Authentic,Actual,Genuine,Original etc etc. Different words but almost the same meaning.
Let’s try and peek into the mind of one of the greatest football managers of all time. The Gaffer…Arsene Wenger (Légion d’Honneur, OBE)
When Arsene Wenger came to Arsenal in 1996, hardly anybody knew him. Sir Alex Ferguson, with a 10 year head start, all but dismissed him. “They say he’s an intelligent man, right? Speaks five languages! I’ve got a 15-year-old boy from the Ivory Coast who speaks five languages!”, were his (in)famous lines for Wenger.
In his very next season Arsenal won both the Premiership and FA Cup, the second Double in the club’s history; it came after Arsenal made up a twelve point deficit to win the League title with two games to spare.
Arsenal had the same backline comprising of Tony Adams, Nigel Winterburn, Lee Dixon and Martin Keown. Vieira was already there and so was Dennis Bergkamp. Arsene Wenger didn’t bring new set of players to dislodge Manchester United off the perch.
With Arsenal, Wenger has won 4 FA Cups, 3 Premier Leagues, 4 Community Shields. Arsene Wenger didn’t get huge sums of money to spend in the transfer market. But to survive in a highly competitive market, money is essential. He had to think of ways to make money.
So what was the ‘authentic’ tactic that Arsene applied which made it possible?? Well…he employed tactics that were NOT AUTHENTIC. He used his intelligence. He used common sense.
Arsenal always had a loyal fan following. But still there were a few empty seats in Highbury on match days. His first job was to fill those seats. And he did that not by making emotional appeals to the fans. He did that by attracting the fans to a new brand of football. The ‘attacking’ brand.
The age old 4-5-1 formation was changed to 4-4-2 where even the strikers could be seen falling back to defend when required. He gave Dennis Bergkamp the liberty of changing flanks at will. And Arsenal started scoring. Nobody sang the ‘One nil to Arsenal’ anymore.
This was not an AUTHENTIC ploy by any means. It was borrowed from the Dutch brand of football. (Wenger didn’t ATTRIBUTE it to them ofcourse). He needed the ‘blog traffic’. Higher attendance meant more money in the coffers.
Arsenal lacked money but they always had quality. And there were clubs more than willing to pay for good quality footballers. Wenger used that as a tool.
He bought Nicholas Anelka for a mere £500,000 from PSG and sold him to Real Madrid for £22.3m two years later. And with that money he assembled players like Robert Pirès,Sylvain Wiltord and Thierry Henry (highest goal scorer for Arsenal), who all achieved cult status among the fans.
Wenger also made reputation as a shrewd talent spotter and developer of young players’ skills. Wenger has signed young, relatively unknown players such as Patrick Vieira,Nicolas Anelka,Francesc Fàbregas,Kolo Touré,Robin van Persie and Gael Clichy, and turned them into world beaters.
The defence which set a new record of going ten consecutive games without conceding a goal on route to the UEFA Champions League 2005-06 final, cost Arsenal less than £5m to assemble.
Another major factor that turned Arsenal into a fighting unit was his bonding with his players. Unlike a certain Sir Alex who kicked a boot at David Beckham’s head, Arsene Wenger is credited for reviving the careers of many Gunners. Tony Adams, Dennis Bergkamp to name a few.
Wenger stood by captain Tony Adams after the latter admitted his alcoholism in 1996. Wenger’s support was a key factor in Adams’ rehabilitation and return to form, which extended his career by several years, and was rewarded as Adams led the club to two Doubles. Besides Adams, Wenger’s training and dietary regime had also prolonged the careers of the other back four defenders Nigel Winterburn, Lee Dixon and Martin Keown.
He encouraged team bonding and the camaraderie is seen on the pitch and in the training sessions. (Ashley Cole being the exception)
Whatever he has achieved is nothing that he invented. Whatever he has done is nothing which is patented. It is something which is so common that most of the managers tend to overlook.