Wenger’s Legacy Is Already In Place; It’s Just About Football Now

Almost there. We’re in that Arsenal phase at the moment; on the cusp of success but in danger of falling short.

It’s the penultimate post of 2017 but there’s one more to go before we can call it a successful year’s blogging. The review of the year will have to wait until after the game against West Brom because I’m sure that’s important in the context of the past twelve months.

My memory is failing me and I genuinely can’t remember but I bet I’ve done reviews of the year before; I must have because the calendar is so important in modern football. We’ve won the league twice this decade on that basis and Harry Kane is a world-class player according to the calendar yardstick. He hides it very well when he plays for England; the corners at Euro2016 still brings shivers to my spine.

However, that’s not the point of today’s post and I’m not even sure there is any link to it. Beyond being about things which have happened although this is more about what might happen: Arsène’s legacy.

Mention a legacy and the ordinary man in the street will think of his dear, departed aunt Maud who left him £250 and the dead potted plant on the windowsill. But this is not about an ordinary man; this is one who reached for the stars, overshot his mark and landed on the moon. The gravity boots failed and now he’s falling to Earth.

Barney Ronay in the Guardian talks about the very subject. The mention of Sir Alex Ferguson always brings to mind the time we failed to land him as Arsenal manager before George Graham’s appointment. How different would the club’s history be? Arsenal’s board mishandling the appointment of a new manager? Who would dream of such a thing?

Pass Masters

Arsène’s legacy means different things to different people. For some, it’s Wengerball, the long-lamented style of play which soothed the failure to challenge for a title as the first decade of this century came to a close. For others, it’s the structures within the club.

Nobody can argue that Wenger changed the club; he was the ideal man to modernise Arsenal and the force of his beliefs. To me, that’s his legacy. Don’t go looking for something now; it’s obvious with recent appointments that Arsenal are preparing for the future and he isn’t the driving force behind these changes.

Which underlines how Wenger’s legacy is already in place. Fads in football come and go; Wengerball is a fad, it’s a way of playing which others have taken and improved – yes, City play ‘Wengerball’; if you can’t see that, if you only view the ‘oil money’ or ‘Invincibles’, I feel sorry for you. Appreciate good football when you see it and be relieved that it’s triumphing over the numbing dullness of Mourinho’s ‘win at all costs’ mentality.

The Invincibles; there’s a piece of Wenger’s legacy. Records in football are there to be broken. The great things in the game don’t need records, they exist because they are great. Setting a record at the time means they are never forgotten. If being the only Invincible team matters to you, it’s because there is precious little joy around Arsenal on the pitch at the moment.

The game at Selhurst Park is the perfect of ‘late-era’ Arsenal. Imperious and untouchable with an unhealthy dose of vulnerability. It’s nothing new; it’s the same Arsenal we’ve seen for the last three or four years although this season, we’re taking it to a new level – or depth if you prefer.

Talk About The Past

No matter how Wenger’s reign ends, the memories of the good times will surface. If that wasn’t the case, we wouldn’t remember George Graham’s time fondly. 5th April 1987; White Hart Lane a month earlier; winning 2 – 1 like it was going out of fashion in the North London derby; 26th May 1989, ending that wait; 1990-91; the Cup football era. Go back to Bertie Mee, to Billy Wright and his youth team which formed the spine of the double-winning squad.

If you want to denigrate these men and their contribution to the club, you don’t support Arsenal; it was, is, and always will be Arsène FC for you.

Wenger’s good times ensure history will remember him as fondly but like Graham, Mee and every other manager since the war, there are seasons where eyebrows will be raised and a weary tone enter the conversation.

Arsène’s legacy is already in place at the club. The Premier League era is his unless someone truly phenomenal comes along. We won’t have another manager who is in charge for two decades; I don’t think the board – whoever it is made up of – will be so awestruck in future. Not having seen the antipathy which engulfs the club at the moment.

Now, we’re at the point where Wenger’s record is about football and success. We’re a great cup side at the moment, but hopeless by comparison to the past in the league. There’s no factory of youth players coming through, so the legacy isn’t about the state of the squad unless Arsène is leaving us in a similar mess to the one Ferguson left United.

