Arsene Wenger: A Funny Kind of Dictator


 A guest post from Red Henry

One of the more recent strands of popular criticism of Arsene Wenger includes the description of the Arsenal Manager as a dictator.

It is claimed that the manager listens to no one, that he does everything his way.  The claim came from Stewart Robson, after he had been sacked from Arsenal Player, some say for being too negative in his commentary.

But fans and commentators picked up on the ‘dictator’ label and before we knew it, it was effectively official, signed, sealed and delivered.  And the damage was done.  Someone – could have been anyone – who had once had a tie to the club had said it.  So of course that today now means it’s 100% fact in the minds of some.

You then start thinking:

“Hang on. Are these people serious? Have they forgotten who managed Arsenal before Wenger? NO, not Bruce…”

One of Arsenal’s most recognisable features as a team back in the Graham years was the strict discipline between manager and players and how the order of dressing room was brought out on the pitch.

Lee Dixon described it as “A sergeant -major approach to management”.

Paul Merson has alluded to it being a case of  “If you weren’t working hard, you weren’t playing.”

Alan Smith talks about how Graham wanted to be the one earning the most money.

Then we had the fees the manager would get for making his own transfers, practically blocking even David Dein from any transfer negotiations so that George could handle them personally. We all know how that ended …

Dein himself talks about what a wonderful duo he made with Arsene, with Dein handling the transfers while Wenger trained and revitalized existing players and integrated the new ones.

Wenger on the training ground, pitch and dugout with Dein behind the scenes in the boardroom, attending meetings and controlling transfer negotiations.

The ex-players who had experienced both regimes talk about Wenger being liberal with regards to his players … sometimes, apparently, way too liberal.

They all seemed happy to follow his “orders” and his diets and his advice while being treated like professionals. The manager himself treated everyone as equals, as any respectful manager -no matter what line of business – surely should. 
What I have said above is just a reminder of past events and some quotes, as I recall them.

What follows is not a criticism of George Graham’s playing or managerial style or even professional ethos.

Nor is it glorification of the Wenger managerial philosophy and playing style.  I recognise that each manager has his own ways.

No.  What baffles me is how the word ‘dictator’ can be used to describe a manager whose operational and technical framework simply does not allow for such insulting and outdated concepts.

Mostly it seems the ones who call Wenger a dictator are people who are in the age-bracket where they experienced the Graham years in full.  But it is a totally absurd concept.  Maybe what they mean to say is that Arsene is stubborn in his methods…

Mr Wenger is a highly qualified player-development manager who together with his staff  (Boro Primorac, mainly) have a ton of knowledge and experience in working with both youngsters and experienced players in general.

Let us not forget that between them they have hugely contributed to the development of Weah and, amongst others, Patrick Vieira, Henry and Cesc Fabregas, so forgive me for saying that they can be as stubborn as they want since their work shows exceptional results through various decades.

They clearly know a few things

Recent success can be seen in Theo Walcott, a boy who some years ago looked more of an athlete than a footballer, yet, is now one of the first team’s main attacking threats.  Oh and he provides  assists too.  Wenger and Primorac know what they teach and how to teach it.  Aside from their work at Arsenal they have won major titles in France and Japan.  And all over Europe, those clubs who want to progress, will take a peak to see how Wenger does it.

When we played Barcelona last time at Camp Nou, the coaching and playing staff of Feyenord and Eindhoven (fierce Dutch rivals) were at the game and were quoted as saying “We are here to watch two proper football clubs play proper football.”  Now this might not 
mean much to the pre-Wenger-era aficionados, but for those who know how to value their club’s progress, they understand that such words would not likely have been uttered prior to Wenger’s appointment.

It’s one thing trusting the working practices and routines that have produced you a Weah and an Henry and given you doubles, unbeaten seasons and champions league finals.

And quite another calling this manager a dictator and a stubborn old git whose lost it just because you don’t know what his job is about or what he brings to the game and the values and methods he represents.

His practices have produced results that shouldn’t be questioned by ignorant punters who can’t separate a dictator from a facilitator.  These tried, trusted and proven methods are presented as the stubborn methods of a lunatic dictator bent on proving all his doubters wrong.  When in fact it is quite the opposite.

