Arsène Wenger on the English tendency towards nationalist bias

by Tony Attwood

Before Arsene Wenger arrived in England, but when he had been announced as Arsenal’s new manager, Tony Adams made the comment that many were thinking and others had said before him.  Speaking of Wenger he said, “He’s French.  What does he know about English football?”

Well Adams learned quite quickly.  And it turned out Mr Wenger had already done his homework by the time he arrived.  For according to the English pundits and journalists, who pontificated day after day in the press, there were four fundamentals…

1: Foreigners knew nothing about football in England.

2: English football was naturally superior to football everywhere else in the world not least because we invented the game, and the only reason we didn’t win the Champions League or the World Cup was because the foreigners cheated.

3: Foreign football was boring and played in front of tiny crowds in crumbling old stadia, with 0-0 the most common score.

4: Foreigners dived.

Indeed being nobody’s fool, Arsène Wenger has always been totally aware of the way that the media is prejudiced, and he has never forgotten how they treated him with such utter contempt when he became Arsenal manager.  Nor indeed how he overcame them by responding to their cries of “What do you think of the rumours Mr Wenger?” with “What rumours?” a ploy that invited the journalists to say something that he could then sue them for.

The fact was, while the English journalists knew nothing of foreign football, they truly believed that as a foreigner Mr Wenger would be unused to the ways of the English media, and the English laws of slander, and so could be enticed to repeat the vile rumours that were circulating, and so thus allow the press to mention them, because he had said it first.  Without him mentioning them first, however they were stuck.

So he outmanoeuvred them, and not for the last time. Which is why they eternally hold a grudge.

Now talking about the current topic, that there is a cult of diving in the Premier League, he said, “I remember there were tremendous cases here when foreign players did it but I must say the English players have learned very quickly and they might even be the masters now.”

Tongue in cheek or what?

Less cautiously Virgil van Dijk has recently accused Harry Kane of diving thus making Mr van Dijk public enemy number one in the eyes of the press.  Really, someone at his club might have told him that Mr Kane is Public Hero Number 1 and as such is utterly untouchable.  Saying he dived is like saying that Winston Churchill had a penchant for naked ladies.  Forget whether it is true or not, you simply can’t say it.

So instead Mr Wenger said, “We have to get diving out of the game.  I don’t tell my players to dive. I don’t encourage them to dive at all.

“You want your players to be intelligent. Sometimes they have played a little bit with the rules, they make more of it on the penalty case. Every striker will do that.

“How far can you go? That is down to the referees and I think that sometimes, at normal speed, it is very difficult to determine.

“As much as I can be harsh with the referees, on that front I am quite tolerant because when you watch a game live it is very difficult at 100% pace to distinguish whether it is a dive or not.

“Most of the time, when a player is going to the goalkeeper, they push the ball away from goal. They had a good rule in England when I arrived here. When the striker pushes the ball away from the goal, they didn’t give penalties because the only resource the striker has after is to look for a penalty.

“In many cases now, the guy goes and if the goalkeeper has their hands out, the striker leaves a leg as long as he can to make sure that the goalkeeper touches him. But that’s not really a penalty.”

As for the upcoming game which will of course involve God’s Own Footballer, Mr Wenger said, “It is a big game because we are behind in the table and we have to catch up.   It’s more importantly mathematically for us to come back as quickly as possible, rather than it being emotionally charged.”

In this regard the Guardian has done a piece to play down all the emotion, in which it has asked its football writers to nominate the three teams that will qualify for Europe along with Manchester City.   I am not quite sure why they bothered to spread it out in the paper since all of the writers came to the same conclusion.

It will be Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham Hots and Liverpool.

I’ve not been through all the league tables for recent years when there are 12 games to go, but certainly precedent seems to suggest the top four teams with 12 games to go are the top four at the end of the season, although the order might change a little.

But still, precedents are only there to be broken.

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23 Replies to “Arsène Wenger on the English tendency towards nationalist bias”

  1. Typical Wenger.

    Open, honest and intelligent.

    Nothing he said there was inflammatory, derogatory or controversial.

    So you can bet your bottom Dollar that in tomorrows papers, some how they will make Wenger out to be a whinging, antagonistic liar.

    What’s the chances Pires gets at least half a dozen mentions.

  2. And lest we forget according to some, Arsenal, in the shape of the aforementioned Pires, are to blame for the diving in the premiership.