That as Ronay says in the Guardian article above, is the lesson Arsenal must absorb.

’til Tomorrow.

53 thoughts on “Wenger’s Legacy Is Already In Place; It’s Just About Football Now

  1. Great post Yogi, thank you.

    Wenger’s legacy is there for all to see, a radical change to English football, a breath of fresh air blowing through the fusty boardrooms the length and breadth of the country.

    Unfortunately he’s now like the gallant old steeplechaser, puffing and blowing as he approaches the last couple of jumps in the Grand National with the younger runners pulling away from him.

    Should he stagger on to finishing line or pull up and plod off back to the stable?

  2. Excellent post…..I loved the best of Wenger just like I loved the best of Graham, O’Neill, Mee etc…..but the Board and Ownership of Arsenal was different back then, pre-Wenger. Since SKE became the unassailable owner with 69% of the shares, Wenger can stay indefinitely. He will never go willingly. It will take a season of absolute mediocrity, and total apathy of the supporters, such as we got with Graham/Houston in 1995 to force him out. That will come. It’s on its way.

  3. Great post Yogi.

    Arsene certainly deserves to remembered for the good things he has done and I think he deserves to have a statue of himself placed in front of the Emirates. His long term legacy will be mostly about the first part of his reign and slowly with time most fans will conveniently forget about the reality of what has happened on and off the pitch after 2008. The majority of fans will probably remember that he stuck much much longer then he should and became the focal point of a significant division of the fan base but that will be swept under the carpet for the most part. The sooner Arsene leaves the sooner the process of mentally whitewashing his legacy can start

  4. I can’t say I agree with you there Bill, just as pre-Premiership footall has been consigned to the dustbin of history, so Wenger’s early years are being obliterated by the mediocrity of the last decade.

    Should we finish this season trophyless, even Silent Stan will have to take notice and I can see Wenger leaving “by mutual consent”.

  5. http://www.planetfootball.com/quick-reads/now-arsenals-league-cup-youngsters-since-2007/

    Andy linked this article last night. In the early Emirates era it looked like Arsene’s “project youth” and his being on the forefront of turning the league cup into a competition whose main purpose was to “blood youth” might turn out to be one of his greatest achievements. However time has shown that part of his legacy will also have to be whitewashed.

    We have debated this endlessly but I think the article provides very solid evidence that using cup competitions as a means to give our U21 players experience has not helped to improve their chances of maturing into players who can become important members in our first team. A lot of the players Arsene has used in his league cup squads were heavily hyped and many were considered strong bets to became first team impact players and it’s intereting to see at what level is their real ceiling has been. Hope springs eternal but it should be no surprise when anyone who has followed the club for the last 13 years is a bit skeptical every time we hear about a player who is destined to be the next big thing.

  6. Orson Kaert:
    I can’t say I agree with you there Bill, just as pre-Premiership footall has been consigned to the dustbin of history, so Wenger’s early years are being obliterated by the mediocrity of the last decade.

    Should we finish this season trophyless, even Silent Stan will have to take notice and I can see Wenger leaving “by mutual consent”.

    Perhaps you are right and only time will tell. I prefer to take the view optimistic about what will happen with regard to Arsene’s long term legacy.

  7. Bill,

    Bill I couldn’t give a shit about Wenger’s legacy, what worries me is the shambles he has created at Arsenal over the last two seasons. Numerous players running down their contracts. Older players retiring or limping on with cronic injuries. Unplayable and unsellable squad members on inflated wages and seemingly no stragegy to put right the mess he has created.

  8. Orson Kaert:

    Bill I couldn’t give a shit about Wenger’s legacy, what worries me is the shambles he has created at Arsenal over the last two seasons.Numerous players running down their contracts.Older players retiring or limping on with cronic injuries.Unplayable and unsellable squad members on inflated wages and seemingly no stragegy to put right the mess he has created.

