Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira says Arsene Wenger’s trust in his players is both his biggest strength and his biggest weakness.
In the ITV documentary ‘Keane & Vieira: Best Of Enemies’, released in 2013, an interviewer asked the Frenchman what he thought his former manager’s biggest strength was.
“Trust,” Vieira responded. “He trusts his players. He will try to make you make the right decision by yourself, not him telling you what you expect or what you want to do.”
The interviewer then asked about weaknesses:
“That [trust] can be a weakness as well,” Viera admitted. “Because sometimes as a player, you need a good kick in your ass.”
I think we’ve seen the evidence of this pretty clearly in recent seasons. Wenger seems to have endless amounts of faith in some players, regardless of performances.
For example, many supporters think Granit Xhaka has had some pretty significant dips in form this season. Yet the Swiss midfielder has started every single league game, both League Cup semi-finals and the Community Shield. Wenger believes in him, so he never drops him.
I’m actually one of the few who like Xhaka, and think the 25-year-old will come good in the right system. Even I would’ve dropped him once or twice this campaign though.
On the other hand, perhaps the January window showed Wenger is starting to become a little more ruthless. He sold Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud, two players who consistently showed loyalty to Arsenal. Francis Coquelin even more so, as an academy product who always gave 100%.
Still, I think supporters want to see the manager show that same ruthlessness with the players who stick around. Everyone needs to know they’re accountable for their actions on the pitch. Hopefully the Arsenal team all do, but it doesn’t seem like it.