Can someone who loves both Tony Adams and Arsene Wenger explain how I’m supposed to feel about them fighting? Because I’m confused.

I love Tony Adams for what he did on the pitch for Arsenal. When I go to London* for a match I always put a coin in Tony Adams’ palm. For luck. Also because it’s my favorite statue in the Arsenal reliquary. I hear it actually has one of Tony Adams’ bones, a metatarsal, embedded in the statue to imbue it with power.

The more I think about it, a coin is a silly thing to put in Tony Adams’ hand. I think a Mars bar would be a better offering. Mars Bars were the sweet that Arsene Wenger banned and there is a scene in Tony’s book, Addicted, where some beer touched his lips after he got sober and he went off to compose himself with a cup of tea and a Mars Bar.

The coin, then, should go in Arsene Wenger’s hand when they finally get around to erecting his statue for us plebs. He already has a bust but it’s only accessible via the Double Secret Director’s Diamond Doors. How long after he retires will it take them to put up his statue? Or is the stadium kind of a statue to the man? I mean, he did build the stadium; staying up late at nights, welding and bending steel beams with jet fuel.

Arsene Wenger's bust looks down disapprovingly

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I love both Adams and Wenger for what they have done for me as a fan of football and Arsenal football club. Sorry, is that selfish? I mean what they have done for the club. By winning things. That winning of things which I enjoy and celebrate on this day after Arsene Wenger won me my 7th FA Cup. Dennis Bergkamp once said “Are you a fan of football or just a fan of Arsenal?” and less famously “Are you a fan of winning or Tiger Blood?” which I think is perfect here** because I’m a fan of all those things: Arsenal with trophies, Arsenal without trophies, winning, football, and even Tiger Blood.

And now Big Tone and Slim Arsene are fighting. Tony keeps telling everyone who will listen that he (Tony) can’t coach and Arsene just keeps saying “Tony who?”

In case you haven’t heard Tony told the Sun that Wenger couldn’t coach his way out of a paper sack. I don’t read the Sun so I waited until the Guardian did an interview with Adams and boy was I rewarded. I have always wanted to hear what a man who has lost every coaching job he’s ever worked thought about the coaching skills of the greatest manager that has ever managed Arsenal. (Hint: he thinks Wenger is a bad coach). It’s like Gary Neville offering coaching advice, except a step down, because Gary Neville actually won a few games coaching in Spain, where Tony Adams has lost every single match.

I jest but it’s a really weird interview. Weirder even than I can capture here in this weird blog post. At one point he says Arsene isn’t a coach, then that Arsene is the greatest coach, that Arsene doesn’t have the energy to coach, and that Arsene coached Lilian Thuram into a world class player. This quote right here sums up his entire criticism:

(Wenger’s) a great coach, don’t get me wrong, but he’s not the best I’ve worked with. Don Howe taught me. Terry Burton taught me. Terry Venables taught me. George Graham taught me. They taught me how to defend, how to work lines, how to push up. Arsène’s a better physiologist than all of them. Better economist than all of them. I would say better psychologist than all of them. He is one of the greatest managers of all time.

It’s actually a fair enough criticism. Arsenal fans have long known that Wenger is probably not the greatest tactician nor the greatest coach. Many former players have let the cat out of that bag long ago. In her book “Invincibles” Amy Lawrence quotes Vieira saying that they had to figure things out for themselves. That’s what made them so successful: they would sort out tactics over dinner after Wenger’s coaching sessions.

And in that same book, Lee Dixon says straight up that Wenger doesn’t and can’t coach football:

George [Graham] drilled us into very knowledgable individuals, and a defence that could almost play with its eyes shut. I don’t know whether Arsene could do that. Well, he couldn’t!

That’s not his style, he is not knowledgeable about the defensive side of the game. He doesn’t push people around on the training pitch; he creates environments. A perfect example of that is Ashley Cole: Ash couldn’t defend to save his life when he got into the Arsenal team – and he’d agree with me.

But he had arguably one of the best coaches around for him in Tony Adams standing next to him. Tony had him on a piece of string. Arsene didn’t coach him once. Arsene doesn’t particularly know whether the left-back is in the right position or not! But he knows that Tony knows. So he put Ash next to Tony and said, have a look at him. That blend of experience is the perfect platform for Arsene to do his stuff.

Because that’s what he is brilliant at – creating environments to prepare players to be the best they possibly can.

