Wenger on Director of Football: I am who I am (and I cannot change now)


Arsene Wenger has made it even more clear that his way of working is not compatible with a structure that involves a Director of Football, saying he can’t imagine a situation where somebody else buys the players without his approval.

The Arsenal manager had earlier bristled at suggestions such an appointment might be made, and has gone further to explain why he is not prepared to work in that environment.

“Who do you blame when it does not work here?,” he asked. “I am blamed. I am blamed for decisions I have not made.

“It is tough enough to be blamed for decisions you have made. It is difficult to imagine that somebody signs a player that the manager does not know. It never happened to me.

“For me, it is like if you write an article in the newspaper and somebody else signs for you.”

His comments earlier in the day highlighted how little he thought of the idea of a Director of Football, and he was again cutting and dismissive of the concept.

“Maybe the time will come where the football manager will not be a football specialist any more and that we have enough computers around him to analyse the game,” he said.

“Straightaway he pushes on the button after the game, and out comes the team for the next game.

“The supporters will have a word to say to make a change at half-time on the internet. They will send in. It might come. But I will not be there.”

As for his own way of working, he continued, “Some coaches are only interested in managing the team and they are happy with it. I am not like that, and I cannot change myself now.

“I can change by trying to get better but the personality? I have 40 years of experience at the top, top level. I think I have a good knowledge of the game. You want to create a problem that I can’t see.

“I am who I am. That is it.”

There are reports that this puts him at loggerheads with Ivan Gazidis, and that this might force the issue of his future and the contract to a head.

I had some thoughts about that earlier which can you read here. Whatever is going on though, there’s no doubt it’s a huge mess and a very unhealthy situation for all concerned.

If this helps provide some clarity, all the better, but I suspect there’ll be nothing said until after the FA Cup final.

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77 Comments on "Wenger on Director of Football: I am who I am (and I cannot change now)"

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Doesn’t take shit, does he?!


Serves it up from time to time though.


He earned the right to exercise that much control with his early success and loyalty through the new stadium.

However, what can be earned can also be lost. I don’t think a manager who loses 8-2, 10-2 etc to clubs we’re supposed to be competing with deserves that much control any longer.

If he won’t settle for less, let him please make way. There’s a lot of managerial talent out there that I’m happy to give a chance.


He has to go.
I’ve loved him over the years, but he cant go on ruling Arsenal like he does. Even if he says he is willing to change, its still too late for me, he needs to step aside and let someone else come in.

The only way I would be happy about him signing any sort of extension, and I say happy, but I think that’s too stronger word for it really, but I would maybe okay about it if he said he had signed a 12 month extension whilst they prep everything behind the scenes for his departure at the end of next year.

Obviously it wont happen, but here’s to dreaming..

Dan Hunter

I don’t see the problem in having a director of football. The manager sees it as a relinquishing of power over signings. I see it as allocating jobs to ensure he can concentrate on the task at hand – winning football games.

Of course the manager and the director of football are linked. The manager says these are the players I would like. The director of football goes out and gets them. The costs and the contracts should be of no concern whatsoever to the manager. That, certainly, should not be his department. This is one of the main problems I see.

José P

He does sound clear as a bullet. It’s going to be one hell of a time to be an arsenal fan this summer.


I wonder if this is another hint that he is staying. This season is already over, then why Does he bother protesting about DoF appointment if he knows he is not staying . he is clearly staying and want to make it clear to the board that he will not work under DoF next year

California Gooner


Doctor Who

I don’t understand… If we win, Wenger is the best, and if we lose #wengerout
Make up your minds!
Personally, it is time for change.

Spanish Gooner

It’s impossible to stay revolutionary forever and I think Arsène is showing that. I love the man, but it’s time for him to leave

Faisal Narrage

““For me, it is like if you write an article in the newspaper and somebody else signs for you.”

You mean an editor? Yeah, that’s quite common.

“I have 40 years of experience at the top, top level. I think I have a good knowledge of the game. You want to create a problem that I can’t see”

Aaaaaand further evidence for why he won’t be change. At the very least, he needs more accountability on his decisions. But if he’s not gonna change this, what makes you think he’ll change anything else?
The longer he remains, the more it entrenches his viewpoint. It’s a cycle. The more he stays and you believe he will change, the less likely he is to change.

