Has Wenger had us all fooled for years?

This evening I received a response to my article on the way Iwobi and Alexis restricted our attack versus West Brom by constantly moving into the middle and how Wenger failed to change this. I have used it as a blog below…

Dave… read today’s blog. Loved the tactical depth. Would love to take your thoughts a step further….

I had such admiration for Arsene Wenger.

I’d say that if I met him I’d come away with the same respectful words and fuzzy feeling that others do.

Like all Arsenal fans I am grateful for much. My gratitude will truly appear I’m sure, when he leaves. For now I’m beyond fed up.
Not sure which stage I’m at actually. Mixture between all of our emotions… frustration, anger, apathy etc…

Rather than simply repeat the same frustrations that we all feel, I decided to put my coaching hat on and ask some difficult questions.


I came to this…

Have we been fooled?

If Arsene Wenger was on trial for deceiving Arsenal fans it would not be hard to make a solid case that he is not what he appears.

  1. I’ve always thought that Wenger doesn’t ‘coach’ during games because …

He is non-confrontational and doesn’t want to publicly tell a star player (AS) to change something and have him ignore it?
Why would he ignore it though??
Because AW doesn’t hold players accountable and indulges them, perhaps?

Ask yourself if it’s possible that the reason why he doesn’t coach during games is because it’s a blur to him?
Maybe because his instruction wouldn’t be followed by players that know he doesn’t know?

Argues with 4th Official

AW only stands up when we score or to argue with the 4th official. Only coach in world sports (I’d imagine) who doesn’t help his team.
Either he is right and a genius or there is a deeper reason. For my answer I just look at the last decade.

My bigger accusation is that Arsene Wenger as a general rule is tactically inept.
Strong thought, I know. Not easy to write that actually but I’m fed up of being naive.
Disagree? I’m happy to be talked down.

Think of an issue that’s frustrated you. Has Wenger attempted to fix it? Did he even try?
For every one I can think of, I can think of 10 he hasn’t touched.

Starter for 10

Image result for 10 questions

Why has Bellerin never been taught to beat a man?
Why was Walcott not showed that his wheels moved too fast in possession to be technical?
Why do players rarely go in 6 yard box for simple goals?
Why do I go to the loo when we get a corner and have done for 20 years?
Why has Ramsey’s natural instinct to attack not been honed?
Why Arsenal such slow starters and generally always have been?
Why do we make too many passes during a counter attack?
Why hasn’t he realized that if you insist on having your full backs be wingers that they should practice beating a man and crossing in training?
Why hasn’t he realized that 80% of all teams play a low block vs AFC and that the two easiest ways of beating that are shooting from 20 yards and beating your man on the outside yet we do neither, and when we do we use Clichy/Sagna/Bellerin????


AFC are accused repeatedly of not fixing mistakes. Same ole.
In any job you’d only do this if your were insanely stubborn and even poor outcomes don’t shift you or you don’t see the problem, right?

So, how do we explain his great successes at AFC?
Biggest clue comes in hearing ex-players state that he doesn’t coach or that they did it for him.

AW was successful because players did his job and he had many true leaders.
To his credit he bought these types but then stopped. Big, big mistake!

I think Arsene Wenger has fooled us.

2) I think he stayed at Arsenal because he knows that not only do our owners not ask the right questions but the British media don’t either. Never a tactical question for example. Never.
He knew that the media in other European countries ask questions about strategy, formation, in game management etc…
So, I think he didn’t leave not because of his ‘deep love for Arsenal’ but because he knew he’d be exposed and quickly.

3) I think that Wenger has very limited coaching understanding in regards to defending and defensive positioning.
I think that his philosophy of ‘not worrying about the opposition’ and ‘creative attacking freedom’ has been carefully thought out.

Image result for wenger philosophy

It’s romantic.

It sounds so positive and something we should all be able to mature toward.
It also sounds very appealing to footballers that are fed up of instruction and want to be let loose.
You can see it in the way that Cesc didn’t defend properly, in the way that Sanchez and Ozil do what they want.

I don’t think that’s what’s really going on at all.

