Wenger the Philosopher

Arsene Wenger

As you may know, Arsène Wenger is in his 17th year in management of Arsenal, and has asserted himself as one of the best managers in modern football. Often criticised for his philosophies such as favouring young talent and the unwillingness to spend big in transfer markets, he has still managed to keep an Arsenal team who do not spend as big as clubs such as Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City in the top four for the last 15 seasons.

But, as the modern game changes, clubs are being made to spend more, which goes against Wenger’s financial strategies. Also, many top clubs tend to be buying more established players rather than growing their own or developing them from a young age, such as Manchester City.

It is evident that football is evolving, but Wenger is sticking to his guns (no pun intended). As admirable as this may be, the fact is that Arsenal haven’t won a trophy in 7 seasons, which begs the question; should Wenger change his methods? There are two sides to this coin, there is the view that he should change his methods, and the view that he should ignore the criticisms and continue with his work.

It is no hidden fact that Arsenal haven’t won a trophy in 7 seasons, this is the ammunition for many football fans that is used to humiliate Arsenal fans. The FA cup win of 2005 is becoming more and more of a distant memory, and to be honest the Arsenal team has no survivors from the glory days (Van Persie being the last of these).

Santi Cazorla dribbles the ball for Arsenal

Santi Cazorla is enjoying an excellent first season for Arsenal

We’ve had a few near misses, such as the Champions League final in 2006, the two League Cup finals in 2007 and 2011, but near misses are of no use to anyone. The fans are growing impatient and many will lose patience with Wenger, resulting in a loss of fans for the football club, and what is a football club without its fans? Without fans, there is no backbone to a football club. This, I believe should be the catalyst for Wenger to pull his cheque book out and sign some quality players, perhaps at this moment in time, someone who will bring stability to our quivering defence?

Then there is the fact that Wenger won’t spend big on established players. To be honest, it seems he has made some purchases of established players, such as Podolski, Cazorla and arguably Giroud. Predominantly, Wenger has placed a lot of his trust in young players such as Wilshere, Walcott, Gibbs, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain and in the past the likes of Denilson, Aliadière, Justin Hoyte and many more. Although this is how football clubs should operate (nurturing young talent), as things stand Arsenal are in no position to be taking their time allowing young players their trial and error period as Champions League qualification and mega funding from TV rights hang in the balance.

At this moment in time, it could be said that Wenger should invest his money in established players in weaker areas of the team in order to really challenge the Manchester clubs and the two colossal giants of Spanish football in Barcelona and Real Madrid. Instead the lack of trophies means that players want to play their football elsewhere in order to win trophies, such as Fàbregas, Nasri and Van Persie, to name a few recent losses to the team. Even though the three summer signings of 2012 have proved effective, other cheaper signings such as Gervinho, Squillaci, Silvestre and Chamakh haven’t had the best of luck, or been of the quality needed for Arsenal. Unfortunately for Wenger, many top quality players come with a top quality price tag, which unfortunately for Arsenal doesn’t fit their shopping criteria. So in that respect, Wenger should shell it out.

Sébastien Squillaci lifts some weights

Sébastien Squillaci means business

There is then the consideration that Wenger should continue as he always has done. I don’t need to say a lot because these two philosophies I have mentioned are basic in principle and can be considered to be worthwhile and sensible. The reason Wenger doesn’t spend much, is because Arsenal do not have the amount of money to spend as many other clubs (this is the board’s decision) therefore Wenger must make the best of what he is given.

Therefore, you could argue that he would invest in younger players to get the most value for money. Also it could be argued that there are quality players out there, that come with a cheaper price tag, for example, compare the sales of Michu and Andy Carroll….I don’t need to say much else on that matter. The fact of the matter is Wenger has a degree in economics from the university of Strasbourg and combining that with his knowledge of football, it could be said he knows what he’s talking about. We then come on to his faith in young talent. For many years Arsenal have been well known for fielding young talent; their Carling cup run of the 2006/2007 season shows how effective it can be. After all, young players, if developed well and together, can turn out to be fantastic individual players and even from a brilliant team. So it’s no wonder Wenger has tied down 6 British national players for the next five years.

In conclusion, Wenger is a fantastic manager – there is no doubt about it, and it would be interesting to see other managers such as Alex Ferguson or Mourinho put in his position and asked to produce the same results. Whilst his philosophy on spending may not be to the appeal of many people in the football world he has done fantastically well, but this season may be the season where it is time for him to change his tactics. As far as young players go, I think a balance between experience and youth is definitely the way forward for sustainable development.

Hopefully as an Arsenal fan and an admirer of Arsène Wenger, he will continue to do his best and keep Arsenal up there with the top clubs in Europe.

Arsène Wenger featured image by flickr user dyobmit

Full time Swansea University student, Sports enthusiast, Lover of football, Arsenal through and through. Follow me on twitter @DomSFarr.
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