Glory boys could doom Wenger

"The great fallacy is that the game is first and last about winning. It is nothing of the kind. The game is about glory, it is about doing things in style and with a flourish, about going out and beating the lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom." – Danny Blanchflower.

IT sounds terribly "Old Testament" now but there is no more admirable quote in football and no club has ever tried harder to live up to it than Spurs.

Blanchflower was, of course, skipper in their glory years and they've copyrighted it, patented it, given themselves a 99-year lease on it. Now they like to think it's in their DNA.

They had it plastered all over White Hart Lane and have taken it to Wembley where you can catch it between the perimeter advertising and the big screen.

They've had their moments of glory, of course, and some great players – Hoddle, Waddle, Gazza, Ardiles to name a few. But for all that, there has been a lack of substance and for much of the past six decades the motto has been a millstone around their neck.

Nowhere more than at Arsenal where, to paraphrase Gary Lineker, the north London derby has long been "a game in which 22 men chase a ball and the Gunners end up winning".

The sense of inevitability was as palpable as it was with the Germans: Spurs have won once at Arsenal in their last 24 visits. And Arsene Wenger's hex over his neighbours continued long after he'd lost it over everybody else.

But now there's a discernible shift in the tectonic plates and fans from north London to the North Pole have heard the rumble: Spurs are the coming side, Arsenal are yesterday's men.

Or perhaps, more precisely: Mauricio Pochettino is the coming man, Wenger the old dictator who, like Mugabe, has lingered too long, kept in office by an absentee owner who once said: "I didn't buy Arsenal to win trophies".

As Scrooges go, Stan Kroenke has a soulmate in Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, but the real difference in the clubs right now is what separates the men in the dugout.

Wenger's once revolutionary ideas have been superseded by those of a younger, more vibrant generation of managers of whom Pochettino is a prime mover.

Unlike Wenger, the Argentine does not suffer from verbal diarrhoea and lets his players do the talking on the pitch. He has faith in youngsters and has quietly built an impressive Tottenham side with a home-grown core.

Even without winning any silverware, he has become the most coveted manager in the game and is priced at short odds to be the next Man United boss if Real Madrid and PSG don't beat them to it.

It's not just his eye for talent but the faith he puts in that talent that has earned him his illustrious reputation – he actually improves players as can be seen with the transformation in the likes of Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Eric Dier, Harry Winks and Kieran Trippier – with the England national side a grateful beneficiary. Not to mention Christian Eriksen.

Wenger once had an even more stellar reputation with youngsters but, like other aspects of his management, he's lost his touch. It is a long time since he unearthed a gem and now looks tired, past it and muddled.

Take his handling of his wantaway stars, Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil. After the debacle that saw him hand United the title on a silver platter by selling them Robin van Persie, he understandably dug in over the afore-mentioned duo.

But what Arsenal have ended up with is the worst of both worlds. Neither has contributed this season and they have looked as if they'd rather be somewhere else. So Arsenal have managed to miss out both on their monetary and performance value.

And they could both end up leaving in January for peanuts. In fact, Sanchez is strongly linked with Man City at a knockdown £20 million (RM110m) and could be the final piece in the jigsaw that clinches the title for them.

Under his old mentor, Pep Guardiola, the Chilean would surely bring the ruthlessness in front of goal that City sometimes lack. Also, given the number of injuries that have befallen Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus in recent seasons, he could be their insurance policy. Either way, Pep could well be as grateful as Fergie was to his Arsenal benefactor.

But Wenger's confused thinking is apparent in team selection and tactics too. Take the reluctance to start record signing Alexandre Lacazette who bagged two more in midweek for France against Germany. Take the presence of almost everyone but centrebacks in central defence in recent times. Take the selection of Frances Coquelin at the Etihad.

Yet still the Frenchman is trying to talk the team into thinking they're title contenders. Few fans are buying it and it doesn't look as if many players are either.

But as Petr Cech pointed out this week, this Spurs side has yet to win anything. While Gooners lament 14 long years without the League title, you don't need to know why the Cockerel doesn't crow much about the term drought: they last won the league in 1961.

They look the more likely candidates to end it, though, and even if, tomorrow, Arsenal spring what would be an upset, Pochettino's men will surely reap a rich long-term harvest if they can be kept together. You can hardly say that about Arsenal under their busted flush of a manager.

Unlike certain Big Six games we could mention, this clash could have goals. Lacazette and Alex Iwobi both scored braces for their countries in midweek while Eriksen capped a masterly display for Denmark with a sublime hatrick.

If he, Kane and Alli are all recovered and inspire Spurs to victory, Wenger could be facing a long winter of discontent. As well as the final eclipse of an old man who didn't know when to quit, it could herald the rise of a young manager with the world of football at his feet. And not a little glory.

Bob's latest book Living the Dream is on sale at MPH, Kinokuniya and Popular bookstores. Bob will be signing copies at Sid's Pub @ Bangsar South, Jalan Kerinchi Kiri, Pantai Dalam KL next Sat (Nov 25) evening.