A journalist

Editors don’t put their names on articles you write

John C

No but they do decide if they’re of the required standard to get published

Faisal Narrage

Also a lot of journalists put their names to works that isn’t even theirs, just submitted by others (in many cases, PR people).

John C

Honestly, i don’t know what he’s trying to say, is it he doesn’t want someone to take credit for his work or that he doesn’t want any oversight?

It’s not clear to me what he means

For Bergkamp so loved the world
For Bergkamp so loved the world

I’m pretty sure he would get to “know” the players brought to his attention by the DoF before a final decision was made. I love Wenger. I want him to stay but it hurts that he cannot see that he needs help. A DoF would not solve all our problems but it could be a step in the right direction. Conversely, the club never replaced the footballing nous of David Dein who despite being a board member had a huge wealth of knowledge on footballing matters. When he left, Wenger took on the responsibility hence his position now and subsequent reluctance to relinquish power to an “outsider” who doesn’t “know” the club as well as he does.

John C

So it’s oversight, which is kind of understandable as it’s effectively a demotion for him.

If thats the case Wenger, who says he will definitely be managing next season must be very confident that he’ll still be with us and that we won’t have a director of football because it’s hard to see where he’ll go to where that system isn’t already in place.


Blogger, why are my comments waiting for moderation?

New guy

Personally I love it. His principles are clear. You can agree or disagree but I like people who think for themselves and know what they think. He won’t work with a director of football…fair enough. The board has to pick one thing or the other. And I suspect they don’t know what they think.

It feels a bit like he is raising the stakes in contract negotiations, and I bet he will get what he wants.

Faisal Narrage

So you like the idea someone could be so wrong yet so stubborn to accept it and inflexible to adapt?


Yes, having an opinion other people consider wrong and sticking to it is courageous. Especially when it can cost you the job of your dreams.


There’s a fine line between being principled and obstinate


In your opinion, should we sign a DoF? Success team nowadays has their own DoF, Arsenal as the club who doesn’t have it, the results are disappointed right? i mean we only can challenge for the FA cup and can’t challenge the PL since 08 and CL since 05/06.

Matt P

courageous or foolish? can be both

DB\'s first touch

At least we know where Wenger stands, and if the board deems that he is wrong about this, then it is their responsibility to replace him with someone who has the correct approach, and one that is compatible with their vision for the club. Right or wrong, at least you can’t accuse Wenger of trying to deceive people by pretending to be someone who he isn’t. I’m not saying he should stay or that there shouldn’t be a DoF, but I am saying that if Wenger is offered a new contract and there is no restructuring of the way the club is managed (e.g., with the addition of a DoF), then that is on the board and no one else.


This has got nothing to do about principle , in simple terms this is just high level ego shit. He is so full of himself that he doesn’t want anybody to judge him ..that’s it. There’s nothing commendable about this. Granted he won titles at arsenal , but nobody should be granted this much freedom at any club. This is why theres simply no pressure on wenger to win , all the more reason to cut cords with this guy


he did not just win titles for arsenal..he changed the club’s fortunes for the better for ever.

you have new stadium, world class facilities and a brand name that sits among giants of the game we have no business sitting with, historically speaking.

cut cords with the manager who took your 3 star bed&breakfast and turned it into a 7 star megastructure/group?

real smart fans we have…..


I don’t think nobody here would argue with what he has achieved for this club and it certainly gives him certain freedom to do what he want. But a line should be drawn for everything , you cannot expect to be given the same freedom after loosing 10-2 every time we face a good European side or.lost the top four position which is a bare minimum for club of our stature. Its not like arsenal only won titles after wenger became the manager , George Graham won the same number of titles I’m fewer years. For what he has done he deserves an statue and recognition but not a free reign over the club.

If wenger was in our position he would’ve done exactly the same , don’t believe it ….think about the time when he only extended bergamps contract for only one year for many seasons. His contract would be extended only if wenger thinks Bergamo could still do a a decent job despite the fact that Bergamp was one of the legendary player in arsenal history . because wenger knows he is at the end of his years , theres just no place for sentiment ….not if arsenal wants to progress.

Donald\'s Trump

Which giants do we sit with?

And we are fucking Arsenal not Wycombe fucking Wanderers.

