12 November 2008

Phil Brown: 'How can you criticise Arsenal's Arsene Wenger?'

I like this article written by Phil Brown, current Hull City FC manager. If you recall, his team became the 2nd ever EPL team to win at the Emirates Stadium since it became the home of football after the Gunners moved from Highbury. This guy is sensible & I wish him success at Hull City.

Originally from the Telegraph, UK:

How can you criticise Arsenal's Arsene Wenger?

By Phil Brown, Hull City manager
Last Updated: 12:03PM GMT 10 Nov 2008

Watching my players compete against my old club on Saturday was different to say the least.

In fact, it was surreal. I gave 15 years of service at Bolton, and so it was strange to suddenly be hosting them at the KC Stadium.

But at the end of the day, it was just another game of football, that was how I tried to deal with it. The most important part of the game was the result, and we failed to get one. Frustrating, because we deserved to take more away from it.

I'm sure that there will be people out there who will say that if there is anyone who knows how Bolton Wanderers play, it is Phil Brown. So why couldn't I break them down? The fact of the matter was that there was one person, a good friend of mine, standing between us breaking them down on Saturday: Jussi Jaaskelainen. It was almost a one-man challenge against us. Even Geovanni, who has so far this season been our match winner on a number of occasions, failed to beat him.

That was our third Premier League defeat on the bounce, but it is not a cause for too much concern. There have been some high expectations after the start we had, especially with our victory over Arsenal at the Emirates, but defeats to Chelsea and Manchester United are no cause for shame. That win over Arsenal has proved that we are capable of playing in this division, although we have to realise that we were perhaps fortunate not to have come up against the Arsenal that defeated United on Saturday.

I have been fascinated by the criticism that has been levelled at Arsene Wenger over the last few days, and I think that result should silence his detractors to some extent. Arsene has put his credentials and his credibility on the block with those comments last week after the Stoke game, but nobody in the game of football, certainly not at my level, can criticise him for what he has done for Arsenal over the past 10 years. He is a model for any young coach, manager or chairman who want to achieve.

Arsene took over from Bruce Rioch, who was my manager at Bolton Wanderers. Bruce used to say that Arsenal would be the only club that he would have considered leaving Bolton for, because of Arsenal's stature. It is steeped in tradition. Not only has Arsene got a hold of that football club and taken them to a new stadium and a new training ground, he has taken the style of football from a 1-0, back-four mentality to massive levels of entertainment, and I have nothing but admiration for him.

When I first came into coaching 10 years ago I had the good fortune to sit down with him to talk about management. At the time he was living in Hertfordshire, in a hotel which became a focal point for him and his initial plans.

We spent an hour or two talking about his philosophy of the game, and it was, frankly, inspiring. There was a young foreign manager coming in, driven by a vision that he had for Arsenal. Now all of a sudden he has gone past his vision. The fans are now expecting the side to win titles year-in year-out, but he has a grander dream – such as playing entertaining football and cultivating youth.

But that said, his philosophy has got to be Premier League and Champions League-driven. That is the frustrating thing for him. Wenger's work will not be done until he has won the title again, and more to the point, until he has won the Champions League.

There are Arsenal fans out there who are not happy with Wenger, I know, and I would love to sit down with those guys and ask the reason why. As far as I am concerned, he should be a template for any young coach or manager. Any one wanting to get started in the game, should study Arsene Wenger.

Till later, live long & prosper.

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