Like Football – Like Business

Arsene Wenger - Arsenal Football Coach

Arsene Wenger – Arsenal Football Coach

Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal coach and ‘Warren Buffett of football’ was quoted this August as saying:

“The common denominator of successful teams is that the players are intelligent. That does not always mean educated. They can analyse a problem and find a solution.

“The common denominator of a top-level person is that they can objectively assess their performance.

“You speak to a player after the game and ask him to rate his performance and if he analyses well, you know he is the sort who will drive home thinking, “I did this wrong, I did that wrong”. His assessment will be correct and, next time, he will rectify it. That player has a chance.

“The one who has a crap game and says he was fantastic, you worry for him. This is also true in life beyond football.”

What Wenger appears to be saying is that success on the football pitch, or in any practical walk of life, is more about a person’s ability to honestly assess and learn from their experiences.

Of course, there also needs to be some raw talent – but Wenger is explaining why some raw talent disappoints

and some raw talent becomes honed to (almost) perfection.

And, for that to happen, the player – or the entreprenuer, must do three key things.

  1. Honestly assess their performance – anyone is believes their business is stronger than it really is, or that they are a better sales manager, technical manager than they really are starts with a huge disadvantage – and that is that they believe they have nothing to learn. Honestly recognising that we all have a lot of learn is the first step – whilst also being to acknowledge that whilst we may be highly skilled and able people.
  2. Next, the player, or entrepreneur must turn over the events in his mind – before applying them on the football pitch or board room. The player who asks, how can I do that better, what must I do to improve will have a chance to succeed. So Wenger is talking about a relentless drive to improve what we do and to better ourselves. Entrepreneurs then need a commitment – almost obsession – to doing things better, cheaper or faster – than they’ve ever been done before. A bit like football players.
  3. Lastly, in honest reflection, Wenger admits that even this does not guarantee success – but that it is a necessary requirement for success. The football player or entrepreneur may not know this, but that does not mean it isn’t true.


So, honest appraisal of our strengths and weaknesses followed by a relentless desire to improve – is that gives each of us a chance at being a great entrepreneur.

Likewise Wenger insists that great teams are made up of intelligent players – and that does not necessarily mean educated.

No wonder then that the most important part of an entrepreneurial venture or start up is the team. Get that wrong and you’ll be demoted in no time. A bit like football then – which is obsessed with bring in and developing new team members… and a relentless desire to do better in every game.

But what is most stiking about Wenger’s comments is the fact that he defines attitude – the honest – the desire to improve – as the key attributes that have the potential of making a player great.

And, most helpfuly, he clearly describes what that means. He even implies that with a great attitude any of us will appear to be intelligent!

On a related note if you like to combine business and football, click here for conference facilities at United Events.

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by Editor

Leader. Speaker. Trainer. Helping snr execs and entrepreneurs achieve their business and funding goals.

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