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Who is insulting whom? A deeper review of the O’Neill comments

By Walter Broeckx

Martin O’Neill was angry at Arsène Wenger because (and I quote what Wenger has said)

“They [Aston Villa] play a very efficient English game, with long balls and it is very physical. They are a good side at counter attacking. When we took the gamble to go forward and they won the ball, they are quick and that is why it was always us managing to create chances and score, or them catching us on the counter attack or playing on Agbonlahor or Heskey with long balls.”

Let’s take this sentence by sentence.

They play a very efficient English game, with long balls and it is very physical.

So our manager is giving a compliment to Villa for playing efficient. Nothing wrong with that. At Arsenal we may like our play on the ground game but in England lots of teams played and still play with the long ball and I think it is fair to say that playing a long ball is part of the English game. Now it could be that Martin O’Neill has a grudge against the word English but if someone said to me that I’m efficient in what I do I consider this to be a good thing.

They are a good side at counter attacking. Again I see Wenger only telling that Villa are a good side and that they are good in counter attacking. I really can’t see what is wrong with this. Counter attack is part of the game. All teams do it and some teams have the players to do this better than others. We have played great counter attacks and if Walcott is fit he can do a great job in this.  So I don’t see anything wrong in this again.

When we took the gamble to go forward and they won the ball, they are quick and that is why it was always us managing to create chances and score, or them catching us on the counter attack or playing on Agbonlahor or Heskey with long balls.

The game I saw for the last half our or so was that Villa crept back to their goal and we attacked more. If it was due to our strength or due to their tactics I don’t know. But in the last half hour the most that Villa did was kick the ball out of their defence at many occasions.

So Arsenal went forward to win the game. I’ve seen this with my own eyes. And when they got the ball they kicked it up field to Agbonlahor who was chasing the ball many times. Or they kicked the ball to Heskey in the air in the hope he could do something with it.

O’Neill said about Wenger’s words: “If that is what he (Wenger) saw tonight, that is as ridiculous a statement as I’ve heard. He has made a few ridiculous statements in his time here and that is probably as good as any. That is only an annoyance at the end of it all. Anyone who saw the game wouldn’t take that viewpoint. But it is an appalling insult.”

Now I cannot understand what O’Neill finds insulting. Is it the word ‘long ball’ and that is just the way they won at the Emirates last season? They played a few long balls we couldn’t cope but is this something insulting? Is playing the game in an efficient manner insulting? Or is playing physical insulting? I don’t see something insulting. Is counter attacking insulting? Or is the last sentence of O’Neill’s diatribe insulting?

I think it is just Wenger’s point of view and according to O’Neill no one who saw the game would take that viewpoint. Now maybe he can say that because the game was not shown live on TV in the UK and you really can’t make it up in only seeing the highlights of the game.

But I can say Mr. O’Neill that I saw the game live on TV and that you did play the long ball to Agbonlahor and Heskey at many occasions. So I can agree on the comments made by Wenger. So hey there is also another one who agrees with “that viewpoint”.

But it would be very good for you to point out what exactly is the insulting bit in the 3 sentences that Wenger said. Or is it just the word “English” that you find insulting? Or is it just that you want to join the rest of the pundits who pick on anything Wenger does and says? If so then what are you looking for? A nice tap on the shoulder from Alan or Alan?

I for one think that the words you address to Wenger are far more insulting than his honest analysis of the game he saw. Saying that someone is ridiculous that is what I call an insult.

Well maybe I could say that you said something ridiculous by saying what you said.

——————————

EDITORIAL CHIT-CHAT

Untold Arsenal welcomes articles on any aspect of contemporary football that follows the basic ideals and views of the site.  If you have an idea send the outline to me at Tony@hamilton-house.com – but please don’t send anything that you are submitting elsewhere.

Untold Arsenal also welcomes everyone who wants to read the editor’s most magnificent and glorious book, Making the Arsenal, one of the highest high-points in the highlife of football fantazmagoria.  Read all about it here.

Meanwhile the current article on the Woolwich Arsenal site comments on the fact that the gulf between division 1 and 2 was as big 100 years ago, as it is now – despite everything the punditary (my new collective noun for football commentators) would have you believe.

If you have been, thank you for reading.