    I agree 100% with everything you say and the Wengerian legacy with something for fans and football historians to debate 10-20 years from now. The #1 priority right now is to start the post-Wenger era ASAP.

  9. Bill,

    Nooooooooh, that’s a big no,no. That ship has sailed. Had he left with the first FA-cup or even this summer with the latest FA-cup and rode off in the sunset. Then maybe in view of the first 10 years.

    But now, a statue? No, that’s a no show. We’re in homeostasis and in no small part thanks to him. He has outstayed his welcome by far and his legacy is as YW writes, already there. Now there’s time pack up and sod off.

  10. Welsh Corgi

    Fair enough. I hope that one part of his legacy will be lessons learned for our board and owners and they will never put that sort of responsibility in one person for the forseeable future.

  11. Bill,

    True that, vey much hope the board once again can take control of the club. Its very rare (apart from family owned/founded businesses) that an owner of a stake as large a 30 % have no place on the board and and no saying in how the entity is run.

    It really is rare and an indictment of what a royal prick Kroenke is☹️.

  12. Oh, I hate autocorrect. It should be a, very, in there and nothing else (I’m using swinglish and the ac is sort of objecting).

  13. Brilliant Yogi.

    I honestly think his legacy for all Gooners will depend on the view you take. I think most will say he had a brilliant opening decade and in the later years won the FA Cup but the overall club was left in a bad place.

    The others will say he had a brilliant first decade and his second decade was good but he was always going to have it hard because of the oil money and Arsenal’s move to the Emirates and lack of funs, etc.

    Me, I sit somewhere in the middle: brilliant first decade, alwaya enjoyed the FA Cups, understand the oil miney bit but don’t complain if your the highest paid manager and you spend loads on youth like Theo, Ox, Chambers etc. Ultimately, like most great managers, he simply didn’t know when to walk away and thr spineless BoD didn’t have it in them to end it.

  14. I am optimistic about life in general and I suspect that in 10-15 years the memories of the bad part of the Wenger era will have faded and the good part will be the dominant theme.

  15. C,

    I think you, being the generous person you come across as, take the high road here.
    Me, being somewhat of a lesser person, thinks Wenger in no small part is a very lucky man in that his strengths were enhanced by inheriting a back line that was very well drilled.

    His early success laid on the foundation of this defensive stability. He was the right man at the right time and could focus on the offensive play where his strengths lay.

    He’s in no small part a very lucky man as his strengths were enhanced and his shortcomings were covered. A brilliant match that was fantastic for 10 years.

  16. Welsh Corgi Cardigan,

    I think managers in general can get lucky and while he did inherit a brilliant back line, I also think Arsene back then was a different manager. For instance, back then he allowed big personalities and actually encouraged them when you think of not only Adams but Henry, Pires, Freddie, Vieira, Petit and others.

    Now, he discourages big personalities or speaking out when you think of the shots he has taken at Mert, Sanchez, Ozil, Xhaka and others who have spoken out about not only the struggles of the team but what they need to add.

    He was superb in his first decade partly through luck but partly through doing things differently and being ahead of others. The problem he has had is that he hasn’t adapted and when he does its almost too late. Statue, probably not but a manager that we will be remembered for changing England, absolutely. The real shame is the last decade where he struggled to win but won the FA Cup when things looked to be at their worst.

    Man he should have left last summer.

  17. Have to agree with OK – forget the legacy for now, those that look wistfully back at the past instead of concentrating 100% on the future tend to fall by the wayside. He’ll have a statue one day but leave it a few years until the divisions he created have healed. If those that worship AW above AFC don’t like it then they are welcome to move on. Any sniping at the new manager for simply not being Wenger will show their true colours.

  18. Interesting Post, Yogi, and makes Wenger’s legacy a talking point.

    Actually, of course, a legacy is something left behind by someone and given to others, and as Wenger has not yet ‘gone’ and according to some, he may stay on until cows learn to fly, so his ‘legacy’ may elude many of the older fans.

    That said, cogitating on AW’s future legacy is damnably difficult.
    Football like so much else in life is evolving and changing at a breakneck speed, so ‘legacy’ may be the wrong word to use for what AW finally leaves to his successor.

