Arsène Wenger v Jeremy Corbyn: what do they have in common?

The ‘Wenger Out’ meme has made another appearance – this time on the Labour leader’s election tour. But Corbyn’s defence of the football manager should come as no surprise …

By now, you may have become aware of the football manager Wenger Out. Or Arsène Wenger (Out), to give him his full name. The longtime occupant of the Emirates Stadium technical area is under increasing pressure for his record of always finishing pretty well in the Premier League and never spending all his cash on some £350m 19-year-old Johnny Kickball from Sparta Prague.

The “Wenger Out” meme has been brewing all season, but seems to have caught fire in recent months. At WWE Raw at the O2 in London, fans chanted the slogan in front of presumably mystified American wrestlers. At a New Zealand v Fiji football friendly with virtually no one in attendance, a Wenger Out banner was draped over the empty stands.

Even more obscurely, on Jeremy Corbyn’s general election tour, amid the constellation of union and NGO standards, one fan held up a Wenger Out banner.

Speaking in Leamington Spa with local candidate Matt Western, like any good comic, Corbyn worked the heckle into his act: “I appeal to all of you, do everything you can to get my friend here elected – a fellow Arsenal supporter – which is very important despite what’s being held up.”

It is not the first time Corbyn has defended Wenger. In March, he said: “He is a wonderful man and he’s a great manager and a great guy and I think we should admire him.”

Corbyn, of course, has his constituency in Wenger’s north London patch. But does the similarity end there? Here is a quick compare and contrast.

Jeremy Corbyn spots a ‘Wenger Out’ banner at a rally in Leamington Spa.
Jeremy Corbyn spots a ‘Wenger Out’ banner at a rally in Leamington Spa. Photograph: Arj Singh/PA


Wenger: White-haired and wiry, with an expression suggesting a bee-sting trauma.

Corbyn: White-haired and wiry, with an expression suggesting a bee-sting trauma.

Attitude to foreigners

Wenger is relaxed. Arsenal became the first team to play an all non-English side in 2005, and by January 2017 he had done it another 148 times.

Under Corbyn, Labour’s position has become simple: Brexit is difficult; we’d like to be in but we’re out and that must be respected so long as we get the right sort of Brexit; free movement clearly needs to change, but by how much we’re unsure, but we’d obviously like to protect the rights of foreigners, whatever that would now mean.


Wenger has refused to speculate about his own future beyond the end of the season, maintaining he is staying right where he is, despite everyone else saying the opposite.

Corbyn has refused to speculate about his own future beyond the end of the season, maintaining he is staying right where he is, despite everyone else saying the opposite.


Wenger famously refuses to use obscene amounts of cash in the transfer market, even if Mourinho has has spent £89m on Pogba.

Corbyn famously refuses to use nuclear weapons, even if Moscow’s ICBMs are winging their way towards us.

Policy platform

Creating a more equal society by taxing the sort of high earners who can afford Arsenal season tickets and giving that money to Mesut Özil.

Creating a more equal society by taxing high earners and giving that money to lowly paid forgotten heroes of Britain’s public services.


Saintly Wenger maintains that Arsenal do not even need Champions League money.

Saintly Corbyn had the lowest expenses of any MP at the time of the expenses scandal.


Growing speculation that Wenger is content to finish sixth.

Growing speculation that Corbyn is content to finish sixth.


“To get the best out of people, that is absolutely fantastic. It is as well a fantastic opportunity in life to go for what is really great in human beings.” – Arsene Wenger, 2017

“Arsenal is the best club football team in the world at the moment.” – Jeremy Corbyn, 2004


Gavin Haynes

The GuardianTramp

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