Now that Chelsea are about to be crowned champions in the near future and Arsenal fall short again, I want to explore how much of a manager’s personality plays a part in the success of a club.
Sir Alex Ferguson was extremely good at motivating his players and getting the best out of them. Infact he was so good that he could convince those players who had little to no talent to play like world class players. How else can you explain him taking a bunch of bang average players in his last season and strolling to the Premier League title while the two managers who came after him have struggled to replicate this success? His most successful period as a coach when he won the treble was done with players who would have struggled to make the bench in teams like Bayern Munich let alone be in the starting lineup. But he was never really a great tactician in my opinion.
Arsene Wenger is a brilliant coach, of that I have no doubt, and I have never blamed him or thought otherwise when he said the club was unable to get most of the transfer targets as they were paying for the stadium. During the club’s lean spell, his talent at spotting and developing young potential was pushed to the limit and yet he did that to perfection only to end up selling these players when teams with more money came calling. Alexander Hleb, Samir Nasri and Robin Van Persie are some examples although the most famous one is Cesc Fabregas who was given the chance to succeed at such an early age at Arsenal. We all know how that worked out and I won’t dwell on that. In terms of tactics, playing style and getting the most out of his players, no coach comes close.
However, I want to go back to 23 February 2008, in a very unfortunate incident when Eduardo da Silva broke his leg in a match against Birmingham City. Arsenal were leading the league by FIVE points by then, playing some of the best free flowing football I had seen in a long time but ended up drawing four games after that incident and actually ended up THIRD despite leading the league from September.
This is exactly where Fergie and Mourinho beat Wenger. They have no room for sentimentality and would have motivated their players to give their all till the end of the season under the pretext of playing for their injury stricken colleague.
This season, Mourinho was leading the league but was under pressure from the chasing pack with a much more difficult schedule. However, not only has he motivated his players and ground out wins that they made the game against Arsenal a formality but he also beat an in form Manchester United. It is what used to be in Wenger’s DNA at some point during his success years and what he needs to rediscover again…’the win at all costs mentality!’