Wenger on the ‘Russian roulette’ of management and societal changes

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As Arsene Wenger prepares to take charge of his 810th Premier League game in charge of Arsenal – equaling Alex Ferguson’s long-standing record – the Frenchman says he never believed he’d be in the game as long as he has been.

Describing football matches as ‘Russian roulette’, he says that the core of the game has remained constant, while the accoutrements have changed down the years.

Recalling the players singing ‘We want our Mars bars’ on the bus after he’d banned chocolate when he first took over, he reflected on what’s now a very different world from the one in 1996.

Speaking about football in general, Wenger said, “It has changed but, overall, it is more the decor that has changed. The core of the game is the same.

“That means the spirit, quality on the pitch and human beings putting their effort together to achieve something.

“What has changed is the society. We have gone to more individualism. More individual plan of careers so that is more anxious for the players as well.”

On the the way the world itself has changed, Wenger saw positives and negatives, saying, “We live in a society that is more demanding, that is more opinionated. The overall problem in Europe is that the respect for basic things has been lost or is less strong that it was 20 years ago.

“Basic values are that I respect you. It’s as simple as that. You go to a doctor and he is more questioned than he was 20 years ago. Twenty years ago, you go to a doctor, he says you have that, you say ‘OK I will go home and do that’.

“Today, when you go to see the doctor, you have read before on the internet and he has to convince you that you have not necessarily what you think you have. So that basically means that you are questioned more. In every single job, people are questioned more.

“But as well you have positive things. People are better informed, people are better educated. People have more knowledge of the game and of other things. So you have to think of balance.”

And as he looks to celebrate his record breaking managerial appearance with three points, Wenger looked back on that first game and explained what he’d have thought if someone told him he’d still be doing the job so many years later.

“I would have said ‘you’re absolutely mad, absolutely no chance’,” he said.

“I remember when I was 33, 34, I thought that to 60, is 25, 26 years and you’ll never get there, because every game is such a gamble.

“It’s Russian roulette, every game. So you think, at some stage the bullet will hit you. So that’s absolutely unbelievable. You can never predict that.”

Let’s hope tonight brings us three points, and he can break the record with another three at West Brom.

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Jozzer
Jozzer

Congratulations Arsene. Dignified, loyal and always entertaining. Thank you for transforming our club.

Northern Gooner
Northern Gooner

I agree with all of that and I also firmly believe modern Arsenal FC owes a lot to Mr Wenger.

However, it is very sad to see that with each passing season of Mr Wenger clinging onto his position, he becomes less dignified, less loyal to the club and more loyal to himself and his team becomes less entertaining.

I have nothing but respect for the man but it is time to move on

Mein Bergkampf

I always get slightly concerned when we talk about Wenger “transforming” Arsenal. I think it’s a bit offensive to our history to be honest. Not to mention that in the ten years before Wenger we won two championships and a UEFA cup, a far better trophy haul that the last decade under Wenger. Yes we got bigger, so did every club in Europe. Yes we moved to a new stadium, so have West Ham and Sp*rs. Yes Wenger has been inspired at times but let’s not forget we have always been a huge club and always will be even if that mentality seems a little off at present.

Jozzer
Jozzer

Arsene transformed our style of football and as a result he transformed the Arsenal brand.

Herbert Chapman transformed us into big club with a defence first mentality. Mee and Graham adhered to this philosophy and trophies followed. As a result we were known as ‘lucky’ or ‘boring’ by opposition fans whilst we sang ‘1-0 to The Arsenal’ with glee.

Under Wenger we have become one of the most attractive teams in world football, his revolutionary ideas also helped transform the English Premier League. Like it or not the English league is Global Box office and, pre-Pep, Arsenal were the neutrals favourite club to watch – warts and all.

Whatever his flaws his record equalling achievement should be respected, appreciated and celebrated.

Mein Bergkampf

I’ll be a lot happier to retrospectively celebrate Wenger’s tenure to be honest and not at a time when we are playing way below expectations, our two world class players are leaving for free, the team looks ragged and disjointed and we make profits in transfer windows. The successes of Wenger are incredible and I agree he revolutionised football but no one deserves a job for life because of achievements twenty years previously. Perhaps we were once a neutrals favourite but now we are an absolute laughing stock. Arsenal deserves better than ritual humiliation from opposing fans and clubs.

Jozzer
Jozzer

It’s our thin skinned, impatient, spoilt fans that make us a ‘laughing stock’. Most opposing fans dream of having what we have.

Andy Mack
Andy Mack

Football clubs play in cycles. In the years between Chapman and Wenger we could end up between winning the leagues and lower mid-table. The bigger clubs tended to vary between winning the league and upper mid-table.
AW has changed the club from that point of view irrespective of any actual success, which is a miracle considering the austerity years post Ashburton Grove. Especially so as it’s something $iteh and Chavski have spent obscene amounts of money to achieve.
It’ll be interesting to see if his successors can keep us at this level and push on that last step to win more consistently (the League in particular) or will we drop back to the level pre-AW.

Tas Gunner
Tas Gunner

Nottingham and leeds are also big clubs.always will be even if that mentality seems a little off at present.

Andy Mack
Andy Mack

Leeds, Forrest, Blackpool, Preston North End and Huddersfield were big clubs at one time because of their success, whilst Newcastle, Forrest, Leeds and Birmingham City are big clubs due to their catchment area. But none of them can really be considered as present ‘Big/Top Clubs’, just as clubs with a history.

A Different George
A Different George

I don’t think Forest had more of a following than many other midland clubs, or was considered a big club, before Clough. The really dangerous precedent for post-Wenger Arsenal is Villa–big club in a big city, with history, and a useless American owner.

santori
santori

I’m always a little wary of fans who believe we were a “big club” even before Wenger.

