|Desc||A stalwart of the Arsenal team that won the 1997/98 and 2001/02 Premier League titles. Not bad for a £765k signing from Stoke which also saw Steve Bould join the Gunners|
|Club as Player||Arsenal FC|
2006 09 28 Publish: Dixon on Wenger’s 10 years at Arsenal
Arsene Wenger reminded me of my school geography teacher when I first encountered him at Arsenal’s London Colney training ground back in September 1996. I half expected him to have leather patches on the elbows of his jacket. Of course he didn’t, but that was the image given out by this studious-looking man
I’ve got to admit I hadn’t even heard of Arsene when he was appointed to take over from Bruce Rioch 10 years ago this week. I’d tried to do a bit of research on him, but there wasn’t much information available. What first struck me about him was how calm and softly spoken he was - the complete opposite of George Graham, who had a sergeant-major approach to management
And Arsene had all the players into his office to go over their contracts. He couldn’t believe what Nigel Winterburn and me were on. Traditionally full-backs were the worst-paid players in a football team - and we were no exception. But Arsene looked at what we were getting paid and said ‘that’s not right’ and we were given immediate wage rises
In my book, there’s nobody better at preparing a player for a match than Arsene Wenger. If one of his players doesn’t go out and play well on a Saturday, he can’t blame it on preparation
Arsene’s first signings were Gilles Grimandi, Patrick Vieira, Emmanuel Petit and Nicolas Anelka. None of us had really heard of any of them, but they came in and were absolutely fantastic, on and off the pitch. Arsene’s signings from day one until now have generally been excellent - he’s made very few mistakes in the transfer market
When he arrived at the club I was 32 and the rest of the ‘famous back four’ of Tony Adams, Martin Keown and Nigel Winterburn were over 30 as well. Yet we were all pretty open to Arsene’s new ideas. We were at an age when you begin to get a few niggles and start thinking that retirement isn’t too far away. Arsene told us he could extend our careers if we followed his advice, so we listened. I played six years under him before I retired, so his methods can’t be too bad
Arsene also encouraged us to be free in the way we played football and to do what came naturally on the pitch. It was liberating and the style of football we played changed dramatically
George Graham had taught me the art of defending, both as an individual and as part of a unit, and I’ve got a lot to thank him for. He laid the foundations for me to become the player I eventually turned into, but Arsene released the shackles. I was allowed to venture forward more and told not to worry about making mistakes
In truth, I think Arsene realised the back four was a little bit better than he had initially thought. Indeed in the end he probably kept us on a bit too long, because after we left - all at around the same time - there was a dip defensively
Arsene has undoubtedly been one of the biggest influences on the modern-day Premiership. His 10 years at Arsenal have flown by, and there haven’t been too many bad times. It was an absolute pleasure to play under him and I’m sure the players who are currently in the squad would agree. To work at that training ground every day and play at the Emirates on a Saturday, all under the guidance of professor Wenger, where better is there to ply your trade?
2015 08 20 Retrieve
[Lee Dixon on Thierry Henry] He was unplayable, there is not a bigger compliment than that
2016 04 23 Retrieve
[Arsenal legend Lee Dixon believes the absence of Aymeric Laporte is the main reason Manchester City have slipped so far behind Premier League title rivals Liverpool] I’m trying to put it down to one thing, I would probably say Laporte getting injured for me is the biggest factor.
I think he is a brilliant defender, I think he holds down that left-hand side of the defence, whoever is playing at left-back he can kind of control that side of the pitch and obviously his centre-half on the inside. So that’s a big area of pitch to replace somebody
You can put a body in there and I think that’s been a problem at centre-back as is well-documented, with Fernandinho going in there who’s a brilliant footballer but he’s not got that sixth sense of somebody just nicking in-behind him off his shoulder
The amount of times you go ‘they’re in position’ but somehow someone gets in, the little ones around the corner are difficult to deal with, especially around the box.
I think Laporte, his absence, has caused a real problem with that area of the pitch. And then taking Fernandinho out of [midfield] to put him elsewhere, there’s a kind of domino effect in the team. With the ball I don’t think they’re that different, they’re still brilliantly exciting to watch. But I think defensively that one area is affected a lot of the team and that’s probably why
2019 11 18 Retrieve
[Lee Dixon reckons there are no characters amongst the squad who will demand a change is made from head coach Emery] From [having] a shot at one end to conceding a penalty at the other end in the space of 20 seconds - that cannot happen, that has to stop. Now that game was Watford - I could have done Aston Villa at home, I could have done Liverpool away when he played a narrow midfield and let the Liverpool full-backs run the game, I could have picked any number of games and done the same analysis and just overlaid it onto the pitch
It’s happening every week - that has to stop and the players have got to go ‘We don’t know what you’re doing gaffer, can we change it? Can we change something?’. But there’s no leaders in that team, there’s no Patrick Vieira to go ‘boss can we change the system or something?’. Unai is banging the drum about how he wants to play and the players can’t do it
2019 11 23 Retrieve
[He believes that Emery has almost run out of time after 18 months in charge at the Emirates, with his team 19 points off a Champions League place and without a win in four league games] He cannot be under any illusion things have got to improve drastically. It has not been good enough. It is not his first season and so he cannot be cut any slack. 18 months in now everyone is looking at him
But we keep seeing a repeat of the mistakes. They keep getting hit on the break, giving the ball away, giving away chances. Things are not working. The question for Emery is - do you change the philosophy or do you change the players? He is at a crossroads
The buck stops with the manager. If the players can’t do what he wants, it is a problem. Do they understand what he wants them to do - and are they good enough to do it? I am seeing the same mistakes, and you have to ask - is it because he cannot get what he wants from the players? Or he does not know what he wants from them?
I’m not saying Unai Emery should be sacked. I think every manager should get two years to get it right, but I know I am living in a dream world. This is why pressure is on Emery. Can they solve the problems by buying in January? What are the board seeing? They have given him a warning. I think they are reluctant to push the button because it is too early. Arsenal look to do things the right way
But personally, if it was my money I would be reluctant to hand it over. To me they are a long way off. Buying players in January would not solve things. This next run of games is crucial for him. If they don’t get points and a place in the top four he is in trouble. That’s it for him
[Dixon believes that Swiss midfielder Xhaka, sidelined and stripped of the captaincy after telling fans to F*** off, has been made a scapegoat] George Graham or Arsene Wenger would not have handled it this way. Having a vote on who should be captain was ridiculous. It undermined Xhaka. He is a good player but not what Arsenal need. He tries but he has not got the football intelligence. But he has been made a scapegoat. He behaved badly. But to get rid of him because of that was the wrong reason. Now Emery is under pressure and he needs all his troops
[It is last chance saloon for the Spaniard] This run of games is crucial for Emery. It is a perfect run. Almost a free hit. If Arsenal cannot get a chunk of points and consolidate a place in the top four then he is in trouble. If that does not happen then I think that will be it for Unai. He won’t be there in the New Year
[Lee Dixon has warned Unai Emery needs to get the Gunners back on track] I think it’s important as a club, as players, as fans, as anything [to know that] being divided is never the way forward. Everyone demands different things, everyone demands different changes, but I don’t think that’s the way. The [right] way is accepting who we are, what we have, getting everyone together, supporting each other, and that is the way that we can reach our goals because one doing one thing, the other one doing the other, it’s never going to work