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Ian Wright “more stick from Arsenal fans than Tottenham”


By Ian Brookes

I read recently that Ian Wright had made the claim that he now gets more stick from Arsenal fans than he does from those at Tottenham.

Now I for one have been getting increasingly agitated with Ian Wright for a few seasons now as he has become very critical of Arsene Wenger and the policies of Arsenal Football Club. I have heard him criticise Arsene’s inability to “attract top players”, and Arsene’s alleged fear of spending big money. In fact just about anything Ian Wright can criticise about the running of the club it seems he has criticised.

Of course Ian gets quite a lot of air time (on both TV and radio), and in my view he is not the cleverest of pundits. I think it’s his wonderful scoring record and the enthusiasm that he approaches his work with as the reason he is offered air time.  And of course the media lap it up.

The problem is not so much what he says, although sometimes we all probably disagree with him profoundly.  But rather, Ian is constantly guilty of contradictions and commentaries that are just statements of a view without any underlying logic or analysis, so it is hard to find any coherent pattern in what he says.  In the end, because there is no debate, just a point of view, there is nothing to argue with.

To give one example, he will say England suffer because there are too many foreign players in the EPL, forgetting that England never won anything when English league teams were limited to just 2 foreign players. He criticises Arsenal for its foreignness, forgetting that we have Jack, Theo, Kieran, The Ox, Jenkinson and other English players coming through.

Some of this I get; he is after all there to provide controversy, and he is paid to do a job.  He tends to tow the line and follow what others are saying; although he does stand up to other pundits if he thinks they are wrong.  However he seems ill suited for that part of the job as he is not really blessed with the ability to win any arguments based on tactical or other awareness.

So, why don’t I just let it go, consider him a fool, and just forget?  Why do I get annoyed with him, especially at a time when it seems significant numbers of people realise he is rather poor as a commentator upon the world of football?

The answer is that I find it so annoying because of what Ian Wright was, and what he symbolises for me.  It annoys me, because he was my hero, because his defining moment of achievement has become engrained in my life.  It annoys me because he has let me down.

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Let me try and explain.

As we all know Ian joined us from Crystal Place, at a time when he was just 3 months short of his 22nd Birthday.  Prior to Palace he had been playing for Greenwich Borough. Now Ian nearly didn’t even turn up to the trial at Crystal Palace as just a few weeks prior he had been turned down by Brighton & Hove Albion. Brighton were then in the 3rd tier of English football, and Ian said that if a team in Division Three didn’t want him then why would a team in Division Two? Fortunately his then partner convinced him that he had nothing to lose.

So after a successful trial period Ian joined Crystal Palace and was with them for 6 seasons. He came on as a sub against Man Utd in the FA Cup Final, his first outing after breaking his leg while on duty with England B in December 1989, he scored shortly after coming on and took the game into extra time. A game that unfortunately Man Utd went on to win.

Ian was brought to Arsenal by George Graham, and it’s been well documented about Ian turning up and saying “just show me where to sign” and  he signed for  a then club record of £2.5m.

I was fortunate to see his very first goal for Arsenal in the League Cup at Leicester, the ball came to him on the left hand edge of the penalty area, he slipped, the home fans cheered, he regained his footing and hit the ball in to the bottom right hand corner of the net. The Arsenal fans celebrated, so did the players and of course Ian himself.

In his first league game he hit a hat trick against Southampton at The Dell, and then on his first home game he scored against Chelsea. So in his first three games he scored 5 times and I was lucky to be there on two of those occasions.

I was also at Crystal Palace when Ian returned for the first time. Ian scored and celebrated with all of the enthusiasm that we have come to know and love of him. Now it has become fashionable for some players that return to former clubs not to celebrate. RVP did this twice last season, Eduardo also decided not too and more recently Ramsey did not celebrate at Cardiff. Interestingly those that have celebrated goals against us do include Adebayour, RVP (now) and David Seaman (also a hero, although David did not score himself).

