Arsene Wenger Is No Alchemist

Ollie Irish

27th, September 2010


By Alex Netherton

It’s my duty to hate Arsene Wenger. Whatever he does at Arsenal, I have to hate him, because he’s doing it at Arsenal. That’s my lot. However, he has so much going for him that on occasion I’m doing my seething through gritted teeth. His Christ pose at Old Trafford last season was a man fully in touch with his self-worth. Even the United fans relented at the sight of his faux crucifixion. He takes excellent youngsters and makes them into, occasionally, excellent players. He’s without doubt one of the more erudite managers in England, and English isn’t his first language.

Despite this, he’s plenty capable of going off on a self-loving one every other week. He indulges the ratface Fabregas, to let him maintain a love affair with another club while simultaneously inviting a loss of form until he gets his move. I know that Wenger didn’t have much choice – £30 million isn’t enough for Fabregas, clearly – but this shameless flirting between Catalans makes Wenger look like an even more gutless cuckolded WAG.

His myopia extends beyond Van Persie’s elbowing, now more chronic than his injury problems. It covers even his medical department. Every year, at least two players are out for nigh-on six months due to indiscriminate knack. Every year, his answer? “We hope he’ll be back in two weeks.” I’m not even sure Rosicky knows how to kick a ball anymore.

But his worst trait is his self-aggrandising over young players, and The Right Way To Do Things. His method is no more right than any other, and it’s just as self-serving as spunking big coin on proven players. Wenger and a few of the less bright of the broadsheet hacks have created his mythology, and it’s holding Arsenal back from being even better than they already are. It causes friction in the team, and with the fans.

When asked about his record with youngsters, he had the balls, and the brown-nosing press in tow to report unquestionably, to say this:

“There is nobody else in the world. Take the list of the players who started here. Johan Djourou, where has he started? Here. [Philippe] Senderos, where has he started? [Gaël] Clichy, where has he started? [Kieran] Gibbs? Where has he started? [Cesc] Fábregas? Where has he started? [Alexandre] Song? Where has he started? [Abou] Diaby has basically never played before at the top level. Ashley Cole. If you go back, it is unbelievable the number of players who started at this club.”

I’ll give him Gibbs and Cole, two left backs ten years apart, even if Cole is despicable and Gibbs might not even make it. Now, for the rest of the players that he is ‘responsible’ for…

Gael Clichy developed in France and played for Cannes, who discovered him first. Yes, Wenger got him for £250,000, which is a remarkable deal, but France has to get the majority of the credit. As does Clairefontaine for Abou Diaby, who first played for Auxerre, not Arsenal. As do Barcelona, who basically loaned Arsenal Fabregas – everyone who played with him at Barcelona already knew was a remarkable player, he wasn’t Wenger’s unbelievable find – in return for Petit and Overmars, albeit at a cost. Senderos and Djourou both come from Switzerland, and Senderos wasn’t only being courted by Wenger. And they’re both crap.

He then goes on to claim Thuram and Petit as his successes. Almost fair enough. Thuram and Petit came through as players at Monaco under Wenger. That was twenty years ago. Twenty years since undeniably great players, and players that weren’t poached, came through under Wenger.

Wenger’s greatest trick in the world isn’t magically developing great talent, as he claims, but convincing people that it is. This is him building his legend in anticipation of never getting his hands of the Champions League. I can understand the egotism, but he doesn’t need to act like a genius, he just needs to be honest. What Wenger is good at, and this doesn’t sound nearly as edifying, is exploiting weaknesses in the leagues abroad concerning signing up young talent. They don’t have contracts as early as in England, so Wenger (and he’s not alone in this, just the most active and best) hoovers up the talent that is already almost entirely formed, and finishes it off. This is a remarkable skill, but he’s not an alchemist, he’s a football manager with an eye for a bargain, who deserves credit for balancing the books while studiously avoiding trophies.

What he needs now, more than ever, is criticism. Taking young kids, before they have a chance to achieve something with their home club, means that these players have unfinished business with these teams. The best example is Fabregas. Grateful to Wenger, but desperate to come home. Further, established players like Petit, Vieira, Henry and Overmars set a pattern five or six years ago, that at their peak, or just after, they leave to win real medals, before they become veterans. Chelsea have Lampard, Liverpool have Carragher and will have Gerrard, and Manchester United have Scholes, Neville and Giggs to teach the young players of responsibility and of the heart of their club. Who do Arsenal have in their thirties to pass on a club’s heart? Manuel Almunia, the embodiment of the bad side of Arsene Wenger. Arsenal are forever in a holding pattern, always a year away, and not as good as they could be.