36 comments to Who is insulting whom? A deeper review of the O’Neill comments

  • don't believe the hype

    I didn’t see the game Walter, but I agree with your general point that if you take Arsene’s comment in full there is nothing insulting about it. Maybe MON had the comment partially relayed to him by the media looking for a story – it’s not beyond them. On the other hand, MON’s comments are highly insulting, but since Arsene is the bigger man, I’m sure he’ll let it roll over him like he does with most of the insults from the small men who proliferate in football management.

  • Henry

    MoN would not have heard of all Lord Wenger’s post-match comments, but rather snippets fed to him by the media going fishing.

    Too bad he got caught…hook, line, and sucker, um, I mean, sinker…

  • notlager

    great article Walter.

    But I doubt MON would have reacted the way he did if he had known what AW did actually say. The reporter who conducted the interview misquoted Arsene’s words deliberately to provoke a reaction. And boy, did Oneil react. (I didn’t know Oneil is so thin-skinned). These days a compliment can easily turn into an ‘appalling insult’.

    Here’s also a good take from the Gingers on how the media make a mountain out of a molehill:
    http://gingersforlimpar.blogspot.com/2010/01/was-martin-oneill-arsene-wenger-tiff.html

  • kc

    AW was right on with his view of Villa’s play. Along with playing long balls up to their strikers, they were also switching the field of play on the break with long balls to A. Young all game long. And just like Le Prof said, its an efficient way to play. That’s not an insult, its the truth.

  • gfd

    He seemed to have also described our own long ball game after Campbell and Bendtner came on.

  • Abhishek

    Hey Walter and Tony…

    Please send this to the muppets from BBC. I would love to see what they say about it.. They published Wenger’s quote and MON’s reaction as part of match report and I was really confused as what was wrong in the statement..

    Plz Walter plz.. I really used to luv BBC but their anti Arsenal stand leaves me fuming.. Why I dont know.. Just because we have a French manager or because they want to please Ferguson..

  • Canadian

    is rubbish from him. From my foreign perspective and have been following the premiership for more than 7 years now. I start to see the Arsenal ‘s fan complaint about a media bias founded at least toward Wenger. English media and Managers just keep bash on him whenever he speaks. I wonder is ONIL would say the same if it was coming from Fergy.
    Anyways I watched the game my analysis during the game was that Villa they are throwing the ball at Gaby hoping he can do the same coup as last year when he overrun Gallas in Novemebr for the second goal and with the doggy penalty he earn in the second leg at Villa on Dec 26. In last night game Villa goal keep directed couple kick to Gaby as

  • Michael the Gooner

    Gentlemen,let me put you straight at what happened at the press conference.A very good friend of my sons works for a main football website(he is a Gooner).He was at the match,and the press conference after.AW is interviewed first,he laso does praise Villa which has not been reported on the main media or newspapers.
    In comes O Neill after AW.A hack from the Mirror says straight to him”AW has ACUSSED you of playing the long ball.He then responds.At no time did they also mention AW said some very positive things about Villa.
    The English media hate AW,hate foreign Managers.One of the problems the punits on TV or radio have with Arsenals players is that they cannot get close to them,be buddies with them,unlike with good old JT or Lamps.
    Finally,now we know why Agno and Young are not good enough for the national side,they play a totally different way with Villa,and are unable to adapt.

  • walter

    Jezus Christ, Michael Gooner, once befote the words ‘hate us” in my article last week was not to hard on them.

    The punditary… I spit on them…

  • ibbs

    Also didn’t hear Owen coyle screaming assault during the Bolton-Burnley match,anyone see the reckless tackle brushed beneath the turf?

    Agree Abhishek,like Fergie,Wenger should stop talking to these reporters who SPIN everyword.
    A good comedy show is watching people like Paul Merson,who with a few monitors infront of them,suddenly become EXPERTS!MUST WATCH-VERY FUNNY!!

  • ibbs

    Did anyone see the Rio Ferdinand incident vs Wolves?if that was an arsenal player……

  • don't believe the hype

    Michael the Gooner, you just confirmed my suspicions from my post earlier. You would think that MON would have the sense to check it out for himself before reacting, but then again, maybe he’s not as smart as he thinks he is or he has a guilty conscience.

    ibbs, I think Coyle was upset and embarrassed that they lost the game from being 2 goals up. He had to deflect attention off the short-comings of his own team after that.