So loyalty in the form of not celebrating against one’s former club is a matter of choice – and maybe loyalty in terms of not criticising your old club is a matter of choice too.  But let’s move on…

Ian’s  contributions to the club were exceptional, he had his off days as we all do, but sitting in the North Bank and watching him was like having your best mate on the pitch, he would run and then run some more, he would chase down everything, would shoot from almost anywhere. He was vocal on the pitch and would be in the ear of defenders for the whole game. If you were an opposing supporter you would hate him.

For me he wasn’t just an Arsenal player, he was my player. And on a Saturday afternoon I knew he would be there, fighting my corner and doing it for me (or so it seemed).

On that wonderful day against Bolton when Ian finally broke Cliff Bastin’s record, Ian was replaced with about 20 minutes to go by Nicholas Anelka and it was Anelka that kept Ian Wright on the subs bench when we played Newcastle in the 1998 Cup Final.   I have read although not heard it said myself that Ian Wright was upset that he was asked to warm up during the second half of our 2-0 win to clinch the clubs second League and Cup double, however Arsene then decided not to put him on.

Ian Wright may well have been angry at this and he may well have realised that life does indeed move on, that he was no longer the golden boy and there was a new contender to the throne. If this is the case then it’s easy to see why today there is so little loyalty back from him to the club today.

As mentioned above it does seem a little bit more fashionable to act this way now and I am not sure how I would have reacted had I been a Palace fan.  If he could celebrate against them, the team that gave him his chance, the team that said “Yes” when everyone else was saying “No” why wouldn’t he be critical in later life of Arsenal, given that maybe, just maybe he feels there was no loyalty shown to him?

So why is he getting so much stick now? We all know he’s not the cleverest of pundits and I want Ian to remain as fond of Arsenal Football Club as I am. I want to remember the goals against Tottenham, his celebrations, the way I hugged my late father when he broke Cliff Bastin’s record on September 13th 1997, and maybe this is the key to it all.

I love Ian Wright for the wonderful moment when he broke Cliff Bastin’s record, that I could stand with my late father and know I was witnessing something truly monumental in the history of the club. I loved his celebration when he won the Golden Boot against Southampton and the amazing goal he scored to secure it.

So I accept Ian Wright for what he was, one of the greatest goal scorers I have ever seen, who did it in an Arsenal shirt.   I want to remember Ian Wright and the memories I hold of him as a player, and my time watching him.  I don’t want him tearing up those memories by endlessly, endlessly attacking Arsene Wenger and thus the club.

That’s the contradiction, that’s the problem.   Every time he attacks the club, he attacks my memories, and so he attacks me.  And because of that I just want him to shut up.

37 comments to Ian Wright “more stick from Arsenal fans than Tottenham”

  • blacksheep63

    Walter, I feel much the same about Wrighty. He annoys me every time I hear him on the radio – especially now he has his own phone in show on BBCR5. But I try and separate it from Ian Wright the footballer – when he was (and is) an Arsenal legend. The quality of punditry in England is very poor at the moment – in recent years only Gary Neville, Keown and Dixon seem worth listening too, the rest simply trot out the same tired old cliches.
    I think Ian still loves Arsenal and perhaps feels the need to over compensate to demonstrate his neutrality, i just tend to switch off 🙂

  • Lodatz

    Maybe he feels that not enough people point out the bleeding obvious.

  • dee

    Perhaps you should also address this to your legion of supporters who know nothing about the game and have clamoured for Wenger to be sacked. Convenient that this article is out now you lot are ahead in the league and playing well. Wrighty does go on a bit but I hear more rubbish from your so called fans. The amount of times I have heard how Walcott,Ramsey, Giroud etc are useless from your lot makes me laugh. Am sorry but you have a lot of clueless supporters who know zilch about the game.
    Wenger is the best thing that has happened to your club and as a non Arsenal supporter even p*sses me off when I hear him being heavily critised from your mob. I wish we had got to him 1st..And yeah..Am a Spurs supporter!

  • TommieGun

    Thank you for a very well written, moving post.

    I think that one of the biggest problem that we have, and not just us Arsenal supporters, but anyone, is criticism from within.

    It hurts through a double pivot mechanism –

    (a) you don’t expect to get criticzed by your own
    (b) your true adversaries use that as a weapon, by saying – “well, if Ian Wright, former Arsenal legend, thinks so – then it must have some basis to it”.

