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The real Arsenal legend.

THE REAL ARSENAL LEGEND

Don McMahon

We have recently been priviledged to see a strange phenomena emerge from the cesspool that is the British media’s approach to Arsenal and Arsene Wenger. That minor ¨miracle¨ I am referring to is the apparent love-in the miscreant media have suddenly espoused as their current cause celebre….Wenger’s evident improvement as a manager.

Tony and Walter, among other UA stalwarts, have pointed out that this flavour of the month revisionism (Arsene is ok) does not, in any way represent a sincere awakening to the reality of Arsenal and its manager, but rather a temporary hiatus from the incessant and irrational denigration and ridicule the gutter press and hyperbolic media normally bath in. Once we lose a game, the rant will reignite.

Following Sunday’s ¨terrible, disastrous, loss (of points)¨ at home to Everton, which according to many of our own faithless and feeble-minded plastic AAA fanboys, represented the beginning of the end to our title hopes, there was quite a bit of navel gazing going on about Wenger and the error of his ways that directly is at the root of all evil and led to this undesirable outcome of points dropped.

Amid these lamentations and flailings of distressed supporters, and following the death of Nelson Mandela, it became apparent to me that there was an historical achievement being totally ignored and a great man’s quality being dismissed as worthless, similar to how the late Nelson Mandela was regarded by his enemies, despite his noble nature and great human dignity.

Arsene Wenger came to Arsenal in 1996, not just as an unknown quantity in England BUT as a ¨foreigner¨, worse still a Frenchman, and with unsubstantiated and scurrilous ¨rumours¨ surrounding his character and family life. Tony has written about how he dispelled these lies and sent the vermin press scurrying back to their flea infested copyrooms but there was and is so much more to say about AW, most of which has never been fully appreciated:

1) He most definitely has swum against the current in English football and continues to do so. This has angered and intimidated  many in the Football ¨community¨, whose vision of the Game is based on an alternate reality, where England is still the bastion of ¨true¨football and as the cradle of Association Football, and where stuffed suits are convinced they have the sacred duty to prevent change. Wenger called for goal-line technology, better officiating, prevention of rotational fouling, ending financial excess, and so on BUT he was and is still ridiculed or ignored because he is a greasy continental and cannot be entirely trusted.

2) Men like Wenger are keenly opposed to the ¨tradition¨ of the English game.  They refuse to be intimidated by the revisionistic and backward-facing ¨powers¨ who steadfastly maintain that modernization is a dirty word and that all is as it should be. One does NOT tinker with Football, nor the Laws, nor the Game as it has been played since time immemorial (actually 150 years this year).  Nor does one dare make even the most subtle intimations that the British Game ¨might be subject to wholesale corruption!!!! Those type of shenanigans are for the greasy foreigners and sneaky orientals, but never the lily-white English.

3) We all know of the more famous improvements he brought to the game and man management at AFC. However there are certain really profound paradigm changes he instituted in the shadows of the game that have had a crucial impact in bringing football into the 21st century. One of the greatest was his insistence on developing youth prospects from their earliest days to first team success, while also bringing in experienced and skilled talent from the continent. Another was and still is his profound insight into how so-called ¨deadwood¨ could be rescued and rehabilitated by a combination of his having faith in them and offering them alternative training and lifestyle regimes as well as the opportunity to prove their doubters wrong.

4) At a time when big name signings were and are still considered to be about the only  way to win titles, glory and silverware, Wenger has refused to buy into this short term fiasco. No doubt he knew that one could get a few trophies by doing this but he didn’t practice such myopic legerdemain. Some will say that he had no choice to follow the path less travelled because he didn’t have the resources to do otherwise but the reality is that he willingly CHOSE to remain with Arsenal and work through these difficult times, all the way being faithful to his vision and the club’s long-term objectives. He could have gone anywhere he wanted to, to any of the sugar-daddy or oligarchy clubs sprouting up like weeds, but he maintained his commitment to and faith in Arsenal’s vision. The other managers who fell into the money pit were soon shooting out the door like chaff out of a winnowing mill. Wenger knew this was a risk as well and he wisely chose to avoid it….no poisoned chalice for him.

