By Walter Broeckx
In their haste to blame the Alexis injury all on Wenger and Wenger alone some people come up with everything they can find.
Alexis shouldn’t have played against Norwich. And yes talking as usual with hindsight it would have been better if he hadn’t played.
Now of course Wenger is the one who picks the final team. But the case of Alexis is of course something special.
Now I can imagine that after the Dinamo match there has been some testing by the medical department. Wenger mentioned his hamstring so the medical department will have looked in to that. And then have to make a risk assessment if it would be wise to play him or not. Now nobody of us knows anything about the advice the doctors gave. If a player just has a bit of a stiff feeling it might go away by just some extra massage.
If Alexis already had a real injury the medical department didn’t see it or didn’t report it. The last option seems not really on. I cannot imagine that the medical department would say nothing if they find a real issue with a player.
Not finding a real problem is however not that impossible. You can take scans but not find a real problem. And by the way Alexis was running around for 40 minutes there didn’t seem to be any problem at all in his hamstrings. So we might have a situation where the medical department couldn’t find anything as there was nothing to find at that moment.
And then we have the player. We all have heard the stories about Alexis and how he loves to play football. Day and night. Night and day. First on the training pitch and last on the training pitch. Always playing and running around. This guy just loves football and loves playing it. Not playing is a heavy punishment for him. So with a guy who is so mad about playing football you always have the chance that he might not tell all what could prevent him from playing.
He was a doubt for the last match from Chili but played the whole match. Then came back played for Arsenal and had a brilliant match against Dinamo Zagreb. What manager will let his star player rest when he is assisting and scoring goals for fun when his medical department finds nothing really wrong? A last match before a week rest? I can imagine the headlines if Wenger would rest a player without any injury and then not win this match. Some would be all over Wenger for not playing his strongest team.
In their hurry to criticise Wenger some came up with some footage about how a young modern coach reacted when his player came off with a hamstring injury a few years ago. The manager Guardiola from Barcelona. The player involved… Alexis.
In the images you can see Guardiola shout at Alexis who hobbles off holding his hamstrings. Yelling at him for playing too much for his country. Alexis loving his country too much is something we could blame him for. I agree on that. But people point at this as the example on how Wenger should have acted.
But then I get very confused to be honest. Because do people want that Wenger would stand there swearing and shouting at Alexis for getting injured????? Now what does that matter once the player is injured? Why would a manager shouting and swearing in public be a good thing?
Is it just a way of showing what a tough manager you are? You know the all swearing and shouting managers style that somehow is being imposed as the way to do it? A few years ago I could read on the internet by Wenger out shouters writing that Wenger should stop making a fool of himself by shouting and waving his arms too much? But now when Wenger does nothing they say he has no desire anymore. So whatever you do, it’s not the right thing to do.
But people claim that Guardiola is a far better manager than Wenger as he shouted at Alexis.
But the whole point is…that the shouting occurred after Alexis got injured.
And then my question is….. why did Guardiola play Alexis in that match if he knew he had a risk? Guardiola was unhappy that Alexis had played too much for Chili so he had to know that he could get injured.
So how come that oh so brilliant Guardiola did put him on the field that day? After all Guardiola is better than Wenger but the outcome was the same: Alexis coming off injured with his hamstring done.
If Guardiola was so much better he shouldn’t have started him in the first place. But Guardiola did start him in that match and the result was the same as with Wenger.
So how on earth can people find this as evidence for Guardiola being smarter and better than Wenger?
Or is it just for the shouting….?
Or could it be that Alexis is prepared to take a gamble himself with his body from time to time? Because of his love for the game and his desire to play always and all the time? Not telling your doctors that the problem is worse than first said? A human reaction. I have done it before when I was doubtful to play a match. I even went on to play with fever in a match and didn’t tell anyone till I was taken off because I was bad. In the days I still played myself.
Even now as a referee I will do matches that I shouldn’t start when I am injured. I still ignore it up to a certain way and will do stupid things to do my match. So I would understand Alexis also for not telling the real truth.
Of course sitting behind my keyboard I know that a) Alexis should tell the medical department of each problem b) the medical department would find any problem with every player even when they see nothing and c) Wenger would know better than the two combined and not play Alexis even when he and the medical staff declare him fit.
In a perfect world all of this would happen. But this is the real world. Players don’t say everything to the doctors, doctors can make mistakes (don’t open my mouth… ) and managers can make mistakes.
With hindsight one can say that Wenger shouldn’t have played Alexis (even though he was brilliant till the pit incident). But the same can be said about Guardiola. Both played Alexis even though there was a risk of him getting an injury.
The reaction after the injury is in fact of non-importance. Both managers, Wenger and Guardiola got it wrong at the time (speaking with hindsight of course). No matter how hard Guardiola has been swearing at Alexis the result was the same.
The only important thing is to know when he will be back. And swearing will not help his recovery process at all.