We have an illustrious history.

But although Wenger has failed to hit the heights in recent decade, we have never been consistent.

Even in the boring hey days, we flaunted between mid table and the heights.

In the modern era, Wenger has achieved a high minimum standards over 2 decades. That is a massive guarantee.

Sadly though he seems to be finding it difficult to even achieve that minimum now.

In terms of finances, we weren’t all that until Wenger started to transform us in the late 90s with those wins and finally the stadium move.

Andy Mack
Andy Mack

Forrest were the big club in Nottingham area (over ‘county’) so they had a big following, but certainly not as big as Leeds Newcastle etc. That only came with Cloughs success.

Hleb\'s dancing feet
Hleb\'s dancing feet

Blogs I’m curious as to whether or not this our current malaise is good or bad for the blogs business. Like are more people looking to vent or are people silently dying inside? I dunno why I’m wondering about this but I am… Personally I don’t like hearing or reading what Arsene has to say anymore, it makes me sad like I’m a genius with Alzheimers or dementia ramble on.

Andy Mack
Andy Mack

It’s better for blogs as a large portion of the pre-AW support doesn’t do the inter-web (or not enough for blogs/forums). The older supporters generally are less vociferous as we remember seasons when we were a genuine mid-table team and our only remote chance of success was a cup if the top teams slipped up.
AWs early success has given younger supporters a certain sense on entitlement (especially when they look at our history through rose tinted glasses) which they use the internet to voice.

Heavenly Chapecoense
Heavenly Chapecoense

But it is same everywhere. City fans would not accept finishing 6th of the league but they could have organized a parade to celebrate that 15 years ago.

Andy Mack
Andy Mack

$iteh still have their original supporters that wouldn’t have a problem with finishing 10th. They were always a very realistic set of fans until the big money appeared.

Greg
Greg

Dying inside. Don’t come on here half as much as I did. Defeats and a wank performance is expected now

Arse City Blues
Arse City Blues

I went into the doctor, with what I knew was a hearing impairment. He told me I have acute angina. I told him my tits aren’t bad either.

I’m really sorry.

MrSweaty
MrSweaty

Say what you want about whether he is still good enough to take us forward but there is no doubting that Arsene is the most loyal manager we will probably ever have. Also the way he speaks in press conferences is so classy compared to the likes of Mourinho and others who prefer to use press conferences as digs at rival managers. In my opinion I do think it is time for him to step away from the club at the end of the season but when the time comes that he does depart, it will be a sad day. Merci beaucoup Arsene

Heavenly Chapecoense
Heavenly Chapecoense

Don’t you think some of the other managers wouldn’t have been loyal if there weren’t fired ? Half or the story is that Arsenal FC is loyal to its managers.

MrSweaty
MrSweaty

Say what you want about whether he is still good enough to take us forward but there is no doubting that AW is the most loyal manager we will probably ever have. Also the way he speaks in press conferences is so classy compared to the likes of Mourinho and others who prefer to use press conferences as digs at rival managers. In my opinion I do think it is time for him to step away from the club at the end of the season but when the time comes that he does depart, it will be a sad day. Merci beaucoup Monsieur Wenger

Media Hates Arsenal
Media Hates Arsenal

Just get the hell out of the club , you are ruining Arsenal.

Dreamcast
Dreamcast

Like him or get irked by him. He’s an exemplary of LOYALTY. He would have conceiently jumped ship when things didn’t look rosy with the Gunners with lots of top notch suitors. I think Arsenal management understands the law of reprocity. I get hurt seeing us lacklustre, not being up there with the very best, but this man has done well with the available resources.
I keep saying this, ” Wenger, kindly put in your utmost performance in the UEFA league, WIN IT, then bow out when the occasion is loudest”.
Respect, Arsene, looking forward to your book. I’ll miss the diplomacy you bring on board, never threw his player(s) under the bus. We’ve all got one or two things to learn from the legend.
COYGL – Come On You Gunners’ Legend.

Greg
Greg

He wouldn’t have lasted a season at any bigger clubs. It suited him to stay as his power base grew

caligunner
caligunner

At the other “big” clubs AW wouldn’t have had to sell his top players during the stadium finance years and compound the problem with the club for years to come afterwards.

One thing I really hate SK for not realizing paying the debt out of pocket would have only helped the club long term.

Andy Mack
Andy Mack

Unfortunately Usmanovs involvement means Stan (they hate each other) won’t do anything with his own money that would benefit the Russian (and probably vice-verse).

Heavy Gunner
Heavy Gunner

To all who would like to see the back of Arsene Wenger- we know who the man is and what he stands for, whether or not you are in agreement with his methods- what or who would you wish for, Van Gaal, Moyes,Allardyce, Pulis et al.- the mercenaries who try to pull the chestnuts from the fire? Personally I scratch my head in wonder at some of his dispositions- team selections, misjudgements of where to play individuals, but it does not weaken my deep respect for the man and his integrity. As for us, some fickle supporters who have access to the Mighty Media Circus, we are part of the mechanisms of modern society that he speaks of in this interview. I had no real choice from birth i 1950 as to who I would support – my surname is Gunner- so support your team, ask valid questions, but do not disregard the facts that Monsieur Wenger has been an asset to the club for many years, and hopefully, we can find a worthy successor when his time comes to step down. Happy New Year to all and I hope we can attain victory at Selhurst Park this evening.

Gun4Gun
Gun4Gun

If Arsen is to step down at the end of this season, who will you bring in?

Greg
Greg

Jardim from Monaco personally

OvertheGoon
OvertheGoon

You’d have to say he has found a game of managerial Russian roulette with no bullet in the chamber at all…