I think that he chooses this philosophy because he doesn’t understand the other.

I think we’ve been fooled.

4) I think he has manipulated the fans too.


His natural calmness, intelligence and charm make you think that he is right.
I’d say that he has used these qualities to train our minds into thinking it’ll work out. Maybe that’s clever? I think that it may be but before its clever, it’s taking advantage.

There are a lot of people that I love. Taking advantage of them may get me what I want but I think that makes me selfish and unaware of what love is.

There is so much more but I think this could convict him alone.

Could it be that Arsene Wenger has fooled us?

Was chatting with a ‘be careful what you wish for’ friend.

I shared this with him…


“Not only did I love Wenger but I’d tell others that he was a genius and irreplaceable. “

For a fan to feel this way and then turn 180 degrees says to me that the problem must be neon!

It’s hard for a man to admit that they have been fooled.


It was for me anyway.


By @mike_mmcdonald

Thanks Mike

Former Highbury regular. Moved to TN, USA in ’99.
Married with 3 kids.
Coached in UK and US for 27 years.
Mike McDonald Soccer Academy in Morristown TN, Olympic Development coach, Regional Premier League Champion.

I think Arsene Wenger has fooled us. It’s slowly unraveling. Wish it would accelerate!


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12 Responses to Has Wenger had us all fooled for years?

  1. Jd January 2, 2018 at 8:37 am #

    Am with u mate, I have wondered why he doesn’t do game management like modern managers do, inverably becomes the 12th man, how could that not give the players extra motivation? I have doubted him for good while now and I truly believe the invincible was a fluke, how can a manager with all the resources he has been given over the yrs end up like the present arsenal? Every team that play arsenal these days feel they have a good chance, what does arsen Wenger really know about quality?

    • Mike McDonald January 2, 2018 at 11:55 am #

      I think Arsene Wenger would tell you that ‘they can’t hear you, so why try’ or ‘they need to be allowed to make mistakes.’
      Either way I guess my general point is that due to his intelligence he has got away with giving any excuse and folks buy it.
      We’ve been fooled!

      • marblehalls tv January 2, 2018 at 1:36 pm #

        He is changing somewhat. In the last few games, he has changed from a back three to four, and it seems from the old 4231 to 433. It’s a positive step, but he still needs to do more.

  2. marblehalls tv January 2, 2018 at 1:35 pm #

    I think you’re right.

    Wenger doesn’t do meticulous tactical analysis, like Pep, Mourinho, or even Pochettino.

    There msut be a reason why we commit the same mistakes continuously, and it’s due to paltry coaching and little accountability. Players make far less mistakes at international level, since they’re coached better and in better environments. It’s like how people say Ozil is better for Germany, or Iwobi for Nigeria, it’s a no brainer. Or Ramsey. it’sa different environment, and this is why.

    With a proper manager, we’d kick some serious shit as a team, even without Alexis/Ozil.

  3. marblehalls tv January 2, 2018 at 1:38 pm #

    Also, Wenger is respected by many ex-players, even those who left in bad circumstances. It seems he is a good man-manager, motivator, counsellor, and developer, but only in mental terms, but not the tactical side of it. Even Nasri said that he respects him, and now President Weah of Liberia is the latest of many to say they owe him a lot.

    • Mike McDonald January 2, 2018 at 4:04 pm #

      I think Wenger’s strength lies in the human element. I think most coaches are standoffish or only care about their job. Wenger clearly cares for people as well as their playing side.
      I’d like to think he is 100% genuine in this but I’ve even started wondering if he is so nice to his players as nobody would ever want to play for someone who a) offers them insufficient tactical help, b) doesn’t correct mistakes, c) doesn’t compete for trophies that the club are set up to win and d) was a git !

      I also think Wenger is acutely aware that many players don’t ‘enjoy’ training or even games.
      They see it as more of a ‘job.’
      So, he gives them such little instruction and accountability therefore making it less stressful for those that don’t like to be told what to do.
      Those that do want instruction, correction and big trophies leave Arsenal Football Club because they see that Arsene Wenger’s methods won’t bring this.
      Fabregas, Nasri, RVP, Henry… the best ones 🙁

  4. Martin Wengrow January 2, 2018 at 2:02 pm #

    Irrespective of anything else,which coach in world football has spent virtually his entire career unwilling to make a substitution before the 70th minute irrespective of what’s happening on the field ?

