Arsene Wenger and Arsenal Values

By Frank Lee

Is the manager genuinely familiar with the club’s history?

It was fascinating to see, in the recently released ‘89’ documentary film, some of the ‘tackling’ in the days when George Graham was Arsenal’s manager, with players upending one another as if they were on steroids such as Nandrolone Phenylpropionate - Durabolin 100 - certainly many of the challenges in those days, that went unpunished then, would get at the minimum a yellow card today. Maybe defending isn’t quite as easy these days with more protection for attacking players, but somehow, other teams have managed to establish reputations for having solid defences.

Wenger at the recent AGM

When Arsene Wenger spoke about the club’s ‘values’ at the recent Annual General Meeting, he referred to the history of the club, suggesting he was upholding a legacy with his policy, my mind went back to the defensive resilience of the team that Graham played in, in 1970-71, and those he managed in the late 1980s/early 1990s. A bit of me wondered how genuinely aware he is of what came before him at Arsenal.

Wenger told the assembled shareholders “I always guided this club with one idea - that the club is always, for me, about values. When I look at photos of the 1930s, 1950s and 1960s [Arsenal] have not always won but there's some pride for the sense of belonging to this club. I will never betray the people who create these values. Arsenal is a highly respected club, not only because we won the last game but because we represent something that is exceptional. The present for me is about style of play, winning trophies, winning every game.”

I had to do a fair amount of research online to find out exactly what these values were. Wenger often refers to them, but rarely expands on anything beyond the word ‘values’ itself. However, I did finally track this down from a press conference on the Asian Tour in July 2013, at a time when there seemed great reluctance to spend any money in the transfer window.

“I still believe that, even if we are in a stronger financial position, all our values still have to be the same. We must rely on the quality of our work, on the style of our play and the fact we develop our own players. We will only use financial resources to bring in one or two players who will give us something more.”

So that’ cleared that up. It’s…
1 - The quality of our work
2 - The style of our play
3 - The fact we develop our own players

The first value is… well, rather vague. How do you judge the quality of our work? It’s kind of an obvious value isn’t it? One that every club would claim as something they aspire to. So hardly unique.

Next up, the style of our play. In referring to the teams before Wenger arrived at the club, I am far from convinced that the values of Wengerball were paramount in the club’s successful sides. Defensive ability was regarded as far more of a priority than it is now, and there is a good case to make that Arsene’s first two league titles would not have been achieved without inheriting the defence that had been built by George Graham. This is one historical value of Arsenal that has seemingly been cast aside. As George Graham reflected in a fascinating interview for The Guardian, “I was great at organising the defence and my ideal team was Milan. They were the best defensive team I’ve seen – and the only side that played offside better than us.”

Back to Arsene’s espoused values and ‘we develop our own players’. The reality of this is that the club used to do this far more than it has under Arsene Wenger. How many of Arsenal’s academy players have become nailed on first team regulars since the Frenchman arrived? Ashley Cole and Jack Wilshere. Maybe Kieran Gibbs for a couple of seasons. You could make an argument for Alex Iwobi, but it’s early days there. Any more? In over 20 years? It’s not exactly Barcelona. Arsene Wenger buys players from other clubs’ youth systems as teenagers and develops them from within the first team squad. It’s hardly the equivalent of George Graham’s Arsenal, an era when plenty of silverware was won with a decent quota of genuine homegrown talent.

So these ‘values’ the manager refers to… it really doesn’t wash. Then again, the one thing this club has proved in recent years is that words are cheap. Winning league titles requires something a bit more, like genuine Arsenal values.

