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What Would Fergie Do If He Was In Wenger’s Shoes?

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Sir Alex Ferguson has been through a lot in his 25 years as manager of Manchester United. Through a combination of man management, manipulating the press, psychology and outwitting opponents through his often surprising team selections, the Scot has continually found ways to overcome adversity while in charge of his Manchester United squad. Somehow, I have a feeling that Fergie would have some wise words for Arsene Wenger and his Arsenal side who are deep in crisis or going through a shaky period, depending how you evaluate what’s happening at the Emirates Stadium nowadays.

The question is, what would Fergie say if he was in Wenger’s shoes?

Arsenal’s current plight is a situation that I believe Ferguson would revel in. If Fergie was in Wenger’s shoes, he would use UEFA’s cracking down on Arsenal (giving Wenger a two-match ban for passing notes in the Udinese game) as evidence that “UEFA is out to get Arsenal” and to use that victimization complex as a way to motivate his players. When UEFA “is out to get you,” the next best thing to do is to stuff it in their faces by winning against all adversities.

If Fergie was in Wenger’s shoes, he would be getting a ton of mileage out of the papers and TV this week by manipulating the press to impact the psychology of the side’s next two opponents (Udinese and, coincidentally, Manchester United). Udinese, despite being 1-0 down after the first leg in qualification for the Champions League, find themselves at home on Wednesday with an excellent opportunity to defeat the Gunners. The Italian side was unlucky not to score at the Emirates Stadium. Plus, Arsenal are stil suffering from injuries and suspension, so Udinese find themselves with a golden opportunity to knock Arsenal into the Europa League.

Speaking of injuries and suspensions, you would certainly believe that Fergie — if he was in Wenger’s shoes — would remind everyone how depleted his side was, and would publicly praise some of the young recruits who would be replacing the injured and suspended footballers.

Ferguson is the type of manager who would thrive in Wenger’s current predicament. He would come out fighting and would expect his team members to do the same.

Could Ferguson do a better job that Wenger if he was in the Frenchman’s shoes? I believe he could. But what do you think? Share your opinion in the comments section below.

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  1. James josy

    September 9, 2011 at 6:25 am

    I don’t have to think that this is a really good debative topic, cos it’s exactly what it is. SAF might have done better if he were in Wenga’s shoes. But Wenga is a wonderful manager too who found himself in the maze of urgency. Even the the manager on heart could face the same. Although the stinginess of wenga has done more damage to it all

  2. OllieWillie

    August 24, 2011 at 1:42 am

    What a poorly written and insight-less article…….The topic was a good opportunity to write something more than 5 paragraphs or random statements……Opportunity epically missed.

  3. ripher

    August 23, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    Arsenal is on turmoil. I do not think this is a hate article , it is just an interesting question about how would the best manager would have handled it. It also is question for all arsenal fans out there that whether this turmoil in Arsenal as a whole was all due to wenger.
    I think the best answer to the question is that Fergie in the first place would not have been in this situation he would have avoided it. In a hypothetical scenario where fergie was to be manager of Arsenal just after previous season I would assume that he would have told both Fabregas and Nasri to stay till he finds a replacement. He would have told them to keep quiet till he finds another person to replace them. Also, he would have brought in few experienced players from other leagues just to have some experience around the squad. He would have also not put a wage structure which is unreasonable or unfair in the current market. In my view, it is completely ridiculous to believe that wage for players are high given that you are selling highest priced tickets in the UK. I think Wenger and the board has not been reasonable here about the wage structure of Arsenal. Even if I was in the management strictly looking for profit I would raised the wage structure and brought in more players. Not qualifying in champions league will cost them dearly in terms of profit lot more than paying 20 million more to all the players.

  4. R2Dad

    August 23, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    If SAF ran Arsenal, he would be demanding 75M to spend this summer, even though the club was 700M in debt. And he would get it. Wenger has run out of leverage.

  5. Dlink04

    August 23, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Another sh*t article about Arsenal..

    • The Gaffer

      August 23, 2011 at 12:34 pm

      Arsenal is the story of the week and have been for the past two weeks. What do you want us to do? Pretend that nothing is happening in north London?

