Arsene Wenger is not ‘in the conversation’ when the topic of great Premier League managers are being discussed, claims Graeme Souness.
The Premier League celebrated its 30th anniversary two days ago and as expected, many took time to reflect on the all-time highs and low since the competition took a new shape in 1992.
One of the topics that came with the three-decade anniversary is the matter of coaches that have left a mark on the competition since that time.
Manchester United icon Sir Alex Ferguson and ex-Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger had a famous rivalry between them and left such an influence that is still talked about in English football today.
For Graeme Souness, Wenger was not exactly special and should not be mentioned in the bracket of great Premier League managers.
Indeed, Wenger holds the record as the longest serving manager in Premier League history, having managed Arsenal from 1996 to 2018.
In that time, he led the Gunners to three Premier League titles, whilst claiming the FA Cup on seven occasions and reaching the Champions League final in 2006.
Perhaps his greatest achievement came in the 2003/04 season where he led the Gunners to a famous unbeaten campaign, now dubbed as ‘The Invincibles’, for a feat which still hasn’t been matched till today.
Regardless, Liverpool and Rangers legend Souness claims the Frenchman his impact is far less than that of Ferguson and current Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola.
Souness makes controversial claim
When asked if Wenger has a legacy like Ferguson and Guardiola, Souness said: “No, not for me.”
“I think he had a fantastic 10 years, but he did inherit the best back-five arguably in world football. He had a knowledge of French football when France produced the best group of players in the history of French football and he had an insight before anyone else did.”
“For 10 years they were the real deal, then for another decade I don’t think he came anywhere near that.
“I think [the greatest legacy] goes to Fergie, he built three or four teams, his legacy is the largest.”
“Pep has definitely bought something different into our game, the playing out from the back was creeping into the game but it was a surge when he arrived, with pitches improving you could do that more.”
“Central defenders and full-backs were never entirely comfortable taking the ball in their own box, but the game has evolved and everyone now does it in the higher leagues, I would say he has had a major major influence on where the game has gone.”
Another baseless claim?
Souness is not new to controversy and statements like these put his judgments under scrutiny. Wenger created a certain style and made Arsenal a force to be reckoned with. He also created a ‘culture’ at the club that is still referenced to till date.
If ‘The Invincibles’ feat is no big deal, why are we yet to see another team replicate that feat? Even Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City have tried but continue to fall short on several occasions.
Ferguson himself has severally described Wenger as one of the greatest Premier League managers of all time and that pretty much sums it up