    In the end of the day, for me, it boils down to this –

    Is the person who should be on your side, is expressing their true opinion, out of true concern and love – OR, as you insinuated, it might be out of some hidden agenda. And that for me is the important thing, the motivation.

    Its Criminal Law 101 – Actus Reus. It’s what in your mind that counts.

    So my recommendation for you, if you want to still keep the good memories, is to tell yourself that he is doing it because that’s how he sees it, he might be wrong, but he is still all for Arsenal in his heart. Since you will never know what he really thinks, giving him the benefit of the doubt is the right way, in my opinion.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    @ Ian – Exactly my sentiments . For someone who was worshipped by the Arsenal fans as a true hero , Wright has become worse than Judas ,only to take tainted money to sabotage the club.
    Maybe he felt he was shown the door out too early and maybe he feels AW didn’t rate him enough to keep him , we may not know.
    Some how the loyalty shown by Henry and others should be the standard .I had loved watching him rile the opposition and their fans by his actions .
    I don’t hate or resent him ,instead feel a sense of pity for him. A real fallen hero .

  • ants

    Im not being funny… but after the first game of the season,and for a couple of seasons before that, almost all Arsenal fans were critical of Wenger, with many wanting him sacked, and ian Wright felt the same way. Now you have started very well, and all of a sudden everyone is back in Love.

  • Dave T

    Hi guys,
    My thoughts are this..
    Wrighty was a legend for the club, but now is a fan of the club – when he mentions Arsenal he uses the word ‘we’, ‘us’ just as much as any other fan of the club.
    Now the difference between us and Wrighty – he has the platform to air his opinions as a fan of the club to a wider audience than any of us, so inevitably it gets more response..
    Are we to say that we have never aired our concerns of Arsenals to our pals down the pub/at work/even on social communication sites/blogs, etc.
    In fact, to bad mouth a legend considering all the thoughts/opinions I’ve had, for me personally is deemed hypocritical, so I couldn’t criticize Wrighty for doing so.
    He definitely knows more about the game than I, has more talent than I ever had and won trophies/broke records for the club we love..
    We shouldn’t publicly ostracise him, just accept he has a right to make an opinion even if we agree/disagree with him..
    Yes, that even means I wouldn’t publicly bad mouth Piers Morgan as an Arsenal fan… As a celebrity – that’s another thing entirely.. 🙂

  • geekaybee

    I love Ian. He is a true Arsenal man, but I believe he feels deep,deep resentment against Arsene Wenger. He was Arsenal long before Wenger arrived. He played his heart out for us. He had tradition. The team that won that Cup Final was basically old Arsenal and Ian was a part of it. He really believed that he would have cameo part towards the end of the game as a reward for his service and dedication to the team. It was refused and Wenger seemed to totally ignore him. I believe that after years of service he felt that he had been thrown on the scrap. It seemed to be a knife in the heart. I think that because of it he strongly advised his son not
    to sign for us, who, if he had played for us would have had a far more successful career.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Just in case the kids ask…..

    Q: What’s the difference between Tiger Woods and Santa?
    A: Santa stopped at 3 ho’s.

    Q: What do you call Santa’s helpers?
    A: Subordinate clauses

    Q: Why was Santa’s little helper depressed?
    A: Because he had low elf esteem.

  • I have utmost respect for every person who has put on the Arsenal shirt. But I have learnt to not do this blindly. Playing for football club is no different from working for a bank. A good banker would make good profit for his employers while a good footballer would help his team succeed. They both get handsomely rewarded for their contributions financially. The footballer gets much more than money though; they also get hero status from the supporters of their club. This is one incentive that sports people get that are seldom accorded to workers in other fields. No one brands me a legend for helping students who are expected to get grade F to achieve grade B. I only receive my regular salary and at most, a thank you from my Head of department.

    The accolades that follow great performances from footballers should not be taken lightly or for granted by such players. There is a flip side, they also need to side with their old teams when their support is needed. Ian Wright fails here regularly and repeatedly.

