Sunderland boss ready to do battle with ‘genius’ Wenger

21 November 2009 10:52
ARSENE WENGER will arrive on Wearside today, having been labelled a managerial genius by Steve Bruce. The Sunderland boss, however, feels the arrival of his Arsenal counterpart 13 years ago prevented more home-grown managers from being offered roles in the top flight.

Despite a recent rise in British Premier League managers, there remains a healthy contingent of continental coaches holding some of the top jobs in the English game.

Bruce feels that is a direct result of the Wenger influence.

But the Sunderland boss has complete respect for the way Wenger has gone about transforming the face of the Gunners since taking over from Bruce Rioch in 1996.

The difference nowadays is that to be a British Premier League boss you have to bring a team up into the top division with you, said Bruce, who won promotion with Birmingham 2½ years ago.

That's what I believe.

There's very few who have been appointed like David Moyes, who did well at Preston and went to Everton and stayed there. Most have brought teams into the Premier League. Mick McCarthy, Tony Pulis, Owen Coyle, Phil Brown, there you go.

It did used to be boring, boring Arsenal, who won 1-0, but what this guy has done has been to the detriment of the British manager.

Other chairmen have thought they needed a foreign manager and followed him.

He is a genius. The way they play.

Take that in the right way, I have the utmost respect, he is an absolute genius. To compete at what he does, to buy what he does, to sell at what he does .

Let's be fair, he sold £50m in the summer in Adebayor and Toure, he brings Vermaelen in and he scores five from defence. He's fantastic at what he does.

He has to be one of the greats, even though he might not have won that many trophies in recent years. To produce the players he has for the last 12, 13 years is phenomenal.

Given Bruce's background as a Manchester United player, he experienced the rivalry with Arsenal during the late 90s, when Wenger's initial impact heralded the likes of Robert Pires and Dennis Bergkamp.

That team I played against those years ago was some team, but then there was the Thierry Henry and all that.

Henry was £11m, Nicolas Anelka was £500,000. It's just football to him, it's incredible,

said Bruce.

They are a fantastic team to watch, they have great individual players, who are worth their entrance fee at any ground in the country.

For me, when Arsenal come to town it is THE big occasion.

There are similarities in the way Bruce has gone about his business on the transfer front, but the Sunderland manager claims he has never used Wenger as a blueprint for success.

Bruce had a meeting with his scouts this week our dad's army, with the bus passes and the walking sticks, he claims to plot the next route towards bringing in his very own unknown talent.

Sunderland have been exploring the South American market since Bruce took over, an area where he has had success in the past when he worked with Wilson Palacios, Antonio Valencia, Maynor Figueroa and Hugo Rodallega at Wigan.

What I try to do is unearth a player that I can get value for money from, said Bruce.

I don't try to copy anybody.

The grounding I have had at previous clubs meant I didn't have the financial resources where I could just go out and buy somebody from the Premier League. I had to go out and find someone who I could nurture. I begged, steeled and borrowed.

He may not have been a capture from South America, but Albanian midfielder Lorik Cana is already looking like a bargain buy worthy of a bigger price-tag.

Cana arrived in the summer for £4.5m from Marseille, despite interest from Arsenal, and Bruce has revealed he feared Everton would actually have won the race to sign the 26-year-old.

I'm delighted he has not gone to a top four side but he certainly has the hunger and ambition to play for a top four, said Bruce, who has his captain back after a onematch suspension today.

But the team I feared the most was Everton. It happened quickly.

I chased someone else first because I didn't think we had much chance.

He has taken this level by storm. He has become a cult hero.

He is very exuberant and we have to curb that a little.

He has been terrific and he can only get better.

Source: Northern_Echo