Sunday, May 19, 2024

Wenger: We have to improve our scouting

Arsene Wenger spoke to SFR Sport this week. This is a transcript of what he had to say.

Journalist : You seemed absolutely delighted after the City game, What did you feel at the final whistle?

AW : Happiness, it was an outburst of joy, when you play a big game, you don’t know who is going to win and then you have a couple of seconds during which you just let it go, because I knew City could score anytime. We also reach the final of the FA Cup, and City were favorites for the semi. So basically it’s the happiness of the manager. Which doesn’t last very long, be sure of that (laughs)

Journalist : You could win the FA Cup for the seventh time, which would be a record. Do you think about it?

AW : Of course I do, but I don’t only think about that, I think that when you play the final, you want to win it. The game against Chelsea will be the same kind of game we had to play against City. It will be a very intense fight, and we’ll have to be the winner of this fight.

Journalist : When you look back at the season Chelsea is having, no European football, would it be that bad for Arsenal if the club didn’t play in Europe next season?

AW : I don’t know, but teams (not playing in Europe) have a big advantage over the ones who do. Look at Chelsea and Liverpool this season, Leicester last season… The intensity of the Premier League plays a big part in that. And teams who get knocked out of the Champions League, especially the way we got knocked out against Bayern, dramatically, it had a very negative effect on the team, and we needed time to recover.

Journalist : You recently changed your formation, you play with 3 players at the back. Firstly it brought more stability and secondly, was it an opportunity to show, even after so many years at the same club, that you can still change, evolve?

AW : It was mainly to reassure the team, because when you start doubting, results don’t go your way, you have to change something, so the players can focus on something else, to reassure themselves. We conceded 3 goals at Liverpool, West Brom, Palace, Bournemouth, and at some point if you keep conceding so easily so many goals, even the strikers think that, even if they do the job and score, that won’t be enough since the team will concede again. You have to make the right decisions to stop a downward spiral. I knew it was very risky, but it has helped us a lot so far.

Journalist : I know have a question from Emmanuel Petit

Emmanuel Petit : Arsenal has a structure not to overpay players in terms of wages, the Premier League has never been so competitive, the academy isn’t really « producing » players for the first team, not to mention the lack of results and titles, and the fact that Arsenal doesn’t splash the cash to get players, there is a lot of negativity around the club (fans, media), so what are your solutions for the future of the Club?

AW : Very good question, maybe he can solve the problem! (laughs)

I think that there are things that won’t change, we’ll only spend the money we have, we can probably improve the results of younger teams, but also improve our scouting. When you mention Mbappe, maybe we can have him when he’s younger, we have to improve in this area. Because Griezmann, Kanté, we could have signed them, but we missed the opportunity to do so, not necessarily because of our financial restrictions but because we weren’t rapid enough. That is something we must improve, to sign young players before they become stars because at that moment all the clubs know them and want to sign them.

Journalist : The NLD is coming this week end and for the very first time since you joined the Club, Spurs should finish above Arsenal this season, it is purely anecdotal ?
AW : No it’s not, they have often been above us recently. But we could still catch them, we will have to win all our games, they will have to stumble, the way they did last year.
The target of the Club is to win the league, not to finish above spurs. And we have to build a team to do so.

Journalist : I wanted to talk about the future of Alexis and Ozil, how important is it that they stay at Arsenal?

AW : They have to stay here since they’re both world class, and it’s extremely hard to find this type of players, even when you have a lot of money. Now, many clubs have a lot of money, and as a consequence you don’t easily sign world class players. Look at Mbappe, all the clubs want to sign him, and he has only played 20 games. But now everybody knows everything, so you simply can’t lose your best players. In our situation we can’t lose them and we also have to sign other top players.

Journalist : You mentioned Mbappe, are you following him?

AW : Of course we are, it would be ridiculous and it would be hypocritical to tell you we aren’t following him, but he may already be on the radar of clubs with more financial ressources than us.

