Now Mr. Wenger Is The Inferior Manager


From all the commentary since September 1st, the transfer window was exceptional for those in the marketplace who believe in the primacy of transfers in attaining competitive success in football. As a result the mainstream media and its fellow travelers milked every ounce of sensationalism they could, jubilantly proclaiming that English clubs had smashed through the £1bn transfer barrier. With Sky and BT Sport paying a record £5.136bn for Premier League TV rights from 2016-17, clubs had the motivation to buy and the sellers were only too happy to oblige. If, as the mainstream media has proclaimed, more spending results in better footballers, then surely a £1,435,420,000 outlay in 2016 should result in a doubling of the quality of the football compared to 5 years ago when only £627,881,000 was spent that summer. Hmm.

Applying the logic of the mainstream media to Arsenal, surely the club should be odds on to win the 2016-17 title. Take a gander at the following table of Arsenal’s last six years in the transfer market:

Purchased Sold  Net League Pos
2016/17 £92,900,000 £6,750,000 £86,150,000 ?
2015/16 £15,000,000 £1,800,000 £13,200,000 2
2014/15 £95,600,000 £30,200,000 £65,400,000 3
2013/14 £42,500,000 £10,000,000 £32,500,000 4
2012/13 £52,300,000 £43,700,000 £8,600,000 4
2011/12 £53,225,000 £70,700,000 (£17,475,000) 3

Source: transferleague.co.uk

One does not need a statistical degree to observe the trend. Since the infamous summer of 2011/12, when both Messers Fabregas and Nasri decided to seek much greener pastures, Arsenal Football Club has rebounded from the nadir and is no longer a selling club. Except for 2015/16 it has been very active in the transfer market. In my opinion, the three most eye-catching years, apart from this year’s window, were 2013/14, 2014/15 and 2011/12. The first two are clearly significant for the acquisition of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez respectively but to me 2011/12 is most telling. Despite the sensational declarations by the commercial media and its faithful echo chamber in the blogsphere of the failure of Arsene’s “project youth”, despite the infamous trolley dash on deadline day of summer 2012 (to this day the signing of Park Chu-Young is used as a stick to ridicule the manager), despite declarations of the “end of an era”, despite the outpourings of doom and gloom, Arsenal came 3rd in the League surpassing media darlings like Spurs and Liverpool.

To me the summer of 2011/12 is the emblematic of how much the emotions of the public is a “contrarian” indicator. Exacerbated by the media, the collective doom and gloom by Arsenal fans especially after that 8-2 thrashing by Manchester United, with the Arsene barely having a decent XI to confront the exultant hordes at Old Trafford, was diametrically contrary to the reality that the club was still being led by its most successful and by far most consistent manager ever in its history.

All of the foregoing is again leading back to my initial point. Surely, if Arsenal is spending and, better yet, using its money to acquire quality players, how come the media and Arsenal blogs haven’t become more optimistic about our chances of winning the title this year. From what I have read and heard on podcasts a new narrative is taking shape. While it is recognized that £90 million have been spent on new players, good old inferiority complex is back at work. Now it is convenient to remember that Arsenal’s spending has been dwarfed by the likes of Manchester City and Manchester United, who themselves spent around £170 million and £150 million respectively, and even more significantly they have new managers with superior ability.

One Arsenal blogger, who will remain nameless as this quote is merely being used for illustrative purposes, concluded:

“but with superstar managers such as Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte taking up top jobs in England, along with the fact that Arsenal are already 5 points behind the early pace-setters, it is looking like as hard a season as any to finally bring home the league championship.”

In any serious analytical work, the baseline for any prediction must be the consistent performance of the variable under study. For example a professional who studies the lunar cycle will confidently predict with 99.9% certainty that while on August 31 we had a new moon with 1% visibility on August 31st, he/she can predict with 99.9% certainty that there will be a full moon on September 16th. Unlike the physical sciences, where the laws of nature have been well established and generally taken for granted for their predictive value, in the area of human behavior, football being one, the predictions by our pundits are worse than the weatherman and more akin to fortune tellers and palm readers.

