By Tony Attwood
Has Stewart Robson been sacked by Arsenal TV?
I ask because a reader of untold recently said this, and I had heard it elsewhere. He turned up doing his commentaries on ESPN during the Far East tour, and a rather eccentric web site (if I might use that phrase) Arsenal Truth ran the story that he had gone, following its usual approach of blaming Wenger.
But as you may know, I do like to find something a little more concrete, and tracing the story back to Talk Sprot didn’t really give me that. Talk Sprot is a user of Mr Robson’s unique commentary style, so presumably they do have a direct line to him, but even so, since most of what they say seems to be wrong (especially their transfer rumours) I am not convinced.
I turned therefore to Wikipedia, which occasionally can be quite helpful, but there too I hit a brick wall. The entry for Mr Robson includes:
“In 2003 he spent a short spell as first-team coach at Southend United, and in 2004 he joined Rushden & Diamonds as assistant manager. He is now the Diamonds’ technical director.“
The problem is that the Diamonds (a club dear to my heart as when Arsenal were playing away I would go and watch them make their way up through the leagues to the third tier, and then sadly down again) were bankrupted in 2011, and so that entry is clearly at least one year out of date.
[Can I pause just to introduce you, in case you are not familiar with it, to the insane world of football in England beyond the Football League. In Northamptonshire we have Kettering Town, who now play at the Diamonds old ground in Irthlingborough. We have AFC Rushden and Diamonds who play at Wellingborough’s ground. No one plays at Kettering’s ground in Kettering. Corby Town play in Corby, just next to the Rangers – ie Glasgow Rangers – supporters club. That’s Northamptonshire in the English East Midlands. You get the picture.]
So what of Robson? There was a petition around asking for him to be removed from the Arsenal player, and it is in the understanding of that, that one begins to get the picture.
Robson, great Arsenal player though he was, used his time on Arsenal’s on line TV service to be highly critical of Arsenal players and indeed Mr Wenger, often using phrases such as “this is something Wenger has got to sort out,” over and over and over and over again. If you watched the EPSN coverage of the Far East tour you would have heard Robson go apoplectic over Santos – it was fairly typical of his coverage.
Now it can be argued that this is ok, he is telling it like he sees it. That is what a journalist is supposed to do. And that would be fine but for two reasons.
The first is that we are surrounded by media for whom telling it like it is, involves outright and constant criticism of Arsenal in general and the despising of Mr Wenger in particular. I guess, for people who are themselves openly anti-Wengerian that’s fine, but given that the media is so anti-Wenger, and given that there are quite a few people who go to the matches at the Ems who are totally pro-Wenger, there is a desire for a channel that will balance the opinion.
This is even more so given that as we approach the new season we have the Sun looking like it will continue its virulent anti-Arsenal approach, we have the Guardian radically changing its position from last year to take up a view that is similar to the Sun’s only with longer words, and we have the Telegraph edging towards the Guardian’s position, for all the world looking like a paper whose sports editor is nervous about being left out on the fringe.
Meanwhile 606, when it returns on Radio 5, is expected to allow itself once again to be the mouthpiece of the AAA, and Talk Sprot has never shown any interest in being anywhere other than anti-Wenger – which is why Mr Robson has such a natural habitat there.
On TV we have Match of the Day which is persistently anti-Arsenal, and ESPN which is so utterly anti-Arsenal than even the appearance of Mr Robson doesn’t actually take it much further away from the centre.
In such a scenario having a pro-Arsenal commentary on Arsenal’s own TV station was something quite a few people (including me) wanted, and so it wouldn’t be surprising if Robson was moved along in order to give the pro-Wengerians just one source of information to our taste. (Of course the AAA will cast this as a typical bit of Wengerian micro management, suggesting that Robson was right, and that the Wengerians can’t stand the truth. But the fact that this very openly pro-Wenger site is now getting 750,000 visits a month suggests there is a reason for some more pro-Wenger outlets.)
But as I suggested above there is second reason why Robson’s comments are unwelcome. He speaks with deep conviction, but without either evidence or background to back him up. Yes he was a fine player for the club, but as I noted above his period in management was tiny. So his knowledge about how to manage is extremely limited, and I believe, based on a failure in management.
This does not stop him commenting on tactics, his favourite topic, any more than it stops me commentating on tactics, but at least I try and make it clear that anything I say is nothing more than my opinion as a supporter. Robson has never been able to do that. All he does is say its wrong, its wrong, its wrong, Wenger has got to fix that, if he doesn’t fix that Arsenal will be in real trouble this season.
And then when each season Arsenal comes to an end he says, “this is a real problem for Arsenal and Wenger has got to sort this out now or else Arsenal will be in trouble.”
Even if you agree with his approach, you have to admit he is stunningly repetitive.
So, has he gone? I don’t know. But if he has, I’ll certainly come back to Arsenal TV.
If you think you know your Arsenal, it is time to think again.
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