for Pep as the next phase. The club is ready And IMO needs an organisational refresh to move us forward.

    But none of it would be possible without the basis / framework Wenger has created.

    Thanks so much for taking time to reply and hope we meet online somewhere.


    • Dave Seager January 1, 2016 at 9:34 am #

      Clive you have been away too long. Victor writes for us @Gunnervic1946

      It was the quality of the comments he was leaving that led me to ask him if he wanted to write for GT 🙂

      Happy New Year


    • Victor Thompson January 1, 2016 at 12:05 pm #

      Thanks Clive. I hope we do meet again online, It is a pleasure to share intelligent views even though they may be dissenting.

      Happy New Year.

      Victor Thompson

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