Mr Wenger’s joke, Mourinho, bombastic shallow times, Barnstoneworth.

By Tony Attwood

Quite what Mr Wenger meant with his comment about the fact that if he had not been going to Rome on transfer deadline day we wouldn’t have signed Welbeck, is a matter for conjecture.   It is certainly something that seems to be causing a bit of debate with different people quoting different bits of Mr Wenger’s statement, each of them seeming to suggest that we need them to help us decide what to think.

What it all seems to come down to, if you look at exactly what he said, is that Arsenal would not have signed Welbeck if Mr Wenger had not been going to Rome, because the going to Rome meant that Mr Wenger got up early, and was able to make a call to an unspecified person or receive a call, in the early hours.  A call that made the transfer happen.

But we can also see in the transcript, even without seeing Mr Wenger’s famous smile, that he is having a bit of fun with the journalists lapping it all up.  He certainly isn’t saying “had I been here I would have stopped the deal”.

The papers are naturally all over the place with the story, which is pretty much how they increasingly are, when it comes to football.  The old certainties it seems, are drifting away.

And it’s getting worse (or better, depending on your perspective).

For example, the press has had a long term love affair with Jose Mourinho, possibly because he speaks better English than Sir Alex Ferguson, possibly because he says stuff other people don’t say.  So they’ve ignored the fact that his teams can often be sent out to get a 0-0 draw, with no consideration of the paying public or damage that his approach does to the image of football.  If the man can talk, the football don’t matter.

But when Jorge Valdano who was general manager of Real Mad when Mourinho was coach, publishes a book in which he says Mourinho is “perfectly suited to these bombastic, shallow times,” its a bit of a shock for the old scribblers down the pub.

Valdano portrays Mourinho as ego personified – which from the outside looks wholly believable He compares the Chelsea chatterer negatively to Pep Guardiola saying “If Guardiola is Mozart, that makes Mourinho, Salieri. He would have been a great musician if Mozart had never existed.   (Salieri was an 18th/19th century operatic composer who half way through his life gave up composition to become a teacher).

“I’ve never heard him say a single thing about football worth remembering, whether in public or in private.  He had one of the best squads in the history of Real Madrid.  He always remained just outside the door of the Champions League. That was the big challenge which he did not manage to succeed at.”

You can just imagine the old boozers pondering this as they contemplate tomorrow’s copy.  Can we mention opera in the same sentence as football?  No!  Can we countenance criticism of the man who gives us all those bombastic quotes?  No!  Better not mention the book then.  OK that’s agreed.  (Actually the Telegraph have mentioned the book, but maybe their man had nipped to the loo when the agreement was made).
A similar dilemma arises with international football.  We’ve all know for over 20 years that the are largely irrelevant, utterly to be feared (as the injury to Ramsey showed), and constantly to be derided (Shawcross called up for England indeed).
What do Ian, Drew, Walter and I talk about when discussing football?  We talk about Arsenal, of course, as we are all Arsenal supporters, and club football worldwide.  I can’t remember the last time we talked about international football, although there was a fleeting discussion the other day about what language they speak in Andorra.  (Turns out it is Catalan, with a fair smattering of Spanish, Galician, Portuguese and French).
Now the pressure to pretend that internationals are important has come from the morally and financially bankrupt FA, who need international crowds in order to make some sort of vague attempt to pay off their debts and keep their rabid bankers under control.  The FA also exerts pressure on the media to hide the fact that it (the FA) screwed up so badly in terms of its attempt to re-generate grassroots football that Sport England withdrew its funding.

OK, there is an awareness that international football is out there, other than via its ability to remove our players, mostly through playing them when unnecessary but that’s the sort of awareness that we have of vampires.  Never seen one, but there might be one out there.

After all Wales under 18s should have been able to beat Andorra.  Watching Barnet beat Dover last night I can say Barnet could have beaten Andorra.  And they didn’t need Ramsey.

And yes the jokes are fun (van Gaal put in a bid of £32m for Welbeck after seeing him score for England, becoming momentarily confused as to where Welbeck had come from).

But all the while the media has pretended that international football is actually of interest.   This is supported by the fact that TV companies pay little bits of money to show the games.  (At least I think they do – maybe the FA pays ITV to show the match to try and drum up interest).

Yet I think we all knew it was really up for England when a union flag was displayed at one match some years ago with the name of a team across the central red section with, as often is seen, the name of a club written therein.

Except it was a club that no one recognised.  Barnestoneworth United.  It sounded like a non-league team, but was it?

