As many of you will know I am not just interested in Leadership, but I am also a big follower of sports too, and often I get the opportunity to write a post combine the two.
Today is no exception.
As the new football season starts it seems that Arsene Wenger is again in the spotlight, and under fire again, even from his own teams’ supporters.
Over the past few years Wenger has helped turn Arsenal into one of the most financially stable teams in World Football, they have a cash balance of 154million pounds which is about the same as the total of all the other clubs in the premier league put together.
They have a brand new stadium, one of the best in England, which is fully paid for, and they have qualified for the Champions League for the 16th Season in a row, which ensures further revenues for the coming season.
So why are his own team supporters now questioning him, and asking whether it’s time for a new Manager?
For the past few seasons Arsenal have seen their best players leave for the opponents and not be replaced by players of similar quality.
They have not won a trophy since 2005, and whilst the quality of their football is always excellent here have been holes in the squad which have just not been filled, such as a solid defensive midfield player, or a top quality striker.
When Arsenal have tried to attract top players recently, they have lost out. Either because they were not prepared to pay enough money, or because the players chose to go elsewhere, where they felt they had more chance of success.
It seems that Arsenal are no longer perceived as a Top Top club by either their own star players, or by the star players available at other clubs, or even by their own supporters.
Which to be fair, is the responsibility of Arsene Wenger.
It appears that both the players and the supports are losing trust in their manager.
When the trust has gone it’s very difficult for a manager to create the belief needed for the team to be successful or to attract the players needed to bring success.
Two of the teams that finished above Arsenal last season, Chelsea and Manchester City both fired their managers even though the previous season they had won the Premier League Title and the Champions League between them.
In a sport that is judged on results, it would seem that Arsene Wenger is no longer achieving the right level of results, between 1998 – 2006 Arsenal either finished first or second in the league, but during the last seven years Arsenal have at best finished third and have been fourth on 5 occasions.
Even against his own high standards Arsene is clearly not at the same level as before, in terms of football.
But when we compare the financial positions, Arsenal are in a much much healthier situation than before, and certainly better than many other clubs.
Also, we need to remember that two of the clubs which have pushed Arsenal into fourth place have had huge injections of cash from Mega Rich owners which have allowed them to spend Over 1 Billion pounds collectively on players since 2003.
In this same period Arsenal have spent a net minus 27 Million on players.
I think the true value of Wenger will become apparent over the next 10 years when Arsenal return to competing for the Top 2 position, whilst many of the currently Mega rich clubs will be languishing bankrupt in the lower reaches of the Football Leagues, once their Mega Rich owners have moved on.
When you look at it in this light, then Arsene’s record is truly impressive.
Arsenal are not even on the Top 10 when it comes to spending money on players, yet they have not been outside of the Top 4 since Wenger became manager.
If reports are true, Chelsea in the same period have spent more money on compensation to managers they have sacked, 69 million, than Arsenal have spent on players during the same period.
Given the choice, I know who I would trust, and whom I would want managing my football club, and of all the managers in the Premier League it would be Arsene Wenger.
He knows whats important, beautiful football and financial stability.
Maybe I’m biased, as a Leeds United Supporter who saw his team spend money chasing glory which didn’t come and then tumble bankrupt down the divisions, but to be honest I don’t think so.
Arsene Wenger Respect!
PS I have been asked in a few of the comments what this has to do with Leadership.
Well in my honest opinion, it has a great deal to do with Leadership.
Arsene Wenger has shown great courage in focusing on what he believes is important for the long term success of the club, even facing the wrath of his own supporters.
He has still kept the team in contention, and has built a solid financial base for the future. It is very possible that he could have spent 100s of millions on players and still not have improved the results for Arsenal, given the spending power of Manchester City and Chelsea.
A Leader needs to know when to take risks, when to gamble, and I support Wenger in his policy, I think that risk of failure was much higher than the probability of success over the last few years.