Raphael Honigstein has been quoted several times on The Game podcast saying that Wenger doesn’t really coach his players and that the German players are surprised by the lack of instructions they would receive before matches. In this article Honigstein says that Wenger walked into the dressing room before a match against Fulham, drew a wolf on the board, and instructed his players to play like wolves. Everyone was surprised that there were no tactical instructions. Just go play like wolves. Personally, I would have at least played Hungry Like the Wolf so that they would all be singing that as they played like wolves.

So, what does Wenger do and why is Tony Adams’ interview so painful to Wenger that he would cut off their text love affair (as Tony put it) and push back Adams’ book signing event at the Emirates?

In various interviews Wenger describes himself as an “educator first and foremost”. He sees it as his job as a coach to instill certain values in players which those players will then use to reach the Platonic Ideal of themselves. He wants all of his players to be their best. It’s a Teleological approach to coaching.

I don’t want the will to educate to be opposed to the will to win. That makes the educator sound like an idiot. Any manager’s approach must be to educate. One of the beauties of our job is the power to influence the course of a man’s life in a positive way. You and me have been lucky enough to meet people who believed in us and led us forward. The streets are full of talented people but who didn’t have the luck of finding someone who placed their faith in them. I can be the one that facilitates life, that give an opportunity.

So, Tony Adams’ criticism stings Wenger deeply. Wenger sees himself as a coach, as a great coach, whose job is to not just take players and tell them where to stand on the pitch but teach them how to be great humans. It’s a strength and a weakness. All managers have strengths and weaknesses.

But Adams isn’t saying anything that people didn’t already know. He isn’t saying anything that Lee Dixon, Patrick Vieira, and others haven’t already said. So, where do I stand on this issue? How am I supposed to feel about Tony Adams saying that Wenger can’t coach?


Wenger coaches, in his own way. If it works, then it’s great. If it doesn’t work, then he needs to be replaced. Either way, I still love both Tony Adams and Arsene Wenger and I hope they make up and have dinner together or something.


*Am I ever going to get to go back to London?
**I made this up


  1. I read that article and for me, Adams is saying that Wenger is a great manager, but not a good coach. There isn’t anything wrong with that. As a manager, I would imagine that you have to wear a lot of hats.

  2. The latest comments from Adams are a disgrace.
    EVERYTHING Adams says is embarrassing and has been for many years. The guy is a deluded bitter fool and proof that you don’t have to have too many braincells to be a great footballer. His utter disrespect for Wenger, who furthered his career by a number of years and has never disrespected him is so grotesque that it enters into the Stewart Robson category of the sad and embittered loser.
    Adams has been a terrible coach everywhere he has gone, and to suggest that a man who has won 10 major trophies which included an invincible season + 2 european finals cannot coach is not only a contemptible lie, but clearly malicious and slanderous. To then attack a man with such dignity and say he has ‘no friends’ and should sacrifice his money for others to be paid more as if that is his decision is repellent.
    I would happily see Adams’ statue taken down and replaced by a true legend in Ian Wright.
    To sum it all up – F*** Off Adams!

    1. It’s easy to say two of the greatest captains arsenal as ever had are bias in their criticism of wenger because they have the guts to say what others wouldn’t say out of some misguided loyalty they have for wenger. And then wake up the next morning to say we have no leaders in the team like anyone is surprise we have been going down ever since vieira left, because just like Adams did before him held the team together and not wenger. You might not like how they what and how they say it, but there’s no denying it’s the truth. They had front row seats to the shiits wenger was dishing out tactically. But again we all know this.

      1. I agree with you James. Respecting other people’s opinions is something I’ve tried to cultivate in the internet era but the way people speak about football makes it hard.

        If you’ve played the game competitively you’ll know that one of the keys to success is team-mates being able to talk to each other straight. No pussy-footing around the truth. Those who can’t handle it fall apart, while the successful ones learn how to listen and use criticism to improve.

        Tony Adams has the kind of intelligence they don’t teach you in school. He’s not an erudite politician that uses words carefully like Wenger. Without that mix of personalities Wenger’s early success with Adams in charge of the back four would never have happened. And we know Arsene helped Tony and helped reform his life. They needed each other!

        I don’t agree with everything Big Tone says. But I respect every word.

      2. One’s opinions against the other. You all have the interviews to read from players of the past, interpret it the way you wish.