Fortunately the statisticians have developed rigorous tools which enable us to make predictions with a certain level of confidence. I have a preference for the investment world where no true professional will invest in a stock without a minimum 95% probability of success. Anything less and he or she will eventually lose their capital (seemingly one or two of these losers strike gold, eventually become a useless tv-pundit). My previous blogs on Fear and Despair and Lucas Perez explains the contrarian indicators which a professional will bet against.In the case of Arsenal we have data from 20 years of Arsene Wenger’s management. In my view it should be divided into two eras, based on the significant differences in financial resources that were available. First was the Pre Emirates years, when going up against the wealth of Manchester United and the managerial nous of Alex Ferguson, Wenger except for the first and last year, never came less than 2nd, three times coming first including the immortal, unbeaten year. By 2005-06 the break-up of the Invincibles was well underway as the club reduced investments in big transfers to focus on paying for the new stadium.

Pre-Emirate Years

96-97 19 62 32 30 68 3rd
97-98 23 68 33 35 78 1st
98-99 22 59 17 42 78 2nd
99-00 22 73 43 30 73 2nd
00-01 20 63 38 25 70 2nd
01-02 26 79 36 43 87 1st
02-03 23 85 42 43 78 2nd
03-04 26 73 26 47 90 1st
04-05 25 87 36 51 83 2nd
05-06 20 68 31 37 67 4th

Apart from the remarkable record of consistently top level outcomes, another of the many reasons to post the table is to demonstrate that to win the title Arsenal have had to achieve at least 26 wins and to score at least 73 goals per season, with one exception in either category. In 97/98 we won only 23 games but still claimed the league title and in 05/06 we had as many as 25 wins but came 2nd to Chelsea who, at the time, was the sole sugar daddy club able to fire £50 pound notes across the lawn of almost every top-flight club in Europe. Contrast the foregoing with the Emirate years to- date.

The Emirate Years

06-07 19 63 35 28 68 4th
07-08 24 74 31 43 83 3rd
08-09 20 68 37 31 72 4th
09-10 23 83 41 42 75 3rd
10-11 19 72 43 29 68 4th
11-12 21 74 49 25 70 3rd
12-13 21 72 37 35 73 4th
13-14 24 68 41 27 79 4th
14-15 22 71 36 35 75 3rd
15-16 20 65 36 29 71 2nd

We all know that in the relatively barren years at the Emirates, title-wise,  Wenger has consistently kept the team in the top-4 but one key metric from the Highbury days, number of wins has fallen by an average of 9%, from 23 to 21. The data indicates that the number of goals scored was not a significant predictor of league success; an average of 71 goals per season in both eras. Not surprisingly, the data confirms that the closest we came to matching our Pre-Emirates success was the Eduardo year when we amassed 24 wins but could not hold onto our lead after tragedy struck the team. The data is suggesting we need 26 wins, six more than last year to be in with a shot.

How much of a big ask is that? Between 06-07 and 07-08, we had 5 more wins and earned 15 more points. If Perez has anything like the impact of Eduardo, I suggest we are in with a big shout regardless of Pep, Mourinho and Conte. If we are to go by the data, never bet against Wenger’s consistency.

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81 comments on “Now Mr. Wenger Is The Inferior Manager

  1. Just in case there was any doubt why JW needs as much footy as possible under his belt before he hopefully returns to take over from St. Cazorla:

    Eddie Howe: “He (Wilshere) has not completed all of the training. We have had to manage his training time to make sure we get the balance right.”

    Liked by 2 people

  2. An I ncredible indeed disingenuous from those who should or do know better amount of angst in the Arsenal ether about an athlete’s requirement to return his body to the kind of conditioning levels that the PL demands from players who may play three times a week.

    Don’t let shock jocks cloud your thinking. Not on the football. Not on anything!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. This one is for Hunter:

    If Messi were English and had come through the Royal Arsenal Academy we’d have heard the following:

    He dwells on the ball too long

    He needs to change his style as play as the refs won’t call fouls when he is fouled. I mean, for example, look how successfully Kevin Davies rebuilt his career (started off as a skilful quick player) after he’d been clogged off the park. What’s to lose?

