The Trouble With Arsene Wenger

This blog is nothing to do with football (for those who saw the title and were getting worried). It starts with a football story but ends there very quickly. Last night Arsenal got knocked out of the Champions League and they were not helped by a terrible refereeing decision. However, as I say I am not here to talk about that. The trouble with Arsene Wenger is that his team always seem to be victims to ‘terrible decisions’. We know this because he is regularly seen talking to the media straight after a game bemoaning his team’s bad luck, the terrible decision made by the referee, the dreadful tackle which went unpunished which would have changed their game, their season, his life, the team’s life: if only it had gone their way.

If you never watch football and only ever watched Arsene Wenger’s interviews you would very quickly agree that thier must be a terrible football conspiracy against Arsene Wenger’s team. How can one team attract such bad luck?

The real trouble with Arsene Wenger of course has nothing to do with the decisions. They have some bad ones made against them and some good ones in their favour, just like every other football team. So the decisions are not the problem, the real trouble is that the whole team now believe in Arsene Wenger’s conspiracy theory and react accordingly. Therefore, last night when one of their players was sent off for no good reason, leaving them one man short, the team all gave up. Admittedly they were playing arguably the most gifted team playing at the moment in Barcelona, but they had shown over the first leg and half of the second one that they could compete. I believe the real problem and the reason they gave up and went on to lose was because they have adopted their manager’s approach. As soon as the player was sent off they probably said to themselves and each other ‘That is what always happens to Arsenal. That is why we are now going to lose this match and go out of the Champions League because of that decision. It won’t be our fault for not giving 100%, it is the referee’s fault. We might as well give up now because that decision has just cost us the game’. They all knew that is exactly what their manager was going to say after the game (as of course he did) so they took on that approach there and then, even though there was 40 minutes to play for. They have heard their manager doing this so many times after a game they have adopted his same approach. ‘What is the point in fighting now – we can moan about our bad luck after the game and that will show them!’

So this very much is not about football. It is about what you tell your legal team and how you act and react in your practice. I have seen junior partners or solicitors happily throw ‘tantrums’ in reception or shout at support staff because for years they have seen the senior partner do it. It does not matter whether they are in front of clients or staff, the senior partner did it for years and so they have earned the right to do the same now. The senior partner can do nothing because he knows why it happens and is secretly pleased that someone is copying his method. Of course it is complete balloney, but I have seen this in several firms to know it is a pattern not a one off – it never ceases to amazes me.

The same applies in the way that the senior team treat their clients. If you treat them with respect, and totally believe that the Client is King, which they are, your staff will do the same. If you follow other solicitor’s approach of treating the client with contempt, then you can expect your staff to do the same (and kiss goodbye to the future of your firm at the same time).

Now more than ever in the legal profession each firm needs strong leaders who make the right decisions, who react appropriately and professionally to problems and who deal with staff and clients alike with respect. The trouble with Arsene Wenger is that he and his team are entrenched in the “woe is me” philosophy of life”. He goes looking for problems and guess what, he finds heaps of them. Don’t make the same mistakes with your firm. Look for the good, act in the right way and build a team of positive players who strive day and night to do the right thing for your law firm!

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