Wenger dimisses Ronaldo as “no-one” in self deluded rant


Arsene Wenger is the headlines again; weeks after pointlessly targeting one of the games best ever players, he is quoted in the Guardian (and Arsenal.com) as saying “nobody else in the world” matches him when it comes to developing players. In a swipe at Sir Alex Ferguson, he dismissed the “Fledglings” as it was “before he started”, and says “no-one has come through recently”.

One of the highlights of Wenger’s Sam Allarydce-esque latest breakdown was citing Cesc Fabregas and Abou Diaby as examples of his self proclaimed unparalleled group. I happen to think that Cristiano Ronaldo is probably worthy of a bit more than “no-one”, but read on for a full breakdown of the lot.

The Arsenal manager says, “Nobody else in the world [brings through as many young players]. I’ll give you one day the list of those at the top level who have made careers with me and you will see. You will be absolutely astonished.
“Take the list of the players who started here, for example Djourou, Senderos, Clichy, Gibbs, Fabregas and Song. Diaby is another who had basically never played before at the top level. Ashley Cole too.”

Does he have a point? Ashley Cole, despite being a total disgrace of a human, is one of the best two left backs in the world, but only really achieved that level after learning defensive qualities from Jose Mourinho. Cesc Fabregas is one of the most highly hyped players in the league. I still firmly believe that for the last few years he’s done nothing in a big game when it mattered and that his stellar performances only come against substandard or out of form opposition when he is the attacker in a midfield three. But, for the sake of argument, I will give him Cole and Fabregas.

Djourou, Senderos… really? Djourou has been injured so often that it would be unfair of me to properly point the finger at his lack of any imposing displays that last in the memory. Senderos became a laughing stock at Arsenal before he was shipped off to Milan on loan, then failed to make an impression at Everton and getting injured before he’d played a competitive minute for Fulham. It’s fair to say the jury is out on this pair and they could well come good; however, based on their performances so far, I’d hardly be excited to put them forward as a case for this particular argument.

Gael Clichy? Because he’s at Arsenal, the guy has escaped a huge amount of criticsm, but his form over the last 2 seasons was so poor – even in Arsenal supporters eyes – that some were wanting him replaced by Gibbs anyway! And Gibbs himself – yet to make an impression on a big game other than falling on his arse – again, good potential, but nothing to write home about, yet.

Abou Diaby; goes from cruel joke to frustrating potential, but that’s as good as it gets. Alex Song had an impressive year carrying Fabregas’ water last season, but in the Spaniard’s absence, can’t be counted on at this level to run a game. Jack Wilshere is the name not mentioned on the list though he was mentioned before in the piece by Wenger when he said “You need to be strong (to) do this. If you reproach me for not buying players, well if I buy players, Jack Wilshere doesn’t come out, so you cannot have everything.”

These are the words of a man who has been cuddled by the English press far too much. Reproached? I wouldn’t be so quick to demand a pat on the back for simply giving someone just over half a dozen starts just yet. But, regardless of development, Wilshere’s place as a “superstar” in the English press will be protected, just as it has been – ridiculously – for Walcott. I for one hope that Jack Wilshere does go on to be the midfield answer to a question that Gerrard and Lampard have comprehensively failed to answer either between them or individually. But after 7 starts? I’m not quite sure I would put him in the Hall of Fame, just yet.

This isn’t meant to be Arsenal bashing, it’s setting the stage for the next part. The Guardian quotes Wenger as saying, in response to the inevitable question about Ferguson : “When I arrived [as Arsenal manager in September 1996] nearly all their team had started [at United]. Not recently.”

Rather dismissive, wouldn’t you say? Conveniently dismissive yet ridiculously arrogant and spoken with the fundamental delusion that the London Media have lovingly encouraged.

I wouldn’t even have the need to go back to 1992 had Wenger himself not gone back to a similar stage to further justify his record – “When I go back to Monaco, the number of players that started with me, (for example) Emmanuel Petit and Lilian Thuram.”

