By Bulldog Drummond
In what the media would have called a “long-winded rant” if it came from anyone else, Ian Wright finally came out and backed the notion of a boycott of Arsenal matches by those who don’t like the current regime, rather than protests in the ground.
“Something has to change, whether it is the manager Arsene Wenger or whether it is the board upstairs,” he said before warning that the current anti-Wengerian protests by a minority of fans is seriously damaging the club in terms of next season.
“Where are they going to sign players from?” he asked. “Who is going to want to come to Arsenal instead of anywhere else in London? At the moment, they are not an attractive proposition…. we are going to start missing out on the kind of players that are going to be available and want to play in the Premier League. Top players may want to leave.”
Although he argued the issue from a different perspective Wright ended up at exactly the position of Untold: that those who don’t like what is going on should stay away from games as they did in the Sunderland match, rather than attend and protest.
The view expressed on Untold has been that those who attend games and then protest inside and outside the ground are harming the club, while not buying tickets or refusing to attend games even with a season ticket sends a much more powerful message to the club. However I suspect that many of those who absented themselves from the mid-week game will be back, waving placards, and generally drawing attention to themselves, rather than Arsenal’s situation.
Wright, who claimed to have insight into the mindset of players, made it clear that the current situation is going to make matters worse for Arsenal next season.
Meanwhile on the bid front Alisher Usmanov (whom the BBC wonderfully described as a “metal magnate” – I wonder who thought that up) has, according to the Financial Times, made a $1.3bn (£1bn) bid for control of Arsenal. It seems that the bid by the multi-billionaire who was born in Uzbeckistan, has what some might describe as “a colourful background” and who now lives as a tax exile in Switzerland, was turned down. The bid values Arsenal at $2bn.
Kroenke has let it be known that he does not want to sell and that the ownership is for his family for generations to come. In such a situation banner waving inside and outside the stadium, and engagement in occasional bouts of fighting is unlikely to persuade the Kroenke family that anything needs to be changed since he doesn’t attend games. A half empty stadium could since it would affect his pocket and generates much more publicity.
Of course that would depend on two things. One is whether, as they have claimed on occasion, the anti-Wengerians do have the support of the majority of the fans who attend matches. The other is whether being in the limelight themselves is more important for the anti-Wengerians than actually getting the manager removed. I suspect this weekend will give us a clear indication. If those who were absent mid-week now return that will be a clear indication that the result of their protests is far less important than feeding the already converted anti-Arsenal media and being on stage themselves.
However Mr Usmanov did not however seek to endear himself to the anti-arsenal-Arsenal movement by saying, “I do not think that the coach alone is to be blamed for what is happening,” in a statement last month. Some continuity is needed. This includes the need to prepare a successor for Wenger but in a very respectful way. I can suggest that Wenger himself can prepare a successor.”
In an ironic twist, giving this weekend’s opposition, Usmanov originally linked up with Farhad Moshiri who is now the majority shareholder in Everton. Moshiri sold his shares to Usmanov when he took over Everton. Everton, who perennially finish outside all the Euro positions, and now trying to build a new stadium with local council financial support.
Meanwhile, back with the protests, I think most agree the protest in the game against Sunderland was stunningly effective. Every newspaper, TV station and radio station with an interest in the Premier League, and many who have no such interest, covered the situation, all the bloggettas and the mainstream media showing pictures of empty seats at the Ems. And this time they didn’t have to use the old Daily Telegraph con trick of showing people in the Ems at a match in which Arsenal was not even involved in.
So mass coverage for the campaign, and endless write ups about Arsenal supporters wanting Mr Wenger out. SUCCESS!!! Better still, not one of the reports I saw or heard mentioned that the reduction in numbers might have been in part because it was chucking it down with rain off and on through the evening, the opposition were unattractive and it was live on TV. Not one. More success!!! Of course I don’t see all the media (the local newsagent doesn’t stock the Morning Star), but that sort of news manipulation can’t be bought. It was brilliant.
Thus we had it. Total coverage, lots of pictures, and a complete Wenger Out dominance of the reportage of the match. Whereas many previous reports of the anti-Wengerian campaign have been denounced in the media (particularly those including aeroplanes or violence) this one got the media’s wholehearted supported
Which must mean to anyone seriously interested in getting Mr Wenger out, “do it again”.
Of course, since I am not a member of any of the anti-Wengerian groups, and don’t support them, I don’t know what anyone plans to do, but I hear that the aaa and their friends in the media are in fact not looking for a repeat. Instead it will be back to a march around the block, pushing people out of the way as they try to get into the ground, and banners, plus slagging off the manager afterwards.
Which again raises the question why are they following the route that is far less likely to bring success?
More later. And we might even get to the game at some point.
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- Arsenal v Lens: what we found, what we felt, what they did
- Arsenal v Lens: the team, the home/away form and the strange coincidences
- Arsenal v Lens: they had a poor start but are now flying