        For me, Arsene Wenger is one of the greatest managers and coaches in the game. If you tell me that delegating all defensive coaching duties all these years has got him to this state, then I would have to disagree.

        True, he chooses the coaches in his team who would look at working with defenders, those who would work on fitness, and so on. However, this is a man who likes to be in control of every little detail. From what the players eat to how the players train. I refuse to believe that the coaches don’t get their instructions from Wenger himself.

        He switched to zonal marking a few seasons back when Steve Bould was on-boarded. And this is Wenger for you, he listens, analyzes and changes (sometimes late, I agree). But, he always does what is necessary for the team. Ultimately, it is he who calls the shots.

        A man of few instructions, simple instructions on how the game should be played and not clog a player’s mind with too many details. He lets the players express themselves on the pitch, that does not mean he does not coach them.

  3. I thought that Adams’ criticism was pretty mild, actually. And he end up with the “feedback sandwich”… praise at the top, the criticism in the middle, praise at the end. Dixon, Honigstein and latterly, Granit Xhaka have all said the same. And it shows from the touchline. Watch Guardiola, who probably has the opposite problem of micro-management.

    But “Wenger doesn’t coach” is contradicted by the fact that he tried a new formation, and new stuff like Ox at left wing-back. I find it hard to believe that you can put out a a new formation or a player in an unfamiliar role and NOT do some tactical coaching.

    In the modern age, a lot of players become pundits or get interviewed. Given the number of ex-Arsenal players in the media spotlight (Henry, Wright, Keown, Dixon, Merson to name few), Arsene has actually got off light on criticism. Thierry, Wright and Dixon are notably reluctant to be critical on air.

    Leave Tony be. This is a storm in a pint glass.

    1. Actually, having just read a Daily Mail (I know I know) story on this that provides more extensive quotes, I way understate the depth of feeling and bitterness.

      It’s pretty ugly stuff. And sad.

      Adams should have been far more restrained and respectful, whether or not he felt that he had point about the coaching.

  4. I love Tony Adams the player. I’ve even briefly met Tony Adams the man. I think he’s a good man (I met him at a charity match he had organised) I think he genuinely loves Arsenal and he relates to fans as a man of the people.

    I also think he’s hella weird.

    I don’t think he’s serious about being a coach and I think that is clear from how he’s gone about it. Wenger probably sensed that and doesn’t want him coaching until he shows he’s got the stomach for it. Apparently he was offered a coaching position with the U18s before he went to China and was miffed it wasn’t the top job in the age group. (It might have been the same job that was offered to Arteta and Henry, and was filled by Ljungberg before he went to Germany)

    He seems bitter and angry about not being given the red carpet treatment at Arsenal, and weirdly seems to blame Wenger for sabotaging his career and his book launch (?). I don’t know about you, but I have an easier time believing Tony Adams can be the next breakout managerial star, than I can imagine Wenger being that petty and meddling in things he doesn’t manage at the club. More likely someone at the PR dept decided Arsenal selling book claiming Wenger can’t coach isn’t such a hot idea.

    And he calls Wenger’s idea of money weird but then gives a weird take that Wenger should reduce his salary to give all the coaches at the club a wage hike. Huh? He might as well work for free and donate it all to charity.

    TL;DR Tony Adams is weird as hell and his statements can largely be ignored because he’s such a loveable goof.

    (The idea that Wenger doesn’t know where a LB should be is idiotic. He may choose not to train that way. Doesn’t mean he won’t know)
    (Also the idea that Wenger won’t work with ‘big characters’ is disrespectful to the likes of Rice and well as the other coaches and former players who have come in to the club.)

    1. Sums up my thinking. A manager cannot be successful without deciding on tactics and putting his impression on the team. He has coached many successful careers throughout the years. Players like Fabregas & Henry are testament to that fact.

  5. I could have sworn I read an article about some player saying the same thing about Alex Ferguson, further explaining that he was a great Manager. Well, that’s exactly what Wenger and Furguson were hired to do. Manage the team! Of course, does not mean they don’t coach or can’t coach. What is your definition of coaching? Tell you a new tip about how to defend? Well, considering people like Wenger and Furguson never played at the highest level, do you really expect them to give tips to a someone like Adams who has played at the highest level? May be, may be not (does not mean they cannot coach people, point I’m trying to make is it may be difficult to do that with big players like Adams) But what people like Furguson and Wenger can do is empower people like Adams to learn using their experience. That is a good coaching model as well. Besides Managers have coaches under them whom they can use. I remember Furguson telling in one of his interviews that earlier he did the coaching as well and later when he got another person to do that job, he found that he had more of a birds eye view and could correct more mistakes that he otherwise could not see when he did the coaching.

