Tony Adams has somewhat sensationally claimed that Arsenal Arsene Wenger “couldn’t coach his way out of a paper bag”, and cannot deal with having big characters in and around his first-team set-up.
The Arsenal legend launched the stinging attack on Wenger, under whom he played for six years, in his autobiography Sober: My Story, which has been serialised by the Sun newspaper.
In his memoirs, Adams explained how Wenger always tried to avoid confrontation with his first-team stars whenever possible – a trait that left Adams fuming over standards not being met when, during his playing days, the Frenchman opted to move training sessions to later in the day to appease latecomers such as Ian Wright and Emmanuel Petit.
— Ben Winston (@benwinston) May 12, 2017
Adams writes: “He [Wenger] never has liked confrontation.
“I recall a time when Ian Wright was coming from Croydon and getting in late for training most days. Arsene simply made training later but the boys were fuming.
“We as players then told Wrighty to get his act together. It was the big players who policed the group rather than Arsène.
“Then there was a time when Manu Petit walked on to the training ground after a session had begun. I asked Arsene if he was going to do anything about it but he just shrugged his shoulders. I went mad. Standards needed to be set and followed.”
1. This is very very rich, coming from Adams.
2. What does that expression even mean? Why’d you have to coach your way out of a _paper bag_? https://t.co/Ft89HThqmK
— Priya Ramesh (@Priya8Ramesh) May 19, 2017
Despite winning three Premier League titles during his 20-year tenure at Arsenal, Wenger has come under fire, particularly this season, from the club’s fanbase over his perceived inability to lead the club back to the trophy-laden years of his early seasons.
Adams, who was surprisingly handed the managerial reins at now-relegated La Liga club Granada in April, doesn’t believe that the 67-year-old has the capacity to deal with footballers or staff members who would challenge his authority – a point he pushed home by recalling when Wenger resisted calls to bring Adams and his fellow Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira back to the club in the mid-2000s.
He continued: “Looking back, I believe there were a couple of major reasons why Arsene didn’t want me back at Arsenal. First, the club had put up a statue of me outside the Emirates and — given the career I’d had — it might have been difficult for Arsene to bring me in at that time.
“He was coming under pressure for not winning a major trophy and to have me around as a successful old captain might have highlighted the underachievement.
“Patrick Vieira once suggested Arsene does not like big characters and personalities around, especially ones from Arsenal’s history. Perhaps Arsene thought I might be too challenging for him.”
Adams also claimed that Wenger is not the superb coach that fans and critics have been led to believe, and added that the former Nagoya Grampus boss has resisted calls to install the ex-centre back as a member of his backroom team as a result.
He wrote: “Arsene is essentially not a coach — and that is the second reason why I believe he didn’t want me. Back in the day I said in an interview coaching wasn’t Arsene’s strong point.
“Actually in the original draft, I said he couldn’t coach his way out of a paper bag. And though I modified that in the final article, it didn’t go down well. It all left me feeling that I would never get a chance in any capacity while Arsene was there.”
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