  • Femi

    I am not surprise, because English media are known all over the world for what they are. They have never seen anything good in others, as long as you are not an English man.Man U is in debt of about £76omillion.Did you hear any comment from any T.V Alan and Alan? Alex is the best manager. A best manager that his balance sheet is always in (RED). Alan theory is that when you are runing your business at loss you are the best manager.

  • Maria

    Shame Arsene didn’t insut Aston Villa god knows I would have. What a predictable, boring, average team O’Neill has put to gather top four my ***

  • uk

    well i know mo’n is not english,but i also tot scots(or is it irish) understood d english language better than me a nigerian. i guess i was wrong, b’cos he either doesn’t understand d language,was trying to vent anger or was plain ignorant of wengers comments,but then how can a mature man make such strong comments about something he didn’t hear,i’m surprised

  • Mark

    The media as we know it is dying.

    Twitter, and Social Media like this Blog are rewriting the rules.

    However the method of death might be described as “by poisoning, slowly”, so we are subjected to the interminable death throes…….

    eventually though it will become clear that you can’t pay someone 40K a year to write garbage when you can get everything free and informative…..

  • Mark

    or in the case of the Mirror Agitprop, to foment unrest …….

  • tim

    Oh those folks at The Mirror are great at covering themselves in glory.

    But still, O’Neill should have realized that Arsene would never say something like that.

  • tim

    Walter, once again, a very nice, thoughtful, and logical piece.

    As you show, there’s really no logic for why people get angry at Wenger. He is the most articulate and generous manager there is, especially when he speaks of other teams.

    There’s obviously something else about Arsene that just irks the media. Whether it’s just the tabloid media doing its thing to create a story, or if it’s something else like jealousy or Wenger being French is the question.

  • Vaste

    To be frank, even when i heard Prof speak after the match, i was surprised how come he is praising the opponent!!! And though i have a soft corner for Villa (cause I spent last yr in coventry – when villa was the closest premiership club that yr), I couldnt understand how in the hell those words can be interpreted as insulting!!! Or is it just that now every manager in the league (surprisingly except SAF) has decided to atrociously speak against us as if having some kinda grudge? (it was about “an assault” by Gallas last week). I guess most of them are just jealous of what Prof has succeeded in doing at Arsenal and have to take out there frustration on someone…!!

  • weg

    It sounds like a backhanded compliment.

    First, a “long-ball game” alludes to a defensive, untechnical football. O’Neill is putting together a side which he hopes will compete on a footballing basis with the top sides, so to call it a “long-ball side” is an implied criticism of its passing game.

    Second, by saying that Arsenal were pushing forward, and Villa were sitting back, it makes it sound like Villa were playing the typical bottom vs top tactic of parking the bus and trying to sneak a goal. Whereas Villa have greater ambitions than that.

  • Ham

    Please pardon MON , the ghost of last season is back to haunt him, it could have been a demon just using his body. Good start then ‘boom boom boom’ everything goes 2 pieces. He is a frustrated man. Secondly he is angry with AW because he has realized we are destined to be THE TOP 1. Yeeeeepeeeeeee!

  • Shevo

    Fuck the BBC , fuck Talk Shite an the rest of the English Media.
    That’s my tuppence worth added to another blinding piece of work Walter my son. Once again you’ve hit the nail on the head. AW should do a Fergie and blank these tossers, but he won’t do that as he is too much of a gentleman.

  • Abhishek

    so to call it a “long-ball side” is an implied criticism of its passing game.

    So what can you say when they actually played long ball in that game. He did not attack their philosphy.He just told what he saw.

    it makes it sound like Villa were playing the typical bottom vs top tactic of parking the bus and trying to sneak a goal. Whereas Villa have greater ambitions than that.

    No its just about the tactics employed. Italian national team are also ambitious but they rely more on counter attack. Whats wrong with it. Even the Brazilian team seems to have applied this policy.

    BTW even if MON did not knew what Wenger said cant he go back and check it and issue a statement. I fail to understand these managers, Wenger praises them and they keep shouting.

  • Samuel

    Martin O,Neill knows the truth hurts ,hence the embarrssing remarks about Arsene insulting his team.Yes he,s team does play the long high ball,very evident during the home game for Villa ,so who lost more ,definitely Villa as they,re falling behind the other so called top 4 teams ,Spurs ,Luckypool ,Everton ?

