Wednesday 5 November 2008

Time for Wenger to shut up and win

I was initially quite impressed after the stoke game that Wenger admitted that Stoke deserved to win.

On Monday, AW said that “I don’t approve or disapprove [of Stoke’s tactics]. They played the game they wanted and they played it very well. At the end of the day, they could express their strong points and we could not.”

Even then, that was tempered with a highly dubious excuse: "We did play the taller players but the wind is quite strong in the stadium, it is open on one side. That makes our game a little more difficult."

Yet by Tuesday, things were taking a turn for the worse: "Do you think Delap tried to play the ball when he tackled Walcott? Or that Shawcross tried to play the ball when he tackled Adebayor?" Frankly speaking Arsene, yes I did think they were trying to play the ball.

Tony Pullis, the Stoke manager, has now responded magnicently well: "I have tremendous respect for Mr Wenger, but as Mr Wenger is such a learned professional and on a great day in America electoral history, I would like to remind him of Abraham Lincoln's great quotation: 'You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time. But you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.'"

The theorists are already boiling up explanations that this is clever Wenger deflecting the issues from his players and onto himself. That may be correct and only AW knows the answer.

However, what is loud and clear on Wednesday afternoon is that Wenger has made himself look an idiot. If the players felt under pressure before, I struggle to think that reading these things in the papers makes them feel any better about life. Or did AW sit the players down on Monday and say "we all know you are to blame and not me, but I'm going to spout off some rubbish in the press so that they stop writing articles saying you are crap and say instead that I am an idiot, which will be much better for all of us..."

When added to the long list of "I believe in this team", "they are immature and will learn from mistakes" we have been fed, its all a bit too much. Even Fergie's rantings have died down recently. AW's initial reaction after Stoke was the right one - admit Stoke were better and move on to the next game. Its the search for justification after the events that has gone wrong.

I am 100% a fan of Wenger, but any previously held beliefs that he was the master of the jedi mind games are long mislaid. This week has seen a string of rubbish from him, which helps no-one. I humbly suggest that he needs to shut-up and instead get his team focused to deliver three points on the pitch tonight.

P.s. If anyone is interested to see a gorilla-man grow a goatee beard for charity for the whole of November (he must have lost his razor) then please sponsor K-Man. If he raises £50 then he has promised to publish a photo on the blog on December in his appalling hairy state. Its a great cause with a huge amount of non-shaving effort from K-Man, so go get your wallets and click here.


Anonymous said...


Have you seen the ENTIRE press conference? Or are you just judging from the selective snippets that the media has given you?


Reporters asked him about the Stoke game, which led to Arsene mentioning newspapers calling his players cowards. He repeatedly mentions the "newspapers" saying his players are not brave. He repeatedly uses the words "my players" in a passionate defense against attacks on their supposed "cowardice."


He is very angry about any suggestion that his players are not brave and that opponents who recklessly or deliberately commit dangerous tackles from behind are brave.

He is NOT talking about why Arsenal lost to Stoke at all. You are conflating the two, just like the lazy pundits and rival fans are.

And he is exactly right:

Arsenal lost THREE players to serious injuries in one game, all left on a stretcher. He goes thru the list of Arsenal players seriously injured in the last 3 seasons, all deliberately fouled. What other PL team has had that many serious, career-threatening injuries in so short a time?

English football culture admires thuggery and bullying, which values reckless or deliberate tackles from behind aimed at ankles and shins -- if they get the ball too that just means they can give the excuse "he got the ball." Yeah, you can get the ball and also aim deliberately at an opponent's ankle or shin to deliberately injure him. ARSENE IS ABSOLUTELY CORRECT. It is players who PLAY FOOTBALL knowing they're targeted for deliberate fouls aimed to injure them who are brave, not the talentless cowards who cynically foul them.

Obsinho said...

But Wenger is wrong correct to defend his team from accusations of cowardice.

Van Persie was a coward in getting sent-off. Toure was a coward in not competing for headers. And the whole team are cowards for going onto that pitch with anything but a sheer bloody-minded determination to play SToke off the park, win 3 points and banish the demons of the SPurs game.

Wenger is right to point out that refs are not getting on top of these bad tackles, but the point is his team are getting to the point where they can't be defended for their performances.

Ted said...

Thank you Mr Anonymous.

You will see that many of the quotes I used are from, including the lame excuse about the wind. The other one about deliberate fouls is from the BBC.

You may well be correct about what AW said. Perhaps we should relocate Arsenal to Spain so that we can play fancy football in La Liga. Alternatively, AW needs to have a team that can actually perform in the league in which we find ourselves.

Whatever the debate on that, AW should not have allowed himself to be drawn on the Stoke issues. Whether the press laid traps for him or misquoted him or not, a simple "I'm not here to talk about Stoke" would have done the trick nicely.

