The Wenger Legend examined: how much credit should Arsene get for his early success at Arsenal?

Arsenal 1996/7 Squad - Wenger got a pretty good leg-up, it's true..

Arsenal 1996/7 Squad – Wenger got a pretty good leg-up, it’s true..

Wenger is a legend, at our club and globally. I must say I have reservations on his methods, and our club needs a change. Still, I revere the man. Arsenal has always set the agenda, and Wenger has played a hand in that.

So it bothers me to hear people say:
“Seaman, the back four, Wright and Bergkamp were here when he got here!”
“He owes Graham/Rioch for his success!”
“He inherited players, never built them!”

Is this really true? Is Wenger not really a legend then? Hmmm….let’s take this to task.
The 1996 squad had the following good players:
– Seaman
– The Back Four
– Keown
– Merson
– Platt
– Bergkamp
– Wright
– Hartson
– Parlour
This team, with others like Helder, Jensen, etc., finished fifth in 95/96. Given the resources/players that Fergie and Keegan had at the time, this may have been the best to hope for.
Many aforementioned were key for the 1998 Double team. And in 2004, as Parlour lasted until then, and Dennis was still active and grand.

Upon this defence shall I build my squad

Upon this defence shall I build my squad

So what is “inheritance”?
How far does “inheriting” go?
Was Paisley a “fraud” since he inherited Heighway, Fairclough, Clemence, etc? Was Fagan a “fraud” for inheriting Rush, Hansen, Dalglish? What about Mourinho, who ‘inherited’ Lampard and John Terry? If Mourinho gets United good again, he will “inherit” Rashford, Martial, Herrera, Rooney, Smalling and de Gea. If he wins the League Cup soon, then does this invalidate that potential success?
What about Graham himself? The 1989 team, even the 1994 Cup-Winners-Cup team, had several players whom he ‘inherited’ from Don Howe, and technically Terry Neill:
– Lukic
– Adams
– Keown
– Davis
– Thomas
– Late, great Rocky Rocastle
– Merson
These players, of course, made great contributions to our history and not just in Anfield’ 89. Charlie Nicholas’s goals won the 1987 League Cup, for instance, he didn’t sign him.

Who gets the credit for this guy? Rioch or Dein?

Who gets the credit for this guy? Rioch or Dein?

Inheritance is thus moot, in my mind, since it’s inevitable managers will utilise good players from prior managers.
I would add though, if Rioch had stayed, and somehow got on with the board and players (, i.e. Ian Wright Wright), would he have won the Double in 1998? We’ll never know, of course. But Wenger’s new methods, persona and playing style were elemental factors. Rioch did change the style somewhat, but then nothing to what we’ve seen over twenty years.

You can't discount David Dein's influence...

You can’t discount David Dein’s influence…

The “inheritance” argument is not thorough in my opinion, and not really a rational slight on Wenger’s legacy. I do respect Wenger, whilst not liking some of his actions, but then let’s keep critiques of him fair and accurate.
Wenger is not immune from criticism. Nobody should be. But then to say Wenger doesn’t deserve credit for inheriting good players is tiresome and moot. He wouldn’t be the first, nor the last, to do this, and all human efforts are built on continuity. If Rioch had got on better with the board/players, there would be no Wenger. Had he not met Dein several years beforehand, there would be no Wenger’s Arsenal. We all as people reap the benefits or negatives of past actions. We’d have no computers or Internet as we know it today without the World Wars, and Alan Turing’s de-coding machine, or the first computer networks in the Cold War era.

'Supporting Arsenal Is A Funny Old Game' by Dave Seager

As a last point, if Wenger’s successor, Allegri, Ancelotti, or Simeone, won us the League and the Champions League, would he be bad if he did it with Alexis, Ozil, Cech, Koscielny, Xhaka, or Walcott? We’d be too hungover to care, I’d imagine….;)

Watch out for part two……

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4 Responses to The Wenger Legend examined: how much credit should Arsene get for his early success at Arsenal?

  1. Bakri January 30, 2017 at 4:35 pm #

    Wenger could have done far more better for Arsenal , if he was not so reluctant and greedy in the transfer market . Arsenal lost own for the top players in the world because Wenger was not ready to pay the right price and let other competing clubs to do so. Wenger succeeded at the first few years because he inherited a good team and was lucky to get Henry and Vi era . His reluctance to build and develop the team and squad led to failure of twelve successive years to win back the title and made no progress in the Championleague. Well he made a reasonable contribution , but it was not the greatest success as some people claim. For sure the main share holders and members of the Arsenal board are very happy , delighted and satified because he saved them millions of pounds.Arsenal fans were sad to see their best players leave the club year after year because they couldn’t win trophies at Arsenal.

    • MarblehallsTV January 31, 2017 at 12:30 am #

      Which is the point, all managers inherit players. That shouldn’t undermine his legacy.

  2. Victor Thompson February 1, 2017 at 3:17 pm #

    I agree that AW transformed our style of “Lucky Arsenal” under George Graham, but he did inherit a rock to build the club on. Everyone now knows that a good defence is the springboard for a successful team and he inherited the best there was at that time. He introduced probably one of the best pairs of midfielders in modern times in Viera and Petit. Berkamp and Henry ably supported by Pirez, lungard, Overmars etc. were strokes of genius which added a ruthless element to our game and he prolonged Tony Adams playing time by two years with a regime of diet and training. I suppose I have to agree with you that it is inaccurate to say that he inherited a winning team. His talent was to analyse what it needed to become a championship team and he did it. He won the double in his first season.

    I would prefer to remember him in future years for those achievements, for the Stadium and for London Colney, not to mention the magical pitches we have. That is why, I think that this is the right time for him to go. I don`t think he has the golden touch now and he hasn`t had it for at least 5 years.

    • MarblehallsTV February 3, 2017 at 4:39 pm #

      Good points, just I don’t like it when people say that he inherited good players and it’s a slight. it’s too disrespectful.

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