    I’m not talking about blind loyalty here. I’m talking about fair representation of facts. Here are a few examples of my issues with IW:

    – His constant criticism of the club is not really borne out of necessity. It’s not like we are a mid-table team struggling to qualify for Europa cup. Yes, no trophy in 8 years but we have built a stadium since and have been paying for it. If Gary Neville of Man United can understand and appreciate this fact, why can’t Ian Wright?

    – After the England – Germany friendly game when the German 2nd string beat England, IW was on ITV “finding positives” from a dire performance by England. I was really surprised by this because the Ian Wright that I know would have eviscerated Arsenal for a much better performance than the English team did unless Arsenal won and convincingly too. Ian Wright is not an England legend by any stretch of the meaning of the word. He is an Arsenal legend. The least that I expect is that he treats Arsenal the way he treats England.

    – I last saw and heard from him last week Tuesday, again on ITV, where he was joined by Lee Dixon for one of the worst pre-game punditry I have ever seen by ex-players one of the clubs being previewed. It was made even worse by the fact that Arsenal was playing a foreign team as the leaders of both the premier league and their champions’ league “group of death”. His most memorable line from that shameful evening was (and I paraphrase): “Aaron Ramsey’s game hasn’t really improved, he has been doing the same things he used to. He has only been lucky this season.” How can a club legend say this about his club’s young player who is being considered as the league’s best play? It’s all a fluke, really?

    Why should he continue to get hero/legend treatment when he would not live up to his side of the deal? I agree with your last sentence. He should shut up where Arsenal is concerned, if he does not have something positive or at the very least, factual, to say.

  • jambug

    Anyone who has read my posts on here, or as far back as the days of the BBC forum, will know my views on the snake that is Ian Wright.

    Any ex player who can actively encourage current players to leave as Wright has done on several occasions over the years, not least Henry, Vieira, and RVP, has to be considered a traitor and is surely beyond contempt.

    I detest the man.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Ingratitude quotes from…

    A man is very apt to complain of the ingratitude of those who have risen far above him.
    Samuel Johnson

    He is ungrateful who denies that he has received a kindness which has been bestowed upon him; he is ungrateful who conceals it; he is ungrateful who makes no return for it; most ungrateful of all is he who forgets it.
    Lucius Annaeus Seneca

  • Brickfields Gunners

    No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself, and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be true.
    Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • bjtgooner

    Ian Wright was a great player for Arsenal and it is hard to understand just why he appears to detest the club so much now. He has done his character reputation no good in his attempts as a paid pundit to put Arsenal down. No-one respects any form of traitor – not even those who would use such a person.

  • ClockEndRider

    Wright is, sadly, just another in the long line of woefully inadequate pundits forced upon us by a lazy media. Because they have played at a high level, they are assumed to have insight into the game by their employers. Unfortunately, most of them are pretty much stuffed shirts with very little analytical ability and merely act as proxies for the shows host/station owner who lines them up with loaded/leading questions and sets them running in the direction he wishes. Really, Neville, Keown and to a certain extent Dixon and Souness are the only ones worth listening too. I really don’t give anything Wright has to say the time of day.

  • gouresh

    i still love Wrighty for what he has done for us and for who he is. he tends to wear his heart on this sleeve. i remmember he was on the panel of the Southapmtopn game??? [not sure] with Dixon and Roy. when Roy said that we did not turn up for the game, he almost burst out laughing to that idiotic comment. or the day at the ems last yr or was it a yr before againt tiny totts, when we lost, what…. 5-4 someting, he buried himself in the stupid that he was wearing.

  • Dee – as a Tottenham supporter you are welcome to comment here – and many of your fellows have done so in the past.

    But I would correct you on one point if I may. Untold Arsenal has been utterly and totally pro-Wenger since it was founded five or six years ago. During all the time of hitting out at Wenger, we have taken our stand and stood solid.

    I think that is why we now are moving towards one million visits a month. We’re the guys who haven’t changed sides.

  • Stuart

    Furstar Ski School
    Too true what you say about the pundits.

    Let’s be honest, if they were any good at tactics, they wouldn’t have needed a manager on the sidelines to tell them what to do.