Alex also writes for the Sabotage Times

Posted in Arsenal, Featured, Opinion

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  1. Ben Cornelius says:

    Now that one was brilliant. Fair play

  2. Ollie Irish says:

    The last two pars are brilliant and spot-on

  3. Tinez says:

    Deliciously unfair painting of Wenger as Christ at the Old Trafford game – an error for which both the fourth official and assistant referee got a battering for embarrasing him.

    Laughable bile, discredited by the first line. 3 titles, 4 FA cups, champions league final. He can be as sanctimonious as he wants. The perfect example of what you are talking about not holding water is Fabregas – apparently you seem to think that a player who looks good at 16 is already made, not the case. Barcelona so badly want him back because of what Arsene Wenger has made him into. You haven’t learnt the game at 16. What a joke.

  4. me says:

    A karzee post, thanks for wasting part of my life.

  5. Tinez says:

    In 4 years, Walcott will be wanting to go back to Southampton, the way you’re talking.

  6. Jamie says:

    ” Petit, Vieira, Henry and Overmars set a pattern five or six years ago, that at their peak, or just after, they leave to win real medals”

    Please don’t get me wrong, I despise Arsenal and Wenger at least as much as the next man, but isn’t this a bit mean? I’m pretty sure all four of those players won at least one of the top honours (and therefore ‘real medals’) at Arsenal.

  7. gun says:

    I too hate arsene Wenger. He needs reality check. He is getting his money and saving a lot for the owners. i though he learned his lesson when he didnt win anything for 5 years but the guy is crazy.

    But the question is can we get any better manager?

  8. Dickardinho says:

    As a gooner, I will forever think Wenger a fool if he doesn’t bring in a world-class keeper. Countless dropped points and back-breaking goals the past few years, makes me ill just to think about it.

  9. a-mac says:

    just a awful article, please stop letting this moron write on website ollie, this is the sort of shite I would expect to come across on a spurs blog!

  10. alex says:


    Suitably chastened, I will never write again. so many apologies

  11. MikeSA says:

    George Weah ring any bells?

  12. Greg says:

    i agree that there really isnt anyone at the club to pass on the heart of the club to younger players. but thats about the only thing this article gets right. To deny Wenger the praise that he has so deservedly earned in developing young players is shameful. in todays football atmosphere where fans and pundits alike, especially English ones, are crying and moaning about how managers dont have the guts to give young players a chance, here we have a manager who is not only afraid to do so but prefers to rather than spending silly money. and of course we complain. he isnt winning right? but isnt he? arsenal are perennial title challengers, they’ve reached the quarterfinals of the champions league each of the last four years, and they report record earnings practically every season it seems. i think this whole thing screams of jealousy. the like of Spurs, Villa, Man City, and Everton have invested heavily into players in the past few year in the hopes of cracking the top four, yet only Spurs just managed to do it this past season. Arsenal have been investing in youth and although year in and year out everyone thinks theyll finish below the top four they not only finish above but challenge for the title. i think people hate the fact that Arsenal has managed to remain consistently good without heavy investment

  13. Zedie says:

    Spot on Greg, this article is the sort of Arsenal bashing drivel that is par for the course in all parts of the media or from any number of bitter, small minded Spurs fan.

    What would you have him do, spunk money on Man U or Liverpool’s scale and end up like Portsmouth or Leeds (or Liverpool and Man U in a season or two)?

    Ok, as a gooner, id whole heartedly agree with him being lampooned for stubbornely not signing a keeper when we desperately need one, but to try and take pot shots over Wenger’s unique ability to turn players from mediocraty to greatness is a piss take.

    If Cesc had stayed at Barca at 16, do you think he would have got the playing time ahead of Xavi and Iniesta? I seriously doubt that.

    The whole article smacks of sour grapes from some pissed off Spurs fan who’s team has spent shit loads more than their main rival, but has only won a league cup in X amount of years.

  14. Ollie Irish says:

    Alex is NOT a Spurs fan.

  15. Jason says:

    Veru well written Alex, but im sorry; the content is lacking to say the least. Article has no substance.

    You obviously think developing players from schoolboy level is a piece of cake. Well, its not and this article shows that you know very little about player development and about football in general.

    All a player is at schoolboy-level is potential and thats it, plenty can go wrong and its extremely difficult guiding young players these days bc the temptations are there more than ever and the pitfalls are great.

    And i like how you conveniently didnt mention Wilshire, Landsbury, Jerome Emanuel Thomas, Eastmond and others. Henry once said that he owes everything o Wenger bc he taught him how to play real football and developed him into a world class striker. He was 21/22 then.

    I’m not surprised really by this shite, anti-Wenger articles are in these days, plenty of people will lap up this rubbish.

    As for trophies, he doesnt need to prove anything, he won 3 league titles, 4 FA Cups and probably more than whatever shit little team you support.

