Now many of them credit Wenger with extending their careers by a number of years. A second key initiative was his ability to call on a network of scouts to help spot talented and undervalued players — especially from France. He also used statistical data when purchasing players. But it was one of the first proper applications of it to English football.
Clubs now employ full time statisticians and the data being collected has created a new industry in offering analysis of it. The success of this new strategy was almost immediate. Wenger was the first foreign manager to achieve the league and cup double in , and then repeated this feat in This was only the second time this has been achieved. It was also the way in which Arsenal played that made this incredible achievement really stand out. The trophies won under their new manager saw a reinvention — a new focus on attack and playing the game with flair.
After this, change again swept through the English game in the form of huge amounts of overseas money. The business of football had altered, and Arsenal and Wenger were slow to react. The fact that they also had to fund a huge new stadium also complicated issues. The result? Wenger first saw the influx of foreign money as a short-term phenomenon and wanted to ensure that Arsenal had a sound financial basis rather than run the risk of overspending and bringing the club down. The result of this was in complete contrast to Chelsea. Between and , Arsenal had a great new stadium, sound finances — and no major trophies.
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The club is now playing catch-up. With so much at stake financially now, a top-four finish is a must.
After yet another early exit from the Champions Leagues a particularly embarrassing aggregate defeat to Bayern Munich , the calls for Wenger to go are getting louder every week. But Arsenal fans should be careful what they wish for. They owe Wenger plenty of gratitude for transforming the club. Yet rivals with deeper pockets have taken English football to the next level. With future TV deals expected to bring even more money into the game Arsenal must decide what model they want to follow.
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Should they gamble on the long-term growth of TV revenues and spend big? Or do they continue to live within their current means? If Wenger does leave, Arsenal may need a new professor to explain what happens next. Rob Gowers is a senior lecturer in leadership and management at Anglia Ruskin University. This article first appeared on The Conversation theconversation. You can find our Community Guidelines in full here. Want to discuss real-world problems, be involved in the most engaging discussions and hear from the journalists? Try Independent Minds free for 1 month.
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