  • Stuart

    That last comment was imed at Clockend Rider

  • Tony,

    I find it frustrating when readers who are not familiar with this site stumble here and lump us together with the fair weather Arsenal fans. When the team is down and we keep our support up, we are called ‘deluded’ by the AAA fans. When things are going well and we carry on supporting as usual, then we are accused of changing our tunes only because of the improving results. It seems like we can’t win either way. I guess it’s a cross that we just have to bear.

  • elkieno

    Finning someone answered the spud, well done Tony but I think he gone now.
    IW is an arsehole who should be forgotten, he prolly jealous he didn’t get a statue!

  • jambug


    You are right, there are too many Arsenal fans that have, and still do, critisise Arsenal in general, wenger in particular, as well as singleing out certain players for undue critisism.

    The thing is though, this isn’t the site on which you should be expressing your opinion, because if you had done just a little research, or better still read the home page intro, you would of realised this site was set up for and is frequented by (tho not exclusively) pro Arsenal and inparticular, pro Wenger types.

    If you look around you’ll find a couple of sites frequented daily by the type of fans that you, me and a vast majority on here cannot abide either.

    Go vent your spleen on the dark side, they could do with a kick up the arse if you pardon the pun.

  • ClockEndRider

    Agreed. Surely if they are worth listening to, they must have some insight and broadly ought to be able to pick a winner. On that basis, How has Hansen, who has for 20 years been telling us “this is Liverpool’s year” been able to stay in a job? Try doing your job for 20 years to a poor standard and see what happens!

  • Ian Brookes

    Firstly thanks to all that have taken time to leave a comment.

    IW may well be jealous he didn’t get a statue, had TH14 not surpassed his goal scoring record he may well have done. We will never know of course but one wonders whether he may have been so negative

    Some of us have been able to see past the comments about sacking Wenger and are able to appreciate what he has brought to the club. Granted frustrating at times but he does not have the open cheque book that some clubs have.

    Most people that visit this site realise this and support him because of it.

    I don’t hate him either, whilst writing this piece it evoked some wonderful memories. I do feel very lucky that I was able to see so many of his games and wonderful goals that he scored for us.

    Cant remember who it was against but I recall him scoring into the Clock End once, he was outside the area, the ball left his foot and was going wide, I was about to vent my frustration when the ball curled into the bottom corner. I leapt out of my seat, my friend who was with me asked “how did he do that”. Simple answer was “I don’t know”. That was what I loved about him.

  • Shakabula Gooner

    Ian is a type of person that is negative about his roots and heritage. More so, for wads of dough. Alas, he is not the only ex-Arsenal in the mode. What is most surprising is that the Hansens, Shearers, Redknapps and newly minted Owen don’t do that to their old clubs. Indeed, one senses that a good number of the anti-Arsenal pundits who weren’t ex-Arsenal players maintain their hostilities out of loyalty to their old clubs. Yet, most of ex-players choose the opposite track: relying on building their reputation upon slating their old club. perhaps, there is something there in the history the club’s relationship with its ex-players, as a mid-table club on perennially under the shadow of Liverpool and ManU? Perhaps the incoming generation of ex Arsenal players (of the Wenger era) will show more self-confidence and more support.

    By the way, in my part of the world, the definition of “bastard” is any who doesn’t respect nor show loyalty to his/her roots. However, I doubt if it is as grave a pejorative in the First World, as in the Third World, to be dubbed a bastard.

  • Shakabula Gooner,

    I chuckled at your cultural interpretation of the meaning of the word “bastard”. I know that where you and I come from, people will fight to the death if called a bastard but in the west, it’s just like being called a twat or a dick. It’s funny how different words have different weights and implications in different cultures.

    Oh lest I forget, Ian Wright is a bastard!

  • arse_or_brain

    wrighty the player is a legend, wrighty afterwards is A1 dick and has always been. for a man blessed with such skill his appreciation of football is non existent and knowledge even less

  • Matt Clarke

    Great article Ian – it sums up the Ian Wright / Mr Wrong (Dr Jeckyll / Mr Hide) dilemma perfectly.