    “It’s my duty to hate Arsene Wenger. Whatever he does at Arsenal, I have to hate him”

    Could it be that you’re just a xenophobic twat who just hates whatever he does at the club?

  16. alex says:

    Hi all,

    Just wondering if you’ve actually read the article before waxing moronic?

  17. Abhi says:

    Arsene is not without faults, but to not credit him with the successful development of players is just mean!! I dont know whether you’re a Totts fan, but get your facts right before posting bullshit like this……….”Further, established players like Petit, Vieira, Henry and Overmars set a pattern five or six years ago, that at their peak, or just after, they leave to win real medals, before they become veterans”………Have you watched them for their respective clubs after they left Arsenal??…AND FYI, they all won major honors before they left!!

    Though I do agree with that passing on heart stuff, thats a rightful criticism!

  18. Jesus says:

    Does Arsène overplay his youth-development card at times? Yes. He does indeed use it to an extent to ensure that the confidence of the club remains on the up, coaxing the players and fans into believing that tomorrow will bring success. That much is true.

    But your article is written in an extremely vitriolic, ignorant and willfully belligerent manner designed to get more of a reaction out of shock value than make any points.

    You may or may not be a Spurs fan, but to paint Arsène’s achievement of consistently giving young promising players from around the world a chance at the very highest level with a brush of condescension and belittle his faith in bringing forth a competitive team which has stayed near the top is very, very boorish. The young players he has bought have all been bought at ridiculously low prices. Chelsea recently purchased 17 year old Tomáš Kalas for over 5 million quid. I think there’s absolutely no comparision to be made here really. The only one he really blew a load on is Walcott @ 9m which is starting to seem like a real steal now.

    This is the sort of article I’d expect to hear on TalkSport radio or read on the (increasingly trite) Daily Mail.

    I haven’t read any of your other articles Mr Netherton but you mask the few interesting points you make with a cloak of self-aggrandising bullshit; which is disappointing.

  19. alex says:

    Fucking Hell, this is cunt commenter bingo.

  20. james says:

    what a piece of biased, ignorant trash and the writer has proved in this comments section to be a right tool, well done WAATP, you’ve lost this reader.

  21. alex says:


    You should really have put a full stop after ‘tool’, not a comma.

  22. […] devenind cel mai bun fundaş stânga din lume.Aşa că înclin să-i dau dreptate lui Alex Netherton când spune că:„Wenger’€™s greatest trick în the world isn’t magically developing […]

  23. caveat emptor says:

    I believe I saw a ranking of the top 10 football blogs recently, and arsenal blogs had by far the highest participation. I’ll assume then that arsenal has more followers on the internet than other clubs. a negative story on arsenal or wenger is a pretty good tactic to get “hits” for a non-arsenal blog. to be gracious to the article, i think that was alex’ intent.

  24. caveat emptor says:

    p.s. to be clear, my comment is not directed at this website, just the author of the article

  25. alex says:

    nope, wasn’t my intent. just thought Wenger was being disingenuous

  26. Ben C says:

    you truely have to lol at the retarded arsenal ‘fans’ on here. No amount of words can describe what a moronic breed of delusional and close minded individuals they are. so join me in just loling at them for hours on end. lol lol lol lollol lol lol lollol lol lol lollol lol lol lollol lol lol lollol lol lol lollol lol lol lollol lol lol lollol lol lol lollol lol lol lollol lol lol lollol lol lol lollol lol lol lollol lol lol lollol lol lol lollol lol lol lol

  27. Micheal says:

    Mr. Alex Netherton, your stupidity is beyond words, there could be new word to describe it… When you published this article, it actually did not insult Wenger but the state of English football at youth level… Your article is full of lazy journalism statements and dumb, invalid points… And please dont make statements as if you are speaking for everyone…
    English football players are not technical and tactical intellegent enough to play for Arsenal at that time… Therefore, Arsene started the first world scouting network… What do you expect…? To find a French wonder in London…? Those days, only Arsenal FC scout will sitting in the Second Division stadiums, but now almost all clubs copycat this method… There were clubs who I refuse to name just blindly buy players just because Wenger scouted them before… Wenger believes in total footballers not just a mad, English boxer… Nobody changed the face of English football as much as Wenger… He made English footballers to play proper and technical football for the first time… Despite early recruitment of international players and youngsters, he at the moment possess the best youth system and biggest group of young, talented English youngsters (57 of them were registered in EPL this season!!!) All were started 9 years ago, slowly but steadyly nurturing them into massive potentials…
    Now, the quality and marketing of English football has very much made millions of jobs and opportunity for English people… Is this how you pay your gratitute…?
    Finally, after all these years hearing and reading the media and bloggers blindly betraying and condemning Wenger, I came up with one conclusion… You, English do not want a French man to create a great legacy in England…

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