    To me it sounds like Adams and Vieira for that matter are more emotional in their criticism towards Wenger as opposed to being more pragmatic.

    1. You’re right, Ferguson almost never ran training for Man U. The difference between Ferguson and Wenger is that Ferguson had a number of highly rated coaches that ran his training – Queiroz, McClaren etc. (who ironically were crap managers on their own). Are you blaming Bould and Rice then? If Bould is not doing the training correctly then why not sack them? That’s on the manager ultimately. Ferguson knew if his players were being trained properly and was willing to mix up the training staff if needed to get the results.

      The modern managers are Guardiola, Conte, Allegri, Enrique who are actively involved in crafting training sessions and overseeing them. I’ve read that Wenger doesn’t even attend almost half the training sessions anymore.

      1. “I’ve read that Wenger doesn’t even attend almost half the training sessions anymore.”

        Based on the daily club pictures, he certainly seems to be there an awful lot of the time (unless those are a sham?).

        1. Sham. You believe PR pictures are an accurate reflection of what really goes on? The captions about “the boys are up for the game!” then they go sh*t the bed.

      2. Where have you read this? I can’t remember why exactly but my impression has always been that Wenger lives for the training pitch.

        1. or our club photographer Stuart MacFarlane is a hell of a photoshopper……..

        2. Heard it discussed on a Guardian podcast, read it in a recent article with Gallas, other places. Sure, take the sources with a grain of salt, but you cannot trust a club’s PR department to provide you with an accurate accounting of what is going on. And I said “anymore” – yes, at one time word is Wenger was always doing training sessions.

        3. It has been corroborated many times that Wenger attends every training session he can humanly attend. Maybe he doesn’t do much in those sessions, but certainly he attends them.

    2. I agree Wenger may not be a good coach, but has other strengths that make him a great manager. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. However, the people that are successful recognise their limitations and usually delegate those tasks to others. However, I am not sure Wenger has done this well in recent years. He was helped in earlier years, whether by good luck or management, with on field coaching by the likes of Adams, Viera etc, but that doesn’t seem to be the case in recent years

  6. I’m no football coach, and never will be. I’m a passionate fan but know my limits on the understanding of the game. I don’t know a False 9 from my elbow. I am a driving instructor and spend my day coaching pupils to drive and I coach people to think for themselves. I don’t want to tell them what to do for every instance they will come across whilst driving, I can’t do that. This seems to me how Wenger ‘Coaches’ players. To think for themselves rather than to tell them where to be at every moment. When players like Vieira say the things they say, it should not be taken as an insult nor taken as if they were doing something behind his back or off their own bat. What they were doing when devising tactics as a team, was thinking for themselves, exactly as he had coached them to do. During a game, how much easier is it for the team to be fluid and to adapt, when it comes from within the players and not from barked orders from the touchline.

  7. Interesting article. Apologies if I’m repeating points made in the comments above, as for once I don’t have time to read everyone’s, but here goes, in bullet points:

    1. Tony’s initial “comments” were actually excerpts from a (almost certainly ghostwritten) book, and the context was lost

    2. That being said, they are somewhat disrespectful, especially when you consider that he’s been in the public eye long enough to know how they were going to be received

    3. I’d be shocked if he isn’t a bit (unjustifiably) bitter about not getting a coaching opportunity at Arsenal–he basically says as much–which means there is probably now some genuine “bad blood”, but not because either dislikes the other or doesn’t respect what the other does. No doubt Adams respects Wenger immensely. He’d be an even bigger fool than he (sometimes) seems to not realize that Arsene’s arrival was the main reason they won those two doubles.