    An example of the changes I referred to above occurred when Abramovich hove in sight, circa 2003, and dragged football into the 21st Century, and the then Arsenal majority shareholder, David Dein, approximately said Abramovich’s manager, Mourhino, ‘parked the bus, and fired £50 pound notes at Arsenal and other clubs teams’.

    And so the modern financial football era was born, and shows no sign of slowing down.

    Leaping forward to this season, the self same Maureen, is now complaining bitterly about Pep Guardiola’s financial advantage which is enabling Citeh to effectively buy the PL title, because Maureen was unable to compete with Guardiola’s Citeh, despite having already spent £300m in his first season and a half, at Manure, and has declared he cannot even keep up with Citeh’s success without spending another £600m.

    And this is from a man who should know — he has notoriously bought titles for various wealthy clubs in his career.

    What he did not say though, and understandably, as it would reflect badly on his own earlier success, was that it is not the manager who wins titles, but the amount of money that can be brought to bear by the clubs, and spent on bringing in the best players.

    Given there is only one winner of the PL each year, and the same with the CL, then with the unlimited money showered on Pep by Sheikh Mansouer of Abu Dhabi, who is deputy Prime Minister of the UAE then according to Maureen he will win the PL for the foreseeable future, and it is only when Pep comes up against PSG owned by the wealthiest country in the world, or maybe the two Spanish clubs, Real and Barça, and the commercially heavily supported top clubs of Germany and Italy who can stop him winning the CL for the foreseeable future — according to Maureen’s financial theory.

    So what does this say about Wenger’s supposed future legacy, other than that he was the last PL manager, whose team won the PL in 2003/4, prior to the money doping era took over, with Chelsea the first to show their oligarch funded financial muscle, and the rest is history as they say.

    I know some fans cannot help, incessantly, saying that AW is ‘not very good’ — to put it politely –and I too believe he should have retired 3 or 4 years ago — but can anyone see any change in the new-ish reality that the PL and CL titles will only be the plaything of the moneyed elite from now on?

    I’m not happy with that — and I cannot believe any fan outside those clubs mentioned above can be either. 🙁

  19. I think Arsène damaged his legacy with last years contract squabble. He disproved the notion that he has stick around all of these years when he could have moved because he loves the club and puts the needs of the club ahead of his own interests.

  20. Wenger can’t lay all the blame for his failure to create a competitive team on money.

    He has had a succession of very good players in his various squads and has squandered their talents by not playing to those strengths. Instead he has tried to mould them into his vision of a footballer.

    Someone content to endlessly make passes, constantly recycle possession and try to walk the ball into the net while largely ignoring the idea of actually defending.

    The very best of his players have all left the club prematurely in order to move to clubs with the ambition to win significant trophies.

  21. Unless any of the players who left Arsenal, and did not join Man Utd, Man City or Chelsea ( the very monied elite I mentioned) then they would have been disappointed.

    The only other club who won the PL since 2000, apart from those above, and excepting Arsenal, were Leics — and I don’t think any player from Arsenal joined them.

    Rather proves the point, so thank you for your usual disagreeable disagreement, some things don’t change.

  22. Henry, my most humble apologies, did I dare to say something with which you disagreed. I’ll try to remember in future how sensitive to dissent you are.

  23. Interesting that after the seemingly definitive split that took place here, oh, so long ago, we still have posters who can get on each other’s nerves. I understand that and rather like it for the diversity it shows still exists here.

    As we know, ‘diversity’ is very important in the 21st century!

  24. Money surely plays a part, a significant one even, but even in recent seasons the club that spends the most doesn’t always win the title. Even ignoring Leicester (and it’s an insult to call their success an anomaly as some love to do) you have Chelsea winning two titles in the last four years whilst spending less than AFC during that period. Based on income and wage bills AFC and Chelsea are broadly comparable but one makes a much better use of their resources than the other. The days when Roman bought titles are long gone.