    • Mike McDonald January 2, 2018 at 4:19 pm #

      very well said, Martin!
      I have a theory there too…

      Do you think that what is actually happening out there is a blur to Wenger? When I started coaching it was hard to correct live action (no excuse for Wenger though).
      I think he may decide pre-game what subs he will make and when as he doesn’t see the ‘needs of the field?’

      Hence why Giroud plays every game no matter, AL comes off almost every game, no subs ever change strategy apart from ‘we are losing so here come the cavalry!’
      I think he also subs based on hierarchy. If we need a CM out there and AMNiles is only CM on bench, then Walcott will go on because he’s ‘been here longer’ and Wenger also doesn’t want confrontation of a senior player asking why a ‘kid’ played in front of them?

  5. Victor Thompson January 2, 2018 at 3:41 pm #

    Every one of these comments contains valid criticisms, all of which I have already mentioned so it is rewarding to see so many like minded fans who feel the same.

    Whilst watching the W. Brom game I noticed the impact not having Ozil made to our play. We were back once again to negative backwards and sideways passing with nobody running off the ball to make themselves available. We also have Mustafi carrying the ball for 30 or 40 yds. before passing the ball. Bellerin does it too when any sensible person knows that it is much speedier to pass the ball than try to run with it just as quickly. It is not and that is what the difference is between Wenger and Guardiola. City players pass the ball back but there is always a triangle of players who the receiver can pick to release it to. It happens slickly and effectively and the ball is transported forwards again before the opposition defence is set up again. Wenger cannot read the game and therefore he cannot coach his players to watch where the ball is going and run to provide a target to pass to.

    Sanchez and Jack tried hard to lift the performance of the rest of the team but they were running up alleyways and getting caught. Jack ran out of ideas and Sanchez at least kept going and making a nuisance of himself.
    Until we scored our goal the match was one of the worst ( and there have been many ) performances of the year. I had the distinct impression that I was watching a mid-table team and when Ozil and Sanchez go, that is what we will be.

    Ask yourself a simple question – when they go, is there anyone you can think of left that you would look forward to pay to watch just because he plays for us? Will you continue to pay top price for your ticket to watch a team devoid of any genuine star player or players. I have not seen any names of prospective replacements who would have that star quality or charisma.

  6. Martin Wengrow January 2, 2018 at 5:46 pm #

    The penny has dropped Mike ! That was a very good blog, also agree with the points that Victor has made.

  7. Mike McDonald January 2, 2018 at 6:30 pm #

    You question is a very real concern.
    Whether club like it or not, fans want stars and Arsenal certainly can provide them.
    I feel that club need to buy a couple more stars before they sell AS and MO. If they don’t I’m not sure if even a Zaha type will come to such an ordinary team.
    Other top players at a club is one of reasons big players come

  8. Cheupe January 2, 2018 at 7:57 pm #

    Interesting piece. Wenger is right though. The society has shifted since he was appointed manager all those years ago. Football hasn’t. Too much information, too quick. You can now analyse a game in retrospect and genuinely seem more knowledgeable than a manager who is the custodian of all material facts about a squad. The problem for Wenger though is two fold; philosophy vs result. Three fold actually if you include the petrodollar. It is why he recently acknowledged City’s brand as both “ideas” and “oil” while he only had “ideas” back in 2004. Back to my point though, what has us “fooled” as the writer opines is the philosophy. It is why we fell in love. It is why we hope. We can understand a negative result but we cannot accept a defeated philosophy. Few, no wonder, were bitterly disappointed by that utd defeat. Yet 14 years on society changed and now the petrodollar fuels the philosophy too. I, like you all, suffer from this “foolishness” too but let it not be said that the old prof is out of his depth. He remains a giant whose shoulders we shall stand on for years to come.

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