By Tony Attwood (meditating on life to the sound of the waves of the Pacific).
There was a really amusing comment on Untold this week that started along the line of “Wenger is in charge so obviously he is to blame.” When I stopped laughing I deleted it. I mean I do like humour, but one has to be careful. Too much laughter can cause heart failure, and I don’t want to spoil our ratings.
But it was one of those commentaries that was so simplistic it was beguiling, and yet in any sort of analysis it is just plain… daft.
Behind such commentary there stands the notion that a manager has total control not just of his club but also of football. So that if the manager says, “I want player X” then everyone will bow down and say, “Yes of course, we will sell to you” and the player and agent will agree to come. (Indeed this is why I chose not to publish that comment – we’ve been over this point a number of times in the past week, so if the commentator can’t be bothered to read a little of our stuff before charging in, he or she doesn’t really deserve to be published. It doesn’t help the conversation along even though it gave me a laugh.)
So somehow the manager has responsibly for everything. He is responsible for the injuries, for example, no matter how many the club gets in the same position. Thus the year of the seven left backs was Wenger’s fault, in this view, because he didn’t have the foresight to buy in seven quality left backs before the season began, to cover the eventuality of six of them being chopped to bits.
Ah well, it is a theory, I suppose, but not one that seems to be from planet Earth. Mind you I see that Phiale Probe has landed on comet Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko so maybe otherworldliness is the order of the day.
Which presumably means that it was Wenger’s fault that Chamakh suffered trauma in his personal life while with us and lost his form when the blackmailing started. Or that Ozil was distracted by the fact that his father sued him for lots of dosh a while back. Stupid Wenger.
“Ahm,” but the anti-Wengerians say (or words to that effect), “but if he were any good Wenger would have known that Chamakh was going to be blackmailed and Ozil had trouble with his dad. And that Anelka had a strange brother and… ”
And I say, well… up to a point maybe, but if we start not signing any player with any oddity in his life, we are going to miss out even more transfer options.
Indeed now I come to think of it, I guess we have. I can think of (but sorry, I am not go to mention for fear of being sued) two players at least who we haven’t bought in the last three years, because their private lives were such hopeless tangles that the chances of getting them focussed on which end we were attacking (let alone the team formation) looked a tough job. And still the AAA are raving about them, because in their cozy bedrooms, if you want a player you get him, and if you don’t its your fault.
Footballers are, now I come to think of it, troubled fellows, by and large. Not just Paul Merson and Tony Adams, and Christopher Wreh (talented enough to keep Ian Wright out of the cup final line up, but so wayward thereafter that one utterly despaired).
We know all about Suarez and his problems, and of course of Messi and his dad and his tax arrangements back in his home country. And we’d better also avoid dealing with Barcelona because of their misuse of children…
In essence every manager compromises, simply because there are very few exquisite players available at a reasonable price, who will put up with the British media, pay British taxes, fit into the team that we already have, are willing to leave their existing club, have a manager who is willing to let them go, and have a stable and balanced home life with no skeletons anywhere and don’t demand half the take from the club’s shops in addition to their salary (as one player did).
Indeed those writers who are now laying into Wenger for letting Merson go should recognise that Merson was an occasionally brilliant, often good player who was bedevilled by problems. Problems that make Chamakh, Ozil and Giroud look like angels.
But anyway, the fact is that sooner or later Mr Wenger will go, and what these writers who say “Wenger is in charge so it is all obviously his fault” rarely tell us is who is going to come next.
And remember all the same isues will crop up again. Does the manager want to pay UK tax, face the UK press, take on the abuse that Wenger got on day one when they gathered on the steps of Highbury, take on the AAA, and so on. I suspect a lot of names are already out of the frame just through that little list.
Amazingly I saw a suggestion that Allerdyce should now be seen as a top manager and a possible contender. If that is the case I think I will stay in Australia permanently. Allerdyce, the man who invented rotational fouling. The man that even West Ham fans with their modest expectations, despised until a few weeks ago. The man who upon a criticism of his son makes big noises about suing the BBC and then somehow doesn’t. And the man the Guardian is now saying should be England manager.
So who? And remember you need about half a dozen names at least to account for those who don’t fancy the job and those who simply are honourable and don’t want to break their current contract. And the list is…
Well not massive. Southampton got it right twice, a full marks to them. Tottenham have got it wrong, wronger, wrongest and double wrongest all the time. Man U have had two bashes with men of high repute, only to find that the second has spent ten times as much as the first and is still not getting it right. Everton brought in a manager who looked to have it all, but turns out not quite to have it all. Liverpool have a manager who was the bright up and coming star, who was handed £80m from Barcelona desperate to bring in anyone at any price before their ban and did a Tottenham with it.
Fabio Capello? He’d get the defence going. But there was that murky business before with… well better not say but you can find it on the internet. Leonardo Jardim at Monaco, Laurent Blanc at PSG, Massimiliano Allegri at Juventus, Jürgen Klopp… oh it is so easy to real off the names, so hard to persuade them to come to a club infested by the AAA.
And will he do as well as Wenger from the start? Reemember we got into the Champions League at the end of the first (incomplete) Wenger season, during which we bought Vieira for £3.5m, and then won the Double in the next season – Mr Wenger’s first full season.
OK the Double isn’t needed, because the AAA have made it clear that the FA Cup is irrelevant (if it were not they wouldn’t be making a fuss now). So winning the league in the second season is a minimal requirement. And the signing of a player as good as Vieira. (We’ll allow him to be sent off quite a bit, but he’s got to be signed).
We can slip down to sixth in the league, and win just two in seven around Christmas, that is ok, because that is what happened in Wenger’s second season, but the recovery had better be good.
But whoever it is you can be sure that
1. Because he is at Arsenal the media will behave like pigs in a trough, just as they did the day Mr Wenger arrived. Actually that’s an insult to pigs.
2. He will have to buy all the best players as if no one else is in the market, because he needs to, because the AAA tell us we need lots of them.
3. He will make it happen at once, because slipping down the league is just not allowable.
So, that’s ok then. Oh, and he’ll need to agree that everything is his fault. Cos he’s in charge.
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And buy the books because they are rather good.
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football – Arsenal’s early years
- Making the Arsenal – how the modern Arsenal was born in 1910
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal
- What the media doesn’t tell you, part 6. There’s a financial problem…
- The Big 7 clubs, how much they spent and what good is it doing?
- What the media won’t tell you about football 5: Fifa lends money to Switzerland
- What the media won’t tell you about football, part 4 – referee variations
- The final transfer rumours: 3 new names to make 66 players tipped for Arsenal