William Gallas, who played for Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger, talked about the difference between the two managers: ”The difference is that both managers want to win trophies, but with Jose he will show you everyday at training,” said Gallas. ”If you are not 100 per cent he will stop training and say to you ‘what’s wrong with you, why are you not training? If you don’t want to train then just go outside and run, because what I want, what I expect from you is to give me everything in training and then you are ready for the game.’”
Gallas continued and pretty much said that Arsenal’s footballers have it easy. ”With Arsene it is a little bit different. You have that responsibility to manage yourself, he won’t be behind you all the time. That makes a difference, so for me it was very good to be with one manager who was always behind you.”
Gallas is not the first defender who exposes Wenger as a manager who missed the uncompromising tactical and behavioral evolution the position has experienced throughout football – but not in Arsenal.
Lee Dixon told Amy Lawrence and was quoted in “Invincible: Inside Arsenal’s Unbeaten 2003-2004 Season”:
“He [Wenger] doesn’t push people around on the training pitch; he creates environments. A perfect example of that is Ashley Cole. Ash couldn’t defend to save his life when he got into the Arsenal team – and he’d agree with me. But he had arguably one of the best coaches around for him in Tony Adams standing next to him. Tony had him on a piece of string. Arsène didn’t coach him once. Arsène doesn’t particularly know whether the left back is in the right position or not! But he knows that Tony knows. So he put Ash next to Tony and said, have a look at him. That blend of experience is the perfect platform for Arsène to do his stuff. Because that’s what he is brilliant at – creating environments to prepare players to be the best they possibly can. And to have an environment where people can learn from the people around them”.
A manager who isn’t going to discipline his players and doesn’t really coach defence is a manager who cannot succeed in today’s football. Wenger was great when he had the best players in the world in each position. Top 5 defenders, top 5 midfielder, top 5 wingers and top 5 strikers. He doesn’t have them anymore. He can’t coach or improve the ones that he does have in his squad and the results are sometimes just plain embarrassing for him and the supporters.
We also know that Wenger doesn’t like confrontations and stays away from intensive video work. So what does he do?
Five on five matches. Wenger’s favorite training-drill is having his players play five-a-side without interrupting. Wenger even explained: “Five-a-side confronts the player with constant decision-making”, he told FourFourTwo. “When you receive the ball, you are faced with dozens of options. Your brain acts like a computer: It realizes it has been faced with this situation before and tries to come up with the right answer.”
Basically, his main goal in training is developing a player’s instinct and thought process. He wants his guys to think for themselves, and reach a conclusion about what would be the best thing to do next. In that sense, he is like a great guru or a Sensei – football’s Mr. Miyagi.
On top of that. Wenger is imposing culture of mediocrity. Cesc Fabregas has summed it up wonderfully a few seasons ago: “At times at Arsenal, there was a feeling of: ‘if we win, great. If not, well, we’re very young… No pasa nada’ (everything’s fine)”.
No tactical work, no defensive work, no confrontations, no discipline, no winning culture.
It’s like Wenger doesn’t do half the job his rivals do. No wonder then that Arsenal can’t win major trophies against major teams, despite have a fairly decent squad.
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