Wenger ahead of his time - Dyche
Clarets boss Sean Dyche believes outgoing Arsenal legend Arsene Wenger was ahead of his time.
And part of his success over 22 years with the Gunners was his ability to adapt as the game changed in England.
Wenger inherited the famed Arsenal back five, many of which had helped the club win league titles in 1989 and 1991, as well as a cup double in 1993.
But the Frenchman, a relative unknown in England when appointed after a spell in Japan, built on that defensive solidity, adding pace, power and technical brilliance.
Three Premier League titles - one as unbeaten invincibles - and a record seven FA Cup wins, as well as Arsenal’s one and only Champions League final appearance later, Wenger is to depart.
Dyche feels his influence, on and off the pitch, was immeasurable: “He was probably in front of his time.
“The rules have changed now. If you blow on someone now, they’re on the floor. He was in that generation of hardy defenders, one of the early ones to bring foreign players in. Our game was more about fight then, a lot harder.
“Now, it’s like a worldwide game, but at that stage, it was still pretty British in its mindset and how it was refereed. Over the years it’s all changed, and he’s changed with it and often been just in front of it.”
Wenger was praised for his use of untapped markets abroad, signing players who would become world class for a fraction of what they would become valued at: “Over the last few years, everyone has used the foreign market more wisely, in the early days, amazing, Vieira and Petit, Anelka was 600k and sold for 23 million.
“Brought in Henry, a wide player, and played him as a centre forward - he got that one wrong to be fair(!).
“He was 11m at the time so some of the question marks about his spending are myths. That was a hefty amount of money at the time.
“It looks cheap now, but there’s so many things.
“You’re judged on the pitch, but the business model of Arsenal is unbelievable - how they have challenged so many years, developed players, the training ground, built the stadium, and still have wealth in the bank.
“Not many teams can do that at that level.
“Huge amounts of finance being brought in, generates and safeguarded for that club.
Dyche and Eddie Howe will be the longest-serving managers left in the Premier League next season when Wenger moves on.
After five and a half years with Burnley, Dyche, on a smaller scale to Wenger, has overseen success, while balancing the books and creating an impressive infrastructure at the club.
Both came to their clubs - Dyche taking over from Howe, and Wenger from Bruce Rioch - to bring about a different style, Dyche to shore up a leaky defence, and Wenger to add invention.
Dyche said: “I don’t think it was rocket science with Eddie, it was obvious it needed a defensive shape, and Eddie has corrected that in himself, I think he’s done a marvellous job, and a pretty good job here.
“But everyone when I got here was speaking about the defensive side of things.
“When Arsene went into Arsenal, the defensive side of things was pretty shored up, it was more could they add a more open, attacking side.
“People forget about Arsene that back then it was in an era of steady change, now they want it changing overnight.
“That’s why, often, fans possibly and owners demand complete change.
“But it’s very difficult to change how a side operates overnight, it takes time.”
He added: “A lot of the managers I speak to of that era say they had more time then.
“It was still tough, but they were given more time.
“But society has changed. Football mirrors society, we all want it tomorrow, that’s all that happens.
“The demand now is of it’s not working quickly, let’s get a new one
“For Arsene it was a completely different way of playing, they had a formidable back five and usually a version of Seaman, Dixon, Bould, Adams, Winterburn, with Keown and people slotting in.
“Then he bought two French centre halves with Vieira and Petit just in front of them.
“Then two quick wide men, so it’s a pretty simple format. The number 10 Bruce Rioch signed, Bergkamp, and your man Wright. Did he complicate it? No. Defended brilliantly, got the ball wide quickly and forward quickly. Simple format, but not easy to make that deliver and then slowly develop it and change it, make it a more open style, while not losing the determination and grit of what was there.
“As that generation moved out, the new generation came in, and a different style of football.”
Whatever happens at Burnley in the future, Dyche’s legacy will be felt with the £10.6m training centre at Gawthorpe, just as Wenger oversaw the move from Highbury, while remaining competitive, and Dyche said: “There is a diluted scale of it here. I have been given time, the team is morphing, statistically morphing, increased passing patterns and possession, just making gentle shifts forwards, not radical strides.
“I am certainly not putting myself and the club in the category of Arsene – not yet!
“It’s changed. I think I am well thought of in these parts but eventually my rhetoric will get boring just because life changes. The patience levels get less and less and less.”
The patience levels certainly lessened among the Arsenal support, who now takes a leap into the unknown.
Meanwhile, will Dyche have a parting gift for Wenger, after Sir Alex Ferguson presented him with a commemorative vase last Sunday?: “Sir Alex’s wine probably costs more than the vase! From here we will be taking him a pint of black and tan. How many pubs are named after you eh Wenger? (referring to the
Princess Royal changing its name to the Royal Dyche).”
Speaking of the pub name, there has been a new sign mocked up, depicting Dyche as Henry VIII, and he said: “It’s fair to say a few friends have whatsapped me the pictures. I presumed it was a mock up.
“I don’t know what I think about it – you know me, steady Eddie.
“I get free drinks? That’s changed my opinion.
“I will be asking for two or three at a time if they are free. I’ll be getting a tray. I’m learning the longer I am up here!”