By Tony Attwood
Apparently around 60% of Real Madrid’s members believe Jose Mourinho has a negative impact on the club’s image. That is a according to a survey in Marca – a sports daily.
They asked about 700 members either on the phone or at the game, and overall the members gave his performance as coach 6.68 out of 10. The last poll in March 2011 had him at 8.82. In terms of should he stay or go after the end of the current season 54.4% saying he should stay and 41.8% saying he should leave, they added. (I presume the rest said he should be cut in half).
The poll was conducted at a time when Real Mad were 16 points behind Barcelona. The latest position has Real Mad in third place 15 points behind Barce and seven points behind Atletico Madrid.
Mourinho has made a number of public suggestions that there is bias against Real Mad in the Spanish game, and this is seen to be out of keeping with the club’s image. He has also been attacked for his team selection (for example dropping the goal-keeper captain Iker Casillas and reports of bust ups within the squad. )
It is interesting that the notion of the poll has not spread to British papers, where the journalists are much happier to draw conclusions without actually asking anyone. We might note that few papers picked up on the fact that after Man City fans failed to buy tickets for the game at the Ems, Arsenal fans snapped them up, for example. That didn’t show a complete lack of faith in the club.
Papers in the UK thus also talk up the revolt among spectators without any evidence – perhaps because they know that the vast majority Arsenal fans still retain a strong belief in Mr Wenger – and that result wouldn’t get them anywhere in terms of writing an article.
There was little sign of protest at the game on Wednesday night, and the usual 60,000 tickets were sold. West Ham’s end was packed solid, and most of them stayed until the long injury period. There were empty seats in the rest of the ground, but it was a bitterly cold night, and with many home fans travelling quite a distance it is not surprising that some didn’t risk the weather. I travelled the normal 90 miles, but then I’m crazy, so that’s not really telling you much.
At the AGM those who put themselves against the club’s current management could muster only 3% of the votes on a show of hands when there was a chance to vote against members of the board. Not that impressive.
Perhaps part of the problem of the protest at Arsenal is that it often centres around the “We want our Arsenal back” slogan which itself has no clear meaning. Which Arsenal was our Arsenal? The one where the seat prices were much cheaper, before Mr Wenger came along? Or the one with the big terraces at each end of the ground, before Mrs Thatcher came along? Or the era of Wright and Swindin where we sometimes couldn’t even make the top half of the table?
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Or perhaps as I was suggesting the other day, the problem is that Arsenal fans recognise that there are not that many top managers around in the world who could do better than the current manager.
Rafa Benitez will probably be free at the end of the season but I doubt he would make the top ten list of good ideas for any Arsenal fan.
Roberto Di Matteo is available. He is a good tactician and played in the lower leagues, which allows him to combine stylish football with hoof it up the field. He is also in the Arsenal mould of being calm, confident, patient, is good with the media and good with the ref most of the time.
Jürgen Klopp might go to Real Mad – especially as his Dortmund qualified ahead of Real Madrid in the Champions League. He has some interesting style points too – always dressing black but he has been described as a Teutonic Martin O’Neill on the touchline (which doesn’t sound like a clever idea). Klopp however is educated, as is Mr Wenger, and is extremely lucid when interviewed.
Michael Laudrup has taken Swansea to a cup final and uses a nice style of football plus is clever in the transfer market. But he played for Juventus, Barcelona and Real Madrid and history shows that top players rarely do well at Arsenal. Our greatest periods have come from having minor or non-players like Chapman, Allison, Mee, Wenger… George Graham is one of the few to buck the trend.
And Laudrup hasn’t won anything yet, and has no experience of being a manager in Europe.Which leaves us looking at Jose Mourinho who delivers titles in each club he goes to, except at the moment. And who managed to outdo Barcelona, although not this year. He tends to like the counter attacking approach, which is Arsenal’s heritage since Chapman. But he may prefer taking on the board at Manchester United.
Which leaves us where precisely? Knowing that if Mr Wenger goes, there is no certainty that any of these men will come in and no certainty that any will be better than Mr Wenger at all. And we don’t know how many people want change anyway.