George Graham believes it’s now more important than ever to instil fear into players.
Graham had a reputation with his players as having a bit of a dictatorial management style, so much so that Anders Limpar said playing under Graham was like living under Saddam Hussein.
The ex-Arsenal boss responded to that claim by saying: “It never bothered me. There’s got to be a feeling of ‘Oh…!’ when the boss walks in. To some of the boys I went over the top but my head was on the line,” reports the Guardian.
“There’s this myth that because players are earning fortunes they can do what they want. I disagree. Most players, most people in fact, want to be led. Now, because they are strong financially you have to be even stronger. These new managers are great. Conte is strong. Guardiola too. Klopp is another.”
Arsene Wenger doesn’t have a reputation for being the kind of manager players are afraid of, with many seeing him more as a mentor. Graham probably didn’t give Arsène a mention for that reason.
In my experience, Wenger is more the type of manager who values and rewards loyalty. If a player works hard and says all the right things in the media, they tend to remain in the team for long periods of time.
For example, Granit Xhaka was praised by Arsène last year for his committed attitude in training. “He turns up every day in training with full commitment. He never misses a training session and that’s certainly why he has improved throughout the season,” reported the Mirror.
As a result, Xhaka is hardly ever dropped, even when some fans think he should be. On the other side of things, Theo Walcott has only started one match in the Premier League since he said that Crystal Palace “wanted it more” in Arsenal’s 3-0 loss in April.
Which style is more effective is up for debate, but Graham clearly values the fear-inspiring leader approach.