O….k. Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes – the automatic choices as examples of players that were better than his equivalent in 1996 and are still better now. The discussion should rightly end at this point, with Wenger waving the white flag, but we need to drum the point in a similar fashion. Gary Neville, the domestic game’s best ever right back (arguably). David Beckham, you might have heard of him. Nicky Butt, who had a club career that ANY Arsenal player would swap with in an instant. Phil Neville, who, after a trophy laden spell at United, moved to Everton where he was made club captain for a number of years.

These are the most high profile cases from that era. There are countless Ronnie Wallwork’s who went on to forge a good, steady, Philipe Senderos-esque career.

Wenger surprisingly didn’t mention Kolo Toure, Nicolas Anelka and Adebayor as players he “plucked” from relative obscurity (though Anelka was touted as “the new Maradona” before becoming a higher class of journeyman Steve Claridge, and Adebayor had played in a Champions League Final prior to his switch), so it’s only fair that we don’t mention the likes of Ole Solskjaer and Peter Schmeichel, too.

That Wenger was dismissive of Fergie’s achievements prior to his arrival was one thing, and is easily dismissed itself as being idiotic. There is of course the argument that he didn’t say that in so many words – however, I’m almost getting tired of letting people into the dirty secret that Wenger actually knows the media and how they will report things.

He did, however, say “not recently” with regards players brought through at United.

I’m unsure on what the barometer here is for “bringing players through”. It seems as if, from Wenger’s list, you would say that they started at the club at 17/18 or younger.

Darren Fletcher, John O’Shea and Jonny Evans might not be the most fashionable of names.

Fletcher made 24 appearances in the 2006/7 league winning campaign, 16 in 2007/08 and 26 in 2008/09. The 16 in 2007/08 is still an impressive figure considering United had signed Anderson and Owen Hargreaves to add to Michael Carrick and Paul Scholes (oh yeah, he was and is still around). Fletcher has an impressive trophy count of 8 (12 including Community Shield).

John O’Shea has played 365 times for United in a squad where, fitness permitting, he would never have been first choice. This isn’t a slight on him when you consider the talent he has had to compete against has invariably been one of, if not THE, world’s elite. O’Shea has 9 trophies, not including the CS.

Jonny Evans, in his first full season in contention at United after a successful loan at Sunderland, made 35 appearances in all competitions in 2008/09 (trophy wise, United’s second most successful season in history). Darren Fletcher has developed into one of the best midfielders in Europe while John O’Shea and Jonny Evans can count themselves as key members of a record breaking defensive unit in the 2008/09 season.

Wes Brown, too. With 348 career games for United, it’s a pointer to his unfortunate battle with injury that O’Shea has now surpassed him. Nonetheless, with a good run of games, there are fewer better natural defenders than Brown – and like O’Shea, he was the first choice right back in one of our most recent successful seasons.

As I said, these players may not be the most fashionable, but their attributes are. If trophies don’t count as the ultimate proof, then setting domestic records – as they have done – and dishing out masterclasses in head to heads – as they have done, all impressing as individuals never mind as a team – ought to be conclusive. Darren Fletcher has often shone against Arsenal, John O’Shea scored the winner in the Champions League semi final first leg between the sides and Jonny Evans was United’s best player in a pitch full of stunning attacking performances when we won at the Emirates most recently.

More importantly, they have the credentials to back it up. There is no substantial argument to add to the hot air about any player Wenger has listed, save for the two exceptions.

Who am I forgetting? Well, a certain 18 year old who arrived at Old Trafford called Cristiano Ronaldo. This, as with Giggs and Scholes, doesn’t really need speaking of. Suffice to say I will put my money on Mr. Wenger not bringing through a player that comes anywhere near to matching Ronaldo in terms of ability or achievement. It can’t be understated though that even neglecting to mention Ronaldo is a monumental act of stupidity. Are we really expected to believe that he can mention Diaby (nicknamed among Arsenal fans as “diabolical”) and disregard a player better than ANY he has ever managed as “nothing”?

It’s only fair, too, that we look at Wayne Rooney and Anderson. Again, Rooney’s accomplishments mean that I don’t need to point out the painful flaw in the Arsenal managers’ reference.