      The Gaffer

      • AM

        August 23, 2011 at 1:09 pm

        How about writing something constructive and original? This is a purely hypothetical article meant to just create more of a stir. How about writing about the current state of LIverpool or Chelsea who have both looked unconvincing?

        Or about the Swansea or Sunderland?? Tired of reading the same anti Arsenal bs

        • The Gaffer

          August 23, 2011 at 1:33 pm

          I wrote about Swansea on Friday (see And we just published an article about Sunderland today at

          Liverpool and Chelsea were dissected in this weekend’s review podcast at

          The Gaffer

          • AM

            August 23, 2011 at 3:30 pm

            Great timing with the Sunderland article.

            However, my point is that Arsenal represents 5% of the league and I would expect 15% of your content to be Arsenal related given their size…. However, it seems every other article is an Arsenal related one and this one is just random.

            I’d rather you wrote an article highlighting the future prospects of the Gunners which would be an interesting twist on the same doom and gloom being mentioned on every other site

            • The Gaffer

              August 23, 2011 at 4:27 pm

              The content on this site is not based on percentages. It’s driven by news. And Arsenal is one of the biggest news stories of the summer.

              In the past, we’ve written several stories about future prospects of the Gunners as well as new signings such as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

              The Gaffer

              • AM

                August 23, 2011 at 4:59 pm

                My apologies then. I don’t come to EPL Talk for news. I come here for insight and and thoughtful articles. I’m sorry but this piece has very little of either one. I will say this though that a lot of your articles are better so I’m not criticizing the entire site 🙂

                • The Gaffer

                  August 23, 2011 at 5:01 pm

                  The site is driven by news, yes, but you’re right — the articles are more analysis and thoughtful pieces. This one admittedly wasn’t my best, but hopefully they’ll be enough good ones to keep readers coming back. I still think it’s an interesting question — what would Fergie do.

                  The Gaffer

                • Jake Islas

                  August 24, 2011 at 1:31 am

                  Wow, can’t believe the behind-keyboard-critics. I thought this article was great, maybe some more concrete examples like a couple other constructive commenters mentioned, but it’s a great premise. Comparing clubs, managers, players is great analysis and/or speculation. Especially clubs/managers such as United and Arsenal. One with winning ambitions, and one that just plain wins. How is that not good? In fact I tweeted last season something along the lines of “Arsenal’s B Squad can’t finish off a Championship squad in the FA cup while United is progressing in the CL with theirs.”

                  Seriously, I don’t understand these moaners complaining about the Arsenal talk, it’s HUGE news and they’re completely in turmoil, and I’m an Arsenal fan! Seriously Gaffer, keep it up because it seems these people really don’t understand the seriousness of the crisis at Arsenal. Some blind Arsenal fans, others just moaners who like to complain in comment boxes. That’s whats great about blogs/sites like EPL Talk, yes there’s news but also good opinion and thought which brings something else to the table. This isn’t the Daily Mail, Telegraph, Mirror, etc. Holy cow.

      • dlink09

        August 23, 2011 at 3:24 pm

        no its not story of the week, its been *** stirring for the last one month

  6. SirKev

    August 23, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    While I agree with the idea of the article, I think it could have been fleshed out with a couple of concrete examples, specifically looking at the Nasri and Fabregas dramas. If as a previous poster mentioned, compare Nasri to Henize and Fabregas to C. Ronaldo, you can see where the styles and actions of the managers differed. Now whether that is because Wenger did not develop a plan B, didn’t trust his youth, hamstrung by management, or feverently believed that he could keep the players there, at this point it seems that both negotiations backfired on him.

    Compare to how Ferguson handled things: He shipped Henize to Spain, probably taking a few million less to do so than sending him to a rival. He got a commitment from Cristiano for one more year and then sent him to his boyhood team, Real.

    In both cases, he avoided a drawn out situation, maintained his position of authority and built toward the future. And you can see the results now: Valencia, Berbatov, Young, Jones, De Gea, etc.

    I will say that one qualifying difference is that Man United still had solid veterans in the squad even after those departures, which I think was a key: Giggs, Scholes, Van Der Sar, Ferdinand, even Brown and O’Shea and Neville would also qualify. Arsenal lack that numbers and quality of veterans to rally and galvenize the squad and I think you are seeing that translate onto the pitch.

