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:
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.