Petr Cech has issued a withering assessment of Arsène Wenger’s final years with Arsenal, claiming that following “the Arsenal way” became more important than winning.
Cech, who played for three seasons under Wenger, said the French manager effectively gave up any prospect of winning the Premier League by dogmatically adhering to his principles at the expense of positive results.
The goalkeeper’s comments are more overtly critical of Wenger than any other current Arsenal player has been.
Speaking after he had helped Arsenal to a fourth successive victory in the league, Cech said: “In the past, I would say the ‘Arsenal way’ was more important than getting the points sometimes and this is not how you win the league.”
Cech said Arsenal’s failure to sustain a title challenge under Wenger showed the club had lost the understanding of what it takes to succeed.
Speaking after Arsenal’s win over Everton on Sunday, Cech said Unai Emery, the new head coach, is working gradually to release Arsenal from their cycle of underachievement.
He said: “This club have not won the league for over ten years. So, obviously, you need to get back into knowing how to do it. We started with the new manager from scratch, basically, and we try to get this mentality of winning every game, progressing every game, working every day and, hopefully, we can build this up and win the title sooner rather than later. That will make the big difference.”
“For any club who wins titles in the recent years, you have a team with the know-how how to finish it off, and you can see it in any sport. I take Tiger Woods: [it was] ten years since he won a major tournament. The longer it goes on, the harder it becomes.
“Sometimes you need to make sure you win an ugly game, when you are not playing well but you just dig deep, close the back door and win 1-0 no matter how. This is what we lacked. [Against Everton], we went through difficult moments but got the win with the clean sheet, so this is very positive.”
In a further criticism of Wenger’s methods, Cech said Emery’s regime was far more challenging of the players than his predecessor’s.
He said: “I think the place became much more demanding in every way. So this is great to see because this is what initially drives everybody forward and gives you the kind of kick, that ‘I’m not doing enough to start the game’ or ‘I’m not doing enough to keep my spot in the game’ because the manager asked for precision and hard work. This is how it should be. We have very healthy competition and we are actually taking the benefit of it. It comes from the everyday work and the manager’s way of playing the game as well.”