Enclosures, round tables and parking lots – How Arsène Wenger created the culture of Arsenal

Few clubs are as proud of their history, traditions and values ​​as Arsenal.

Arsene Wenger embraced that upon his arrival in 1996 and his hospitality in making sure that every visitor to the stadium or training ground was at the heart of it.

The values ​​and DNA of the club is an expression often used in football. But what does this mean in concrete terms? And can one person set the tone for an entire club? Wenger’s ideal was that he could – and that should be his legacy.

For example, there is a special way to greet players in The Arsenal Way with a unique touch that each new signing is given when they join the club.

They receive a “signature pen” with their name, date and Arsenal Football Club engraved, which has been designed to respect the tradition and values ​​of the club.

Arsene Wenger has created many little touches at Arsenal to create a pleasant environment


Jamie McDonald / Allsport)

Former Arsenal transfer fixer Dick Law revealed: the day.

“The club secretary’s office went in search of a supplier and from that moment the players of the first team and the Academy had a tangible memory of the day they signed their contract – name, date and Arsenal Football Club engraved on the pen The Arsenal route.

It’s those personal touches the club have always been proud of and it’s Wenger who put so much thought and design into every touch of the training ground.

Amid careful planning, Wenger insisted on:

  • ROUND tables in the dining room of the training ground so that no one is seen at the head of the table
  • There were no allocated spaces in the parking lot and Wenger himself drove the same car for many years while Gilberto Silva drove a BMW 3 Series from day one to day one.
  • ORGANIZE each visitor personally rather than having their personal assistant do it to make guests feel special. They even welcomed Toyota boss Akio Toyoda and several colleagues to London Colney in October 2016 as they wanted to pay tribute to Wenger 20 years after leaving Grampus Eight for Arsenal.
  • INSPECT different colored tile material samples, cutlery samples, even table and chair samples while requiring you to look at each room’s closets and what would be inside.
  • THE main building became sacrosanct without authorized officers, journalists or assistants as they had to report to the media building across the parking lot.
  • A PERSONAL touch even in the directors’ box because even an hour before the kick-off, Wenger went around the tables and stopped to chat with all the guests. The director’s table was next to the general manager’s table and the president’s table as a sign of respect for his role in building the stadium.

Law recalls: “It is difficult to explain how values ​​permeate an organization. Strong values ​​such as respect for others, having a personal touch, restraint in personal behavior, simplicity, modesty and frugality can move from one department to another to awaken awareness everywhere.

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Wenger’s legacy is still felt at Arsenal


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“Arsène excelled in the practice of management by ‘walking around’. The pressures of any high level management position can often cause individuals to isolate themselves in their office.

“Arsène was a constant presence: in the staff offices, the kit room and even the laundry room. The message was clear – the ‘gaffer’ – was interested in all aspects of the football department and, more importantly, was visible. “

But Wenger has also made his presence felt among the UAE hierarchy to make everyone feel special when they visit the stadium or training ground.

Law said: “Sometimes as late as an hour before each home game, Wenger was in the Director’s Box directors lounge, leisurely going around the tables to make everyone feel special by stopping to chat, saying hello and chatting.

“This personal touch made the experience of watching an Arsenal match in the director’s dressing room unique. Visitors felt valued and respected.

“During these sleight of hand, Arsène was the embodiment of the club’s class. To my knowledge, no other top football coach or manager wants to be part of the club’s identity.

“When the new London Colney training ground was built, the dining room was central to the design. Arsène has planned a space with key characteristics: no physical barriers and where you sat defined your status.

“The Academy players were seated at the north end of the dining hall and the first team at the other end. Food was served from a buffet that served all players equally. But there was an unwritten rule. The Academy players sat with the Academy staff and the first team sat with the first team staff.

“The training ground dining room had to be a comfortable space. The visual perception created by the space was also important to Arsène: open, high ceilings, lots of light and a view of the training grounds.

“The Manager’s Table at London Colney, Arsenal’s training ground, was the point of reference in the room. It could comfortably accommodate six people, eight at a pinch. More than that, it was the elbows all pulled back.

Arsene Wenger trains with Gunnersaurus

“Sitting with him were the first members of the team who would arrive at varying intervals after training and with some frequency, Arsene’s guests. More importantly, it was a vantage point for Arsene to see who was coming and going.

“But attention to detail has become a management lesson for all staff. Sean O’Connor, the new facility manager, was commissioned by Arsène to bring him samples of tiles of different colors, samples of cutlery, even samples of tables and chairs. Arsène insisted on the round tables to minimize the hierarchy. In a circle, there is no “head of the table”.

These guests were a wide range of football legends, managers and businessmen who formed a fascinating who’s who – but it was always Wenger who organized it.

Law said: “When it came to inviting a personal guest to Colney, Arsene did it himself. Not once has his personal assistant organized things. When another coach, player or friend showed up, it was because Arsene organized it.

“Arsène’s guests ranged from prominent sports personalities to close personalities. Eddie Jones, Avram Grant, Christian Karembeu, Sami Hyypia, Paul McGinley or AP McCoy. The most notable guest, however, was in October 2016.

“Sir. Akio Toyoda and senior management at Toyota Corporation flew overnight from Japan to pay tribute to Arsene on the 20th anniversary of his departure from Nagoya Grampus Eight and his arrival at Arsenal.

“Arsene’s respect for Japan and the Japanese people is well reported, but it was nonetheless a remarkable moment to see one of London’s leading business figures Colney.

“They watched practice, had lunch, visited Arsene in his office and returned to Japan. The manager’s table barely had enough room even with the elbows tucked in.

Wenger’s attention to detail and perfection was crucial. He inherited Field Manager Steve Braddock on his arrival and Paul Burgess joined him later, but they were also perfectionists and placed almost more importance on the training ground than the stadium.

And while they knew their place in the training ground dining hall, there was a special incentive for academy players when it came to their pitches.

Arsène Wenger tried to make the training ground a privileged place

“Academy players trained within 100 meters of the first team and many Academy players were surprised one morning when asked to train with the first team,” recalled Law. “Arsène wanted the young players to see the first team as an ambitious goal.”

Wenger also tried to keep the training ground special. “You were only there by invitation. It was a special place,” Law said.

“When I became head of football operations at Arsenal in August 2009, Arsène and I discussed the location of his office. The two agreed that front desk officers in and around the main building would be a problem.

“Agents, even the wisest, would find it irresistible to approach other players. We decided to set up my office in the media building, a safe distance from players and staff.

“Simplicity and restraint were the tone of Training Ground. The entrance to Bell Lane was easy to miss as there was no sign. The only indication that this little alleyway might have been the entrance to a football club was a sign telling fans that players wouldn’t stop for autographs.

Arsene Wenger’s off-field touches led to a lot of silverware

“There were no allocated parking spaces in the first team parking lot. Arsene drove the same car for years and sort of set the tone. The best example could be Gilberto Silva who, from day one to the last at Arsenal, drove a BMW 300 series.

“For each employee of the football department, Arsène had only one instruction: ‘do your job’. In a world defined by the last game outcome, people tend to second guess others or worse, meddle in someone else’s area of ​​responsibility.

When people talk about a club’s values ​​or DNA, it’s often hard to describe what that really means other than something that has become rather cliché.

But in the case of Arsenal in the Wenger era, these values ​​are best explained by the simple but elegant touch of one of the true greats of English football.

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