5) Despite losing some rather valuable assets to greed, tapping up, accidents of DNA, tinsel blindness (a narcissistic need for shiny trophies) and downright stupidity and cupidity, he remained focused on bringing those who were loyal to his vision to show it on and off the field, to a unity and cohesiveness that appears to mark our current squad as winners. During this difficult and heart-breaking period (2005-2012) he turned a deaf ear to the ¨AAA experts¨, their lapdogs the ¨pundits¨and the mediocre media, all of whom chorused a common canon: spend some money, buy the superstars, screw the kids…forget the deadwood….abandon patient progress…win something now or else, ad nauseam.

What these ignominious ignoramuses didn’t realize was that bringing in super-ego transitory star(s), who like Rooney or Suarez, were willing to jump ship for greener pastures, was a recipe for disharmony, dissent and disaster at Arsenal.  United, this season, is a scenario that could have happened at AFC had Wenger left.

6)Some of the above AAA and media mental midgets (led by the head twit: Piers Morgan) have the nerve to maintain that their pressure actually made Wenger ¨wake up¨ and finally spend some money for a star.   Adding insult to injury, they are the first to judge the players as being ¨not worthy to wear the shirt¨, deadwood, cheap bargain basement losers, etc. However when, as is almost inevitable, Wenger once again proves them wrong with the likes of Ramsey, Szcezsny, Flamini, Cazorla, and quite likely Sanogo, Gnabry and Zelalem, suddenly they melt away like snow in June or have a volte-face and proclaim, in hindsight, how erudite their faith in these players has proven to be. Hypocrites and reprobates all!

7) Wenger is far from infallible and he is the first person to admit it. He also is willing to accept responsibility for his failings and failures. As well, he does listen to the fair-minded supporters who express their uncertainty about some of his decisions. He also refuses to give any credence to, or legitimize, his rabid haters and nobly ignores their baying.

However his humility, humanity, dignity, class, savoir-faire, diplomacy, courage, professionalism, elegant erudition and profound Football nous will be irreplaceable when he eventually retires or moves on. SAF and he have influenced the game worldwide, the former by branding a club which is now a legend and the latter by dragging the Neanderthals in power kicking and screaming into the 21st century. For that alone, he will be lauded as one of the greatest sports managers of all time.

The books…

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28 comments to The real Arsenal legend.

  • John

    Well said. I am in total agreement.

    What a contrast there is with SAF, who has revealed himself to be a self-obsessed control freak, using his book to settle scores and choosing a successor to ensure that his personal “legacy” would not be rivalled by subsequent successes.

    I do not admire Roy Keane, for several good reasons, but his disdain for SAF is eloquent and impressive.

  • crispen

    Article of the year!!

  • Don,

    I’m not going to diminish your great piece with any side commentary. Just a great well done and ditto.

    You have done Arsene Wenger justice with this tribute.

    Thank you.

  • Georgaki-Pyrovolitis

    Don

    We are singing from the same song sheet. Here’s a piece I wrote for Positively Arsenal a few weeks ago.

    http://is.gd/OyHUs7

  • Eddy

    Agree totally(apart from Sanogo!).Well said.Time and time again,Arsene has been faced with unfair treatment and time and time again he has shown himself to be an honourable,intelligent man.

  • What a refreshing read ,Don , the boss is trully a remarkable man .Arsenal managed to build the Emirates under his stewardship although we didn’t challenge we managed to stay in the top 4 which is something not to be scoffed at. I wonder if other teams can sustain such a seismic shift of transition like Man utd in the wake of Sir Alex’s retirement.

  • nicky

    Don,
    In your excellent essay I thought you might have made some mention of Arsene’s revolutionary diet changes at Arsenal which now appear to be the norm at many clubs.

  • para

    Mention as well, the way many of the “lesser teams” are playing, the Arsenal way, which makes them lesser teams no more. Now the teams who have no “real class or rely solely on money or the refs” are being found out too.
    All in all Arsene Wenger has started a change in English football by his being manager at Arsenal, and long may it continue.

  • OMGArsenal

    Nicky…..I mentioned in point 3 that he did many things to alter AFC’s previous approach, and dietary changes were a major tactic but I didn’t want to repeat what everyone already knows and make a rather laborious article even longer:)…..