16th November 2017 08:36:31


Comments and Reaction

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TonyEvans  10:06am 16th Nov 2017

Good article Frank. Wenger trots out complete and utter bollox doesn't he! Meaningless drivel where his idea of Arsenal 'values' are about a million miles away from what most long term supporters would say they are. Defensive stability, a never say die attitude and some genuine home-grown talent like Charlie George were the 'values' I grew up with, values that Wenger has stripped us bare of! - Post No. 110775

bobbybigb  11:02am 16th Nov 2017

Bollox indeed.Is there anybody still listening to the old fraud that can honestly say they believe him anymore.Slowly destroying us from within. Wenger out - Post No. 110776

Seven Kings Gooner1  11:13am 16th Nov 2017

Frank you forget that AW did not rate Ashley Cole and was happy for him to move on. Gibbs & Wilshere should have made it but the coaching at Arsenal is so one dimensional our younger players just don't get enough basic football education. Wenger is no more a coach than Bertie Mee was but BM had the good sense to employ a strong no 2 in Don Howe. I am a glass half empty man when it comes to football but I think most of us agree than a 5 year top to bottom football plan will need implementing at Arsenal when Wenger finally tells the board he is leaving. Arsenal is a poorly run club because none of the staff have enough responsibilities as all the decisions come from one person and one person alone. Arsenal values are now just a marketing tool not the embodiment that they were at Highbury when winning football matches was given a much higher priority. - Post No. 110777

Yes its Ron  12:22pm 16th Nov 2017

the old values myth stems from the old etonion running of the club traditionally so hes sort of done his homework and put his own slant on it. I think Wenger quite likes folk to doff their caps at him to be honest as does that f----g idiot 'Chips' (only a toff would dream of using a stupid name like that and be proud of it) obviously. Arsenal are known for doing things the right way such as the catering for opponents directors etc etc and it all goes from there. Personally speaking in my view many if not most of yr old etonion types have the morals and values of alley cats and use the values label as a handle to boost their own self image enhanced by their silver tongues. Old Etonion only ever brings to mind Blunt Philby Burgess and McClean to me. We all know what their precious values were. - Post No. 110778

TonyEvans  13:27pm 16th Nov 2017

Yes that's right, Ron, off the pitch (pre Wenger and Kronke) Arsenal were the club that did things the 'right way' and played by the book; run by the 'old school tie' brigade. I have no real liking for silver spoon toffs but for some reason I loved that Old Etonion aspect at Arsenal. Certainly compared to 'that sort' that we have running the club now! On the pitch Arsenal were (in the main) a tough, no nonsense outfit, not easily bullied and with players willing to put a shift in. We fans forgave those players with limited ability if they worked their socks off and by and large hard running and tackling was a core part of how Arsenal played the game. Compare and contrast to now and it makes you despair of ever seeing an Arsenal team to be, consistently, really proud of, which are up for the fight week in, week out. The only values Wenger has are his own: tippy tappy football with no substance, and messing around on transfers - for example when he offered Liverpool the extra £1 for Suarez. Not values that have anything to do with the club he is supposed to be managing! - Post No. 110779

Cyril  13:34pm 16th Nov 2017

Mr Wenger should be aware that the 30’s were the most successful period in our history. It appears not. Does he really expect us to buy into this being about class and tradition. We didn’t always win, is wengerspeek for - ‘We are going to have barren years but I will look after you because I am me’. Are you sure!. I have sold my Arsenal ticket on exchange for the 1st time in my life for a NL derby. If we win, I will be so pleased, but I have to admit there is no future prospects under him. Apart from that he irritates me with his patronising tone. I find him a very cunning and sneaky old man these days. Give us back our club before you lose us all. - Post No. 110780

Moscowgooner  14:12pm 16th Nov 2017

A good article. You refer to the Graham years: these had genuine continuity (not surprisingly) with Bertie Mee and Don Howe's approach in the late sixties/early seventies - but you can go back beyond that to the 1930s and a team that was built off the back of a strong defence. Henry Norris of course had a strong emphasis on 'the develop our own players' theme - but Chapman went his own way on that... Noone more than Chapman though deserves credit for establishing an 'Arsenal way'. And winning the league (more than cups) was certainly the key priority in that. - Post No. 110781

Bard  14:51pm 16th Nov 2017

Good article Frank. This nebulous values b******s is all smoke and mirrors as you point out. The myth that we develop our own has been shown to be a complete fabrication. There is a good case to be made that he has betrayed the 'Arsenal ' values and more importantly the fans. - Post No. 110782

