Arsène Wenger comes in for a lot of criticism about his stinginess. “It’s not even his money,” his critics say as they chastise him again and again for refusing to spend incredible sums of money for the next big thing, the next savior for the team.
But it has always seemed apparent to me that this debate simply indicated a difference in managing philosophy, itself suggesting a profound difference in worldview. Put simply, for Wenger, it is not the result; it is the journey. It is not winning at all costs, but how you win. It is not about a big payday or payoff, but how you got there. Not about achievement, whatever it is, but the life you lead.
Seems that Wenger is hardly alone, as words this week by Jürgen Klopp make clear. In quickly commenting on Manchester United’s typically ostentatious purchase of a £100million Paul Pogba, he vindicated Wenger, and he proved that he really should be an Arsenal manager.
Other clubs can go out and spend more money and collect top players.
Do I have to do it differently to that? Actually, I want to do it differently. I would even do it differently if I could spend that money, yes. But if you bring one player in for £100million or whatever, and he gets injured, then it all goes through the chimney.
I want a special team spirit – I don’t feel it is necessary, I want it.
You can’t say at the end, ‘Only 11 best players will play together and let’s see what happens.’ The day that this is football, I’m not in a job anymore. Because the game is about playing together.
That is why somebody invented passes — so these players can play together. It’s not about running with the ball because you can do it all the time.
That is how everybody in football understands it. You always want to have the best, but building the group is not my unique idea, it is necessary to be successful in football.
If you all swim in the same pool, the pool is too small – you all go for the same players.
There are a lot of players outside that pool — good players on to the next step in their career. We try to find them. The best player of the last season is good to know, but it is more interesting trying to find out who will be the best one next year.
If you knew it now, that would be a really cool transfer! It would be much cheaper too. That is what we work for.
It is not about being creative because creative is cool or something, it is about finding the players who can make the next step with us.
If I spend money, it is because I am trying to build a team, a real team. Barcelona did it. You can win championships, you can win titles, but there is a manner in which you want it.
Talking about the seven players he has brought in this season, Klopp said–
We know more about them than they can imagine.
We had a long trip with scouting so when you go and talk to the player you have already scanned him.
The most important thing is how they can play football: talent, skill, potential but then character is very important. Could we gather all the information on the character side? No.
I met all of them before we made the transfer and then it is about feeling the person behind the player. We tried to do our best and at this moment we feel quite confident it has worked.
The only chance to come into the team or stay in the team is about performing and doing the job,’ he said.
It doesn’t mean showing your best but showing your best for the team.
‘Sometimes it is the same, your best is best for the team but if you only show your best it cannot be the best for the team.
There is a lot of desire and good attitude and the working mentality is good.
We decided to push ourselves from the inside so we brought only quality in, we had only quality, kept only quality and gave (away) quality on loan or sold.
Push ourselves from the inside; only quality brought in; we had quality. Close your eyes, and you would think it was Wenger talking. Now, Wenger would never bring in seven players at once, but Klopp can be forgiven because the just got to Liverpool. My hope is that Jürgen takes over for Arsène, which will be in about four years, after Arsène’s next contract extension. Wishful thinking I’m sure because Klopp does not strike me as a manager who easily moves between League rivals.