    4. I don’t see Dixon saying Arsene can’t coach, just that he can’t coach (the details of) defense

    5. I also think, while your point about being an educator primarily involving teaching players how to be better men is intended as a defense of Wenger, it doesn’t fully capture how (I’m guessing) Arsene educates. No doubt he also makes his players better players and (at times!) his teams better teams. But, as Dixon says, that’s about putting “environments” in place. If he knows Adams (or Bould, who is, let’s not forget, his assistant) can tell a young defender more about defensive positioning and decision-making in one training session than Arsene could in a lifetime, then he’s going to leave them to it, not getting in the way.
    And as for the offensive side of things, I’m guessing he does give more instructions (I know I’ve read examples of this over the years), but he’s also a firm believer in players expressing their talents offensively, being spontaneous and creative, figuring out problems on their own in real time on the pitch, etc. I think he’s this way–not because he’s lazy or unqualified–but because it’s his firm conviction that that’s the best way to get the best out of a group of players in an attacking sense, at least if you’re playing a passing style (the defensive side of the game has always been, by its very nature, different than this, since organization trumps spontaneity). And on top of this there clearly is some tactics, some strategy, an overarching playing philosophy and structure, and of course lots of carefully designed training sessions in which they repeatedly practice the Arsenal style of line-breaking passes, quick interchanges, etc.

  8. I know that just a couple of days after we win the FA Cup it’s probably uncool to criticize Wenger but I sort of see it from Big Tony’s side… he’s saying Wenger is a good manager, but not much of a coach. There seems to be a growing mountain of evidence that this is the case.

    Really, outside of some outliers like this year against Man City and Chelsea in the FA Cup and a sprinkling of games in previous seasons, there’s no way anyone can argue that Wenger’s record in “big games” – games against top 4 teams and Champions League knock-out games – is anything but poor since the Invincibles and his losing experienced heads on the roster. And that’s down to his inability to coach. Just look what happened this past weekend – Mertesacker comes back in, it was he and Holding who conspired on how to deal with Costa, not Wenger. Maybe Bellerin’s form would have been better mid-season if Mertesacker had been on the field instead of the relatively inexperienced Mustafi.

    1. “Wenger’s record in “big games” – games against top 4 teams and Champions League knock-out games – is anything but poor since the Invincibles and his losing experienced heads on the roster. And that’s down to his inability to coach. Just look what happened this past weekend – Mertesacker comes back in, it was he and Holding who conspired on how to deal with Costa, not Wenger.”

      What happened this weekend was that Arsene’s team was more hungry, better organized and better prepared to take advantage of the other team’s weaknesses. And that’s down to Arsene’s ability to coach. Attributing a total team performance like that to Mertesacker is revisionist bias at its worst. Criticize him when he gets it wrong, but this weekend, he got it right.

      1. Yep.
        (Though Jack also might be right about the value Per might have brought if he had been introduced back into the team earlier. Yet another cool thing about the back three is that it allows us to use Per without worrying so much that he’ll be constantly exposed by pace.)

    2. That’s not correct. Arsenal have settled well in the new formation and players now know their roles. Crediting Per with the whole victory is naive.

      Wenger & his staff have worked the whole week (apparent by the result). Chelsea could not cope with the intensity Arsenal showed.

      Like I said in an earlier comment, interpret the comments made by ex players the way you want, that is not evidence, those are just comments.

      1. What I can’t stand is how one big victory switches the narrative of a whole season or even the past several seasons… remember the big Man City win on the road three years ago? That was a result of the PLAYERS having an internal meeting and devising a tactical approach – not Wenger.

        I used to be a Wenger guy, now I’m 100% Wenger Out. He’s past his best before date. I will argue with anyone who suddenly on the back of one big victory wants to pivot and say wow, look at the intensity he got the team to play with. BS – where was this against Bayern? Against Spurs? Against Watford ffs?

        1. I think his impact on how strongly his teams come out is limited, for better or worse. What I do think the FA cup performance addresses is the notion that his players have stopped playing for him. If that were true, it would be grounds for immediate firing, because we cannot fire the players. But clearly, they haven’t stopped playing for him.

          There was a period during this year that should not be forgotten when the team did seem to stop caring at times, and that definitely weighs in the equation. However I don’t think that’s any more the sum of Arsene’s reign than this FA cup victory or winning the last 8/9 games on the trot. The sum of the season is that we collected 1.97 points per game, qualified for the Europa league and won the FA cup. How much of that, whether positively or negatively, you attribute to Arsene is up to each of us to decide for ourselves because there is no knowing with any degree of certainty.

