The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.
Arup Mondal, EMBA KOL 2015-18, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur
Arsene Wenger, manager of the Arsenal Football club and Jose Mourinho, manager of Chelsea Football Club are two living legendary football managers. They have different philosophies about the game. Arsene vouches for beauty, flair and silky footballing style while Mourinho focuses on physical aspect and justifies any tactics to win a game. The later has been more successful in wining trophies, cups and honors for the 4 clubs he managed over last decade. Arsene has stuck to his a single club for almost 20 years now. His initial 10 years has bought various trophies and numerous successes for Arsenal, but until recently till 2013 he had a dry spell for almost 10 years.
These two footballing managers often clashes with each other and sometimes it goes to the extent of being a physical fight. Wars of words are very common among them. And things got out of hands until Mourinho recently had a monologue when he called Arsene a specialist in failures and said – “Am I afraid of failure? He is a specialist in failure. I’m not. So if one supposes he’s right and I’m afraid of failure, it’s because I don’t fail many times. So maybe he’s right. I’m not used to failing. But the reality is he’s a specialist because, eight years without a piece of silverware, that’s failure.”
Yes, Arsene has had no recent success in terms of trophy and cups. But are these trophies and cups the only measure of success? Probably yes to some people like Mourinho who has always had the backing of some rich owners and always managed to gather a team of elite footballers. He sacrificed all footballing beauty for tactics and win. But the situation was not so kind for Wenger. After his initial trophy laden 10 years, Arsenal decided to build a new stadium in 2005 and spend 500 million dollars to build it. Suddenly coffers on player spending dried up for Arsene and he had to rely on youth and mediocre football players to stay up and competitive. Arsenal had to sell its best players to other clubs. It became vulnerable and instable. Leeds, another famous club couldn’t stay competitive when they built a stadium. So history was against Wenger and Arsenal. It was the moment of make –or – break for Arsenal and it needed a strong believer and philosopher to guide them through the turbulence and stay competitive. Luckily Arsenal had Wenger who in spite of numerous offers from richer clubs stayed true to his club and steered it to successive FA cup victories in 2013 & 14. He has built the new Arsenal, he has transformed the youth players to stars and he has laid down a solid foundation for future. The recent successes only irked Jose whose volatile character driven by madness for trophy and glory has always got better of him.
In all those difficult years, Arsene has stuck to his philosophy of fair play and stood for the beauty of the game. He has never sacrificed the entertainment part of the game for success. He sometimes is criticized as a fool who lets game slip away from his hands. This might be true, but his philosophy of the game and philosophy of managing a club during the turbulent times is appreciated by all.