As reported in The Telegraph, Wenger gave an interesting interview resulting in some interesting answers. It was an interview which told of Wenger’s own philosophy in business and how it supports his overall style of management. It also highlighted areas of concern around star players Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas, although Wenger also goes on to say they are happy at the club. Here’s some of the highlights:
Q What differences are there between managing a football team and managing any other business?
A Whatever happens anywhere in the world, our job is always to sort out human problems. Basically for me, there is a very underrated quality necessary to be a success in life and that is stamina of motivation. When you get up in the morning, you want to be successful. On Monday? Yes. On Tuesday? Maybe a bit less, and on Wednesday, maybe a bit less. But those who are successful are people who are capable of saying, ‘every day I want it, and I’m ready to go for it’. When we get up in the morning, we do not really want to suffer, we would like an easy day. It’s not normal for a human being to suffer. But, if you want to be successful, you have to push yourself. That’s where careers are made.
Q Is there a difference between managing talent in business and talent in football?
A There’s a difference between going to a company in the morning, doing a job, or walking out in front of 60,000 people and the next day be analysed by everyone in the world. Inhibition is the enemy of top level sport, because you have to walk out there and say, ‘look at me my friends, I am the best, I will show it to you, and you don’t impress me’. That demands a special skill to deal with these kind of people. They need to meet their needs, and their needs are exceptional. As soon as they feel that they do not meet their needs, they will walk away from it, because they feel ‘I am at a level, and this guy cannot offer me what I want’. It’s the same for a company.
Q Is that the situation currently with Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri?
A It’s part of it, because the needs are not only football-related, they can also be financial or sometimes emotional. In the case of Fabregas, he is torn between Barcelona, where he grew up, and Arsenal, where he has been educated. It’s not financial. Nasri is the same: they both love the club and are very happy with us. Hopefully we can keep them both happy here.
Q Generally, how do you deal with large egos?
A Without an ego you do nothing in life. You just have to know how far you can go with it. What you can never forgive yourself is to turn around at the end of your career, look back on it, and say to yourself ‘I could have done more’. That’s why the ages of 20 to 30 are a very important time for a sportsman, because they have to understand very quickly what they have to do to be successful. It’s possible to be lazy at university for two or three years, and still make a good career afterwards. If you do that in sport, you’re dead.
Q For some people football is great art, for others it’s great business. Where does the balance between art and business lie for you?
A I like a famous line from a great philosopher who said: ‘The only way to deal with death is to transform everything that precedes it into art’. That means we have to make sure that we try to make every day as beautiful as we can.
Q How do you discover young talent?
A It’s my job to know when something is there. First you need the talent, but also you need to meet someone who believes in you and gives you a chance. You can imagine though, that plenty of people have talent in life but they do not meet someone who gives them a chance. Can you name one Formula One driver from an African country, apart from South Africa? And can you really imagine that there is not one guy in Africa with the talent to be a Formula One driver? Why are they not there? Because no one has given them a chance. So in life it’s important to meet someone who will give you a chance, and when I can do this in football, I do it.
Q When a player comes to you asking for a better contract, what variables do you consider when deciding whether to let him go, or keep him?
A There is a moment in the life of any employee who is very strong, who walks into the company in the morning and he makes you feel that you need him. That is natural. They want to look strong and give off the impression ‘without me, you are in trouble’. That’s a test as well.
Q When do you say, ‘I have to let him go’?
A When he starts to disturb the efficiency of the company and only you as a boss will know that. Sometimes it’s difficult to know, because when a guy is very important at a company, the natural run of that company goes through him. That has a disadvantage too, because it keeps other employees with qualities quiet. Then if this guy goes, sometimes you see others step up and take responsibility and you didn’t even know they had it. Sometimes you have to take these decisions without really knowing what will happen afterwards. It’s always better to get rid of someone who is too disturbing rather than keep him because he has the quality.
It is obvious from the interview the dilemma Wenger faces with both Cesc and Samir. With a reported Barcelona delegation team moving into London to try and finally push through the move Cesc it seems we may only have Samir left in our ranks. With Arsene reportedly trying to tie Samir to club with a much improved contract I hope he is able commit the French star to more years at the Emirates, although whether he is ‘too disturbing’ for Wenger’s liking is yet to be seen.