  9. There’s a lot of qualities a good coach has to possess. Tactical knowledge, talent evaluation, teaching ability, analyzing opposition tactics and personnel, man management and interpersonal skills, motivational techniques, leadership, are just a few of the wide and myriad skills any coach must possess. And that’s just off the top of my head. It ought to go without saying that even great coaches can’t possibly be equally as good in all aspects of coaching. They’re going to have strengths and weaknesses. I think it’s becoming clear that Wenger’s coaching MO is not to teach tactics but to teach problem solving. He’s like a teacher who wants his students to learn the theory and how to apply it rather than simply regurgitate facts and figures. With the Invincibles, he had a group of players who responded very well to that coaching method. The method is neither good nor bad, but understanding how to tailor your coaching methods to the squad on hand is immensely important.

    The current group of players, perhaps because they’re younger and inexperienced comparatively speaking, seem to need a little more tactical guidance and have their roles within a tactical structure more clearly defined. Perhaps Wenger’s laissez faire approach, which worked wonders with the likes of Adams, Vieira, Henry, et al, is wholly unsuited to the current team. Wenger is clearly a great coach, having built a team capable of of winning multiple domestic titles and cups and coming to within a Thierry Henry miss of a Champions League title. The all time greats are adaptable enough to rebuild an all conquering side. Having to do it AGAIN, probably the toughest task in coaching.

    1. As for Adams, I think it’s pretty clear that even if he’s more tactically knowledgable than Arsene, he lacks other requisite requirements to coach. Meh.

  10. Tony Adams was a great Arsenal Captain, Arsène Wenger a great Arsenal Manager. Neither of them could do the other’s job. When they worked together Arsenal as a team were probably better than the sum of their parts.

    The current bitching is unseemly and both should stop, take a step back, a few deep breaths then shake hands put it behind them and get on with their current lives.

  11. * I hope you do get back to London again Tim, there’s a vindaloo at Monty’s I must get you – plus lots of Kronenbourg 1664 to wash it down with.

    1. Thanks Jay! I have to get back there. Have had several financial setbacks including a new roof on the house and my car getting wrecked several times along with the washer/dryer/fridge all going out at the same time.

  12. Just goes to show great footballers aren’t necessarily great human beings. Tony obviously has an axe to grind with Wenger and decided to make profit off of it too. You expect better from a player who has a statue of him outside the club, but what can you do?

    Did anyone see Jermaine Jenas on the MOTD coverage of the cup final? I was expecting the worst from the former Spurs player but walked away impressed. He spoke intelligently and fairly and offered good insight on the match. He was far, far better than Shearer, Murphy, Kilbane et al.

    1. Having lived in the UK for 7 years and only recently returned stateside, I had lots of time to observe the MotD crew, and I can say confidently that none of those you mention are close to the worst of the worst. Shearer’s probably the thickest, but he always seems a nice bloke, and he’s improved considerably over the years (still dull).

      But the problem with all four of those guys is that they’ve got a very typical, simplistic “British” mentality, none of them appreciate Arsenal very much, and in the case of Jenas and Murphy, they absolutely have a (spurs-related) bias against us. It’s also annoying that someone like Jenas, who let’s face it, was a terribly average footballer, could speak with such confidence about what’s wrong with Arsene, Arsenal, etc. But that doesn’t mean they hate us entirely or can’t give credit where credit is due.

      Jenas definitely comes across as the smartest of that bunch, followed by Murphy.

      1. I think with pundits we also need to consider that they may not always be speaking their mind. Firstly, the modern media discourages nuanced opinions. Secondly, it takes courage to challenge a prevailing narrative. At best, the ‘rogue’ view will be tolerated, or ignored. At worst, you stand to not be given that platform again.

      2. I never think of hate when I hear them speak. It comes from a certain singular mindset in my view. They look for certain things that they appreciate about football and can’t see past that. Arsenal has lacked the traits celebrated as classically English and so as a matter of course that’s held up as the reason they don’t succeed. Maybe that’s what the constituents want to hear; I know English football is famously intolerant of bookishness. My nerdy self though who wants to hear high end analysis finds it incredibly underwhelming.

        That hearing Jenas speak felt like a breath of fresh air is saying something.

  13. Basically whats happening is 1, Wenger is and has been a “great” manager, 2, Adams was a great player, unfortunately Adams the x player and manager is a long way from being a successful project as Adams has no doubt spent and squandered a lot of his player earned wealth, he has now had to resort to book writing to keep the money flowing in (managerial appointments are going to be very thin on the ground I’m afraid), We all know, to sell a book it is better to have some sensational and controversial points (hopefully serialised in a rag like The Mail), TA has not disappointed and they seem all there.
    Whether you want to believe them is up to the reader,I doubt your life will be enhanced by any knowledge found in TA’s book, however in Wengers if he’s true to his word,that could be eye opening!!!!