  25. For the record, I have never bought into the ‘only money wins titles’ argument. We could have won the title a couple of times during the time that you refer to Henry.

    Our failure to do so has much more to do with Wenger’s failings than to the sport being ‘doped’.

  26. CBob,

    I was referring to the ranting of Maureen and his ridiculous claim that after spending ‘only’ £300m since joining Manure, a short time ago, he now feels it necessary to spend another £600m to keep up with Pep in pursuit of the PL title.

    If he is right then everything else is the logical outcome of excess money in the hands of a few.

    Other views are available. 🙂

  27. Apologies are completely unnecessary, OK, as you seem to have mistaken me for someone who gives a fuck what you think.

  28. Manure drop two more points, at home to Southampton. Money, even spending £300 million, can’t guarantee three points at home to a mid table side.

  29. Welsh Corgi Cardigan:

    True that, vey much hope the board once again can take control of the club. Its very rare (apart from family owned/founded businesses) that an owner of a stake as large a 30 % have no place on the board and and no saying in how the entity is run.

    It really is rare and an indictment of what a royal prick Kroenke is.

    At least Usmanov’s shares mean that Kroenke can’t make the club a Delaware corporation and silence everyone forever. But Usmanov should be on the Board and participating. Kroenke blocking that is completely ridiculous. The way the club is run is sure to affect the value of their stakes before long. We as supporters don’t really care about shareholder value of course (there is no likelihood of bankruptcy after all) , we just want to see the club compete again.

  30. Despite all of the money that Man City and ManU have spent there has not been a dominant team in England since Fergies 3 titles in a row in 06-08. Its not like we were competing against Barcelona or Bayern. In this decade Arsene has spent plenty of money in both transfer fees and a huge amount of money on player wages and he could have competed but he needed to have a plan and make some good decisions and that is where he fell short.

  31. Chelsea’s net spending in transfer fees and wages has been in a similar ball park to ours for much of this decade but they have been much more successful partly because they have made better decisions. They offset their spending by making smart decisions on when to sell players. We have always known Jack W is injury prone and not very likely to be a regular contributor. We could have sold him for a huge amount of money 3-4 years ago. Its been clear that Mesut Ozil has not been the same player for a while now and Chelsea would have sold him while he was still worth something. I was wrong about this one but Sanchez should have been sold last summer. Chelsea would have used the money from those sales to invest in better players.

  32. In 2011/12 Chelsea had a squad filled with aging former superstars who were well past their prime and no value in the transfer market. They made a few mistakes along the way but they completely rebuilt their squad with a net spend that was in the same ball park as ours because they had a coherent plan.

  33. HenryB,

    You should relax a bit. I have said to you before, you can’t run with the foxes and the hounds. Pick fights and expect to take a punch or two.

  34. Don’t be confused Corgi.

    I enjoyed Yogi’s Post yesterday, as usual, and in response to his mention of Wenger’s legacy I linked it to articles that I had just read about all the money in the PL today.

    The sports pages here were full of Mourhino complaining that he would need at least £600m to compete with Man City for the PL title(s).
    He was saying that without that extra money to buy players, on top of the £300m he had already spent on players since joining Manure, he would never be able to compete with moneybags Man City for the title.

    Having seen Maureen managing Chelsea to a title years ago, on the back of Abramovich’s money, I found it ironic that he was now complaining, years later, about city spending so much on players.

    Money card? You would have to ask Mourhino about that.

    For myself — I would prefer it if football could revert back to the days when clubs had players who were mainly the products of their local communities, and were not the playthings of billionaires. That’s not going to happen — is it?

  35. Welsh Corgi Cardigan,

    Corgi I agree 100% with you. AW Inherited a defence that was already there.

    AW Is a ” chancer”. He’s been unable season after season to fashion anything that resembles a cohesive defensive unit. He’s been consistently incapable of implementing and executing any form of defensive strategy.

  36. Ras,

    As you said before – ‘change is coming’ – I can sense it in the new appointments that are being made by Gazidis — and soon I think.

  37. HenryB,

    Hello Henri ca va?

