Two weeks ago I watched a BBC documentary about leadership, it was called “Sir Alex Ferguson: Secrets of Success”. The documentary follows Ferguson as he goes to the Harvard Business School as a guest lecturer. In the opening montage, Lord Sugar says;
‘You saw where a particular individuals were starting to become far too important in their own right and he showed and demonstrated that he could do without them’.
Last Saturday at Anfield, Arsene Wenger showed that he badly needs “particular individuals” but also that he is just a bad leader.
The Guardian reported that Sanchez had bust up with one of his other Arsenal team mates last week and stormed off the training pitch. This was the reason why Sanchez was dropped against Liverpool in a big game for the final “Top 4” spot.
Wenger has since stated that this report was false and dropping Sanchez was purely for tactical reasons. But, no fan or media member is foolish enough to believe dropping a player who has contributed to 47% of Aresnals goals this season is a good tactical decision.
If reports are correct, some of Arsenal’s senior players asked for Sanchez to be dropped after a training ground bust up. When picking his side to play Liverpool Arsene Wenger had a big decision to make.Does he play the one player who has played consistently all season but now, is starting to question his authority or does he go with a bunch of players who never question his authority but have disappointed consistently in big games? Wenger decided to do neither and failed to make a strong management decision.
Alex Ferguson famously left Ruud Van Nistelrooy at home for a league cup final in 2006 after an arguement about Van Nistelrooy’s lack of game time that season. Ferguson unlike Wenger, made a calculated decision. Ferguson knew that he needed to send a message to his players but, he also needed to win this final. Ferguson knew his side would win that game but,the players would also learn from the dropping of Van Nistelrooy
They learned that they would face consequences if you cross the boss.
Wenger on the other hand put Sanchez on the bench as an insurance policy and put trust in his squad to get a win. 45 minutes later Wenger failed to stand by his already weak decision and brought on Sanchez.
Unlike Ferguson, Wenger made a miscalculated decision.
The only point Wenger made with this decision was that Arsenal are a one man team and walking off the training ground, disrespecting your team mates will still get you 45 minutes if you’re the star player. Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher agreed on Monday Night Football saying:
‘I did find it strange because when you disciplining a player, you either put him completely out of the squad – you don’t want him on the coach or in the hotel.
‘All he’s done is missed 45 minutes. Either competently take him out or play him.’
Alexis Sanchez to Arsenal in 2017 is the equivalent of Eric Cantona to Manchester United in the early to mid 90’s. Cantona like Sanchez, was the star player and without him his team struggled to win games. Although Cantona acted out in different ways, most famously at Selhurst Park, Ferguson knew he must have his star player on side to win titles.
This season Wenger’s Man Management has been questionable when it comes to his star player Alexis Sanchez. Sanchez has repeatedly shown his frustration with his team mates and his manager. Most notably against Bournemouth when Arsenal drew 3-3 in the premier league.
Where Ferguson controlled Cantona and kept outbursts to a minimum, Wenger has failed to control Sanchez. Sanchez’s outbursts are an indication that Wenger is unable to control and communicate with players who want to win. Wenger has struggled to keep his top players because they do not want to settle for the imaginary “top 4” trophy Wenger so dearly covets. Fabregas in an interview with goal.com states “It was such a big relief ” to win a Premier League title with Chelsea after years of failing to do so under Wenger.
When Wenger finally decides to leave Arsenal, fans will remember what he did for the club in the first 7 years. He made Arsenal one of the biggest clubs in England and won numerous trophies. But, since the big injection money and subsequent player power to the Premier League brought in by Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea, Wenger has struggled to adapt. Ferguson unlike Wenger, used his skill of Man Management to stay successful and win trophies over a 20 year period at Manchester United. .
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