Will Wenger leave Arsenal better off than when he joined?

Date published: Friday 23rd February 2018 2:23

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Wenger v Graham
I understand I am in the minority of Arsenal fans these days as I actually can remember an Arsenal before Arsene Wenger.  After another new low for Wenger losing to Swedish minnows (albeit while still qualifying) I started to wonder has Wenger really been that great an Arsenal manager or is it just his longevity.  It got me thinking is Wenger even the best Arsenal manager in my lifetime?

George Graham was a great manager, in under 9 years at Arsenal he won the title twice, 3 domestic cups and a UEFA cup winners cup.  Graham took over a team that had not won anything for 7 years, had not finished in the top 5 for 4 years but managed to bring them their first league title in 18 years.

Wenger is also a great manager but has only won 3 titles and 7 domestic cups in 22 years.  Wenger took over an Arsenal team that had won the UEFA Cup winners Cup 3 years ago, both domestic cups 4 years ago and the league 5 years before, in fact they had finished in the top 5 in 3 out of the previous 5 years.  Sure Wenger’s team went the whole season unbeaten but Graham’s league winning team in 91 only lost one game all season.

On average Graham won a trophy every 1.5 season whereas Wenger wins a trophy on average ever 2.2 seasons.

People will say Wenger signed great players like club record goal scorer Henry and World Cup winners like Viera, but Graham signed the previous club record goal scorer Wright and put together the greatest back 5 the club has known which incidentally Wenger was blessed with as a platform to build his success.

Football has changed over that period, Graham was pre-premier league and teams with 90% foreign players so it’s difficult to compare.  But my point is if Graham had not taken the bung and instead managed the club for another 13 years, he would only have had to win 1 league and 3 cups to have achieved the same as Wenger and its highly possible based on what he did in his 9 years that he would have won more.

Am I saying Wenger is a bad coach… of course not.  It’s just if Wenger leaves at the end of the season with Arsenal in 6 place and without a league title for 14 years is this really a team in a better position than the team he received who had previously finished 5th and most of whom had won the league and multiple cups including one in Europe?

Or put another way how many of Arsenal’s current starting 11 would get into the starting 11 that Wenger inherited which included Seamen, Dixon, Adams, Bould, Keown, Winterburn, Parlour, Platt, Merson, Bergkamp and Wright?
Paul K, London


It feels like football fans have lost all sense of perspective these days. I saw Arsenal losing an effectively “done and dusted” European tie being described as their worst ever European loss last night.

That is plainly false. There is a world of difference between losing a dead rubber with a second tier team in a second tier competition to losing 10-2 over two legs to Bayern Munich.
Jonny, MUFC. We went out of the Champions League once because we got battered by IFK Gothenburg…


A happy United fan
After the game at Sevilla, the first volley of mails had fans, like myself, who were bitter and angry at Mourinho. The second set of mails had a more measured response and felt we are still on the way up. I’d like to remind the second group how Mou left Chelsea, and how the recent reports about unrest in the dressing room is indicative of the final leg of Mou’s United career.

This isn’t some measured approach ending with everyone hugging and settling their differences and realizing they are now wiser for the experience. When this prick goes to war it usually ends with him having a better contract at a new club. And unlike Real Madrid or Chelsea, we do not have a competitive group that can just bounce back next season under a new manager. This would mean yet another manager, with new ideas, coz Mou has been quite unique (read outdated) with his ideas. Which means another overhaul, more Ed announcements about how popular United is on social media and planted stories about how Ed is so well respected among football agents ( did ya read that crap?). What we need is a manager who can offer stability and not by sacrificing all that is good and joyous about the game. After 18 months of managing existing attackers and buying new ones, is this what you would expect from the right person for the club?