Some might say that Anderson has a lot to prove; and he does, in United’s terms. But let’s take a look back – 5 trophies at United already, with some huge contributions in those successes. Some massive performances in big games and all this with a couple of major injuries. Had he been at Arsenal he’d be a club legend already, but yes, at United we want to see him unleash his full potential and become one of the best in the world on a consistent basis, not just look the part against the best teams in England. Regardless of where you place him in terms of his progress at United, his achievements dwarf those of his Arsenal peers, even Fabregas – even if injury and a lack of a defined position has meant he has yet to enjoy the media spotlight as much as Cesc, his potential is still incredible. In a 4-4-2, I hasten to add, too. And regardless of that, too, he is twice the player of Song or Diaby.

If Wenger is to really use Wilshere as an example – a player who has made an impression against Blackburn and Blackpool in the league – then what of Federico Macheda, he of a full TEN league starts, two vital goals in a league winning season and one on the big stage, when a goal was NEEDED, against Chelsea? What of Gibson, a player who has come through the club and scored a very respectable 9 goals in 41 games to add to two league cup wins and a World Club Cup win? And Danny Welbeck, a fantastically talented young player?

Rafael has his inexperienced flaws to address but still dealt – for the most part – admirably against Franck Ribery in the Champions League. He still has 3 trophies (not including the CS) to his name and at this point is a far more exciting and far more established prospect than Gibbs. Rafael’s twin, Fabio, has seen Patrice Evra’s excellent form restrict his own opportunities but still has played 15 games in seasons where United’s performance in every competition has been better than that of Arsenals.

And therein lies the crux. Wenger’s roll of honour may look good for Arsenal. And it may look good when comparing to other teams. But, it doesn’t look good in comparison to Manchester United – if I can quickly provide twice as many names who are better and have had more success and have only “recently” broken through, then why isn’t he being treated as the royal jester he appears to have become? It can’t just be because of the protection he is afforded by the media (by the way, his numerous targeted comments, that hands on with the official last week, accompanied by his physical scuffle with Pardew moons ago, doesn’t seem to have landed him with a “bully” persona..). Even United supporters I spoke to about it on Twitter seemed to concur with Wenger’s assessment that we haven’t brought anyone through recently. But, we have, especially when comparing our players to the ones that Wenger has named. It’s just that the players we’ve brought through haven’t matched a Giggs or a Scholes – but how unfair is that? These are two of the best players to have ever played the game. The youngsters we have brought through in the last 5 years have been enough to keep us on top – or an offside goal away from the top. In comparison with their peers – and this is where any comparison can only be fairly summarised – they are exceptional, certainly, they have been a huge class apart from Arsenal.

Wenger went as far as to name Senderos, a player now departed whose very destiny is Premier League or European journeyman. Our departures (save for Ronaldo)? Gerard Pique, a player who has gone to become arguably the finest ball playing centre half in world football? A man described by Gabriele Marcotti as exactly that when I talked to him? Giuseppe Rossi, who goes from strength to strength in Spanish football and has started this La Liga season on form too?

And, domestically, what about Jonathan Greening who captained West Brom for many years and now shares the same dressing room as Senderos? David Jones, of Wolves, who scored that brilliant free kick a couple of weeks ago and is part of a Wolves team beginning to impose itself? Kieran Richardson, who is first choice at Sunderland and has played nearly 100 games there? Danny’s Higginbotham and Pugh, playing alongside Ryan Shawcross at Stoke, destined for an England call before Wenger cut that down? There are more examples. 

I’m not saying all of these players are the crème de la crème, but compared to the list Wenger himself put together, before outrageously dismissing our recent production as “nothing”, they nearly, to a man, make a favourable comparison. Even when moving the goalposts to try and suit his own argument, Wenger has made himself look an absolute classless idiot, desperate to try and glean some more favourable attention from the press to deflect from his teams lack of trophies.