They employ a liberal and responsibly mature approach to management that has brought results, records and built entire reputations.

Why would anyone of sound mind deviate from something that works?

Maybe only those with a poor grip on reality themselves would describe adherence to such outstandingly successful methods as dictatorial.

At the very least, it’s a funny kind of label.

About ArsenalAndrew

Optimist and lifelong supporter of the finest football club the world has ever seen.

42 comments on “Arsene Wenger: A Funny Kind of Dictator

  1. very nice post ANDREW & RED HENRY . A good morning to you both.
    Well done PA. I’m loving all these wonderful guest posts that bring different perspective and view points to us all . Very enjoyable read.
    Keepem up.


  2. Robson is just a bitter man due to his firing. We knew that there was going to be a backlash for his termination but it was inevitable. His broadcasting was intolerably negative and harsh at all times and getting worse. And ARSENAL had him on their wage bill?? The hell with that.
    At least the club lowered their wage bill a bit which should make the moaners a bit happier.


  3. We got rid of Robson and brought in Adrian Clarke.
    Don’t tell me we don’t show ambition.
    Adrian is a world class Journalist at the top of his game.

    (he sometimes reads this so I had to say that)


  4. A good read Red Henry and thank you

    In the demanding world of 24/7 media sensation every story has to have SIX INCH HEADLINES

    Next week the mob will have moved on to torment some other victim


  5. oh what a great article…well said red henry …absolutely!! , the manager with the most liberal approach is accused for being a dictator … funny sense of humour some have..

    and who are the ones accusing him again? failures and sacked bitter wankers

    i insist ivan’s job is to also protect manager and players from those who wish to harm arsenal with “rumours”. wenger cant do it all…he kicked a bottle once and was made to stand and suffer verbal; abuse ..

    then again why should the club give value to such ridiculous claims by paying attention to them ?

    what if ivan sends a few …ukranians around some people;s houses..maybe that should do the trick… 🙂


  6. isnt that an area where alisher’s experience could come in handy ?…

    come on fatty…do something


  7. Le Boss seems to have reached a tipping point with TV and Wojo.


  8. Very well done Mr R Henry. Absolutely true, coherently argued and giving the lie to the unutterably moronic abuse Arsene takes from those who quite simply are too stupid to know any better.
    George – a proper journo reads this? Can they get me some paid work?


  9. I love that Arsene can be so brutal as well as so loyal George. He is supposed to be inflexible and yet he drops his captain and his keeper just before the run in. I’m little bit in awe of him.


  10. A good read 🙂 I agree with other replies, Robson is clearly bitter.
    The whole managing a football team thing seems a bit like bringing up kids really. They do need a bit of discipline when young, then once they’re grown up you can trust them, without too much strictness.
    I feel like some of current squad have maybe could have done with a more “sergeant major” approach. E.g. Szczesny. Maybe Alex Song, with his lateness.
    Although arguably they must have worked hard to get to Arsenal in the first place!


  11. 0.45-1.25 ….on the money !


  12. Whoever you are Red Henry, great post man!

    You just need to listen to one of the ex-players talk about Wenger to understand how he treats his players.

    Instead these idiots keep imagining new things to bring the manager down. What is their end game? driver Wenger out, bring someone like Benitez/Ancelotti/Mourinho in, splurge cash, win a trophy and then gloat that some guy’s money (ill gotten) brought the club you support some tin cans? what if shiek city decides to spend more money than your sugar daddy to get the trophy next season? what do you do then dumb wits? Moan for a richer guy to take over the club/ sack the manager? what do you do?


  13. Nice read R H – and agree with Goonerkam; the quality of the guest posts have been tremendous and bring some welcome diversity to the place.

    Is Adrian Clarke now installed at Arsenal, George? A welcome upgrade to the place if I may say so (and not just because he may pop in from time-to-time).

    Am now so disbelieving of all I see in the media that I’ve no idea if TV and Sir Ches are genuinely ‘on their way out’ or merely being rested – you seem pretty sure though George; how come?