Matt P

That is fine if he puts things right with ‘his way’.
But we haven’t seen any evidence of that over the past few years, have we.
He’s got to go.


What a fucking mess.

I wonder if Wenger suspects they’ll put in some joker less knowledgeable than he is.

If he keeps this attitude it shouldn’t even be tried with him staying and adding a Director, as he’ll just Joel or Lucas the players they give him to work with. Unless that Director is willing to give Wenger last say on players, etc.

The only way I see it working is if that person works cooperatively with Wenger and says “You want that one? Done. No changesies.” and they go get the damned player without the drawn out dithering garbage. And has the conversation with him like ‘we’re bleeding goals to set pieces and counters Arsene, you must make that stop’. But yeah, how likely is that to happen.

And it can’t be some token past player. They’ve got to have a football managing brain and can’t be just a pawn or media face.

If we go on to win the FA cup, and this is the future he faces, I wager he’ll walk.


Sounds as though Arsene really doesn’t understand the role of a director of football.

It’s a partnership. The manager identifies the targets. The director makes it happen.

There is no threat to authority, just an extra pair of hands to make the life of a manager a bit easier.


He just made it very clear if he stays nothing will change. I hope he leaves if not no more titles for a while.


Why do people think changing the manager is a guarantee of a title?

I want a change at the top, this club needs some fresh ideas. But I don’t think that alone will guarantee us the title.

Kwame Ampadu Down

Nobody does, you’re reading something that wasn’t said. Arsene staying though is a guarantee we won’t win the title again while he’s in charge. I think that’s a completely logical thing to say based on the last few seasons.


No one said it in the first place but you

Faisal Narrage

Worst thing is the DoF would usually handle contract negotiations, particularly during the season when the manager is busy.

Yet Wenger is always keen to deal with things in the summer when he’s more free to do so. Seemingly forgetting by the time that comes around , a whole season and chunk of their contract time has gone.

It can’t be a coincidence that we’ve entered that final year period way more than any of our competitors over the last 7 years. That is surely a system and operational error.

FFS, Wenger worked with Dein, he knows exactly what a DoF would do. No need for him to be so intentionally obtuse. It’s aggravating.

Meanwhile he’s still doing hocky pokey about his contract situation.


Dein was not a director of football…

Dein was Arsenal’s frontman as deal-fixer. He was the bridge between board and manager to get the funds for players. Not the one who decided whether we get Pires or not.

Matthias Sammer is a technical director Jorge Valdano is not. Dein was more of a Valdano type for Arsenal rather than a Matthias Sammer

Faisal Narrage

He was a DoF in all but name when the role didn’t officially exist.
There are stories of Wenger once saying he liked a player, only to show up a few days after with the player at the grounds. Dein did the business and got the player. There was no need for Wenger to get involved.

That is what a DoF does. Wenger also reported to Dein and was accountable to him. All football operations were handled by Dein.


Depends of the club, and how it works. You have both cases. Tottenham tried something very like that with Baldini and it was a completely mess. AVB didn’t know or had confidence in any players that Baldini bought and Sherwood did even worse. I think Wenger was talking about this type of director. A lot of managers would never accept that…

Also look at it: http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/director-of-football-to-be-appointed-by-may


Not necessarily. Look what happened with Tuchel. And Zidane. Zidane’s stuck with playing Benzema every match because Perez likes him.

Wenger\'s Pony

Always thought Perez likes the Madrid boy and Zizou prefers the French-Algerian.

Ponsonby Gooner

Isn’t that what dick law does? (Or is supposed to do)


Exactly. But Arsene dithers about and can’t make his mind up, and a DoF would have to push him, which Arsene won’t have. David Dein hired Arsene and used to push him, which is why things got done, but Arsene isn’t going to allow anyone else to do that. If Arsene can’t work with others for the good of the club then he needs to go, and all the love is just egotism. It would also be nice if someone like Robbie Pires, who wants to help out, would be given a role to assist the new DoF and learn, so we have a proper team working together for the good of everyone.

Andy Mack

So you’re saying that Dick Law is doing the job of DoF then?
because that’s what happens now…


I cannot change. This sums up the arrogance of the fm.No one shd hold the club to ransom and dictate terms.This soap opera has gone on for too
I cant find any top manager being allowed to announce his exit. Perhaps he thinks Arsenal owe him something after the stadium rebuilding job.
There is no sentiment in soccer. Its a dog eat dog world.
You will be forced out if you aint challenging. Frankly,he shd have been fired years ago.