    Mourinhos bleatings are merely to hide his own inability to improve players.

    Pep G and his Team have been miles ahead this season in terms of coaching and tactical nous.

    Mourinho prefers to buy the ” finished” article. It’s evident he has no time to de op a d nurture players. Are Luke Shaw and Mikbytarian bad players? He had Salah, De Bruyne, Lukaku at Chelsea. He sold them. He in no way brought them in terms of development.

    PG on the other hand prefers to work and bring out the potential of players. The complete opposite of JM.

    Delph has improved. Sterling has improved. Otamendi has improved .

    Yes Silva and Arguero were already there at City. They too have improved under Pep. The body type of Arguero has changed. He’s lost a lot of muscle mass.

  38. Ras,

    Totally agree, mon ami.
    Mourhino is another who acts like a spoilt brat when things don’t go for him — it’s the players fault, the cheating refs fault. the tea ladies fault – everyone but him.

    If I was able to play football at a professional level I would not want to play for him.
    Imagine being Mata, and transferred to Manure because Maureen did not want you at Chelsea, and then to find him appointed as the Manu manager? And Mata (who we ‘nearly’ got) is a great player.

    Pep is the manager I am sure we would have got if AW had retired 2 years ago, as I had hoped.
    He is streets ahead of everyone else – and despite what Maureen said – that is down to terrific managerial acumen, and not just money.

  39. HenryB,

    Salut Henri j n suis pas sur – mdr( lol).

    In French the word ‘ Chance’ means ‘Lucky’.

    I – We cannot say that AW is a ‘ Lucky’ Man. He’s over the years amassed a coterie of talent around him. He has however consistently failed to get the optimum from all the constituent parts collectively.

    AW for a number of years only had to worry about Man U. Then Chelsea arrived. It’s now Spurs and the Spuds. Arsenal have not made consistent strides forwards and stagnated.

    We can say the stadium move etc etc has had an effect, however this should never have an effect on the ability to coach and convey and introduce new ideas.

  40. HenryB,

    Agree Henry.

    Football Sport is full of egos. I wonder, and this is just me procrastinating if AW loathed to hand over the reigns to Pep at Arsenal.

    It would have made complete sense to me to PG in charge.

    Can you imagine a retired AW watching PG change a lot of the things he’s has implemented at Arsenal and gain results. A look at PG record at Bayern and Barca would indicate that we’d be no worse off than we are now.

  41. Bill

    Why the lack of love for Jack? I an era of mercenaries and guns for hire all you have to say about one of the few players that actually gives a shit is that he’s injury-prone. He has actually managed a few games recently and if fit he is our best midfielder. We have given new contracts to far worse, injury-prone players – Theo I do mean you.

    Wenger’s failures go much deeper than not having a plan. Even if he did have a plan, Wenger was out of time. He got worked out, failed to adapt and others caught up. He no longer had a monopoly on cheap French would-be worldies either and was out of inherited riches as well.

  42. Whilst much of the success in Wenger’s first decade is thanks to the strong back four he inherited, he did build a defensive line up that went a whole season without losing a PL game. The role models those defenders were able to work with clearly helped, but we did well in bringing in players like Campbell to replace the retiring Adams. The established players were keen to pass on the message that the club was everything and many of the strong players joining the club bought into that. As was previously mentioned, Wenger was happy to have strong leaders on the pitch to dictate play.
    Without the strong characters on the pitch to lead the team there have been too many occasions where things go wrong and no one knows what to do. Wenger may not be a great coach, but that’s why he had strong characters on the pitch in the past. By going against that in the second decade, Wenger showed his own inadequacies in getting players to do what he wanted on the pitch. Without leaders that team is rudderless and quickly goes into panic mode when things go wrong.

  43. Ras,

    I could not think of a suitable French word either! 😀

    You put the position very well above. Frankly, the time comes for everyone to call it a day and hang up their boots. Some find that very hard to do, I guess. Me — the first chance I get, it will be back to Hawaii for me — Lū‘au for the party boy !! 😀

    Gotta go.

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