England legend Glenn Hoddle has spoken about Arsene Wenger and his experiences playing for the Frenchman when he was just starting out as a manager at AS Monaco. Hoddle revealed that Wenger is an extremely passionate man who was not afraid to give his players ‘the treatment’ after a bad performance (via the Daily Mail).
In his interview, Hoddle admitted that Wenger has mellowed down over the years, but expressed his belief that he still has that same passion and finds ways to show it to his players. “When Arsene Wenger was a young manager, at the start of his career, he was extremely passionate. If we had let him down in a game at Monaco, he would let you know in the strongest way,” the former England boss said. “The dressing-room could get fiery. I remember bottles being thrown — plastic ones, that is — and a stream of angry French being directed at the team. But there was no danger of misunderstanding the general message. If we were not doing what he had asked, he would show it.”
“Arsene has changed quite a lot over the years and I understand he is a lot more controlled in the dressing-room these days. But don’t be misled. This is a man who hates losing and will have been seething at the defensive performance on Tuesday night against Olympiacos. And I would hope he is showing his players similar disapproval, even if it is in a different way.”
The game against Olympiacos showcased some of the worst aspects of Arsenal – a reluctance to get back after losing the ball, confusion among the ranks and most notably a complete loss of shape after scoring a goal. Wenger alluded to these briefly in his post match press conference as well, informing the reporters that it was not just Ospina’s fault that we lost the game (via Arsenal.com).
Also, if media reports are to be believed, he took the players to task the next morning; giving them all a dressing down at the London Colney training ground. Wenger has certainly been more confrontational with the media since, so maybe he is returning to the manager of old that Hoddle remembers.
Hoddle went on to add, “It’s as though Arsenal want to win every game having dominated possession and creating the best chances.
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“Right now, they need to take that pressure off themselves, stop thinking they have to out-possession and out-play sides, and simply set up their stall to hit them on the break. If they win the ball in the middle third of the pitch, Arsenal could hurt any team.
“I doubt we will ever see Arsene throwing bottles across the dressing-room like he did at Monaco but I would like to see a little more of that Monaco pragmatism in Arsenal’s game.”
As of right now, Arsenal look like a side that are seriously short on inspiration. They play in a consistent style, something more and more opposing managers are recognising and taking advantage of. A bit of variety in tactics can certainly do no harm, and might even produce a team that does not have to rely on amazing performances from individual players to win a game.
Wenger needs to recognise that Arsenal are no longer at the top of English football. We were, once upon a time; but have been overtaken by others. And to beat these teams, it is perfectly acceptable to play from behind if necessary. Hoddle summarised beautifully by bringing up the victory over Manchester City last season; “Against City, they seemed to have had a moment of clarity when they realised that it is perfectly acceptable to play on the counter-attack. Playing that way the team can sit deeper and that would protect the back four better.
“Then with the forward players they have, they would threaten any team on the break, even Bayern Munich.”
We cannot out-pass and out-manoeuvre every team anymore; some simply have the better players. With a simple change in tactics however, we can certainly surprise them and use our attackers to devastating effect. Whether that will ever happen remains to be seen.