Paulo75  15:52pm 16th Nov 2017

Not much "value" Arsene when paying north of £60 each game to finish 4th or 5th. - Post No. 110783

Scruff  16:31pm 16th Nov 2017

Growing up in NW London as a child of Irish immigrants I had no historical attachments to any football club but a lot of the older people used to say " The Arsenal " when referring to AFC something that made them stand out. The old fashioned values the player's wearing the club blazers other clubs begrudging admiration at things done " The Arsenal " way all gone thanks to Arsene he knows F all about our values and our way. - Post No. 110784

Paulward  16:44pm 16th Nov 2017

Think our image as the aristocrats of football dates back to the 30s, but was very much linked to the marble halls and the ( in those days) superior architecture and facilities of Highbury. The move to Emirates really severed any remaining link to those days, only the famous red shirt with white sleeves mark as out as different these days. - Post No. 110785

peter wain  16:55pm 16th Nov 2017

what youngsters? we do not have an academy director and how many of our players were involved in the under 17 world cup. I did not see any on the field of play. It is ridiculous in January we could lose Sanchez Ozil Wiltshire and Walcott and buy who? Raheem Sterling if he will come. Our midfield which used to be our strength is now as poor as the defence. We need a major influx of top top quality players something Wenger has no experience of buying. Change the entire board owner and manager now before we slip further down the league.A draw on Staurday would be a major success. - Post No. 110786

mbg  17:47pm 16th Nov 2017

Of course he's well aware of it Frank, even jealous of it, but more interested in his own and trying make his own, and his own values and trying to put it all right having destroyed it and failing miserably, and only making it worse as every day goes by. And in the process having destroyed any values, legacy's, traditions, pride, we ever had. wenger out now. - Post No. 110788

BigDaveTheGooner  19:25pm 16th Nov 2017

I remember when the squad would turn up on matchdays in shirt and tie and wearing the club blazer with the cannon sitting proudly on their chest. Now under Wenger they turn up in tracksuits,where's the values in that??As G G would rightly say ,you play for Arsenal always remember you are representing this club. I can recall a story from many years ago when a top player at the time dared to eat a pea off his knife and was subsequently threatened with the sack should he dare do it again,he never did,that's values. - Post No. 110789

Arseneknewbest  19:29pm 16th Nov 2017

Look at the photo of wengo and then imagine him crooning 'My Way'. Trying to sound like frank sinatra but actually sounding more like Charles Aznavour while being strangled by Plastique Bertrand. Worth reacquainting yourself to the lyrics to that old classic too - some of them are eerily accurate in describing the reign of terror to which he has subjected us... - Post No. 110790

markymark  20:20pm 16th Nov 2017

Anyone else on here get picked for the Arsenal survey? It was a nice way to let off some steam in the “Leave a Comment Section”. Wengo got it with both barrels. - Post No. 110791

mbg  22:46pm 16th Nov 2017

TOF is the biggest fooking spoofer in the prem, he talks utter bollocks, fluent Martian, you can nearly see it coming out of his gob let alone hear it such is the extent, if there was a trophy for that and talking a good game TOF would win it hands down, and the funniest thing of all is there's idiots who still hang on his every word and believe him. wenger out. - Post No. 110792

markymark  6:46am 17th Nov 2017

Arseneknewbest - I’m picking up a slightl Derek Batey “Mr and Mrs” about him. It must be the way he’s holding that microphone. - Post No. 110793

Hi Berry  7:13am 17th Nov 2017

Lots of those 'Arsenal Values' displayed with that £40m+1 bid for Suarez....sobering piece in the Guardian about the relative strength of the two North London teams ahead of tomorrow's game: https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2017/nov/16/arsenal-tottenham-emirates-saturday - Post No. 110794

Seven Kings Gooner1  8:45am 17th Nov 2017

So Robert Mugabe is having second thoughts about standing down. Apparently after speaking to his secret life style guru in London Mr Mugabe issued a statement saying, and I quote "People should judge me by my record, I have a great vision for Zimbabwe and our problems hurt me just as much as they hurt my people" The press are trying hard to hunt down Mr Mugabe's mentor who issued a another statement on the Zimbabwean leader's behalf which read "Overall I think Robert has been good for the people of Zimbabwe" - Post No. 110795