  • Samuel

    Any team ,big or small shouldn,t be allowed to buy players when the debt of the club is so huge ,Trash United and Luckypool ,so who is going to draft legislation concerning this matter ,obviously not the EFA,makes one think as to why the bias ?

  • yeah

    well, what can i say, arsenal is the only top4 team that plays a 90% passing game and occasional lob by sagna, but surely villa are the team that play long ball games 90%, don’t know what’s wrong their???may be he just envy the hammering that wenger did to them at emirates, may be he beleives wenger doesn’t rate them higher and hence the frustration…

  • Wonderman

    Walter no teuer a word spoken .MON has been found out….I have never understood the clamour for his signature as a manager, do we not remember the Leicester team he used to manage back in the early prem days. He then went to Celtic and won the league ..great !! Based on his signings he seems to be looking at a players’ passport rather than their ability. I was at the Emirates for the games against them last season and this. Last season they thoroughly deserved their win and played better than us from the outset. This season different story, we were all over them from the start but they were just managing to contain us…the rest is history

    Those of you expecting the media to be fair to us forget it, I ask you

    If Gallas had knelt on Gerrards neck and then pulled his hair do you think it would have been ignored the way Cesc’s incident was ?

    If Scholes had comitted the tackle that Gallas did against Bolton would not have been ‘Oh Scholesy ..he just does’nt know how to tackle does he’

    I could go on and on. When we win the title lets see what they do then

  • Walter, you didn’t notice O’Neil parapsychologist abilities, which he used to read Arsene mind. Of course he was reading between lines. Thanks to those talents O’spectaclesNeil got correct conclusion-contusion about AW insult.
    Shame on you Arsene, shame on you.

  • Rafael

    Great article Walter! They showed the game live over here (in the Philippines) as well – and what a game it was! End-to-end stuff! In my opinion, Aston Villa only started playing the long ball towards the later part of the second half, when their midfield started to disappear from the game. Oh, and Stuart Downing built choke city… Twice!

  • Paul C.

    Femi – you are wrong. Alex Ferguson has never run Utd at a loss. He is cut from the same cloth as Arsene Wenger. If it wasnt for the Glazier family, Utd would have no debt. Fergie has always spent what he earned and no more. It just so happens that Utd have always generated more money than anyone else but until the Glaziers arrived Utd had ZERO debt.

  • goonergerry

    It is nonsense to argue that Ferguson has managed like Wenger. Admittedly, Ferguson did once build a team from home grown players. But that is far from being the case in recent years-in fact ever since the Glazers took over and plunged United in debt he has spent irresponsibly.
    -jjust buying- Ferdinand, Carrick, Hargreaves, Anderson, Nani, Berbatov, Rooney added appox 155m to the debt. Ferguson paid way over the value of every one of these players. Fergie has never operated within the wages structure that Wenger has-in fact he has acted as if they were the richest club in the world-right up until this year.

  • tim

    Have you gentlemen seen this?

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/football/premier_league/aston_villa/article7008792.ece

    MON is very, very sensitive. I think he has an inferiority complex.

  • Sean

    Whilst I try to avoid the Predictable Premiership (especially The Bore Four) like the plague, the most entertaining team I’ve seen this season are………………Aston Villa.

  • notlager

    Sean,

    bitter as ever, aren’t we? I’m sorry to disappoint you but the invention of the time machine that would bring you back the good old days of honest English football hasn’t made any progress. Meanwhile fellow Gooners we just have to tolerate the presence of this fake Barnet fan.

  • Sean

    How am I fake Barnet fan?
    I’m going to Underhill on Saturday, v. Aldershot, £11, on a terrace.
    It’s here in my diary.
    And next Saturday, v. Cheltenham Town, £11, on a terrace.
    That’s here in my diary too.
    And the fortnight after that v. Bury, £11, on a terrace.

    How many on this site are going to the next three Arsenal games?
    Can everyone afford it?

    Pity we haven’t got a time machine because when football was better (the post-war years through to the late 60s) so was fashion, design, film, television, theatre, music and absolutely anything else you could name.

    Still, notlager, you’ll never know ‘cos you missed it.
    Diddums!