Turns out of course it wasn’t.  It was the name of the team invented for the penultimate episode of Ripping Yarns (the TV series by Michael Palin and Terry Jones (of Monty Python).   A non-existent club.  The worst football team of 1935.  Displayed on a banner at an England match.

Somehow  it seemed hugely appropriate.


The books
The complete Arsenal Anniversary series is to be found on the Arsenal History Society site.

46 Replies to “Mr Wenger’s joke, Mourinho, bombastic shallow times, Barnstoneworth.”

  1. Superb read, loved the comments on mourinho, to many people love the man for his one liners etc when all he is is a parody of himself. Sad really

  2. It appears we may finally see what the hold up with Mr. Wenger extending his contract last season might’ve been. Scaling back some of his powers?

    Not necessarily a bad thing for Arsenal FC to be honest.
    Identifying players he likes and leaving it up to Gazidis to make it happen.

    It is still a strange statement to make, one that didn’t need to be made.

  3. Amazing quote by a Madrid general manager…..and Guardiola…Mozart to Joses Salieri!could not really get much more damning all things considered.

    Was an odd….and perhaps mischievous statement, deliberately a bit vague, leaving maybe 10 percent of the key facts to our imagination. Some sites have gone into meltdown over this. Whatever the terms of contract, Wenger makes it clear he wanted DW,initially on loan. Indeed he went on to say he may well have signed him even if Giroud had not been injured. Welbeck to me at least seems a classic wenger buy, and a purchase which could weaken two rivals. Great signing…just very surprised we got him.
    Hope Wenger never reveals what he really meant….often the simple truths are far more mundane than the imagination of the masses

  4. one other thing, much respect also due to our much ….but increasingly less maligned execs on this one, and the summer in general, whatever their true roles

  5. Shows that probably we never had a solid plan. It seems that we were just taking our chances with a last day gamble. I don’t think this is professional approach. Especially as Wenger said he may well have signed him even if Giroud had not been injured. That means we needed a striker all the way but we just gambled last day. I just can’t see the reason for not sorting critical business like this on time. What if ManU last moment did not permit Welbeck to move to us?

  6. Yiannis – because the price is significantly cheaper at the very end. Welbeck could have been £25mm or not for sale at all earlier in the window. An extra £10mm would be around £6 per ticket per match per person for every game this season.

    Would you be happy to pay that?

  7. As for Wenger’s comment, that is weird – unlike him to talk in riddles. Unfortunately, this just causes the blogosphere to explode. Fortunately, he doesn’t take a blind bit of notice of it. Although just causes more disputes and general ill-feeling.

    I am also unsure if it is the most welcoming thing he could have said about Welbeck? Let’s be clear, the lad has been rejected by Man U – his boyhood team. Yes, Arsenal is a great consolation but the guy could probably use some TLC.

  8. maybe if we were too solid in our planning, we would not have been in a position to jump at the great opportunity that is Danny Welbeck. sometimes, planning, or no planning, good things come out of the blue. A gamble….maybe,but one that paid handsomely. I do wonder if Wenger would have liked to first offload a forward perhaps surplus to requirements….possibly for the players own good beforemaking such a signing, but we may never know.

    Just seen the Valdano quotes on Jose on the sky sports news site……quite insulting really! and delivered so eloquently!

  9. Pete
    Agree with your comment wholeheartedly. As a matter of fact I’ve been saying this sort of things for a long time now. Wenger needs to do a better job of fan dome management or referee management for that matter.

    His honesty is admirable but at times can be misguided and counterproductive. Last thing Welbeck wants to hear now is that his new manager didn’t see him as a long term proposition, especially when Arsen Wenger has always preferred permanent moves to loans( Nuri Sahin from Real Madrid being the last one that didn’t materialize)

  10. AW is just messing around. if some1 goes behind his back and signs a player, that’s P45 for that person. any1 heard of a sacking at Arsenal??? AW knew his comment would stir sh*t. lets enjoys others scratch their heads with this 1.

  11. Having read more of the presser it seems Wenger was just winding up the journos re being away.. The Rome thing is likely because he met someone either there or en route which helped get the deal over the line.

    A fuss about nothing.

    Roll on Saturday.

  12. It is hilarious seeing the comments here from people claiming, he need to do better man management, fan management and saying that poor Welbeck’s confidence has been shot down by his comments.
    Its comical.

  13. We will never know what he says to journalist and has been said in the dressing room. But seeing how he has always defended Arsenal players in the past, it would be reasonable to assume he has had a pep talk with DW already. Therefore, what he mentioned in the press conference recently, like many others have said, just a journalistic wind up.

