Martin Samuel’s interview with Wenger

Entier into Le Professeur’s mind. Martin Samuel gets the scoop in Wenger’s most detailed interview since he arrived in England thirteen years ago.
Wenger comes across as a multifaceted man obsessed with football, utterly devoted to it, willing to engage in its minutiae.
“For me, football dominates all the time. When you are 30 years in this job you have to be, somewhere, crazy, because you cannot say it has not had a psychological impact. You live it, you think it, there is no escape. There is madness in my obsession as there is in that of anyone who is at the highest level in sport.”
There is a higher calling to this single minded obsession. An escape from drudgery and inelegance.
“I believe the target of anything in life should be to do it so well that it becomes art. You read a book and the writer touches something in you that you would not have brought out of yourself. He makes you discover something interesting in your life. If you are living like an animal, what is the point? What makes the day interesting is that we try to transform it into something that is close to art. When I watch Barcelona, it is art.”
He is introverted, sparing in his emotions, quick to take offense, very aware of the consequences of words, yet at the same time eternally optimistic. There is a metronome that Wenger has self consciously set for himself which is impervious to the rhythms of instant gratification sweeping the football world. It builds a system that is internally organized, self paced, and free of excess. I think Wenger gets very little appreciation for this alternate philosophy which explains his pain at being the target of the shareholders wrath at the AGM.
“I would build a team, and we would compensate by creating a style of play, by creating a culture at the club that, because the boy comes in at 16 or 17, when he goes out he will have a supplement of soul, of love for Arsenal because his team has been educated together. This will give us strength that other clubs will not have.
‘I am not a big fan of tennis, the big tournaments, but I like the Davis Cup because it is a team sport. I like golf, but only the Ryder Cup. It is the team ethic that interests me, always.’ He pauses.
‘It is strange, I know.”

Which is why I am almost sure if Wenger had been induced somehow into taking up the Real job he would have turned to the cantera within a few years to fill the squad with players developed from within the ranks retaining one or two high priced transfers. It would have set up a clash in philosophies and deadlines with the Real establishment leading to an early departure.
I think Wenger is the opposite of an Alan Greenspan. He will neither create a bubble nor a shortcut. He is also a humanist. It is important to win titles preserving rational thought and responsible behavior that ultimately enhance the quality of life. Wenger cuts a lonely figure in the midst of the chattering class and inflated expectations.

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