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:
– The Back Four
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.
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:
– Late, great Rocky Rocastle
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.
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.
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.
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……
MarbleHallsTV is an Arsenal social media account on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube. Been a Gooner since the 90s, inspired by Ian Wright, then Bergkamp, Vieira, Henry, Pires, Campbell, Rosicky, Koscielny, Ozil and Sanchez. A digital marketer/entrpreneur by profession, born in UK living in the Americas now.