    I still can’t fathom how some pessimistic supporters still think he is a cowboy managing the club on a whim. One two years maybe, but the man has gone through more than a decade and a half keeping the team competitive. It surely shows he is not a fluke. Also, if they believe in the press and not optimistic fellow Gooners, at least they could also listen to managers/players from outside the UK who speak so highly of him, but don’t.

    I am flabbergasted.

  14. We seemed to have forgotten that we only got good players because of David Dean. that criticism of Arsenal has long gone. ‘Gazidis didn’t know anything about English footaball’. So we were reliably informed.

    Fact: We just don’t know the ins and outs (pardon the pun) of tranfers and what takes place. All we know is the end result no player or a player.

    Arsene does speak positive when he certain that transfer is to be announced in the near future but that is all we know.

    Speaking personally when I hear a positive note from Arsene its brings relief to an otherwise boring time of the year that being the summer transfer window.

  15. Pete and Tom,

    Not sure what the fuss is about in regards to Wenger’s comments and Danny Welbeck’s confidence. According to the Telegraph, Wenger said:

    in regards to deadline day: “I was not aware of the start that he would be available, it was quick, but I had no hesitation to do it.”

    in regards to him preferring to loan Welbeck, Wenger said, “With an option to buy yes. In the end, when it was a permanent transfer or loan with an option to buy, I was happy to buy permanently.”

    Asked to clarify if that meant he favoured a loan, Wenger added: “At start of day, he was only available on loan. At the end of the day, I agreed.”

    So what’s the problem again? He wanted Welbeck and wanted to have him permanently, not just pay to loan for a few months with United having the option to call him back if he does well for us. It’s called running a team smartly, not allowing a rival to take one of your good players without having cover.

  16. Gunner6

    “….at least they could also listen to managers/players from outside the UK who speak so highly of him, but don’t.

    I am flabbergasted”.

    You and me both my friend, you and me both.

  17. I’m with Jerry on this one.

    Go to Arsenal Player and watch, then form your own opinion. To me it’s clear Wenger wanted Welbeck permanently and that while in Rome him came into contact with someone who helped the deal go through. Why people read in article in a paper telling them what Wenger said instead of listening to what Wenger actually said is beyond me.

  18. Whatever the significance of the early morning start for Rome and AW’s joke about it we have signed a good player who will get even better under AW’s tutelage.

    The media may well have distorted AW’s comments – but the person more responsible for possibly undermining Welbeck is LvG – as he tries to justify selling Welbeck to some very unhappy Manure fans.

    As for AW’s comments – I rather like the way he teases the lazy incompetents of the media!

  19. This is just one possibilty about the day. As far as transfers go Arsene had finished. Monday for him was a day off. In the evening he had game in Rome.

    So he takes an early flight with his family. They will spend sometime together before he goes to prepare for the game.

    Welbeck becomes avialiable and so he is called on his mobile. His family disgusted with him for working on his day off leave him earlier than planned and Arsene once again gets his man. He is a happy man until he gets home that is!! 🙁
    Only an idea.

  20. The art of being a good manager is being able to delegate. All this nonsense about Arsene being away from base on the last day of the Transfer Window is crazy. He and his recruiting staff would have long decided those signings to go for and then it was up to the Club’s trained negotiators to do their work.
    (DavidDein used to do this….remember?)
    I used to make sure my business was in good order each morning and then slope off and play golf every afternoon. Of course my business soon failed and went into liquidation. But Arsenal supporters needn’t worry overmuch….Arsene doesn’t play golf…

  21. @Jerry – good run down on what Arsene actually said.

    @Tony – very enjoyable quoted comments about Mourinho! I’m going back to read them again!

  22. He was probably trying to say to the journos you probably giving someone else credit for this deal as you said I should have been here to sign him. Because by them bleating about why he went to Rome instead of closing deals, they imply he needed to be there physically to close it. Because of that flawed thinking, it must have been someone else that sanctioned the deal, according to them. So basically he’s saying to the media according to your thinking this isn’t my signing. Also they always accuse him of dithering to the point of missing out that he could be saying had I been round you surely must think in your heads I would have done so on this one too. He’s winding the idiots up one way or other.

    The media have a tendency of twisting stuff; deliberately or if they don’t understand something. Recall Drogba saying after having just arrived in England ‘I dive’ when he really meant to say ‘I didn’t dive’, and they slaughtered him. Of course I know Wenger is completely in control of what he’s doing here, but the muppets read something else out of this and run with that. Either way this is a non story. Sure Danny and the manager are laughing about it.

  23. Tom wrote:

    “It appears we may finally see what the hold up with Mr. Wenger extending his contract last season might’ve been. Scaling back some of his powers? Not necessarily a bad thing for Arsenal FC to be honest.”

