Right man or Wright man?

Norman Fox studies the qualities which drew Arsenal to Arsene Wenger

Arsene Wenger says he is looking forward to moving to London - if invited, of course. But there's London and there's London Colney, which is where Arsenal managers spend a lot of their time. Had he been there early last week he would have had a better idea of what managing this unsettled old club really means.

London Colney is a less than idyllic suburb of St Albans, almost on the hard shoulder of the M25. Here Arsenal have their training ground, and here they have their private rows, which over the past few seasons have become regular occurences. The latest came when Ian Wright was told by several of the other senior players that they had heard him defending David Dein, the club's full-time vice-chairman, who also happens to be the main influence behind the expected signing of Wenger and Bruce Rioch's dismissal. Rioch may not have been completely accepted by all of the Arsenal squad, but most of them sympathised because he had his hands tied by Dein and the directors who had complete control over transfers. Dein had "persuaded" Wright not to leave the club last season, so Wright supports him. Wenger is going to find himself in the middle of more domestic problems than the welfare of Paul Merson.

What the fans will be asking is whether, even if he is given the right to sign his own players, he has the influence, standing and contacts to do so. Though recognised as an outstanding coach who can make the most of whatever talent is available, which he did successfully at Monaco, he is not known for doing what Arsenal badly need, buying players rather than developing them.

His philosophy is not so different from that of Rioch before he became demoralised at Highbury. We were going to see a more attacking Arsenal and more use of midfield enterprise. We did, but briefly. Rioch said he wanted a more entertaining Arsenal. Wenger says much the same. His ambition is to discover and promote "super-stars". He regretted that Euro 96 saw no new ones, so what chance of finding them at London Colney?

Gerard Houlier, director of football in France, has watched Wenger's progress over several years and says: "He is very capable but has never been tested in a league as competitive as you now have in England." Wenger himself says that is the reason he is interested in coming. "If I stay for too long in Japan I will lose touch with what is happening in Europe. And what is happening in England is that it is becoming the heart of European football," he said.

His time at Grampus Eight in Japan has seen him attract some useful players, mainly from France. He took over from Gordon Milne and inherited Dragan Stojkovic but Gary Lineker had already gone so he had to act quickly, buying Gerald Passi from St Etienne and Frank Durix from Nantes. Then he asked Boro Primorac, the former Cannes coach, to become his assistant. Arsenal can expect a strong Gallic connection, but the question is whether Wenger has sufficient connections elsewhere to rebuild an ageing team.

Wenger's background is unlikely to impress Arsenal fans who had been hoping for Johan Cruyff. After graduating in economics he played amateur football for Mutzig, Mulhouse, Vauban and Strasbourg. He spent seven years at Monaco, quickly taking them to the French championship and promoting the talents of, among others, George Weah.

Nevertheless, Monaco and Arsenal can hardly be compared since the average gate in the Principality rarely exceeds 5,000. Grampus Eight is bigger but still isolated from the hub of world football. Bayern Munich's Jurgen Klinsmann, who played under Wenger at Monaco, said: "It was not easy in Monaco to think of the club or even football as being important, but Arsene made sure the club became accepted as a big influence on French football."

l William Hill, who took a string of bets about Rioch losing his job, are already offering odds of 5-1 about the next Arsenal manager failing to survive until the final day of the Premiership season. "Shrewd punters won thousands of pounds when Rioch was sacked," the Hills spokesman Graham Sharpe said. "So we are trying to win some of it back by offering odds about his successor."

Stan Hey, page 21

Life and Style
A teenager boy wakes up.
life
Life and Style
It is believed that historically rising rates of alcohol consumption have contributed to the increase
food + drink
Voices
The erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has already been blamed for a rise in the number of callouts to the fire brigade for people trapped in handcuffs
voicesJustine Elyot: Since Fifty Shades there's no need to be secretive about it — everyone's at it
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
Arts and Entertainment
The White Sails Hospital and Spa is to be built in the new Tunisia Economic City.
architectureRussian billionaire designs boat-shaped hospital for new Dubai-style Tunisia Economic City
Arts and Entertainment
You could be in the Glastonbury crowd next summer if you follow our tips for bagging tickets this week
music
Sport
Husain Abdullah returns an interception off Tom Brady for a touchdown
nflLeague has rules against 'sliding to ground on knees'
Life and Style
tech
Extras
indybest
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Java Developer - web services, XML and API

£330 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Lond...

Maths Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Reading: Maths Teacher required to teach Furthe...

Primary teachers required for schools in Norwich

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary teachers requ...

Trainee Helpdesk Analyst / 1st Line Application Support Analyst

£18000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style