A man who is, curiously, widely regarded as the “smartest man in football” has demonstrated a staggering lack of intelligence or maybe is just displaying the counter effects of believing the press hype. By disregarding Ronaldo and Rooney as “nothing”, though, it’s idiocy that deserved to see him reduced to a caricature in this mornings press; preferably in Graham Taylor, vegetable style.

21 Comments on Wenger dimisses Ronaldo as “no-one” in self deluded rant

  1. The headline of this is the sort of misleading guff that you’d criticise the paps for if they twisted a quote to suit their purposes.

    Wenger’s full of his own importance and as much as I rate him in many ways, he’s as blind to the flaws of his own and his players as any top manager, and he likes the sound of his own voice too. Certainly with the likes of Senderos he’s talking them up far too much, but I suppose you’d need to ponder what Wenger takes into account as “top level”. If he means the top echelon of players then he’s kidding himself, if he simply means high level football then he’s got a reasonable claim to stake.

    But this kind of nonsensical, sensationalist choice of headline is, I’d like to think, below you. Though Wenger is clearly one of this blog’s sore points.

  2. How deluded can a Man United fan get?
    He never took a swipe at Ronaldo or dimissed Ronaldo as a no-one. Lets face it, Ronaldo was hardly developed at Man United anyway! He joined at 18 and didn’t even breakthrough until he was 20. Arsenal DEVELOPED Wilshere, Gibbs, Cole.etc

  3. I think you’re confusing fact and fiction. Wenger’s talking about the number of players who have passed through his academy to go on and have great careers at international of top league (be that Serie A, La Ligue etc) level. In that light, it seems irrefutable that Arsenal under his guise have led the way. Maybe that’s because they attract more young talent due to their tendency to play them as soon as he feels they’re good enough!? That’s been the grounds for a lot of criticism of them and it seems that can’t be denied.

  4. Thanks Ian. Maybe the blog title is manipulated. I don’t know about twisted. He did dismiss every United player post 1996 as not breaking through; Ronaldo is the most high profile that did, using Wenger’s own barometer of “breaking through”.

    Using Ronaldo as my own example was using something very obvious to quickly highlight the ridiculous nature of Wenger’s comments, nothing “sensationalist” I’m afraid. I can’t see why you needed to be so insulting about it, as I needed to think of a headline, and the lack of Ronaldo in his comments made it jump out at me. (There are many other United blogs that picked this up too, not just me, and if you read my Twitter you would know I deliberated over even writing it, but I felt had some good points to make)

    From both articles (the one in the Guardian and Arsenal.com) he was referring to himself as someone with equal in the modern game. I would presume that means at the highest level rather than turnover of players.

  5. I didn’t think I was being particularly insulting (unless you’ve read more into the word “twisted” than I intended) and I wouldn’t give a toot anyway if it wasn’t for the fact that I see the blog as being much better than tabloid drivel (otherwise why would I read it?)

    There’s a perfectly valid point to be made given he did directly reference United and you’ve made plenty of fine points in the post, but the title (deliberately or otherwise) gives the impression that Wenger has made a point of saying that Ronaldo is a hopeless player and thus will get the average United fan’s back up before they even know what Wenger has said.

  6. George Weah – World Player of the year-1995, African Player of the Year-1995, European Player of the Year – 1995
    Nicholas Analka
    T Henry
    P Vieria
    C Fabragras
    E Adebayor

    Just to name a few

  7. Apologies for any typos as I am on a train using my iPhone. I will respond in more detail later on.

    As editor of SE.com I would like to clear up a few things. We do not have anything against Arsene Wenger, however I was quite bemused when I read the article – and I welcome any Gooner that wishes to challenge the integrity of the original source; although I’m led to believe that it has featured on the official Arsenal website.

    Yolkie has freedom to write in his own style about interesting topics, we all interpret things differently. For me, I think it is an interesting discussion but rather than taking ‘swipes’ at each other (always happens with a critical article on Arsenal) I would focus on the following:

    – Do you think Wenger has produced the best players in his managerial career over the likes of Fergie, Van Gaal and Cryuff? If so why? And if not why?

    – Why do you think Wenger used United and Ferguson in comparion with his own side?

    – Why has Wenger suddenly released this outburst?