  14. So a manager with a lifetime winning percentage of 21%, says about a manager who’s won 58% of his games ,that he “couldn’t coach his way out of a paper bag”?!?

    Is there a punchline to this joke other than Tony Adams himself?

  15. The news that Arsene Wenger will sign a new two year deal is the platform I’ve needed to begin to speak about the offseason.

    First off though, I want to address the obvious question: Was it the right move? The devil of football is that it’s impossible to scientifically prove the answer to that question. In order to do that, we would have to appoint Arsene Wenger as manager for the following season x consecutive times based on a priori power calculations, and then compare an alternate approach, also run x consecutive times. Even if we were to do that, the conclusion would only be that within the limitations of the data and accepting the standard type 1 error rate of 5%, we can or cannot say that Wenger or an alternate approach is likely to win more games. Then, armed with that data, you could make your decision but see it completely backfire as variance of random events and the relatively small impact of managers in general results in randomness that makes a single season unpredictable.

    The decision, broadly speaking, has to be the one that’s most likely to maximize the abilities of the players while accounting for a whole host of factors/variables that you know impact that performance. First and foremost, are you trying to compete for a title or are you trying to rebuild? Arsenal’s win percentage last campaign of 60% and 1.97 points per game is far from a disaster. Chelsea ran away with the league with 79% of matches being wins (an all time high for ANY team) and a 2.45 points per game tally, but they are very unlikely to be able to reproduce that. Even less likely to be able to reproduce last season’s form are Spurs, who not only put together a historically high (for them) points total, but also will be impacted by moving to a new stadium and the inevitable loss, whether through injury, transfer or form, of important contributions from this year’s excellent but very thin squad. Conversely, Man United will improve on their ghastly 47% win total and 1.8 points per game as Mourinho’s squads have a history of peaking in his second season at the helm, (but will it be enough for a title charge? Can Ibra’s legs do it one more time?) while Man City and Liverpool in particular could experience wide variance in next season’s results but are more likely to improve rather than regress as their managers’ systems take deeper hold. The end result, as I see it, will be a PL table that is very competitive and without a single favorite. In other words, the way I see it, a good Arsenal team will have about as much of a chance as anyone else before a ball is kicked. After the season starts, chaos sets in and anything can happen.

    Accepting that last train of thought to be true is crucial when considering whether to appoint Arsene Wenger. If the club had a very small chance to lift the title next season, that would provide a platform for a rebuild. Alexis and Ozil could be allowed to leave, our transfer kitty could be spent on up and coming stars, and a young manager could boldly experiment with them next season without the burden of expectation to win a title.

    However, if you want to win a title next season, you have to appoint Arsene Wenger now. Not because Arsene Wenger is such a brilliant manager that nobody else has a chance, but because the inevitable chaos and uncertainty that would follow his departure would torpedo our campaign before it ever has a chance to start. If Arsene, the first domino, falls, then others will fall after him. It provides clarity for the fans, for the other coaches and crucially, for the players. It sets up a summer in which everyone can work on pulling in the same direction. Players who don’t want to play for him can leave, and others who do want to play for him can be reassured. Continuity, in terms of tactics, personnel, and staff is the sweet milk that nourishes championship winning teams. The manager is just one (I would argue, relatively small) part of that puzzle; sustained fitness for key players, overall squad strength and intelligent recruitment for areas of weakness are the others.

    I will not overstate his role, though Arsene’s role is greater at Arsenal than arguably any manager’s for any other club because I’ve long argued that the manager’s identity is an over-cooked rationale for success or lack thereof. But his future is a key cog that determines the fate of this club, and in my view the continuity that his continued stewardship provides would trump the potential upside variance of the volatility of introducing a new face. It also behooves us to consider that Pep Guardiola or someone of his ilk is not available. The best candidates for the job that have been touted either have a philosophy that flies in the face of what Arsene has built this squad to do (Sampaoli, Cholo) and would likely therefore require a significant transition period while their methods bed in, or haven’t sufficiently built their resume to be considered likely to have an instant impact (Allegri, Tuchel).

    So, to conclude: Was it the right move to appoint Arsene Wenger? Maybe. I hope. I think so, but could definitely be wrong. There is no science to tell me otherwise.

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