The Fatal Flaws of….. well, a Genius?

wenger-econArsene Wenger.  We love him, we hate him, we love him again.  The man has staying power you have to give him that.  He revolutionized football for the Premier League.  He assembled an invincible team.  He tried to recreate it differently, an experiment that failed.  But here he is in what looks like a comeback – outlasting all others, appearing as though he can ascend to the heights once again.

While enjoying a temporary pass from many, some fans still want him out.  Frustrated and angry that he allowed the club to fall as it did.  I will outline two of the reasons – flaws I call them – that he still frustrates me… while still recognizing the genius he can be.

1) Allowing the economics brain to infringe upon the football brain.  Economists love balance.  Supply and demand, revenue and expenditures, and so on.  They are, by nature, risk averse.  The right side of the ledger has to sum up to the left side.  Balance.  I believe its this infringement that led to stale times.

There is a reason that few economists actually become CEOs and run companies.  This resistance to risk doesn’t lead to the innovative and bold moves that can lead a company to greater heights.  What a bold leader will do is take a risk many would not in order to innovate beyond their competition.  Throwing money and resources into something that is not a sure thing, makes economists cringe.  Debt leads to a paralyzing fear.

This paralyzing fear of debt led to a ‘moneyball’ type of environment.  Acquire young and overlooked talent in order to perform at a high level without high costs.  The problem is – you always fall short.  Sometimes just short, other times you were never in it.  But it remains that you rarely ever win that way.  What he failed to realize is that extra investment, that acceptance of a little debt, could very well have led to greater profits.  A true business leader would have recognized it – and economist was too happy to balance his columns.

2)  Unwavering faith in his players, and himself.  Sounds like a good thing right?  How could that be bad.  Well, failure to replace them with better options is what it comes to.  He promotes confidence among players, gives them their spot and doesn’t threaten them.  He truly believes they will perform better based upon this confidence.  And in some instances he’s right.  In many others – you get a guy collecting on his contract without making the effort to get better.  Yet he persists with them.

He truly believes that they will perform perfectly, in every game.  He believes they are a better collection of players than any other team.  He believes this talent needs no tactics to overcome an opponent.  His faith leads him into a false sense of security.  ‘Enjoying your football’ is a great line, but sometimes a little tactical acumen, a little discipline, a little pragmatism – can lead to victories.

I love attacking football.  I’m a former winger, a creator.  I don’t like to sit back.  But sometimes that is what it takes.  And instilling that discipline in players, especially young ones – is key.  Wenger seems to be missing that.  Faith in their ability leads him – and also limits him.

And then you see what his faith in Ramsey can do and wonder what kind of mad genius we have here.  How can he be so wise, and yet so flawed?  He’s human.  We all have flaws.  But he also fails to see his own limitations, fails to seek out advice.  Many genius’ would allow others to handle what they themselves are not good at – Wenger does not seem to.  Taking it all on his shoulders, all on his mind.  As noble as that is, its also foolhardy.  He has too much power, too much responsibility.  He needs to delegate, or he will very well kill himself.

The positives outweigh the negatives – they truly do.  I’m not pointing out these flaws to fan the flames of a ‘Wenger Out’ movement.  I’ve been frustrated enough to say I want him gone.  But I return to my senses.  I’m just trying to promote a better understanding of the situation.  Perhaps understanding him may lead to less frustration.  Perhaps accepting his human flaws will calm our restless minds.

(Written after 36 holes of golf and a damn lot of beer.  I reserve the right to revise with a sober mind.)



9 Responses to “The Fatal Flaws of….. well, a Genius?

  • HI chaps.
    Let me start by saying I enjoyed the tone of the article and like the spirit in which it was written.
    But,lets work through it.
    “He tried to recreate it differently, an experiment that failed.”
    Two mistaken assumptions right there.
    He tried nothing more than to keep the team competitive under severe financial constraints.
    First of all do you seriously think he chose to experiment ?
    Secondly,if you consider hoe he kept us competitive and in the CL ,then it was not a failure.

    • golfinguy
      6 years ago

      George, I’ll leave the sidetracks out of it all and stick to the points of the article. ‘severe financial constraints’ and ‘purse strings’ being a deciding factor… this is the issue. The ‘constraints’ were completely self-induced – not real, should not have been accepted. The line was sold to people and lapped up as a reason, an excuse. Many companies have expanded, built new facilities, moved into new countries or markets. What they do not do is stop doing what made them successful, they do not stagnate. We did – crawled into a financial shell and said we cannot spend. Paralyzing fear of debt is what I called it and I’ll stick by it. Plenty other things in there you can pick on given my state of drunkenness when writing it, but that one I’ll stick by.

      Continue to build, spend what you can manage, and come out better. Better commercial deals, increased merchandising, etc. Of course there is no guarantee that spending money on that one more signing would get us trophies, but I cannot ignore the fact that we didn’t try. We allowed injuries to define our seasons rather than addressing it. We allowed targets to go unattained. All under the mantra of financial constraints – a completely self-inflicted condition. Its not how to run things, and thankfully the company I work for continued to invest and grow even when building two large facilities. You don’t let it affect your product. You don’t settle for constraints.

  • ” he allowed the club to fall as it did.”
    Again,the assumption that we failed is shortsighted ,to say the very least.
    ” Allowing the economics brain to infringe upon the football brain.”
    Another assumption not backed up by anything other than tired rhetoric,most of which is dis-proven by recent events.

  • “failure to replace them with better options is what it comes to”
    Players like Ramsey,Gibbs Szczesny ,Theo and Rosicky perhaps? All of who have been labeled “not good enough” at some point.Once again,the purse strings were the deciding factors

  • ” I don’t like to sit back. But sometimes that is what it takes. And instilling that discipline in players, especially young ones – is key. Wenger seems to be missing that. ”
    Simply put,that is nonsense.Time and again this season he has shown he is prepared and able to set up more defensively.
    It was the lack of experience and suitable players that gave the appearance of this to those who expected the impossible.

  • “But he also fails to see his own limitations, fails to seek out advice”
    Why ask advice of those less able than him?
    “He has too much power, too much responsibility. He needs to delegate,”
    This is just the sad argument put forward by people who know nothing about how much power he has or how able he is to handle it.

  • The reality is that people were wrong to want him out ,and had totally failed to understand the circumstances.Now these people are trying to justify their “wrongness”

    • golfinguy
      6 years ago

      If I gave the wrong impression than its my fault – but I’m not a Wenger Out guy, and I’m not trying to defend a position out of desperation. …Because I’ve never been of that position. I think some have taken the article in the wrong spirit. I should never have said ‘fatal flaws’, that was a mistake and the only excuse I have is beer…. lots and lots of beer. Thou shall not blog while drunk.

  • Georgaki-pyrovolitis
    6 years ago

    What a very poor piece of work.

    First of all you I’m sure you mean ‘accountant’ and not economist. Economics is “the study of the production, distribution and consumption of wealth in human society”. It is an academic discipline. You describe the role of an accountant in a business. Arsene did not study accountancy.

    Second, you must be extremely tipsy because you made absolutely no attempt at explaining the context of the last 8 years. Financial constraints have very real implications.

    Anyway, you are another armchair manager cum business man. And I was unable to resist the temptation of responding to your drivel…..

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