I loved how some mailers compared to Mou at away European games to SAF’s measured approach at similar games. You seem to be under the illusion that Mou actually has another, less depressing approach to games. And comparing late 1980s United to the current global juggernaut? Really? After he revamped the scouting network, after developing one of the best academies? That’s your counter-argument?
Aditya (there’s support and then there’s straight up ignoring the signs), MUFC


A message to Sky
To the men/women who invented football,

Please don’t focus any of your cameras on the actual football at Old Trafford on Sunday.

A 360 degree view of whats happening on the touchline will be much more entertaining.

Either that or a one off “Manager Cam” would be much appreciated.

Mark Danger Endicott, MUFC 


Football: the soap opera
While I agree with most of Anuj, MUFC’s mail from this morning’s mailbox, you have to ask yourself what constitutes entertainment these days.

I come from a land were the world of football kicked off at 3pm on a Saturday, and was all done and dusted by 5 the same day. It was then consigned to the back pages through the week, where it stayed till the following Saturday. Through a season you won some, drew some and lost some and hopefully at the end of it all, you were near the top of whatever division you were in or won a cup or two. I love football, played it right up till I discovered girls and fags and was totally entertained by it.

Now, not so much. It’s just a game of football, and even though I have loved it all my life, I cannot find it interesting 24/7. Were once we read about so and so moving to whoever, now it’s who’s paid what, who’s bitching about who, who’s sticking their titty lip out about playing here when they want to play there, club revenue, ludicrous transfer fees and how much the agent earned. And nothing gets the juices flowing more than a stat or two, right kids? I couldn’t give two sh*ts about what kind of human being Mourinho is. He’s not my dad, my brother, my mate or going out with my mum so why should I? I couldn’t give two hoots to how much player X is earning, good luck if you can get it. I’m not even slightly interested in who likes who and who doesn’t. And what kind of monumental moron cares that Mata’s bloody knee was offside??? None of it is entertaining, it’s just utter bullsh*t to fill the void till the next game comes along so we can read yet more faux controversy and it’s boring. Football is a sport that has been turned into a soap opera with far too many characters and stupid plot lines and I wish it could just go back to what it is, a game of football. Nothing more, nothing less.
Andy Race (I’ll not hold my breath)


Missing matches
My worst one was the night of the Champions League final between Milan and Liverpool.

Me and a pal were on a double dinner date with long term girlfriends round his house. Dinner and drinks were finished, and we all went into the front room, where we sat through the first half, and the ladies were talking amongst themselves. With the score at 3-0 to Milan, the girls started to moan about it being pointless watching the rest, so why didn’t we turn the TV off and all go up the local and have a drink. We resisted at first – the local was a rather spartan place, and the landlord had a hatred of sports, so there were no televisions – but my girlfriend made it clear that threat of no-sex was in the air, so me and my mate relented and off we went to the pub for a couple of drinks.

When we got back, we turned the TV back on, just in time to see the pictures of Liverpool holding the trophy aloft and hearing the commentators breathlessly talk about it as the “greatest European final of all time”.

Yeah. She got dumped not long after that. There are some relationship crimes you just can’t ignore.
Logan, MUFC


In the spirit of ‘best game I’ve missed’ stories’, there must have been at least one unfortunate German in the stadium who couldn’t hold his/her beer and went to the loo between the 23rd and 29th minute of Germany 7 – Brazil 1….
Dom, CFC


Who is your random hatred?
Great to hear from Ben beating his Rondon the coward drum to bursting point.

Ron Coward? Certainly no happy days at the Hawthorns currently (I have no shame).

Can other mailboxers suggest random players they dislike and attempt to justify their hatred for them? The more obscure  the reason and the player, the better of course.

Mine would have to be Haris Seferovic, the Swiss international striker who, off the back of 16 goals in 3 seasons at Eintracht Frankfurt, got himself a move to Benfica! He’s basically the love child of a Lindt fuelled affair between Jon Macken and Gerry Creaney.

No pace. Crap touch. Crap finisher. A non-scoring striker.

Although 4 goals in 10 appearances in Portugal is not too bad in fairness…
Nick the Citeh fan, Chessington  (bored on a trip to our firm’s Bristol office)


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