Esteemed manager of Arsenal Football Club, Arsene Wenger, visited London College of Communication (LCC) yesterday and some lucky students from BA Sports Journalism (top up) and FdA Sports Journalism were given the opportunity of asking the Frenchman a few questions.
Mike Carre, an FdA Sports Journalism student has written this report about the event.
Legendary Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger came to London College of Communication (LCC) on Monday afternoon where he answered questions from LCC Sports Journalism students. Wenger spoke at length about the numerous changes in not only football, but also wider society and the media since he arrived in England in 1996.
He said owners now invested in clubs for different reasons to before.
“When I first arrived in England, the clubs were owned by people who were supporters of the club, who were successful in life and bought a club as their dream. Today the Premier League is in the hands of people who invest in the Premier League. They buy a big club and it becomes more of a business model,” he said
Wenger, a guest of the European School of Communication, who share some LCC facilities, said this has meant more money and more foreign imports, something that he has had to get used to.
“It has become an international league. Today in every club, you have sometimes between 10 and 20 different nationalities. That means it has created new problems of communication,” he explained.
He was also keen to point out how the media and the immediacy of the internet have led to a cultural change.
“We have moved from a society of full support, to a media society and an opinion society. When I arrived here a defeat was not as dramatic as it is today. Why? Because we have moved from a rational society to a much more emotional society.”
“When you finish a game it is analysed in a minute and the opinions go through the whole of society in 10 minutes. The emotional side of any reaction today is massive,” Wenger described.
Wenger has to deal with his decisions coming under scrutiny in today’s world of endless blogs, news outlets and streams of analyses. The 63-year-old is of the view that because there are so many opinions swirling around, often the lines become blurred between professional and constructive analysis and that of throwaway comments from those less informed.
He said: “Our society has changed much deeper than we think it has. Sometimes for good because people are better informed, but as well sometimes for bad because people who really take action, people who have responsibilities are not respected as much as before. When you have an opinion you’re tempted to think you are right, because you do not have to prove you’re right. It’s just an opinion. Today everyone has an opinion and people who have real responsibilities are less respected.”
But he is very optimistic about the future and a great believer in young people.
“I promote young people. I believe it is important when you have responsibility and luck in life to influence people’s lives, to be a positive influence on people’s life. You can be the chance for somebody in life. A little boy who grew up in Africa or Asia can dream to one day be a great footballer. If I can be the one who can give him a chance to achieve his dream, I am doing one aspect of my job,” said Wenger.
He also recognized the pitfalls for youngsters. “A big problem in sport and in the modern game is that you have to learn very early in life to know who is good for you and who is bad for you. If you waste (time) in normal life, you can waste four, five years and still be successful. In football, one year means 10 years in a normal life, because at 30 it’s bye-bye.
“If you do not understand how to behave before 22 it’s bye-bye, no career. So you have to understand very early, between 18 and 22, to lead a life that allows you to be successful. And that’s the main difficulty. People don’t realise how difficult that is because when your friends go out on a Friday night you have to say I stay at home because it’s more important I have a good game tomorrow.”
Wenger’s answers show his passion for football, and the game’s soul, which is cruelly abandoned in these times of gross amounts of money. The Frenchman has moulded Arsenal into his club, one that nurtures youth, adheres to his attractive football style and also, importantly, is run properly with money invested and the club avoiding the danger of overspending.
It is clear he takes great pride in what Arsenal have become during his tenure, and his legacy will live long in North London.
An economics graduate, he is serious and meticulous about funds, sometimes to his detriment, but his intensions are for the good of the club and will be reaped for years to come.
“What kind of influence do you give to the structure where you work? I leave to the next manager a good team, a strong financial situation and a club in a very good position to be successful, to give him the chance to do better. The continuation is there and I believe that is part of my job,” Wenger clarified.
As Wenger finished his speech to the graduating class, he summed himself up rather perfectly,
“I believe (it was) a famous philosopher who said; nature gives you two eyes – one to judge and one to love. Use both.”
Indeed, Wenger is judged and scrutinised daily, but through it all, he has revolutionised football in this country and he is revered and loved for installing a style and steel into the beautiful game we’ve never before seen.
Report by fdA Sports Journalism student Mike Carre
Photograph by Daniel Salmon