  • nicky

    We all seem to be forgetting that the Wrights and Hansens of this world are constantly being foisted on us by the media BECAUSE of their controversial views (however biased and illogical).
    If they constantly praised the good things about football performances, they simply wouldn’t get the air-time they do. Critics the world over have the simplest of jobs and ex-employees seem unable to resist having a go at those who have followed them by trade.
    Best by far not to give them the publicity they crave.

  • Chippy Brady

    This is what you want to hear from former Gooners.

    Arsenal legend and intelligent man

  • Damilare

    Thanks Ian, no not Wright, I mean Brookes for this piece on your name sake (if you dont mind). It’s not difficult to figure out why IW is full of bad blood. This paragraph sums it all:
    ”On that wonderful day against Bolton when
    Ian finally broke Cliff Bastin’s record, Ian was
    replaced with about 20 minutes to go by
    Nicholas Anelka and it was Anelka that kept
    Ian Wright on the subs bench when we
    played Newcastle in the 1998 Cup Final. I
    have read although not heard it said myself
    that Ian Wright was upset that he was
    asked to warm up during the second half of
    our 2-0 win to clinch the clubs second
    League and Cup double, however Arsene
    then decided not to put him on”.

    It’s a shame that IW is not professional at all when he should. And if anybody cares to know why AW didn’t play him for that final match, it was not for footballing reason rather it was because of Wright’s ‘attitude’. Arsene had seen what is now glaring to us all about IW as far back as then.

    Hey! Mr. Wright, do what is right and write Arsenal, Wenger and fans an apology. Thereafter, shut up.

  • Damilare

    Thanks Ian, no not Wright, I mean Brookes for this piece on your name sake (if you dont mind). It’s not difficult to figure out why IW is full of bad blood. This paragraph sums it all:
    ”On that wonderful day against Bolton when
    Ian finally broke Cliff Bastin’s record, Ian was
    replaced with about 20 minutes to go by
    Nicholas Anelka and it was Anelka that kept
    Ian Wright on the subs bench when we
    played Newcastle in the 1998 Cup Final. I
    have read although not heard it said myself
    that Ian Wright was upset that he was
    asked to warm up during the second half of
    our 2-0 win to clinch the clubs second
    League and Cup double, however Arsene
    then decided not to put him on”.

    It’s a shame that IW is not professional at all when he should. And if anybody cares to know why AW didn’t play him for that final match, it was not for footballing reason rather it was because of Wright’s ‘attitude’. Arsene had seen what is now glaring to us all about IW as far back as then.

    Hey! Mr. Ian ‘petty’ Wright, do what is right and write Arsenal, Wenger and fans an apology. Thereafter, shut up.

  • Damilare

    Sorry guys for the double post. Network flunctuation caused it.

  • Pat

    @Chippy Brady

    Thanks for the link to the Gilberto article. Lovely read!

    There are plenty of ex-Arsenal players who are still loyal to the club and rate Arsene Wenger highly. They just don’t get invited to be pundits, for whatever reason.

    MOTD had yet another ex-Liverpool player on, Robbie Fowler. At least he had the decency to say Arsenal were capable of winning the Premiership.

  • mk

    If you were creating a list of the least intelligent ‘big name’ footballers that played in the Premier League it would likely match very closely to a list of the current pundits in the media.

    Hats off to G Neville who I could never stand as a player, maybe they too didn’t see it in him until after they hired him.

    Maybe a show with coaches (not managers, but those defensive or attacking coaches that specialize in analysis and improvement of one specific area), football statisticians and some of the more cultured players who were obviously great ‘readers’ of the game would be too dry for many people but I’m sure there are enough that would appreciate a real in depth analysis as an alternative to the cliche ridden, no-basis opinions of the more ‘instinctive player’ type that we are subjected to.

  • Micheal Ram

    I personally dnt think ian wright is ungrateful at all. At least ungrateful ppl have a stand on wat they say though as ridiculous as it sounds. After serving his paymasters to slate arsenal when they are not doin well, im sure he wil completely change after arsenal become world beaters trying to bask in the glory with is not his. Thts not ungrateful, thts pathetically full of shit…

  • David Stewart

    Can’t hate Wrighty although do disagree with some of his opinions. And let’s keep his opinions in perspective with those of Stewart Robson. That guy is pure sinister.