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Anorak | Arsenal Balls: The changing styles of Arsene Wenger

Arsenal Balls: The changing styles of Arsene Wenger

by | 14th, November 2017

It looks like being another season of barely held together crisis for Arsenal – just for a change, writes Sunil Singh. 

After winning the FA Cup again in May, Wenger should probably have walked away from the job he has held for more than 20 years.

Instead, Wenger signed a two-year contract to extend his stay at the Emirates and Arsenal’s start to the season has been typically predictable.

After a rollicking 4-3 home win against Leicester City got the new Premier League season off to a flyer, Arsenal promptly lost back-to-back away games at Stoke City and Liverpool, the latter a humiliating 4-0 hammering.

A run of four clean sheets in a row in the league, with 10 points taken from those games, suggested Arsenal could have turned a corner. But Arsenal were too Arsenal-y for that.

Leading at Watford last weekend, they collapsed to a 2-1 loss at Vicarage Road and sit sixth in the table as a result – level on points with Burnley, of all teams.

But can we predict Arsenal’s twists and turns via Wenger’s wardrobe? Let’s give it a go!

The coat – an investigation

We have to start with Arsene’s coat, of course. It is arguably the most iconic piece of manager-wear of the Premier League era.

The sight of Wenger, ordinarily a very dapper man – he is French, after all – struggling to do up the zip on his jacket is a familiar one to all football fans. It’s a cliche these days.

Wenger’s coat in the 2014-15 Premier League season was a beauty. So long it would swallow a man of normal height hour, it billowed down below Wenger’s knees.

And he couldn’t do it up. Every game, it seemed, the television cameras would capture him grappling with the zip as his team fell apart in front of him. It was all too easy to draw a parallel.

The coat looked great, but it didn’t really work – or at least Wenger couldn’t get it to work. Just like this team, it was almost perfect. But not quite.

What Wenger’s coat says about him

Manager style is going through a big change in the Premier League right now.

While it used to be Wenger who brought massive innovations to English football – like eating right – now it is a new foreign influence who is educating us all over again.

Pep Guardiola sports trainers on the touchline, often with chinos and a nice v-neck jumper. It’s pure style – just like his Manchester City team.

Another manager has seen his fashion choices pored over in recent weeks – Antonio Conte.

The Italian donned stunning suits for most of last season as Chelsea romped to the Premier League title in his first season at Stamford Bridge.

But Conte appeared on the sideline for the first game of his side’s title defence in a shabby club tracksuit – with his team looking similarly out of sorts.

Burnley turned Chelsea over that day, running out 3-2 winners in a game that saw two of Conte’s players sent off. It is impossible to argue that the defeat was solely down to Conte ditching his suit for trackies, but it might well have been a small factor, at least.

How a manager dresses says a lot about him. To Wenger, his coat is all about function. It looks a bit naff, but it keeps him warm. It does the job just about well enough.

But when it doesn’t do the job – when he fumbles with the zip yet again – it makes you wonder why Wenger does not ditch it and upgrade for a better model. Just like his midfield.

Ryan, the editor of a highly respected online publication had this to say, “Wenger used to be a favourite of ours here at Gamblingkingz, but these days he is a relic that the Premier League could certainly do without. And the bookmakers feel the same way. While Arsenal used to be perennial title contenders under his leadership – with the odds reflecting that – now they are also-rans.”

How the other Premier League managers compare

In hindsight, Frank de Boer was always destined to fail when he was appointed at Crystal Palace as the replacement for Sam Allardyce after his shock departure.

De Boer rocked a blue blazer and cream chinos on the sidelines as he watched his Palace side struggling to get to grips with his Total Football style. It just wasn’t a good fit.

Mauricio Pellegrino also does not look quite right in his ‘athleisure’ gear consisting of a polo top and tracksuit bottoms. The colours of his club-branded gear make him look more like a Sainsbury’s assistant manager than the boss of a Premier League football club.

Some managers can pull off the casual look however, with Tony Pulis certainly among them.

The Welshman’s baseball cap is up there with Wenger’s billowing coat as one of the most iconic clothing items in Premier League history.

Pulis is rarely seen without it, pairing the hat with a tracksuit despite him approaching his 60s.

Another tracksuit boss is Jurgen Klopp. He is always in Liverpool-branded gear, giving the impression he is a manager who likes to get stuck in on the training ground. The defending of his team suggests otherwise, however.

Eddie Howe is a fan of the tracksuit too. The Bournemouth boss is so young – still somehow just 39! – that he probably would look like a child dressing up in his dad’s clothes if he wore a suit.

What about Jose Mourinho? Wenger’s old rival is not afraid to rock a tracksuit but he is usually smart in a suit on the touchline.

Opposition fans used to sing “that coat’s from Matalan” at Mourinho earlier in his career, but there is no doubt the United manager is one of the best dressed coaches in the league now.

Mauricio Pellegrino switches between the suit and the tracksuit as well – and he is one of the few Premier League managers who both looks comfortable in either outfit and pulls it off.

Some managers don’t quite suit the style of their team – Burnley’s Sean Dyche, for example. While he is never seen out of a dark suit, his team is much more rough round the edges.

Dyche’s smart style, of course, continues to make him look even more like a nightclub bouncer than his scary face and voice suggest.

So what can Wenger learn from his peers? Ultimately it doesn’t matter. Wenger has shown time and time again he has no interest in learning from anyone else. It’s his way or nothing.

Even if Wenger’s way is a ludicrously long coat that he can’t do up.



Posted: 14th, November 2017 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink