“Many fans don’t want to discuss it,” the “sports editor” continued – which is very interesting, since I don’t think I’ve ever met an Arsenal fan who was not willing to discuss Mr Wenger.  Also the use of “discuss” was interesting, in the light of the diatribe which followed, and which contained no discussion and no evidence either.

Sadly Mr Sanderson gave us no indication as to how he found “many fans” who did not want to discuss Mr Wenger, so it is impossible to know if he invented this wild fantasy in his sleep or did a lot of detailed research.  But anyway, he ploughed on saying, “his failings are clear to see and are harming the club.”

So this led on to “six undeniable reasons Wenger should go this summer.”

Now if you are a reader of Untold you’ll know that we believe in the well-established continuity of development of people through the stages of concrete thinking and reasoning, onto the formal stage of abstract thought.  We’ve also suggested that an explanation for the writing of many journalists is that they have got stuck in Concretia – a land of  gravel, sand, cement, and water.  [Concretia – the land of concrete thinking – just to make sure you get it – Tony].

So, I’ve nominated the sport editor of the Metro as the first man to face the Concrete Test.  We will be setting up a Concrete journalists page in due course to gather our findings together.

To set the scene we must remember that we are looking here at Mr Wenger, the man who in the last three years has won the FA Cup twice, achieved the record of winning the FA Cup more than any other man since the early days of the last century, given Arsenal the record number of FA Cup wins (equalled this summer, but not exceeded) and who led his team to being runner up in the league in 2015/16.

I reproduce our end of season analysis of net spend as it comes in handy a bit later.

POS CLUB P W D L GF GA GD PTS Net £m  £ pos
1 Leicester City 38 23 12 3 68 36 32 81  28.9  7
2 Arsenal 38 20 11 7 65 36 29 71  15.6 14
3 Tiny Totts 38 19 13 6 69 35 34 70  -6.7 20
4 Manch Airport 38 19 9 10 71 41 30 66 124.4  1
5 Manchester U 38 19 9 10 49 35 14 66  33.6 5
6 Southampton 38 18 9 11 59 41 18 63  4.8 19
7 State Aid Utd 38 16 14 8 65 51 14 62 26.5 9
8 Liverpool!!! 38 16 12 10 63 50 13 60 15.4 15
9 Stoke City 38 14 9 15 41 55 -14 51  21.3 12
10 Chelsea Oooops 38 12 14 12 59 53 6 50  7.8 17
11 Everton 38 11 14 13 59 55 4 47  20.9 13
12 Swansea City 38 12 11 15 42 52 -10 47  5 18
13 Watford 38 12 9 17 40 50 -10 45 42.5 3
14 West Bromwich 38 10 13 15 34 48 -14 43  27.5 8
15 Crystal Palace 38 11 9 18 39 51 -12 42  21.5 11
16 Bournemouth 38 11 9 18 45 67 -22 42 38.7 4
17 Sunderland 38 9 12 17 48 62 -14 39  37.2 6
18 Newcastle thanks 38 9 10 19 44 65 -21 37  80 2
19 Norwich City 38 9 7 22 39 67 -28 34 27.1 10
20 Aston Villa 38 3 8 27 27 76 -49 17 9.3 16

So let us look at Mr Wenger’s “failings” before we get to the concrete.

Points: Arsenal were 10 points off the leaders, whom Arsenal beat twice.  So turning three of our defeats into wins and one into a draw, would have made all the difference.

Goals For: Arsenal were six goals behind the season’s top goal club, Man City.  This works out at around one more goal in every six games.

Goals Against: Arsenal let in one goal more than Tottenham and Man U, the top defensive teams.

And for comparison, we might remember that we finished one point above Tottenham, who had the benefit of an income of around £100m from the sale of Bale, five points above Man City, who have the entire force of the governments of the People’s Republic of China and the ruling family of Abu Dhabi.  The same number of points about Man U whose world-wide marketing is the envy of the world, and dates back to 1955, and we were 21 points above Chelsea whose owner is reported by Forbes to be worth £8,100,000,000.

So, the context seems one of a certain amount of success vis a vis the measurable opposition although not the ultimate success.  So let’s see what the sport editor of the Metro made of it.

He never learns

You can predict an Arsenal season before it’s even begun.

Key areas of the team won’t be addressed in the summer, before a positive start ends up falling apart through injuries and they eventually blow it.

Wenger just doesn’t learn from his mistakes whether it’s sticking by rubbish players, not buying a holding midfielder or tactical errors.

It always seems to be somebody else’s fault and he’s far too stubborn to admit he didn’t get it right and loves trying to prove doubters wrong.

I’m not sure this holds up as the Metro didn’t predict us coming second.  Also the injury issue looks wrong – Arsenal were fifth in the injury league in terms of days lost with 239 days lost – which is around 60% of the days lost by the top team.  “Seems to be somebody’s else’s fault” is very vague and I am not too sure I have examples of Mr W saying that.

As for the “rubbish players”, if we have had some rubbish players this season, the rest of the team must have been staggeringly brilliant to have come second and be so close to the best in terms of goals for and against.

Terrible tactics

He lines up for every game with a 4-2-3-1 and it’s hard to remember times he’s switched the system to capitalise on another team’s weakness.

Well, I can certainly remember some variations going on when we beat Olympiakos 0-3, when we beat Bayern 2-0, in the 3-0 win over Man U, the draw with the Tinies at WHL with a player sent off, beating them in the League Cup with Flamini scoring twice.  And I am not too sure how many other teams change their system that readily.  Most teams do it a bit, but not that much.

Deluded quotes

Even after heavy defeats Wenger won’t slam the players and gives deluded quotes saying they ‘gave everything’ and uses mad phrases like ‘we played with the handbrake on’. Just be honest about bad performances.

That is one of those examples which being given in isolation is impossible to evaluate.  We know all managers have their own style of management, a very few criticise players in public, some lie through their teeth, some blame the ref.  Refusing to follow the Mourinho style of player blame seems a bit odd since his approach took Chelsea to the relegation zone and got him the sack.

Players don’t seem to believe in him

Apparently, “This is the most concerning of the lot,” but it uses the very vague word “seem” both in the title and in “In crucial games against Manchester United and then the must-win clash with Swansea, the players didn’t seem bothered.”

To make such a case you need data, not the repeated use of “seem”.  It turns up again, in the next paragraph where the writer says, “the players don’t seem to want to fight for him anymore.”

So on the basis of three uses of the word “seem” “the conclusion is Arsenal’s players say there is good spirit among them so it can only lead us to believe they don’t want to do it for the manager. Surely it’s time to go?”

Or one might say, on the basis of what he has written, the author of this commentary seems delusional.  “Seem is not only not proof, it is in this case just a personal opinion gained from viewing the notoriously difficult to analyse body language from a distance”

Lost his transfer mojo

Now we get to the crux of the matter and the reason why I put the year’s transfer totals in the league table above.  And I must warn you, there is a need to take what follows carefully.

You can’t deny Petr Cech, Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil were good signings – but they were already superstars and available to sign.

Yes, they were stars, and of course available for Arsenal.  So what are we to do – sign non-stars who are not available? Mr Wenger get talking to Ozil regularly for three years after his first attempt to sign him fell down.

It’s Wenger’s hidden gem obsession that’s the problem. He used to find unknown stars for hardly any money that turned out to be class.

But look at his recent signings of largely unknowns: Gabriel, Yaya Sanogo, Kim Kallstrom, Gervinho, Andre Santos, Park Chu-Young. All flops.

Apart from the fact that Kallstrom was signed as cover on loan, with his salary paid by his full-time club until he was fit, Gervinho was a superb player who was too sensitive to the Arsenal boo-boys, and that Gabriel (a cup winner who is still growing into the team and who is the only one in the present squad), every team signs players who don’t work out.

Besides what sort of analysis is it that leaves out Coquelin, Bellerin, Iwobi, Campbell, Gibbs, Jenkinson, Ramsey, Hayden, Akpom, Zelalem all from the current squads while focussing on players who left years ago?  The writer is digging back into the past while I can list ten from the present.

He’s holding Arsenal back

So the great conclusion, without the submission of any evidence at all:

This summer will see superstar manager’s rock up at Man United, Man City and Chelsea – while Liverpool will spend big with Jurgen.

That is probably true, based on what we have seen in the past.  But there is no logical link from that point to the next paragraph which says, games will be more tactical and harder to win than ever. Things are going to get really tough.

Historically this is not how it happens, so there is no evidence.  As this year’s league table (above) shows, teams that spend fortunes on players often don’t win the league.  And by the time we reach the next sentence in the diatribe, we can see that the concrete thinking has become semi-skimmed (too much milk in the mix I imagine).

Arsenal should be sitting pretty, with the largest cash reserves in world football, but Wenger refuses to spend and the club risk being left behind.

No, Arsenal do not have the largest cash reserves in world football.  Nor the second, nor the third, nor the fourth, nor the fifth, nor… Arsenal has to hold money in the bank until the loans for the Ems are paid off – that is part of the deal.  Besides, although it is subject to EC fraud investigations Real Madrid have more money, and Chelsea and Manchester Airport have as much as they can possibly want from their owners.

So I think we can call Mr Sanderson a “concrete thinker.”   But is he “early stage” or “later stage?”

Here’s the Early Stage Thinker:

  • The person is more likely to distort language to fit its own mental structure.
  • The person judges by what is seen rather than by logical reasoning. If it looks different it is different.
  • The person does think but does not think about ones own thinking (is not reflective)
  • The person concentrates on one attribute of an object at a time, ignoring other characteristics.
  • The person has little notion of reversibility – thinking in one direction only.
  • The person cannot cope too well with changes in sequence and thus concentrates on the start and the end and pays little attention to the ‘in-betweens’
  • The person is egocentric – the person is the centre of the universe, everything revolves around the person.
  • The person can only consider one thing at a time and is unable to consider another person’s viewpoint simultaneously with their own.

I’d say he meets all the criteria.  So Mr Jameson, you are an Early Stage Thinker.  On Piaget’s analysis that puts you at the developmental age of around four to seven.

So, there we are.  Our first full analysis of a journalist, and it comes out as we predicted.  Concrete.  And he’s the sport editor!

Recent Posts

Untold Arsenal has published five books on Arsenal – all are available as paperback and three are now available on Kindle.  The books are

  • The Arsenal Yankee by Danny Karbassiyoon with a foreword by Arsene Wenger.
  • Arsenal: the long sleep 1953 – 1970; a view from the terrace.  By John Sowman with an introduction by Bob Wilson.
  • Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football.  By Tony Attwood, Andy Kelly and Mark Andrews.
  • Making the Arsenal: a novel by Tony Attwood.
  • The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal by Mark Andrews.

You can find details of all five on our new Arsenal Books page