By Tony Attwood
On 1 October 1996: Arsene Wenger officially took up duties, and within minutes confronted and defeated a baying horde of journalists gathered on the steps of Highbury, daring them to announce “the story”.
The journalists backed down, but supporters of Man U and other clubs developed the story into the most disgusting chants ever heard in football grounds.
Indeed over the years Mr Wenger has had to take insults both disgusting and ludicrous from journalists and so-called Arsenal supporters on a regular basis. His resignation has been demanded, the “spend some fucking money” campaign has been everywhere, sucked up by the media on every occasion, and organisations such as Arsenal Supporters Trust and Black Scarf have become (unwittingly or deliberately, I can’t say which since I am not a member of either) fronts for attacks on Wenger’s view of football.
And yet he is rarely if ever heard to complain.
Compare and contrast with André Villas-Boas who has now demanded via the press “respect and an end to insults”. (Oh and before I go on, can I write, “why are you so fixated on Tottenham?” – someone always writes in with that comment when I mention the tiny tots so I thought I’d get in first today).
When Untold writes about referees we are also regularly told that we are conspiracy theorists and that next we’ll be saying men didn’t land on the moon – a commentary that shows a complete lack of understanding of the main theories of history (that it is inevitable, controlled by the Almighty, plotted by the powerful, or just a series of cock-ups). All can be interpreted as a conspiracy one way of another.
Now Mr Villas-Boas is talking conspiracy saying that he believes there “is a sinister agenda to undermine him” (the Guardian). He even singled out individual journalists, which is perhaps not the best move at this time given that it is they who write about him.
He pointed out that the Tinies are in the Capital One Cup quarter-finals and the Round of last 32 of the Europa League which indeed is admirable for a club like the Tinies. He said, “A couple of people insult my integrity, my human values, my professionalism … insult the success that I have achieved in other clubs and I don’t think it’s fair. I think it’s a lack of respect and an attack on a person’s integrity.”
He then asked why David Moyes and Manuel Pellegrini had been spared such criticism. Of course if I were to say that money buys the press just as it buys referees I’d be laughed at as a conspiracy theorist, so I’d better not say that.
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AVB’s even taken on the redoubtable Lord Sugar (the man whose claim to fan in footballing terms comes from having fought to put a percentage of the TV income for the Premier League to one side each year to spend on football and small club development. A brilliant idea – better than his silly little Amstrad computers – and one that the Premier League stupidly rejected.)
Lord S criticised the Tiny Totts tactics. AVB made a feeble jest about Alan Sugar having sold his shares in the Tinies.
Lord S then said via Twitter, “Dear AVB. All I can say about your comment is ‘when the seagulls follow the trawler…'”
Meanwhile over at Liverpool Mr B Rodgers has said that Liverpool are short on players, what with Sturridge and Coutinho being injured. He forgot Kolo Touré was also injured, but after seeing poor old Kolo recently, maybe that is for the best. He was wonderful with us, but now…
But what then of Arsenal in all this, apart from Mr Wenger not doing the criticism stuff, and not complaining about squad size. This past summer we spent less than Liverpool and only bought one player – but we seem to have so many players in the squad they can’t all fit in. I mean, what about poor Theo. Doesn’t he deserve a game? Monreal? Vermalen? Does Cazorla have to be substituted all the time?
Of course these days the Anti-Arsenal Arsenal gang suggest that had they not been there Arsenal wouldn’t have bought anyone in the summer because they “forced Wenger’s hand”. And yet it seems to me that if the AAA had had their man in power this last year we would NOT have
- 1. Szczesny – clearly we needed a decent keeper and he was not up to it
- 2. Ramsey – utterly useless, waste of space, should have given up on him years before
- 3. Ozil – he has made it clear he wanted to play for Wenger whom he trusted, otherwise he would have stayed at RM or gone to Germany.
- 4. Mertersacker who would have left after one season, or never come at all.
- 5. Giroud – what we needed was a big powerful centreforward with a proven track record not someone from a minor French club
- 6. Flamini – we need to be buying players not be picking up scraps for free
- 7. Gibbs – always injured and thus unreliable
- 8. Arteta – Merseyside cast off picked up in a mad scramble at the end of the transfer window – we should not be dealing in scraps from other clubs tables
- 9. Cazorla – since we don’t spend any money how could we buy one of the stars of the Spanish team?
- 10. Theo – what’s the point of buying kids all the time
- 11. The Ox – ditto.
Makes you think.
- 2 December 1899: Arsenal 2 New Brighton Tower 0
- 2 December 1922: Frank Bradshaw’s first game
- 2 December 1922: Andrew Kennedy’s first game
- 2 December 1933: Arsenal 2 Liverpool 1 making it 8 wins and two draws in last 10.
- 2 December 1936: Ted Drake gets three for England v Hungary
- 2 December 1936: Ed Bowden’s last game for England
- 2 December 1967: Pat Rice debut as a sub in 1-0 loss to Burnley.
- 2 December 1970: Arsenal 4 Beveren Waas 0 Fairs cup 3rd round 1st leg
- 2 December 1995: Aston Villa 1 Arsenal 1 – one of four draws in a row, in the mid-season collapse
- 2 December 2003: Fabregas becomes the youngest Arsenal player ever to score in the League Cup as Arsenal beat Wolverhampton 5-1.
- 2 December 2009: Man City 3 Arsenal 0 (league cup). 5 Arsenal players booked.