    I have to go back and read Tony’s article again to see how and where Tom drew this conclusions from but I couldn’t find it. He basically just seized the opportunity to express his beliefs and wishes while pretending like it has anything to do with anything at all.

    What the hell has this non-issue got to do with Arsene’s contract again? And considering that club’s board were practically begging Wenger to stay when sumptuous offers were being dangled before him in France and Spain, one must wonder how the same board could have used that negotiating time to “scale back some of his powers”. The nonsense about Wenger’s mythical powers over Arsenal is one of the most often repeated and (sadly) unfair lies by people like Tom against the great man.

    It is one thing to post a disingenuous comment and another to post an illogical one but our dear friend Tom always finds a way to do both.

  24. And this just shows Danny won’t be allowed to put a foot wrong, or the vultures will descend on him. They are already looking for negative stuff before he’s even kicked a ball for us. If they wanted a more exciting story I’d expect them to be trying to do a bit of digging on the Falcao transfer, which seems to defy all logic and wasn’t announced till the 11th hour. Instead they’ll focus on Wenger’s comments about a signing he’s openly admitting to have seized on when the chance presented itself.

  25. Blaisehayest is absolutely spot on.

    To those that are dreaming up all kinds of nonsense about the transfer: Stop reading what sad journos are writing and watch the press conference yourself. It’s on Arsenal player for anyone to see. After watching you’ll see that it is absolutely obvious what Wenger meant; he wanted Welbeck and permanently so. The day unfolded different because he was travelling to Rome. That’s it. No big news, but no doubt an amusing tale for his book.

  26. Not sure why I am in moderation, but will post again:

    some articles are claiming Per and Arteta bumped into Danny after an England training session at Colney, and they were instrumental in this signing.
    All is becoming clearer. If Wenger had stayed at home, he would be running the two aforementioned players into the ground in training, they would not have had time to be bumping into England players sharing their training facilities.
    The Rome connection clearly suggests some sort of Papal blessing….perhaps intervention from an even higher authority than Francis, though at the Bishop of Romes behest of course….a man who is apparently quite a football fan, who was involved in Wengers match over there.
    Vatican, large transfer of money, shadowy execs……all very Dan Brown.
    Finally, Wenger was mocked for flying a budget airline to this match for peace. Significant. This meant he will have spent much of the day hanging around crowded airport lounges waiting for flights at inconvenient times with nothing to do but organise last minute transfers, as opposed to resting, plotting project Sanogo, dreaming of getting Bendtner back, or occupying himself with other things in an exclusive VIP lounge.
    If Wenger had any last minute doubts over Welbeck while airborne, the lack of reliable mobile connectivity on such a cheap form of travel would have allowed the dastardly Ivan Gazidis to sneak in…. in Wengers absence, giving Danny a five year contract just to ram the point home and assert his newly found alpha male status at the club, leaving Wenger to sulk and refuse to speak to…. or acknowledge Welbeck in a Gallic hissy fit.
    Or something like that…..

  27. So if you ran Arsenal you would ban players from playing in internationals ,such is your contempt for them. I do hope that if you ever meet any Arsenal players you express to them what a waste of time internationals are, or wouldn’t you have the guts ?I take it you will tell the Germans how pointless their world cup win was, how playing in the PL and battling for 4th is far more important .I expect that there will be no more mentions of having 3 world cup winners at Arsenal and that Ramsey should forget about trying to help Wales qualify for a tournament for the first time in a generation and concentrate on the glory of the Cl group stage instead and battling United for 4th

  28. I think Welbeck was having a bit of a mental block in MU. Similar with Henry when he was at Juventus. Similar with a son who is unwillingly forced to take over his family business at the expense of his own ambition. His goals and celebrations for England clearly showed he relished his trade with Arsenal. Even Ruud van Nistelrooy said many years ago the potential Welbeck had when he was young. I hope Arsene will unleash the beast in him at Arsenal and lead this team to success. Exciting time are ahead…

  29. There’s no way Wenger has a strong opinion against having Welbeck. He won’t take anyone he can’t use and this board isn’t a group of people who just go around spending money knowing that might not be in good use.

    He might not be 100% happy with the details or the price. He already say it with the loan part. It makes every bit of sense. U prefer trying the player on loan and buying him if he is good to the team. That reduced risk of the playing being no good. On the other hand, all contract issues aside, he is perfectly OK with Welbeck around. Why not? Arsenal isn’t filled with proven strikers anyway.

    We also got words that some players in the team seem to run in Welbeck and hear about the possibility of transfer. Real or not? Let’s remember it and wait for Wenger’s story.