Gaz  16:24pm 17th Nov 2017

Lets face it, when Wenger talks about 'Arsenal values' he's really talking about 'Arsene values'. He's made them up himself and there's a whole army of gullible twats out there who fall for it hook line and sinker! - Post No. 110796

mbg  17:31pm 17th Nov 2017

Gaz, and a lot of them disappeared off here, where have they all gone ? my guess is (with the exception of one or two)they have now realised what others have known for years and after all the defending him are ashamed, and just can't bring themselves to admit it and lose face. wenger out. - Post No. 110797

Alsace  17:33pm 17th Nov 2017

Charles Aznavour III (pictured above)singing his 1973 Classic " Dance in the old fashioned way - as opposing attackers dance through the defence" has absolutely no idea who Herbert Chapman, George Allison, Tom Whittaker, Eddie Hapgood and most importantly Cardinal Archbishop Sir Don Howe, are. "It's the defence stupid" as Bill Clinton might have said. But enough of this piffle. Spurs at home tomorrow. My son cannot be bothered to come to the game with me. Not because we might lose but because the same lousy pock ridden performance and errors will be trotted out. I will be going because I do like to see their fans tie a white headband with a red spot on the front of it, drink ceremonial Sake, get into their Mitsubishi Zero Sen and crash into the sea of Japan if they lose. - Post No. 110798

Exeter Ex  19:34pm 17th Nov 2017

Wenger's deliberately vague about these 'values' so that they can shift to fit whatever he does or doesn't achieve. So whatever happens he's a success, because according to him he's been true to these ill-defined 'values'. As others have said, scratch below the surface and there's nothing there. It only takes the most cursory bit of analysis to suss this out, so it really is amazing how many are taken in by something so obvious and easily seen through, but there it is. - Post No. 110799

jwe1981  20:38pm 17th Nov 2017

What do you fellow gooners think would be the better long term result for AFC tomorrow? Arsenal 4-0 Spurs or Arsenal 0-4 Spurs I have a strange feeling that we would be better served by some of the latter rather than the former. - Post No. 110800

mbg  1:29am 18th Nov 2017

jwe1981, your spot on you really are, whether the wengerites like it or not, and deep down they know it too, what good is a win going to do ? a bit of bragging rights, especially for a few AKB's, it's going to make no fooking difference whatsoever, long, short, any sort of fooking term, all it will do is make TOF even more deluded than he already is thinking he's got it right lol, and the team is there and ready to go, (and of course his goonies will be following suit) and of course letting the weasel of the hook again and buying himself more time. wenger out. - Post No. 110801

Alsace  13:33pm 18th Nov 2017

Half time. Couldn't go because I'm unwell. If I were Tottenham Hotspur minded I'd be breaking out the headbands ceremonial sake and mitsubishi's most famous airplane for the opposition. Since I'mnot I'll keep my mouth shut and see what happens. Shame that we can turn up when we want to and not every week. - Post No. 110802

mbg  14:23pm 18th Nov 2017

No complaining about the officials tonight eh wenger ? you excuse making weasel. wenger out tonight. - Post No. 110803

Alsace  14:24pm 18th Nov 2017

Tora Tora Tora. Banzai. - Post No. 110804

Arseneknewbest  15:05pm 18th Nov 2017

Alsace-San Have a hot suntory toddy and stay away from the sharp ritual cutlery. For me a complete surprise and more delight to be had from a severe dismounting of the Cockerel jockeys than happiness for wengo and the team. The downside? Apart from more wengo smugness and job security, we're only minutes away from more of tooaw and his sycophantic nonsense. Get well soon mate. - Post No. 110805

Issue #269 - Out Now!

Gooner Editorial

15th January 2018

Being muscled off the ball by Bournemouth is like being mugged by your grandma

Online Ed: Another poor Arsenal display on the road just another signpost as we near the end of the Wenger era