  14. Scezzer isn’t on the way out. Too young, too much promise. But dropping your skipper is a big move.


  15. And welcome aboard Dom. You in Bath? I’m just down the road.


  16. Well done Red Henry!, are you a champagne socialist or a posh communist with a name like that?


  17. No Andrew .He has just tipped them to the bench,not out the door


  18. Thanks, Red Henry! I enjoyed it! unfortunately those who hate AW will still say it, the facts mean nothing.


  19. I agree that dropping TV for the CL match was huge. As I have stated, I think TV is a top class defender but he is not at his best right now. Watching the Bayern match,Per and Kos not only defended well but I thought they played in a calm manner, the whole back four did to be honest.

    Kos had a look on his face, the man was well determined. Bayern were not going to score if he had anything to do wit it. Funny, I read a United supporter saying that Kos could not get into their team (ha ha). For me he is currently better than any defender on their team. He started the season a bit shakey but is now looking like the Kos we all know and love. What a player!


  20. And Per and Kos are a perfect pairing. One positionally astute, calm and experienced the other lightning quick and very skilful.


  21. Agreed, Steww. From what I remember we always look and feel assured when they are at the back. I cannot remember a more commending defensive display this season.

    There has been a thought that TV would be good as a DM. Though we don’t use one in the traditional sense, I am starting to warm up to that idea.


  22. and commanding.


  23. Paul-N weren’t they together at Man City for that match we should have won? I seem to remember then seeing them as the perfect pair.


  24. Steww, yes, they were at the back.


  25. That’s beautiful Paul. I just watched the highlights and of courser it was Kos who scored the equaliser with an astonishing bit of two footed football, lightning reactions and a thunderous shot.


  26. Right, an excellent goal that any striker would be very proud of.

    Check this out, quite funny.


  27. I am really looking foward to tomorrows match. I think the boys are going to really treat us..


  28. PAUL
    I have said for almost a year now that I think TV has all the right qualities to be a fantastic dominant DM. not that I don’t like him as a CB Or LB.
    Good versatile player to have around..


  29. gk – if the stuff people say about Arsene wanted Vertonghen to convert like Manu Petit did for us then one wonders at the possibilities for Vermaelen.
    Maybe his ball skills aren’t up to it but I think they are, perhaps Le Boss has been waiting for Kos to come of age. Who knows how the great man’s mind works.


  30. Kam, I believe I remember you saying that. I can really see him in that position. Fact is, apart from Per, our CD’s are not the conventional type at all.


  31. Brilliant red henry. The references to Pravda.com must be apart of the same genius PR programme. Still haven’t seen Uncle Usmanov down the local. I’ll keep a lookout.

    I’d like to see TV5 & LV6 as the CBs. But as Steww said yesterday there appears to somehow be some squad depth at Arsenal. Crazy innit? Add in Sagna and there are four top top CBs to play with.
    How long did Vermaelan have out? 18 months? I’m not sure he’s recovered yet, same as jack and Sagna getting over their injuries this season.


  32. Was TV really out that long, Fins?


  33. Paul,
    He came back after the first long lay off, pushed himself too hard too quickly (just another footballer then! I’d better blame Arsene). He then had to have another operation (I think) which took him out for another long stretch. An article on bleacher says he was out for most (essentially all) of the 10/11 campaign and part of 11/12 (at least 1/3 of that season with a long enough stint at LB, just to frustrate him some more!). Maybe not eighteen months but not too far off.


  34. I’m not sure if I have a favourite player but Koscielny plays like the defender I dreamed of being when I played football as a kid.

    This clip is for Hunter.:

    The music works on this one!


  35. Can you delete that one. I’ll try it again.


  36. Thanks, Finsbury. That is a point that I had not looked into. I also believe that he wants to lead this team and do so well that he is not playing with his usual nerves of steel.


  37. Thanks man. Yeah I’m in Bath 🙂
    Definitely a good idea to rotate the squad every now and then just to keep everyone fighting for places!


  38. “But as Steww said yesterday there appears to somehow be some squad depth at Arsenal. Crazy innit?”

    Yeh, you would have never thought that.


  39. obviously george thought of the rotation policy first, another great post by another great writer, case layed out discussed and put to bed , one by one the hacks and doomers arguments sre being destroyed


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