How Arsene Wenger’s philosophy could save the world

Posted 2 years ago

On Friday I attended a public speaking course in a bid to improve my performance in meetings and to prepare me for the daunting responsibility of best man speech due to bestow me in the next year.

As I’m sat being briefed on the day, one of my Whatsapp groups goes in to meltdown over the news that Arsene Wenger will shortly vacate his role as Arsenal manager after almost 22 years in charge.

Whilst inevitable, the news played on my mind all day and I felt a deep, and somewhat distracting, sense of sadness throughout.

The final task of the day was to give an three minute speech on a topic of our choice while being assessed by the rest of the group – sounds like a lot of fun; doesn’t it?

I went on to rattle off an impassioned monologue about my admiration for a man whom a poster of has furnished the walls of the Hawkwood office for as long as we have called it home, for reasons you will see shortly.

I must admit, I effing loved giving that speech, and I have therefore decided to try to recreate the feeling by jotting down some thoughts in writing.

This is not an article about football, but instead, an article about values, integrity and drive.

Trying to win the right way

One of the reasons I left the corporate world, is that I felt that too frequently people buckled to the temptation of short-term success, to the detriment of longer-term prosperity, all while abandoning their own personal beliefs and values.

There would have been nothing easier than for Arsene Wenger to respond to the influx of wealth in to the game by ditching his youth policy and replacing them with ready made stars. At the end of the day, the measure on Wenger by most people is trophies, and as Man City and Chelsea have shown, stars lead to trophies.

But where does that leave the game? How many other Ashley Cole’s, Cesc Fabregas’ and Hector Bellerin’s are there who just never got their chance? What is the point in the youth system if you aren’t going to use the players. Where is the culture and the heart-beat of the club going to come from?

Decency

In the period of transitioning to the new stadium, He was abused by his own fans and the media for a lack of trophies, all the while operating under severe financial restrictions (relatively speaking). Yet rather than blame the club, he shouldered full responsibility and rejected advances from other clubs who could offer him a more direct route to personal rewards in order to see this project through.

What I’m essentially saying here, is that he has put the longer-term wellbeing of the club ahead of his own personal career enhancement, all while being chastised for doing so. How many people do you know who would endure this? Yes, he’s paid well, but he would have been paid well anywhere he went – arguably more so.

Work ethic and resilience

He still eats the same diet as he insists his players eat. He virtually never takes a day off work. He spends time connecting with the players and their families on a personal level.

He’s a 68 year old man who can resist the most lethal of attacks from the media time and time again, and who can put on a brave face in the darkest times.

He sticks with underperforming players, suffering in the short term, in support of a belief that they will come good eventually. Only for many of whom to move on to other rival clubs once their potential has been realised. Nonetheless, he wilfully does it over again in belief of creating a culture of development and progression.

This article could have gone on for 10+ pages, easily. He’s been a real model to us all, one so often ignored in a climate that celebrates short-term success and corner-cutting.

We need more people like this in the world. People who commit to sustainability over the long term.

We have a flawed financial system, countless start-ups going out of business mere months after successful funding, an education system teaching kids how to pass exams, corporations promoting the wrong people, and an environment being further damaged daily.

What would Arsene do?

Thanks for everything, Arsene.

Now let’s get behind the team for the rest of the season! COYG!