Journalist : Can Monaco beat Juventus?

AW : They can, I admire the quality of their work, what they’ve done is fantastic. You have PSG and now Monaco, and they play a very good football, you can only enjoy watching them, I love watching them because what they manage to do looks so easy, and effective. The way they counter attack is fantastic, that is why they can beat Juve.

Thanks to @BGunners42 for the translation


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It’s just a routine thing now to hear about some Arsenal missing out on “Insert player” due to one or the other reason.
There needs to be some change in the scouting and the transfer department.


Makes me sick to hear that we could have had Greizman, Kante. Mbappe… imagine.

Andy Mack

$iteh, Chavski, Bayern, RealM etc etc all missed out on them as well, despite them having bigger pockets which they can use now that the players have shown their senior ability.
How many ‘youth’ players have made it into the Chavski team?
Petites comment about players coming from the academy is wrong in as much as Bellerin, Gibbs, Coquein and Iwobi are 1st team squad members that have all played a reasonable amount. That can’t be said of many (any?) other PL top teams.
Having said that, there’s always room for improvement, but we aren’t shit at it now.


Of course, we weren’t the only teams to miss out on them…

Salexis Anchez

What really annoys me is this tactic of buying young promising players and building them up to stars should have ended in 2012 at AFC. We should have no problem getting the ‘ready made’ stars now!
I’m starting to think the critics that say Arsene is outdated and can’t innovate anymore are right!


This was a competitive advantage, buying Vieira, Henry, Overmars and others for a bargain price by being ahead of the game. Not good if we are missing out on Kante and Griezmann due to slowness.

Shows Wenger is trying to do too much without enough support from above or below.


Yet he says he doesn’t need a sporting director. If the club want to really turn things around with Arsene at the helm, creating and filling that position has to be the absolute priority.


No excusing the inaction really. Each summer we seem to get linked with various talent but nothing ever seems to happen. Dybala is another case…

There seems to be a risk aversion or lack of courage to go aggressively for these players as soon as they appear on the radar.


I’m fed up of hearing we can’t/won’t compete for a certain level of player.
We are frighteningly unambitious, even if it’s true? it’s not the noise you want to be making when your trying to convince your two best players to sign new contracts.

John C

It’s all can’t and won’t with Wenger, it’s horribly defeatist.

How can you possibly beat teams with a can and will attitude with the one we have? The answer is we can’t and don’t, certainly not regularly


“They have to stay here since they’re both world class” was a head-scratcher too. We need to keep Sanchez and Ozil because we can’t replace them. That’s like catnip for agents.

John D

Oh my god.


@johnc, pot, kettle, black comes to mind, you are endlessly negative… predictably so… give it a rest..

John C

No, i’m massively positive which is why i have such criticism


Wow, judging from the nature of Manu Petit’s question, I’d say that he’s been drinking far too much media kool-aid.

Dan Hunter

And others will say Wenger spins the propaganda wheel and the sheep follow.


As Wenger admitted, Petit’s question was a good one. We have a self-sustaining model. Our competition has caught up in all the areas that brought Wenger early success. And regarding our academy we have another problem that’s not mentioned here – the British talent pool is behind Spain, Germany, and France at academy level. The last player we had who did something similar to what Mbappe is doing was Fabregas. He took to the Champions League like a duck to water. Acquiring Stats DNA helps us assess potential signings – but in terms of younger academy-age players, that’s about traditional… Read more »

Andy Mack

AW may just have been being polite for some of the question.
Petit said ‘the academy isn’t really « producing » players for the first team’ but we’re better at it than any other TOP PL team.
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to improve but we aren’t shit at it either.

Heavenly Chapecoense

We do not develop top CF from academy. Not even one in 30 years. We cannot buy either. Other top clubs elect to buy. We pretend we can develop and fail. The best CF our academy is producing is Akpom!