I didn't see anyone calling our players cowards. I did see Stoke's keeper was reported to say we lacked spine - a comment most Arsenal fans would agree with. I do.

In the good old days AW had the press eating out of his hand. The boot is now on the other foot.

Anonymous said...

I think AW is both right and wrong. It's true that Arsenal do get bullied by hard tackles because of the way they play but then we need to change our game to suit. We can't though and that is the problem. We still have problems all over the park in regards to commitment. AW should keep his opinions to himself and cause less attraction to the club. If other teams know it hurts so bad it's going to get worse!

I will say though that it seems that Arsenal are a target by the media, simply because there has to be a scape goat team in every league. Maybe it's deserved or not? we do bring alot of this on ourselves (RVP's red card for instance)!


Anonymous said...

I am in complete agreement about Anonymous interpretation, and It would have helped if the writer of the blog got himself the full interview instead of the bbc extract which focus on the contentious material of the interview.

In a nutshell, journalists keep asking Wenger about stoke defeat. He said that Stoke played to their strenght while Arsenal were not efficient. He said Stoke produced a great performance and deserved the win.

What got to him? He said that he has red that is team is not brave enough. That is the point he stongly disagree with. He responded that the player were brave because they intend to play positively despite being intentionaly fooled.

I red an article in the time last week where Fergie was making that statement: The brave one are ultimately the one at the receiving hand of the tackle.

He also admits (in a previous interview) that he appreciate the combative style and the tackling in English football. But there is a long list of arsenal players who got injured because of deliberate recless challenge in the last years. He say he has never encouraged that type of attitude in his own players. He says that intentional fools should be considered action of cowards while actually the brave player are the one constantly getting hit.

He is quite passionate about his point and clearly he is upset at loosing 3 players in that match due to intentional fools.

Right, now things are in context, you can have a debate because it actually closer to the facts.

Do we want attacking players to be more protected by referee when studs are sometimes flying a bit recklessly or would that take the passion out of the game?

Personally, I side with "let's keep the tackling in the game but if the tackler miss the ball by a mile and get the ankle/chin at pace that's should be an instant yellow". Therefore, players will only attempt them when they confident they can get the ball and less player get the temptation to stop a player dangerously.

In my opinion this is the Key: limiting dangerous tackle. Van Persie will get a red for petulance but is gesture is no danger to anyone. It is just plain stupid. I would not send a player for pushing an other in the heat of the moment, provided no one is endangered. If he hurts him intentionally yes I would.

Imagine teams that can't mark or cope with a Robinho/Ronaldo/Theo just take him down in every matches at risk of serious injury. Probability is he will get badly injured sometime. At a smaller club, if you survival depends on strong challenges that what you ll have to do. Take a key player out of the game. I am not saying that all club managers instruct their players that way but some might at times and some players just won't need telling. Only strong protection from officials can limit a perverse effect that could ruin the game in England and convince the most skillful players to play somewhere safer for their career.

How many serious injury has Arsenal FC suffered in the last 2 years, 5 years? Is there a trend here? Is this one of the most effective way for no hopers to take point off Arsenal? And is it fair to purchase/develop skillful player if you know some will try to break their legs because they have become implayable?

As a Manager of a football club like Arsenal, I know what I would think.


PS: By the way the Stoke Chairman is an absolute gentleman. Listen to the journalist try to draw him in the contraversy. He make a decent response but refuse to be manipulated.

blewlimbs said...

I am a season ticket holder and a loyal supporter of Arsenal Football Club. I am one of the many thousands whose passion and cash provide the fuel that powers the club along the road in the race for greatness. We are not the route planners, nor the engineers nor the driver but in our repeated and continuous gestures of faith we keep topping up the tank. So how are we doing in the race that started with our CL final defeat and what should we expect our performance to be? Objectively we have performed no better than OK so far and realistically our performance and prospects are both in decline. Surely we must all be concerned that we also do not appear currently to have the resources to achieve any sustained improvement. Based upon performance so far this season there must be a real risk that we will finish this season mid-table and fail to qualify for Europe in 2009/10. Bottom line is that we currently do not appear to have the strategy, the squad, the leadership and the passion for our club to compete in the race to greatness. My message is not just to the players and the manager but to the Board; our beloved club is in serious danger of spinning off the track and into mediocrity. It is your duty to take the steps needed to improve the engineering, power and performance of our club. We will continue to provide the fuel.

Anonymous said...

Nice post blewlimbs. Club execs need to be as dedicated as the fans. Where's the CEO, is anyone minding the shop as Wenger careens dangerously with his youth experiment on a journey to a fictional el dorado?