Uncaring Phil

“There is no sentiment in soccer. Its a dog eat dog world.”

It isn’t this cynical dog turd reality until you want it to be. Fans exist because of sentiment. Clubs go up and down because of sentiment (or in Chelsea’s case petroroubles). Arsenal fans are lapping up the cynical dog turd reality. The club is 6 in the league standings and # 1 in bitchery.

An Ox-sized Coq

The Director of Football concept is a page taken straight out of American football, so it’s fairly reasonable that Wenger might not understand the idea.

Now let me get my Yankee Doodle hat on and explain how successfully operates in American football. The two main positions are the general manager (Director) and head coach (Wenger). The general manager usually is in charge of the front office: scouting department, contract negotiations, hires/fires coaches at any level, etc. The head coach will give instruction as to the type of player that he wants and the general manager will go out and find those players. Now the key point to successful teams is this…the head coach has final authority over the squad.

Unfortunately, that key concept hasn’t translated too well overseas as the final authority tends to go with the Director of Football.


And the final say should sit with the manager. His job lives and dies by the results generated, and as such he needs to have final say over the squad. Its not rocket science. I know damn sure in my workplace I would never accept a position where someone else can make mistakes and I am accountable for that.


No, he’s being willfully obtuse. The concept is well known in continental Europe, virtually every top club operates like that. That includes Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund or Real Madrid. Or Arsenal when David Dein fulfilled the role all but in title. He knows very well how it works and it is not new to football, he just doesn’t like the idea.

An Ox-sized Coq

Except at Real Madrid, Florentino Pérez constantly buys players without the manager having a say. Then an example more known to us, Fabregas moving to Barcelona. Guardiola didn’t really want him, which was shown by his numerous substitute appearances and various position played. German teams aren’t the best examples because the fans have a majority stake in the club which creates a totally different dynamic.


He does, there are the showstopper signings. But it is more true of the first Galactico era. Below those Real have actually been very thoughtful and strategic, and now they’re reaping the rewards with players like Asensio, Morata, Nacho or Carvajal. Actually Real’s tunrover in coaches is a good case of why they need an overarching strategy that goes beyond a single coach or manager.


On Fabregas, I don’t buy that Pep didn’t want him per se. In that season Guardiola tried him a lot and he was experimenting with a lot of formations trying to develop their system. To say he didn’t want Cesc is a bit too revisionist. In the end he did give him plenty of playing time even if it did not work out necessarily.


There are very very few cases across Europe where a player is bought without any input from the manager or against his wishes. Basically what Wenger is doing here is taking a concept and deliberately highlighting its worst possible case to make the argument for what he wants.
Its a classical political maneuver to scare people.


Yeah, at any functioning club it is a partnership. Usually the manager highlights areas of the team or positions that need filling. Then the Director talks to the scouts and agents, sees who is available and discusses priorities with the manager. At Dortmund Klopp, Zorc and Watzke, their CEO sat together and never signed a player without all three agreeing. It’s simple as that. I can’t for the life of me see how Arsene can have the time to properly coach and set up the team, then goes scours the markets for players and has meetings with agents from all over the world and then takes (well founded) decisions on these things.

Ex-Priest Tobin

I hope we miss out on top four, as then it’s more likely Wenger will get sacked. His arrogance is shocking.


I don’t believe they’ll sack him even if we don’t make the top four. And if he won FA Cup it should be the perfect moment for him to leave on a high and limit the damage to his legacy but you can see this guy does not want to leave. He enjoys a unique kind of power and would not have that at any other big club.

Chris Siple

I think this was a helpful statement from Wenger, in that it clarifies for Kroenke and Gazidis that there is no option for keeping Wenger but adding another (supposedly positive) influence. It’s Arsene’s way or the highway, so it ought to make it easier for the owner to choose the highway. If AFC do go out and get a top-class manager, you can bet he won’t want a “Director of Football” either. There’s no problem with that position or concept; but the rebuilding/redirection Arsenal needs is going to require a single authoritative voice.

Toure motors

” it is difficult for me… that somebody signs a player that the manager does not know”. Everybody knows the players that AW didn’t sign because he tells us at every press conference. Maybe if there was someone other than him and dick law and order negotiating on Arsenals behalf….


