Arsene Wenger Was a Far Better Coach Than Sir Alex Ferguson


Don't worry; I am fully aware of how absurd this statement seems on the outside. Just hear me out. Let's get the obvious out of the way; yes, Ferguson won more trophies than Wenger, like a lot more. Twenty more, to be exact. So, how can I know that discrepancy and claim Wenger is the better manager? The answer lies in the lasting impact of the two.

I measure the quality of a manager in the macro, not the micro, meaning how much of an overall impact they had on the sport.

When talking about greatness, lasting influence should matter, particularly in an occupation such as coaching, where winning trophies can have more to do about the financial backing a manager receives versus their actual ability.

This leads me to Wenger > Ferguson.

Go ahead, tell me what lasting impact Ferguson has had on the sport . . . I'll wait. Are there teams mimicking his tactical setups or playing styles? Does he have a stream of former players and assistants coaching at high levels? Go ahead; describe one thing Ferguson's teams were known for on or off the pitch that teams still utilize today.

Ferguson excelled in an era where coaching was about motivation and man-management, not tactics. It is why there is no lasting influence his teams have had on the sport despite all the trophies they won. You could even argue that Ferguson's retirement came right as the sport evolved into the uber-tactical modern age, an area where he had a clear weakness. Evidence of this is the two Champions League final losses he suffered to a young Pep Guardiola in 2009 and 2011. Wayne Rooney went on to say he felt as if Ferguson committed tactical suicide as all he told the team was to press high and attack. The same generic tactical advice a 15-year-old with experience playing FIFA would give you.

Ferguson is the ultimate champion, but he won simply from having better players than his opponents, not any nuanced coaching- that's the truth. When you adjust for inflation, Ferguson and United spent extravagantly to ensure they remained on top:

Dimitar Berbatov was a $106 million transfer. 

Wayne Rooney was a $143 million transfer. 

Andy Cole was a $122 million transfer. 

Rio Ferdinand was a $158 million transfer.

Meanwhile, Wenger and his Arsenal teams did not spend nearly as much, resulting in fewer trophies, but his coaching philosophies have passed the test of time. The free-flowing-ball dominant playing style he originated has spread throughout the modern game. He is credited as the first manager to enforce healthier lifestyles for professional players that did away with smoking and heavy drinking. His training methods concentration on technical ability and passing is something that virtually every team now mimics in one way or the other.

Basically, I can point to 10 ways Wenger's influence can be seen in the modern game, while I'd argue you can't name even one with Ferguson. It is not to say Ferguson is not one of the greatest coaches of all time. His ability to adapt and excel through different eras is a testament to his immense leadership skills. But at the end of the day, when we want to narrow it down to who was the more influential coach, Wenger runs away with that.

Ferguson is a relic of the past that Manchester United fans will hold on to forever, whereas Wenger was a man ahead of his time whose lasting impact we see all over the modern game.

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