Andy Mack

There’s 11 players on the pitch for us and 10 of them aren’t a CF. There’s only a couple of decent academy ‘developed’ CFs in the PL, so we’re not alone in that theme. The fact we get anyone from our academy is better than some PL teams…


Did Arsenal not buy some data analysis company to be able to “find” players before other clubs recruit them…?

And given that Sporting Directors often oversee recruitment in modern football, is this Arsene Wenger saying Arsenal need a Sporting Director?

Dan Hunter

Surely data analysis would only really be applicable to more established players where the data would be more significant? Trying to find the next teenage prodigy is more about going to grassroots level


There’s a article on Times that says our database didn’t thought Griezmann would be a good sign when Wenger tried to when he was at Sociedad. But our database was also behind the sign of Gabriel.

Clive St Helmet

It’s probably not a lack of days on the database, but almost certainly an incorrect lack of application of the data. For example, say you’re collecting data on player movement throughout the game. Is total distance covered more relevant than sprint intensity, duration, distance or count? Perhaps one coach wants their players to be capable of jogging for 90 minutes without trying, while another may recognise that football is a series of short, high intensity bursts and longer period of little or no movement, and so want to know about sprint intensity. If you apply too much weight to an… Read more »

Clive St Helmet

This is why I hate typing on my phone, nothing I say makes any sense!

Dan Hunter

Surely the more efficient metrics are effectiveness… Let us say we were looking for a Mesut Ozil replacement, what are you looking for from a number 10? Would it not be someone who works hard, who creates chances, can score goals and is a consistent performer? With that in mind, would you look at simply pass accuracy, or is it pass accuracy in the final third, or is it forward passes which are accurate which are in the final third? Surely the latter is a lot more important than simply pass completion percentage.

Andy Mack

I agree but equally a No 10 that gives away the ball in bad areas isn’t a wise move… So Data is important but lots of scouting needs to be the deciding factor.

Dan Hunter

Exactly. Stats can’t be the deciding factor, simply the starting point. But, also, it should not be the only method of scouting. There should be various methods so we don’t lose out on the next Mbappe or Griezmann or Kante


Yeah, look at Chelsea without any European distraction. But we’ll be pissing around in the Europa League. If you’re gonna fuck it up, at least fuck it up properly.


Chelsea is not up there because they don’t have to play champions league or Europa league , they’re top because they are playing well

Andy Mack

They didn’t start the season playing well and a few early CL losses may have had a negative effect on the team confidence, so it’s definately a contributing factor along with the benefit of not flying back from a tough overseas game to be at an early kick-off Saturday game… and having their players kicked a few times less this season.
The question is how much of a contributing factor is it…


Don’t understand the hate towards the Europa League. It’ll give us a chance to blood young players and competitive game time for those trying to break into the first 11.


Could be as many as 15 extra games if a team goes all the way. That’s nearly half a Premier League season.


Oh, and playing Thursdays means less Saturday 3pm fixtures. Yes, most of our big games get moved out of that time slot anyway, but we don’t do well when we’re not playing Saturday at 3pm.

Andy Mack

The TinPot Cup is already in place to blood young players and there’s a lot less travel too.


If Mbappe is clever he’ll pick Arsenal over any other team at this stage of his career.

John C

Why, because of all our recent successful development of youngsters?

One look at Walcott and his “progress” should put him off!


If Mbappe is clever he wouldn’t pick Arsenal. If I were him, even though I love the club its not exactly a great career move.


delusional arsenal fans

Toure motors

Why would you leave a champions league semi finalist to join a team that hasn’t been competing in recent years? And why would you turn down real Madrid etc to join us? My bet is that he’ll stay at Monaco this summer and move to Madrid in 2018

Andy Mack

That would be sensible if he moved this summer but his team, agent etc wouldn’t go for that at all.
He’ll probably go to RMadrid and get bored sitting on their bench but being guaranteed of silverware, that’s what agents want (at a big team where he can get ‘paid endorsements’.


