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Learn From The Professor: How Wenger Changed English Football

December 10, 2015

- Grant Whittington

During 18 years in charge of Arsenal, it is fair to say that Arsene Wenger has enjoyed significant highs and disappointing lows. Some may even claim that the Frenchman has underachieved during his time as Gunners’ manager, failing to deliver a European Champions League success and going nine years without a major honour despite having managed players such as Dennis Bergkamp, Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry and others in his time.

While there may be some degree of truth in such claims, there is no doubt that Wenger has had a largely positive influence during his time (both on Arsenal and English football as a whole). With this in mind, let’s explore Wenger’s influence and consider domestic football has changed thanks to the philosophy of the Frenchman…

The Introduction of Modern Training Methods

Perhaps the first major change triggered by Wenger was the introduction of modern and innovative training methods in England. Earning the nickname of ‘The Professor’ among sceptical Arsenal players, Wenger introduced the type of precise planning and meticulous preparation for games that was entirely alien even in the English top-flight. Short-burst sessions replaced turgid stamina workouts, for example, while a greater emphasis was also placed on ball control, technique and tactical awareness.

Changing Dietary and Nutrition Habits

On a similar note, Wenger also revolutionised dietary habits among players in England. At the start of the EPL era, players will still known to drink heavily and enjoy heavy food such as steak, but during Wenger’s time as manager of Grampus Eight in Japan he had become aware of the importance of nutrition to players. In came food items such as boiled vegetables, fish and rice, while fatty food such as chips and red meat became a thing of the past.

Sugar and sauces were also banned from the club canteen, and while Wenger faced initial opposition his on-field success soon laid down a template for the rest of the league to follow.

Introducing a Whole New Ball Game in England

Before the arrival of Wenger, there was a dearth of diversity in terms of playing styles in the English top-flight. There was also a distinct lack of foreign coaches, but Wenger’s success and longevity at Arsenal has enabled him to help changes this. His tenure has coincided with the development of a more technical passing and pressing game in England, for example, with clubs increasingly keen on being comfortable in possession rather than rigid and incredibly fit. The Invincibles season saw all his efforts come to fruition, creating one of the greatest sides in Premier League history and a run of results that may never be replicated.

Wenger’s success has also paved the way for foreign coaches to ply their trade in England, as other clubs have tried to tap into a wealth of continental knowledge and replicate Arsenal’s coaching model.

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