    Gibberish etc.

    It’d be funny. If England hadn’t just lost to Iceland whilst DiTHERING (on the actual football).

    Liked by 2 people

  4. wenger on team news

    Lucas and Mustafi have settled well in training, but the test will be games

    Iwobi back in squad but Ramsey still out and will also miss PSG game.

    Alexis a doubt due to his late return from international duty, he is fit, but late return a concern with psg game on tuesday.

    Wilshere needed games, he still has a big future here at Arsenal, and its AW hope that JW will stay at AFC for all his career.


  5. SAMchez COYG ‏@smeagol_11 38m38 minutes ago
    Arsene Wenger to a journo…

    “I don’t know who will take my job just like I don’t know who will take yours one day”

    😂😂😂 #Legend

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wenger: “This is the first time in a long time I have a team of what you would call [mature] men, who are ready to compete.”


  7. I would think that the malcontents/wob are getting a little worried, in the last couple of weeks we have seen Wenger bring his summer transfer spending to over £90M, he has also talked about developing Asano, who will not be with us this season, and today he has said he wants Wilshere back at Arsenal next season, with JW not being here this season, we have quotes from Ozil and Alexis saying how happy they are at Arsenal, and some reports that Mustafi claimed Wenger talked about his plans for Arsenal over the next number of seasons, when discussing his transfer.
    The lets make Wenger’s last season at Arsenal as uncomfortable as possible campaign must be a little more confused than usual. He aint going anywhere, if he don’t want to


  8. Great blog again been reading for a while. Shotta have you worked in the city?
    I have many frustrations with Arsenal mostly how it is all perceived, the difficulties of the changing football landscape i.e the new and newer owners . Abramhovic came and was “Firing £50 notes from the front lawn” now we have state sponsored teams which not even he can compete with. But the press and the fans are unwilling to acknowledge this fact. Arsenal have to be smart in the market, using metrics to asses a player is to confirm the qualities in measurable and comparable way. Now this is seen as a negative, or dithering. Arsenal cannot afford to waste money like the state sponsored teams . I leave Man U out of this as they have spent the last 58 years (very successfully I might add), cultivating their image and brand before football was really aware of commercial branding. Arsenal are building that global presence , name a team that has not won a league for 12 years or a Champions league ever but their club and fan base is growing. Since 2004 I believe our fan base has doubled in size. Only one man has made that possible the man who has made this club 400% more valuable who banks are willing to negotiate favorable terms and back loans just on his name. Even the silent one knows it.

    Liked by 5 people

  9. I see we both spotted the same quote eddy –

    “It’s the first time for a long time that I’ve had a team of what you can call men ready to compete. After, we have to show that we are good enough to beat everybody else.”

    I am looking forward to tomorrow. Southampton proved a difficult nut to crack last season and after the hammering at St Mary’s a disappointing 0-0 we have a point to prove.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. looks like Gabriel in first team training today, Arsenal put up a video clip of how Mustafi and Lucas are settling in, and right at the end Lucas bear hugs another player, who I think is Gabriel.


  11. Arsenal U23’s are away to Derby County U23’s this evening, 7pm kick off


  12. agree Ed…..cannot take things for granted, but this is a club moving forward… with all the rebuilding of the squad, infrastructure developments, some new behind the scenes staff (Japanese muscle specialist- who Big Sam reportedly covets), and more money in the kitty for such things….why would Wenger leave this season? He deserves a run on a more …if not completely even playing field.
    Pretty sure , all going well, he will sign a new deal…but can see why he wont do it yet.
    I am sure that Eddie Howe stuff was either nonsense and guess work, or an attempt by a journalist making what he may hopes will be destabilizing mischief….or maybe even the club deliberately deceiving journalists, I would guess that would not be the first time


  13. Arsenal FC ‏@Arsenal 18m18 minutes ago
    #AFCU23 team…

    Keto, Johnson, Da Graca, Bielik, Bola, Zelalem, Sheaf, Maitland-Niles, Mavididi, Willock, Akpom


  14. Gabriel was back in first team training today


  15. Derby County ‏@dcfcofficial 2m2 minutes ago
    6: GOAL! Chris Willock opens the scoring for @Arsenal with a low left foot shot from inside the area (0-1)


  16. Derby County ‏@dcfcofficial 3m3 minutes ago
    27: GOAL! Chuba Akpom doubles the visitors’ lead with a low finish after being slipped through on goal by Mavididi (0-2) #DCFCU23s


  17. disgracefully again arsenal.com or arsenal twitter have no up dates of the game so far. Pathetic from them again.