    There are many possibilites here. If Wenger is around, he would be taking his players to somewhere else and they won’t run into Welbeck? May be Wenger will be trying to do other deals in stead of this sudden deal with Welbeck…

    We should be happy that Welbeck is here who can cover for a need and give years of service.

    Also, everyone seems to like him. See how fast other players rush to Twitter and FB to welcome the guy!!!

  30. Excellent Read!!!

    I must stay with self proclaimed ‘special one’ who had the audacity to name AW a ‘specialist at failure’, conveniently forgetting how he FAILED with arguably one of the best squads in International football during his time at Real Madrid!!!

    He should be on TV as a pundit with the usual IDIOTS…thats what would really suit him; possibly where he will end up once he is done with Negative football!!

    Cheers to ALL Gunners!!

  31. Ohhhh and something else; How I would love for Welbeck to bang in 25+ in the PL this season and shut that gob of the badly beaten up boxer – look-a-like Van Gal…He is a clone of Ferguson me thinks!!

  32. Media as usual trying to prove that welbeck was a panic buy and Mr Wenger had no hand in this signing.

    Well, for starters we all know that board or Gazidis or whoever will not invest in playing staff without the approval of the manager. And the media and the pundits can’t digest this. The reason, DOF. They think DOF is the way forward, well most of the clubs have them now and they are the ones making decisions of purchase of the playing staff.

    Now the Welbeck issue. Let’s be honest. No one knew or ever had a slightest of suspicion that welbeck would be considered surplus by Manutd. I don’t remember any media house running a story on welbecks availability.
    And Mr Wenger clearly states that welbeck was available on loan in the morning.
    Welbeck is a fulltime ARSENAL player now is an indicator as to how ARSENAL works. They managed to convince ManUtd to pay with a future potential and that to at a bargain price is worth mentioning.

    Oh! And one more thing. Mr Wenger being away on the deadline day….. Wenger does the negotiations. Myth busted.

  33. For better ,and for worse ?

    John and Jessica were on their way home from the bar one night and John got pulled over by the police. The officer told John that he was stopped because his tail light was burned out.

    John said, “I’m very sorry officer, I didn’t realize it was out, I’ll get it fixed right away.”

    Just then Jessica said, “I knew this would happen when I told you two days ago to get that light fixed.”

    So the officer asked for John’s license and after looking at it said, “Sir your license has expired.”

    And again John apologized and mentioned that he didn’t realize that it had expired and would take care of it first thing in the morning.

    Jessica said, “I told you a week ago that the state sent you a letter telling you that your license had expired.”

    Well by this time, John is a bit upset with his wife contradicting him in front of the officer, and he said in a rather loud voice, “Jessica, shut your mouth!!”

    The officer then leaned over toward Jessica and asked. “Does your husband always talk to you like that?”

    “Not always,” answers Jessica, “only when he’s drunk.”

  34. @Brickfields Gunners
    September 12, 2014 at 7:29 am

    They are living together and she sends him a letter!

    Good joke though 🙂
    ‘Jessica said, “I told you a week ago that the state sent you a letter telling you that your license had expired.” ‘

  35. Bootoomee
    I just knew I’d get you out of the woodwork with that one 🙂

    A ‘dear friend’? …, I’m touched.

  36. Al
    I disagree. If anything it’s Welbeck who will get more leeway because of his price tag( which I thought was a bargain ). Falcao , on the other hand , will have to produce imiedietly to justify his wages.

    I think Welbeck was the transfer of the season. Even better than Sanchez when you consider his transfer fee.

    The most happy Arsenal player with this acquisition should be Ozil, the least Sanogo.

  37. Tom

    I understand what you mean when you say that Sanogo will be unhappy with the acquisition of Welbeck – but in one way I would disagree.

    Sanogo will now not be under pressure to lead the attack and score. At some point in his career he may do just that, but for now he needs time, confidence and game time where there is less pressure, rather than as the main striker of the first team.

  38. Bjtgooner
    I suppose you could look at like that but it might be harder for Sanogo to get game time now. Not to mention the fact that there are few games Arsenal play which carry no pressure , maybe the league cup.

    It’s easier for a player to show his true worth when getting regular game time. Case in point – Monreal, who looks much improved. If he continues in the same vein, I’ll be happy to admit I was wrong about him.

  39. Hopefully, we can start building up a few healthy leads, at least against some teams, allowing Sanogo and others to come on at some stage and perform under less pressure and develop accordingly….and rest the first choice players.
    Seems a long time since we would start quickly off the blocks and race into big leads….think those days are coming back soon! Of course well aware they cannot employ such tactics against the big boys.

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