Arsenal had part of their pre-season in California in the summer and manager Arsene Wenger granted an interview with Roger Bennett, co-host of NBC show Men in Blazers, to discuss his 20 years in charge at Arsenal.
Wenger is now in his 21st year at the helms for Arsenal and he is the longest serving Premier League manager. He made a lot of revelations in the interview, broadcast in the US at the weekend.
Below are two interesting excerpts from the interview.
If I could only give you one of these things, playing beautiful football or winning ugly, which would you select?
You don’t think like that. You think the best way to win is to play football where everybody expresses his talent. What is marvellous in this game… nobody has all the qualities, but in a team sport what is very interesting is to develop the strong qualities of each player and to put a harmony [on top] and put that to work together and then be efficient as a unit. What is marvellous in the game is 1 + 1+ 1 is more than 11. When you manage to do that, you have built a team. That will be a team with style because everybody expresses his qualities. And will be a team that is efficient because everybody brings his best to the unit. I believe always that the debate, ‘do you win ugly or [not]?’…you cannot be a big club and say to everybody, “Look my friends, buy a season ticket because we want to win ugly.” That will not go far. You have of course to have the desire to win, but all the big clubs need to have the ambition to do it with style. People want to come and see an experience that fulfils them for the game they love. Everybody who sits in the stand was a football player.
You say that despite being a self-admitted, notoriously bad loser. You once said you, “experience every defeat like a death”…
Yes. Look in my heart here [taps chest]. Every defeat is a big scar in my heart here. We are all people. We love to win. We hate to lose. Most of the time the guys who love to win are strikers and the guys who hate to lose are defenders. I think a manager is a guy who loves to win, but as well, above all, hates to lose. When you’ve experienced [defeat], in my job, it’s even worse. That’s why I say, “When you lose once be very careful not to lose the game after.” Everybody dreams that you will win the next game and it will all start again. That’s where experience is very important. Just don’t lose the next one, don’t dream to win it, just don’t lose it. If you lose two you have more chances to lose three. Once you lose three you are in a super crisis. That is very important. I believe the quality of a manager is to stop the defeats as quickly as possible. When you lose two, the average run loses three or four or five. When all goes well, all the managers in the world are good. The quality of a manager is when he stands in a crisis and has to face it, how quickly can they stop it?