Learning from Le Prof – Happy Birthday Arsene

It's been a while...

It’s been a while…

It’s Wenger’s birthday, he also completed another milestone recently in terms of years completed at Arsenal Football Club.

This post is a spur of the moment type after seeing my Twitter feed flooded with happy birthday messages for the Frenchman accompanied with plenty of undying love tweets for the man.

No, this will not be a list of his achievements or what he means for the club etc.  Instead, I’d like to share how he has influenced me as a person.

There must have been at least one point in our life where we have been asked

Who is your role model and why?


Who is your inspiration?

Interestingly, I actually don’t have an answer for either.  I attribute that to events in my life but also to an extent to Mr. Wenger.

Wenger and Belief

Some call it stubbornness, some call it belief.  Either way, Arsene Wenger has shown an incredible amount of belief in his philosophy and in a multitude of players over the years.  The number of relative unknowns he has brought through and made into well-known names is no easy feat.  Sticking to a belief of entertaining football and/or how football should be played – on the ground, passing, possession etc. – over such a long period of time is laudable.

Add the pressure of competing for the title and/or qualifying for the Champions League every season and the influx of money at competing clubs to the whole mix; the power of his self-belief is something one can learn from.

How has this influenced me?

Can I say I have more self-belief now?  Maybe, maybe not.  There came a point in my life, though, where I took up the attitude ‘if s/he can do it, then why can’t I?’

What has influenced me though is how Wenger did not take the easy way out, ever.  Nurturing players and sticking to them to see them develop and deliver is such an ideal scenario and he’s done it a few times over the years.

That has made me more of an idealist.  Really, just seeing that continuously over the years has actually made me strive for achieving ideal scenarios whether at work or in my personal life.  I’d delve into marketing related scenarios here as that’s where my profession lies but I don’t want to bore you with that!

It has also made me believe in giving people a chance, find ways to work with different people no matter how difficult it may seem initially.  There is great satisfaction in successfully managing people and relationships for achieving goals/objectives.

If my theory about his man-management style is correct, it’s a style I want to apply when I get the chance to manage people at work.  I’ve indirectly managed people at work but never had a chance to nurture talent, not yet anyway; I’m still early in my career!  Though I have had 3-4 different supervisors in my career so far, the best one to work under was the one who empowered me the most.

Anyway, Wenger’s idealistic approach isn’t only limited to developing talent and football on the pitch.

Wenger and Self Sufficiency

One may argue that Arsenal’s circumstances have forced Wenger to take an approach of self-sufficiency.  Personally, I don’t care if there’s truth to that or not; the fact is that Arsenal and Wenger have adopted the self-sufficiency route for developing the club.

Being self-sufficient is another ideal scenario.  It’s another philosophy I’ve tried adopting in life.  It’s something I admire – to not rely on others.  Create your own resources and use them as you see best fit.

I remember after graduating, I was on the job hunt for a few months and my dad was in a panic mode, he tried talking to some friends to find me a job and I would pray to God that I would not land a job like that.  Luckily my prayers were answered.

I want to make it on my own.  Learn things on my own.  Develop myself so one day I’ll be the one being chased, and not the one chasing.

I wrote at the beginning that not having a role model or inspiration is to some extent down to Wenger; it’s because of my belief in self-sufficiency that I do not.

It doesn’t mean I close my ears to advice; I’m just very selective as to whose advice I take seriously.

Moreover, the self-sufficiency element has sort of become part of the Arsenal way during Wenger’s reign – or has it been like that for decades?  The more senior supporters would be able to answer that better.

Either way, it’s another ideal to add to my fetish for the idealistic!

Speaking of the Arsenal way of doing things, is there a Wenger way of doing things?  Sometimes it’s difficult to distinguish between the two especially when it comes to dealing with people.

Respect for People

Arsenal is a very classy club and has a way of dealing with people which says nothing but respect.  However, letting your prized possessions go when they no longer want to be at the club, is that Arsenal or is that Wenger respecting the want-out’s emotional state?

I’m sure Wenger must have tried to hold onto Henry, Cesc, RvP, Sagna etc.  But at the end of the day he also respected the fact these people are human.  They have needs that he or Arsenal could not seemingly fulfill.

I perceive that as a sign of respect for what is human.  I wouldn’t say that has necessarily influenced me because I have never believed in imposing my desires on someone who is not reciprocal to them; but, seeing Wenger’s approach has certainly reinforced that belief.

Being human

Being human

If it’s not meant to be, then it’s not meant to be; but, something else is meant to be.

He’s continuously sought to effectively fill the gaps that were left by those who left because he also had the belief that he can – I have a good enough eye for talent and I’m going to use that effectively.

Once again, back to self-belief!  When things don’t work out the way I want them to, I have to believe that I’m good enough to find the better alternative.

However, it’s not just the belief; but, also the intelligent application of his self-belief.

Wenger and the Holistic View

Wenger seems to consider a lot of factors when he brings in players.  You’ll hear him mention a player’s manners, background, personality, education and what not; I like how he takes the context of club culture/personality into consideration as well when considering players to sign.

I believe it’s a much underestimated element.  Players like Sanchez and Ozil are global names; neither of them behaves as if they are.  Balance is required both on and off the pitch.


Harmony through balance

Harmony through balance

Sometimes in life, we need to see things from a more holistic perspective before making any decision.  We usually miss context for a lot of things; I try my best not to.

There’s a lot to the term holistic, I try to make sure I make holistic as holistic as possible!

At the moment, a more holistic view of Wenger’s positives would include how he rewards talent, how he deals with heat on his players, how he deals with rival managers, and his knack for loyalty; but, I admire those because those are methods/approaches I already believed in extra of him.

Wrapping it Up

Wenger isn’t my role model, nor is he my inspiration; but, he has certainly given me perspective for life more than anyone else has.  I have learned what not to do or that there are alternatives for every situation in life from several others just by observing them but the few things mentioned above I’ve taken from him.

He’s not your typical football manager, sometimes it can be seen as a weakness, sometimes a strength; but, he has definitely left a lot for us to learn from.



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