    Listen, if you want to disagree with the article, then please do but lets do it in a mature fashion. Also to the lad asking about Ronaldo – do you think he was the finished article when he came to OT in 2003? Many Gooners didn’t rate him in the first three years stating the old “one trick pony” reference. Do you thinknhis rise to the worlds best player happened naturally or did Fergie help develop it? I’m interested to find out your thought…..

  8. I don’t understand you united fans.If Wenger says something,why get upset about it.You lot think fergie is a god.You criticize another man for his comments.Thats his opinion, doesn’t mean that he’s right.

    This, to be honest shows that you guys think you a have god like right to attack anyone who doesnt bumlick fergie or doesnt put in a word here and there.

    So what! the guy didn’t mention Fergie and you’re getting pissed of about that.Because i know if he did “acknowledge” Fergie then this wouldn’t have been posted.But because you cant understand a guy who voices his opinion and.you attack him and don’t even make a balanced article.You just write shit you want to hear.

    We might not have won anything in five years and we might not win anything in the foreseeable future but i do think that our academy is STARTING to produce top class talent.Which is what i think you guys cant accept as well as not you guys being in the spotlight as much in the press while our kids gets praised for how they play football.

    The foundations that Wenger wanted to build is truly starting to show.I am not gonna even talk about players that he has brought up or found but i will however mention Gibbs and Wilshere.

    These guys have the potential to be top elite players in world football.That is the blueprint kids will follow within our academy.

    I have got nothing against your club.I actually admire your club but lets keep it at that.How many things has fergie said some inconsistent comments or just some plain dumb ones. Don’t think your manager is a saint but the difference is you guys turn the other way and don’t mention it at all but when Wenger does it, you bring out your school books and start to analyse every little bit like an English coursework assignment for a bunch of 14 year olds.

  9. “I don’t understand you united fans.If Wenger says something,why get upset about it.”

    Is somebody getting upset about something Wenger says any more or less sensible than getting upset about something a blogger has said?

    Answer: No.

    All United fans don’t think Ferguson is 100% beyond question any more than all Arsenal fans think Wenger is a flawless operator.

    “Do you think Wenger has produced the best players in his managerial career over the likes of Fergie, Van Gaal and Cryuff? If so why? And if not why?”

    For me I think it’s daft (including when Wenger’s done it) to try and single out any one person as the best. Wenger’s got a better recent track record of taking very young, very rough-edged young players and turning them into top-division professionals or better. Alex Ferguson has a better record of realising when a player isn’t going to help him win tournaments and letting them go.

    “Why do you think Wenger used United and Ferguson in comparion with his own side?”

    Two reasons. Ferguson and Wenger are and always will be compared because of their rivalry and longevity, and because of the Big Four of recent years they’re the two who’ve tried to do the most with players who’ve been at the club since a younger age.

    “Why has Wenger suddenly released this outburst?”

    It always irks me when articles (in the papers or whatever, not this article) don’t put these things into their proper context, but my guess is that it was a response to a question in an interview or press conference.

  10. @stretford end, common mate, ronaldo was bought for 12 million, cannot be classed as coming through at united. I think Le Prof has got under your skin just a touch lmao

  11. Tian, you say Ronaldo joined United at 18 and “didn´t even breakthrough before he was 20”.
    I wonder; What did Fergie do in that time? Didn´t he develope him? I know he was a terrific player when he signed for us, but he wasn´t the worlds best player was he?
    Just wanted to point it out 😉
    But I do agree, he is not really the player to prove the point of this discussion 😉

  12. Rooney, Ronaldo, Anderson, etc, they all cost millions.

    Beckham etc, and Fabregas etc, didn’t. Man U’s new gen of academy players is going to be weaker than Arsenal’s, and it wasn’t this way in the past. That’s the point, and your article missed it.

  13. “Cesc Fabregas is one of the most highly hyped players in the league. I still firmly believe that for the last few years he’s done nothing in a big game when it mattered and that his stellar performances only come against substandard or out of form opposition when he is the attacker in a midfield three. ”

    I stopped reading after that. The last big game that he played in was against Barca, when he won and scored, with a BROKEN foot, the second goal.