Given that he plays him every game he can, I presume the great manager is responsible for buying Walcott, who has not improved as a player one iota in 11 years despite having the opportunity to train with some great players.
And he’s worried about someone else doing the buying…,,


Let him try his vast knowledge somewhere else. Thanks for the memories Arsene, goodbye


It’s a smart answer, not directly answering the question if it is the right idea, but the main situation that people are most concerned with. While still highlighting the fact that we have been unable to get players we want, and putting the spotlight on the fact that this situation isn’t necessarily down to him.


Ahem, Dick Law.


For a man who has favoritism problem, DOF will be useless, DOF will sign better players but Wenger will still put them on the bench and choose to play his favorite player although they are worse.
Sign DOF + new manager maybe we can see a different Arsenal, can be better or worse.
Prolong Arsene contract and we’ll be in the exact same spot or even worse next season but he clearly can’t bring us to the PL/”CL” glory anymore.


Meanwhile, as Wenger, Law Gazidiz and the Board play out their power games, the supporters (who PAY them all), are left with what?

The who thing is becoming a big fucking joke. All of this shit should be done behind closed doors, and if the media continue to ask this type of question, tell them to fuck off.

I personally don’t think Wenger misunderstands the role of DoF. I think he is just being a cunt! If he needs to be reminded of the type of work DoF does, get him to read these comments.

FFS – it’s a fucking Director of Football, it’s not fucking complex brain surgery.

Anthony Da Don

What was David Dein’s role previously then?

Matt P

So he obviously thinks the club and its system are fine and dandy.
So if all the structures are all good and place, then whose fault is our under achievement?
Largely the manager’s.
So if he’s not going to change, what is he going to do to improve the team?
What an arrogant and deluded man he has become.




Having been an Arsenal and Arsene Wenger supporter ever since I started watching football, this has to be the single saddest act from Mr. Wenger that I have seen.
This is clearly a political statement and its meant to scare supporters and keep hold of the power he has at the club. Mr. Wenger, as a top top manager for so long, knows full well what a Director of Football can and cannot do as well as how there is no single version of the position across all clubs. What is consistent across all clubs is that the DoF is the number one person when it comes to finding talent and suggesting transfers. It does not mean he is the only one to do so or that the manager is cut off from this process. Clubs even have situations where a manager can hold a veto on transfers or where the exact player bought is a mutually agreed process.
To then deliberately misrepresent it like this is just downright disappointing.


I personally feel that he is trying to make his position untenable. That way, they have to sack him/not give new contract, and he can say he “never walks away” or whatever he thinks makes him into some sort of fucking god!


I am going to get a lot of shit for this but this is the reason I rate Ferguson higher than Wenger. He adapted constantly. Of course he had certain things that were constant but he delegated well, brought in new voices to help with training and fitness and always listened to his “guys” about talent. It seems Wenger just works and works and works but is hesitant when he should be bullish. He trusts his players until they don’t play for him any longer. Why not move Pires into a Director of Football Recruitment position. Put that position below himself as Manager of Football Operations. Boom, you get a guy you love helping him with transfers but he is not your boss. Then hire a new contract negotiator. Pires and the new improved Dick Law go out and bring in the best young talent in Europe. On top of that he needs to have an assistant who can run training sessions. It is obvious to me that the players aren’t responding to him like they used to. Maybe take Bould off the leash and let him try the hair dryer. Feel like i am rambling at this point……

Donald\'s Trump

Why don’t we just get a new manager instead of 5 new people doing Wenger’s job because he’s no longer good enough?

a different George

I think what’s needed at Arsenal is not a DoF but a deputy manager–someone who is explicitly being prepared to take over in one or two years, when Wenger leaves. Clearly, it would have to be someone he trusts and works well with. I am not sure this is realistic: someone big enough to manage Arsenal inthe near future would probably be unwilling to undertake a year-long apprenticeship (hard to see someone on Allegri’s level doing this). An ex-player like Veira or (if he flew) Bergkamp might work.

Perhaps just an elegant but impossible solution.

Donald\'s Trump

Why do we need a deputy manager? Every other football club can change manager without someone learning the ropes for 2 years beforehand.

And what would he learn from Wenger anyway? How to play stale football and not win anything major?