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  • 15 Jul
    导出博客文章With no trophies and Tottenham set to finish above Arsenal for the first time in
    21 years, pressure is building on Arsene Wenger like never before. Is his time
    up? Adam Bate looks at the reasons for his success and why there’s little reason
    to expect a repeat… One of the key moments for Biff Tannen in the Back to the
    Future series was when he got hold of the Grays Sports Almanac that revealed the
    winners of every forthcoming sporting event for years to come. Tannen was
    transformed into a visionary, armed with the information that his contemporaries
    craved. Success became a formality.Perhaps thats how it felt for Arsene Wenger
    when he arrived in England in the autumn of 1996. Hed been a top-class coach in
    his native France, of course, but in the Premier League his encyclopedic
    knowledge of superior markets and ideas dwarfed that of his new peers. As an
    intellectual Gulliver in Lilliput, it didnt take too long for his impact to be
    felt. By his own admission, Wenger was left bemused by the fact that he could
    assemble an entire squad for the price quoted to sign Graeme Le Saux from
    Blackburn. And so, he did just that. Nicolas Anelka had already been acquired
    for less than £1m. Patrick Vieira joined from AC Milan for just £3.5m. And that
    was just the transfer market. Wenger says his past successes mean Arsenal fans
    expect trophies each year On the training ground, the focus on muscle toning was
    new to old pros. Sharper sessions timed to the second. The introduction of
    periodisation. Conditioning work. Nutrition ideas from Japan. Dieticians such as
    Yann Rougier. Regular attention from osteopath Philippe Boixel. None of it seems
    outlandish now but these changes were significant at the time.When we had the
    first pre-season under Wenger, it was completely different from anything I
    experienced in my whole career, Nigel Winterburn told The Independent. There
    were footballs all over the pitch! What? Footballs! It was unheard of, a
    football session on the first day back off pre-season training. I had never
    heard of it.Its difficult to appreciate the context. The previous example of a
    foreign manager at such as high-profile club had been when Dr Josef Venglos was
    appointed by Aston Villa in 1990. He arrived just weeks after taking
    Czechoslovakia to a World Cup quarter-final but was still Dr Who to the press
    pack. Villas players didnt enjoy the post-match warm downs. The house that
    Arsene built: But is he the same manager today? Venglos was a pioneer but having
    taken over from the successful Graham Taylor, only wins wouldve earned him
    patience and he couldnt get them. Wengers combination of better ideas and better
    players brought improved results and so the story was very different.
    Experienced players such as Winterburn, Tony Adams and Martin Keown bought into
    it.He harnessed this existing defence and fused it with a much-improved
    attacking unit. The likes of Marc Overmars and Emmanuel Petit helped Arsenal to
    a league and cup double in 1998. A remarkable achievement in itself, but what
    puts Wenger on a level few have reached is that he built another team too. Only
    Vieira and Dennis Bergkamp were still first-choice picks in the Invincibles of
    2004.That Arsenal side, the team of Thierry Henry and Robert Pires, remains the
    only one to go through an entire Premier League season without suffering a
    defeat. That they did so by playing some of the most exciting football this
    country has ever seen only adds to the achievement. But 12 years on and the wait
    for the next Premier League title goes on. Arsenal won the Premier League title
    without losing a game in 2003/04 What went wrong? Undeniably, there have been
    external factors. It got harder as opponents rose up like never before. With
    Chelsea emerging as a genuine force, Arsenal were no longer competing with only
    Manchester United. Liverpool had their moments too and more recently there has
    been Manchester City and Tottenham to contend with as well.It got harder as the
    club managed the transition to the new stadium. Supporters were tolerant in that
    respect, noting the managers complaints about the financial doping of others.
    But that sympathy has long since dissipated, giving way to a more troubling
    thought: that the real issue for Wenger is that so many of his advantages have
    now been neutralised.He had enjoyed what is known in marketing as first-mover
    advantage - the benefits that stem from being the initial occupant in a market,
    gaining control of resources others cannot. But now others have caught up. Its
    Wengers strength no more. He is a victim of his own success given that his ideas
    and principles are now so ubiquitous they do not set him apart. Ive been
    tremendously loyal to the manager. Id like to stay that way if I could, but Im
    just finding that the solutions are getting harder for him to solve. Charlie
    Nicholas Former Arsenal forward Charlie Nicholas feels it is a problem. Ive been
    tremendously loyal to the manager, Nicholas told Sky Sports. Id like to stay
    that way if I could, but Im just finding that the solutions are getting harder
    for him to solve. Its not easy to find the right players but this is where we
    have always loved Arsene.Hes always found magical players or turned them into
    magical players. Hes always had that talent. Now that talent seems to be
    becoming harder. You cant get Nicolas Anelka now for half a million or Thierry
    Henry for £8m. But other clubs seem to find them. And if other clubs can find
    them...Perhaps its prudence that persuaded him against moving for Anthony
    Martial. Certainly, globalisation has opened things up to allow Newcastle,
    Leicester and West Ham to swoop upon the French market in recent years. Wenger
    knew about them all. He just didnt know whether to sign them. His recent
    risk-free acquisitions have arrived for north of £30m. A section of Arsenals
    supporters have lost faith in their long-serving manager Where once ignorance of
    others might have protected Wenger against criticism, allowing it to appear as
    if World Cup winners such as Henry had been plucked from obscurity, the game has
    now changed sufficiently to allow Arsenal fans to implore him to sign Gonzalo
    Higuain - and then feel justified when seeing the Argentine score over 30 goals
    in a Serie A season.Arsenal have these funds and with the stadium having long
    since ceased to be a viable excuse, Wenger can no longer point to the financial
    advantages of club rivals. Particularly when Leicester are champions and,
    perhaps more damagingly, Tottenham are above them in the table, too. It seems St
    Totteringhams Day wont be coming this year, but perhaps another day has
    arrived.In Back to the Future, the results in Tannens Almanac only went up to
    2000. Hed secured his legacy by then but the magic touch was gone. Wenger
    managed to extend his success into the new millennium but the fear is that he
    too no longer has the answers. The fear is that Arsene Wenger is a man out of
    time. Also See: Welbeck out for nine months Who is Granit Xhaka?
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