If we’re going to build a good squad we need European football, otherwise you have too many squad players getting frustrated. We’ve always had a good first team and poor backup, and only now are we getting to a point where we have a strong subs bench. Arsene has never been much good at rotation, but with a strong squad it’s easier to do that. Quality players won’t come to a club where they don’t think there’s a chance to play. Stats aren’t everything, but I think it’s the dithering and faffing about that loses us players more than anything.… Read more »


No shit. Our transfers and scoutings in the past 5-10 years has been terrible.
We’ve missed out on so many targets (Griezmann, Mata, Isco etc.)

Andy Mack

We probably missed those guys due to finance rather than scouting…


The same story again. According to ESPN he even said we scouted Dele Alli when he was at MK Dons

Andy Mack

Yes, IIRC we had youth player/s on loan there, and Alli was impressive but he also has ‘issues’ that could have effected his future.


He seems to be implying that 3 at the back is a temporary thing just to restore confidence to the players. Chelsea and Spurs have adopted it earlier this season, so it does seem to be effective. Hope he sticks with it as most Wenger teams in recent years have been too open to the counter attack. This might be the answer.

TR7 > CR7

It was not a “great finish” you idiot commentator, it was an open net following a lucky deflection. Dele Alli is a violent little thug and I’m being totally serious when I say he should be in jail. [1]

[1] Alli D.; 2017


Until we can improve our own scouting we could do a lot worse than pounce on any player sp*rs try to buy (like chelski did with willian).

Ali was a gamble that has clearly worked but Bale, wanyama, Vertonghan & atterweld were no brainers for me


Scary thing is if we did try to gazump sp*rs would the player actually choose us?

Andy Mack

It should be pointed out that if a PL team had picked up Greizman or Kante as a youth then we don’t know for certain if they’d have developed into the players they are now. By playing in other leagues they have been afforded the opportunity to play 1st team games where they wouldn’t have in the PL. The PL is so competitive throughout that there are no easy games to ‘Blood’ a youngster, whereas all the other leagues in Europe lack this level of depth. So would they have been sent on loan to Preston or Bolton? Would that… Read more »


This is the same old excuse. I feel Arsenal need a new coach.

Andy Mack

You mean it’s the same excuse that other teams use when they don’t buy future stars? Do they all need new coachs as well?
Or are you ignoring the topic of discussion here to make a point about the manager…


Wenger: we need to improve our scouting.
Fans: we need to improve our everything.
Boardroom: everything is fine, plebs.

Hassan Hassam

Oh, and Cech BEFORE he went to Chelsea, IBRAHIMOVIC etc etc. Arsene HAS to have an opinion on Everyone that Makes it to the Top, and/or ANYthing for that matter (inc How many Countries should be Contesting the WORLD CUP?) Please let us have your opinion sir, On Exactly WHY we didn’t take up Our Option on the Re-Signing of Cesc FABREGAS? ‘our’ Captain before he went to Barca, +plus 2yrs More Mature/Wiser, Always Led by Example on the Pitch, Initially Replaced an Abs. Colossus such as Patrick VIEIRA (NO Less!). Suffice to add, who went On to WIN the… Read more »

Hassan Hassam

There was ‘ZERO’ Scouting Needed then, With a Lad who Grew Up at ARSENAL and Abs. LOVED the Club (Watched ‘our’ Games even) AND who Knew the EPL inside out, unlike the Xhaka’s & the Elnenys? Oh, and when we had Vermaelen at the Club, his Best Buddy ….. one Named ‘VERTONGHEN’ was So Keen to Join us; but Alas our ‘Non Scouting Required Dept’ Let him sign for ’em Poxy Sp#rs!!

Hassan Hassam

Previous ‘Scouting Led’ signings of Defenders under Mr. Wenger’s Watch include: Igor STEPANOVS, Pascal CYGAN, Phillipe SENDEROS, Statis TAVLARIDIS, Ignasi MIGUEL, Seb SQUILLACI and Of course ….. a certain Mr. Gabriel PAULISTA!!

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