  • OMGArsenal

    Thanks for the wonderful compliments, not really deserved on my part since I was stating the obvious (except to the media and AAA)and trying to highlight the elements of this majestic manager. I saw a film about a baseball manager who did so much with so little and it made me realize that it was a perfect tribute to any manager who, like Wenger, had the greatness and esprit du corps to swim against the current and yet maintain his dignity, integrity and vision….he, in my humble opinion, is on the same level at Mandela and other visionary leaders, but in the sports management domain bringing common sense and reality to an otherwise disneyworld EPL and FA, not world politics or the fight for freedom.

  • Magneto

    Excellent article. Arsene speaks truths to footballing power.

  • AL

    Fitting tribute to two deserving and great men, and I found your last paragraph moving. The similarities between Wenger and Madiba are striking; incorruptible, humble, principled, unwavering in their beliefs…, the list is too long. I once said I take it personal when people criticise Wenger, as he represents the values and principles that I yearn for in life. A true legend.

  • soglorious

    To point 6, do add “Le Grove” to that list of haters.

  • Florian

    Wenger the conqueror!

  • Florian

    Darn keyboard. Again:

    Wenger The Conqueror!

  • LRV

    Wow! Don, I duff my hat to you Sir. You have captured Arsene’s contributions to Arsenal so eruditely. Thank you.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Great article!

  • nicky

    @Don,
    Point taken. “Alternative…..lifestyle regimes” covers the dietary changes.

  • bjtgooner

    An excellent article, well thought out and well written.

  • Mick

    Great stuff and the sentiments so eruditely expressed by your good self exactly match my own.
    I would love to see how any of the media twits such as A Durham of Talk Nonsense would frame any sort of argument to refute your claims for Arsenes achievements.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Just seen some quotes from Rafa saying Wenger is the best coach in England. A classy thing to say, even though we have to dump his team out of the CL. Good luck to the boys tomorrow, and hope all our fans stay safe, that is one scary city with some scary fans

  • elkieno

    Great article got sure Don! I hope the great man reads this as we know he has quoted this site before, right?
    That’s why the French words are there right Don?
    City look pretty good, a draw would be a good result for us but I am going to really shit myself on Saturday.
    I reckon we will be a bit tired but we are more of a ‘together’ team than them so hopefully we can make them look ordinary. I just hope we don’t have to fight too hard morrow.
    But then again, 2 games of massive importance before we have a nine day break, so we can do this!!!
    COYG!!!

  • elkieno

    Got to start Arteta and Flamini for city game, they can cut you open life a knife thru butter. Arteta by himself v Everton had a tough time in first half and some second half moments. City don’t press like Everton and saints do (normally) so we might be able to play more from the off. If they do start playing a high line Theo can hurt them abs if they play a deeper line then we all can hurt then with time on the ball. I feel they will want to let us attack first but a home crowd might want blood so will pressure give?
    A draw wil be great for me…

  • ARSENAL 13

    We love Mr Wenger. No matter what others think of him. I am so proud to have him here.

    SAF is the most successful manager, but is he the one of the greatest. May be. BUT Is he the best. NOPE.

    People ask, what has Mr Wenger done differently. Nothing. All he has done is bring in the European practices and implement it in England. Well, their question holds the answer. If implementation was that easy then why did it take English clubs so long to do it????

    Mr Wenger had the courage to accept, adopt, adapt and implement good ideas from elsewhere.

    Mr Wengers influence on the English games can be seen in the newly promoted clubs. Most of them play proper football, not the launch and hope type football.

    The greatest tribute we can ever give him is to name the stadium after him.

  • elkieno

    Arsenal13: Our stadium should have his name on it all over the. If you think about it, he far more important to our history than Tony Adams, Henry etc (imo) and they have a statue out front. He needs to be honoured much more than those players. I would be happy if it was called after him than some airline….
    I do wonder how he will be honoured when he retires one day?

  • Nelson Wong

    ARSENAL 13 :

    How many seasons Sir A stayed in Man U and how many Wenger in Arsenal?

    I sincerely hope that Arsenal finds good form in the coming years so that when Arsene eventually stays the same year at Arsenal as Sir A at Man U, he will achieve more.

  • blacksheep63

    @Elkieno

    I reckon we should rename the Holloway Road, ‘Arsene Wenger Avenue’.

    Great article Don. Minor quibble is in comparing a great football manager with a man that has transformed Africa and Africans, I expect Arsene would blush at that 🙂

  • rantetta

    Don

    Beautifully put!