  7. rhimjimmy

    August 23, 2011 at 9:13 am

    To be fair to Wenger, how many coaches (besides Ferguson) could do better in his shoes? I’m not saying the man is perfect (far from it) but the fact that the most effective manager in English league history could do better is hardly enough ground for his dismissal.

    In fact, you should reverse the question: what club wouldn’t be improved by having Ferguson as manager instead of their current boss? Barcelona and (probably) Real Madrid are the only clubs I can think of.

    Wenger’s fixture list is tough at the start of this season (new look Liverpool and Man U in first three games = ouch) but before you bring in the new signings (Hazard is true class, and that’s looking likely now) is a good time to have a bad run and the season will only get easier for Arsenal from here. Tottenham certainly don’t look like competing for that 4th Champions League spot so they’ll have plenty of time to overtake Liverpool.

    I certainly wouldn’t bet against Arsenal finishing in the top 4 again. Not on your nelly.

  8. Robin

    August 23, 2011 at 8:49 am

    OH F**K OFF GAFFER I USUALLY LOVE YOUR ARTICLES! I cant think of one I hate or dislike but this is just sh*te. Dont join the Arsenal hate fest please, where were you during Liverpools demise hu, WHERE!

  9. Red

    August 23, 2011 at 8:24 am

    I agree that Fergie would do better in this situation but I had to give this article a low rating because it’s so poorly written and hardly covers any of the actual factors that would make Fergie more adept in this kind of situation.

    I think a key area you missed out was the close-season, with Nasri and Fabregas always looking like leaving Wenger needed to make a clear and firm statement of intent early on in the transfer window to demonstrate that not only are they going to replace the wantaway talent but they’re going strengthen to address that six year trophy drought that’s drummed up this “hate fest”.

    Looking specifically at Nasri you can draw obvious parallels to the Heinze fiasco a few years back, selling to Man Utd was apparently unthinkable to Wenger – something which makes sense to any english fan – but now he looks set to go to Man City! Man City who finished above Arsenal last season, level on points with Chelsea and then went on to splash out in the transfer window. Utd are the historical rivals of course but City are every bit a threat to Arsenal this season. Now if you think about Heinze, he came out and declared he wanted to leave for Liverpool, instead of shipping him off to Arsenal, Chelsea or whoever was competing for the title that year SAF put his foot down and shipped him off to spain. It is important to note that Nasri is a different case and he only has a year left on his contract so may not have so many foreign suitors this year but you would have thought that maybe at a reduced price, say £15m to Munich or Madrid is better than £23m to City? And if a deal to City was unavoidable then you imagine a manager of Ferguson’s calibre would have sharply taken the cash for a player that didn’t want to be with the club and then had the summer to find some new talent. Instead it looks like Wenger is left with a deadline day deal with no time to replace or he’ll keep Nasri for a year and lose the £23m and the player.

    There are plenty of other things you could say about Ferguson, his tactics, his willingness to adapt – for example last season against Villa taking off his two main strikers and putting Macheda and Obertan on and coming from 2 goals down – the ability to instill a winning mentality in all of the teams he’s created. It’s not coincidence that Man Utd score so many late winners, it’s because Ferguson has them convinced that they are going to score that goal before that whistle blows. Wenger has a talented team, but they’re not a team of winners.

  10. eGichomo

    August 23, 2011 at 8:11 am

    Sir Alex is way much better than Wenger when it comes to being a coach. Wenger takes up the role of being all-in-one: manager, coach.. etc.

  11. AM

    August 23, 2011 at 7:43 am

    Wish I could give this post 0 stars instead of just 1…. sad to see that epltalk is going overboard with the whole arsenal hate fest

    • oliver

      August 23, 2011 at 7:52 am

      is it really a hate fest? It’s just saying that Ferguson would do things different to Wenger and they might be more effective.

      • rhimjimmy

        August 23, 2011 at 9:18 am

        Yeah but that’s hardly a worthwhile argument. Ferguson would be an improvement over any coach at any club in world football except for Barcelona. See my comment below.

        Though if anyone thinks Ferguson would improve on Guardiola’s Barca then they are clearly a myopic ManU fan and there’s little point talking to them.

        Guardiola to coach Arsenal with Wenger as football director? I’d love to see that happen. MAKE IT HAPPEN.

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