  18. *when we were boring* @ 1:40 am – Nowhere near the City. I am way out in the Americas. But I have been in the financial services industry for 31 years. I have seen too many businesses fail in my career, many because of hubris and short-term thinking. Most of my outlook is from the school of hard knocks. Graduate school is a joke.


  19. Derby County ‏@dcfcofficial 3m3 minutes ago
    HALF TIME: #DCFCU23s 0-2 @Arsenal U23s – Willock & Akpom goals see the visitors hold a comfortable lead at the break

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Watching Schalke get entirely stuck in to Bayern – the Bavarians don’t like it up ’em do they ?


  21. Ed, not only is the ARSENAL official account not reporting on tonights game but all the various youth sites aren’t either. Derby seem to be the only ones on the plus side Chuba made it three


  22. Derby County ‏@dcfcofficial 16m16 minutes ago
    54: GOAL! @Arsenal have a third as Akpom grabs his second of the evening from close range following a counter attack move (0-3)
    8 retweets 2 likes
    Reply Retweet 8


  23. ian just like all the u23 games so far the official site have informed fans that they would be doing updates of the game, but then have not done so, unless you call the starting 11 pre game, and the half time score, updating. Arsenal boast about their massive support on social media, then they fail to provide a good service to said support. Its not good enough.


  24. Derby County ‏@dcfcofficial 2m2 minutes ago
    72: GOAL! @cvernam123 scores his fourth goal in four games as he sends Hugo Keto wrong way from the penalty to pull a goal back for #DCFCU23s (1-3)


  25. HT: Paris Saint Germain 0 – 0 Saint-Etienne


  26. Derby County ‏@dcfcofficial 56s57 seconds ago
    FULL TIME: #DCFCU23s 1-3 @Arsenal U23s – @cvernam123 scores for the hosts, but the visitors claim all the points

    going by the Derby tweets, Arsenal dominated the game, and could have scored four or five more goals. First 3pts of the season for the u23’s


  27. FT: Paris Saint Germain 1 – 1 Saint-Etienne


    by jeorge bird

    Arsenal have submitted their UEFA Youth League squad for the group stages of the competition, with the club deciding not to include Gedion Zelalem, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Ismael Bennacer and Tyrell Robinson as overage players.

    Instead Chiori Johnson, Marc Bola and Aaron Eyoma have been named as the three overage players, while schoolboys Trae Coyle, Arthur Okonkwo, Mark McGuinness, Xavier Amaechi and Vonte Daley-Campbell also make the cut.

    There are some more experienced players included, with Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Krystian Bielik and Chris Willock all named.

    All of the club’s new scholars are eligible for the competition. U23 goalkeepers Matt Macey and Deyan Iliev are over the age limit for the UEFA Youth League.

    Possible strongest team


    Johnson-Bielik-Da Graca-M. Bola


    Nelson-Reine Adelaide-C. Willock


    Subs: Virginia, T. Bola, Pileas, Malen, Eyoma, Hinds, Dragomir.

    Other eligible players: Okonkwo, McGuinness, Daley-Campbell, Thompson, Olowu, Ballard, Omole, Osei-Tutu, Tella, Smith-Rowe, Mourgos, DaSilva, Gilmour, Burton, Benson, Tormey, Beckford, Amaechi, Coyle, J. Willock, Fortune, Nketiah.


  29. Wenger has suggested that Wilshere will sign a new Arsenal contract by December


  30. […] I previously tried to make the point in my prior blog Now Mr. Wenger Is The Inferior Manager, no professional investor would bet against Wenger’s consistency. To the contrary they would take […]


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