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11th Oct 2016

5 reasons why Arsene Wenger would be a disaster as England boss

Here's why it would not work

Rob Burnett

FA chief executive Martin Glenn, the man charged with appointing the next England manager, told reporters in the summer “I am not a football expert”.

It seemed extraordinary when he first came out with it (he’s only the boss of the FOOTBALL Association, after all), but it now makes more sense.

It became perfectly clear that he is right about his football knowledge limitations when he was asked whether Arsene Wenger would be a contender to replace Sam Allardyce as England manager. “Of course he’d fit the criteria perfectly,” he said.

Now, the Arsenal boss is a fantastic manager. He has helped transform not only his own club, but also top level football in this country.

Then there is his record. Ok, he hasn’t won the league for over a decade, but he still has three Premier League titles on his CV as well as six (SIX!) FA Cup wins, which is well in excess of the silverware records of any of the other contenders.

And consider this: the last (permanent) England manager who had won the top flight in England was Don Revie in 1974.

But despite that, Wenger is not the right man to lead the Three Lions.

The job is very different to club management – it really comes down to four key skills, so let’s take them one by one:

1. Tactics

Arsenal football club manager George Allison rehearsing tactics with the team, November 1938. (Photo by H F Davis/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)(Photo by H F Davis/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)


Wenger is famously resolute in his views on tactics. His approach is simply to put out the best team he can and get the team playing his way, and let the opposition worry about them, not the other way around.

This is also known as the Kevin Keegan approach to tactics. And it just doesn’t cut it at international level.

It might – and has – worked in a league campaign when the higher quality of your players will tell over a nine month period, but international football is all about individual games, many of which will need tailored tactical plans to give England the best chance to progress. Wenger has never shown that he can or would manage like this.

It is no surprise that Wenger has beaten Jose Mourinho just once in 14 meetings – and that was in the Community Shield. Mourinho sets his teams out to beat other teams, counter specific threats and exploit specific weaknesses.  Wenger does not.

Look too at how often Sam Allardyce’s Bolton managed to get results against a far more talented Arsenal team. Yes, they used what might be termed ‘physical’ football to do this, but it was also because Allardyce and his players had a specific plan and stuck to it – and Wenger had no answer to it.

2. In-game management

How often have games started to get away from Arsenal while Wenger stands forlornly on the touchline fiddling with the zip on his coat?

Screen Shot 2016-10-11 at 12.08.31


Again, in a league campaign of 38 games there is time to overcome the odd draw or defeat. But you cannot get away with that in tournament football where a tactical change by the opposition, a red card or an injury – or your original system simply not working – is an opportunity to switch things around and take advantage, or to shore things up.

Arsenal have frequently come up against teams that set out to frustrate them and Wenger seems unable or unwilling to alter his approach during the game to try something different.

Roy Hodgson has been accused of ‘having no plan B’ at the Euros. Wenger would be no improvement on that score.

3. Motivation


“I love him [Wenger] dearly, he’s a fantastic psychologist but he’s not a great motivator. I’d just laugh at his attempts to gee us up – but I come from a different place, time and culture.” – Tony Adams.

You don’t have the players for long in international football, but when you do, you need to be able to get them playing for you. Some have argued that when playing for England you shouldn’t need your manager to get you going, but it is an area where the boss can make a difference, however slight. That doesn’t have to mean Terry Butcher-esque shouting or Stuart Pearce levels of chest-thumping, but it in a world of such small margins it has got to be part of the equation.

It was current England caretaker boss Gareth Southgate who said of Sven Goran Eriksson during half time of the 2002 World Cup quarter final against Brazil, “We needed Winston Churchill – we got Iain Duncan Smith”.

Can you imagine Wenger fighting them on the beaches? Us neither.

4. Dealing with the press

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - NOVEMBER 17: Roy Hodgson the manager of England and Wayne Rooney face the media during a press conference at Celtic Park Stadium on November 17, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)(Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)


Wenger is usually on fairly good terms with most of the press pack that follow Arsenal. He is a naturally engaging and polite man who recognises that the press has a job to do, just as he has.

But he does not take well to criticism.

Witness his reaction to the recent questions about why he doesn’t spend more of Arsenal’s huge cash reserves.

“Unfortunately no one speaks about the performance of Rob Holding. You should be happy, he is English and 20 years old. I am sorry he didn’t cost £55 million, so he can’t be good,” he snapped.

He was also quietly fuming about the suggestion that Steve Bould’s influence had been the key factor in tightening up the defence when he promoted his former player to his assistant back in 2012.

But all of that is child’s play compared to what he would have to deal with as England boss. The constant agonising and pulling apart over his every decision would be infuriating to a control freak like Wenger.

And the minute something went wrong, the outpouring of invective directed his way would be shocking, even for a seasoned manager like him.

5. And finally… Money

Wenger earns more than £8million per year. He is one of the highest paid managers in world football.

Compare that to the £3million per year Sam Allardyce was getting from the FA and you realise that even if Martin Glenn does want Wenger, thereis no way he could afford him. And thank goodness for that.

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