    I then read the comments and, being curios, perused the article.

    Really, are you so blind that you can not see that Song, Cesc etc are VERY good players? You seem to think that all our players are trash.

    “Anderson….Had he been at Arsenal he’d be a club legend already”

    What kind of stupid cheap shot is that?

  14. “All United fans don’t think Ferguson is 100% beyond question any more than all Arsenal fans think Wenger is a flawless operator.”

    You should stop talking about Arsenal right now. You have absolutely no clue about us at all.

  15. Tian –

    Ronaldo was very raw when he joined us, there was lots to his game that needed developing, beyond physical work. For example, Ferguson recognised that when trying to win a header, Ronaldo rarely jumped with conviction and didn’t have a good spring. It was something that they specifically worked on with him…and you’ve seen the rewards. To say he didn’t breakthrough is also probably wrong – he played 40 games in his first year and 50 games in his second year…

    Mohamed –

    I think United fans are inclined to worship SAF and consider him outstanding! His record speaks for itself. That doesn’t of course mean he can get away with saying as he likes either. The problem with Wenger is he keeps coming out with these rants to deflect attention from his team and his lack of achievements of late. Good tactic from time to time but boring, repetitive and a joke when used frequently. Personally, I find it bizarre he considers himself the best at developing players; it seems a strange thing to say. I feel like he’s almost trying to reassure himself. The reality is, Wenger as manager is held accountable for what happens on the pitch – at any other big club to go so long without progress would be unacceptable. Wenger uses the stadium move too much as an excuse – he needs to just be concerned with on the pitch and trying to win something – which maybe will happen, he certainly seemed to be taking the Carling Cup more seriously.

    Otariq –

    I wouldn’t suggest Wenger developed Adebayor :s

  16. DDJ –

    At Academy level United are much stronger than maybe you know. To put it in perspective, at the moment there are 25 players in the Academy (I believe) of which 21 are youth internationals, 3 aren’t and 1 I’m unsure as I don’t know if he was called up to the Australian youth teams when he was living in Australia. Arsenal no doubt have a few decent talents coming through but at present no other Academy in the country has even close to 84% of their players who have represented their countries. That figure represents the abundance of talent at present in the United Academy, and this has only been confirmed by the fact that most of the current crop have signed professional contracts on their 17th birthdays, something that has never happened to such an extent before at United.

  17. At the end of the day we could all argue until we’re blue in the face about who has brought the most players through, but while it maybe very noble of Wenger to remind us of all these young players he has brought through, he seems to be forgetting one thing. What have any of these players won at Arsenal?

  18. He is right about fabregas not doing anything when it mattered.he is constantly called one of the best in the world let’s see he has not won a trophy with arsenal,in the world cup and euros with Spain he was a bench warmer because he is not that good,he scores against the likes of west ham & stoke & people have the cheek to call him one of the best,don’t make me laugh.he has done nothing that merits that praise,my view of him in big games is that he Is cowardly & turns his back on the ball when the heat is on in big games,plus he dives & gets people sent off.fabregas is not a world beater by any means.
    Wenger is cracking up & if bringing up youth is his way of feeling better about the fact that he has not won a single trophy in 5 years so be it,I don’t care about his ramblings.

  19. Lewis – Ronaldo was bought for 12m, a bargain if you take into account his overall contribution. I think you’re looking at the fee more than the overall performances of him and how he progressed over the season – are you saying not one bit is down to United’s coaching staff? Other United players never used to know when to make runs because he would hold onto the ball too much in the early day. I think it is a tad narrow minded to assume he would have naturally achieved those heights to be honest.

    Wenger has done a superb job with Fabregas over the seasons – but wouldn’t you say he has Barca DNA in the way he plays. They do say that you can go to the park and will be able to tell which kids are “Barca” – Fabregas surely falls into this.

    Lastly, very confused about Wenger getting under my skin. I don’t really pay much attention to what opposing managers say – I was just a bit bemused with the comments more than anything. Think that is fair enough, no?

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