    This from the Metro on the 16th of Feb 2016:

    “Arsenal legend Robert Pires is to blame for the Premier League’s dive culture, claims Danny Mills”

    And this despite Francis Lee and the even more infamous Jurgan Klinsman:

    A small snippet:

    “As U.S. Men’s National Team coach, Jürgen Klinsmann is famous for spinning negatives into positives. He’s a master of the art, and there’s no better example of it than Klinsmann’s debut for Tottenham Hotspur on Aug. 20, 1994—a full 20 years ago today.
    Klinsmann had signed for Tottenham that summer, becoming one of the first big-name foreign players in the Premier League. Maybe the biggest to that point. He’d just scored five goals in the 1994 World Cup, and was recognized as one of the world’s greatest strikers. But he also arrived with a reputation for diving, a reputation which meant he was greeted with hostility by English media and fans. Most famously, he’d made sure Argentina’s Pedro Monzon was sent off during the 1990 World Cup final with this gymnastic masterpiece, which was usually played on the news alongside the report of Klinsmann’s signing:”

    But of course Mills isn’t the sharpest tool in the box is he.

  3. Open, honest and intelligent views will always be thought to be close minded, dishonest and stupid by those who cannot fathom the concept of being open, honest and intelligent.

  4. I would have been happier if he had said that he actively discouraged his players form diving.

  5. David Hytner who writes for the Guardian is a good example of how the media treat Arsene Wenger.

    These are his comments after the League game with Chelsea at the Emirates, the game in which Hazard dived for the penalty:

    “There was a classic Arsène Wenger moment on Wednesday as he walked towards the exit door of the media auditorium at the Emirates Stadium. It was put to the Arsenal manager that Jack Wilshere might have been sent off for a second bookable offence during the helter-skelter 2-2 draw with Chelsea – a dive following a challenge from Andreas Christensen.

    “That would have made you happy,” Wenger countered.

    “Seriously, Arsène,” the journalist said. “What did you make of it? Did you see the incident?”

    “Honestly, no,” Wenger replied, before taking his leave.

    “Wenger had a clear view of what he wanted to see, which was the decision of the Anthony Taylor to award a penalty against Héctor Bellerín for catching Eden Hazard. The Chelsea forward would convert the kick for 1-1, which was the signal for Arsenal, in Wenger’s words, to feel “mentally shot” and concede again to Marcos Alonso. Bellerín would bail them out with a stoppage-time equaliser.

    Wenger also saw something deeper and more sinister – the latest evidence that Arsenal are persecuted by officials. He had run through the charge sheet on Tuesday, taking in the bad decisions his team suffered at Stoke City, Watford and Manchester City before the coup de grace – the last-minute penalty award for West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns on Sunday, which in effect cost Arsenal two points.

    “Wenger faces a touchline or stadium ban for his furious post-match confrontation with Dean in the referees’ room, while the Football Association have asked him to explain some of his juiciest media comments. They include the line from Tuesday about how Dean “saw what he wanted to see” when giving the penalty – in other words, he wanted to see the penalty, even though it was not there.

    “That is a serious accusation but Wenger matched it after the Chelsea game when he suggested he knew his team would be on the wrong end of a bad decision – or, to use his word, a “farcical” one. Never mind that, on this occasion, Taylor’s call was correct. Bellerín clearly kicked Hazard’s foot”.

    “We got again a farcical decision on a penalty, but we knew that as well before,” Wenger said. “So we have to deal with that.” In another post-match interview, with the BBC, Wenger said: “Once again, we got a very bad decision against us. We have to account in our preparations for that’s what we have to face.”

    The accusation of some kind of premeditated campaign by referees against Arsenal is ludicrous but Wenger is in one of those moods where he sees conspiracy at every turn. Post-Chelsea, he was calm enough on the surface, which is not always the case, but he was inconsistent.In one breath, he attacked a refereeing decision in the strongest possible terms and, in the next, he sought the moral high ground, insisting that all he wanted to do was talk about the football, which had been thrilling.

    In Wenger’s ideal world, the media would shine a light on poor refereeing decisions, meaning the managers would not have to do so. But he clearly feels that we need a little help. He wanted to know why certain decisions in Tottenham Hotspur’s 2-0 win at Swansea City on Tuesday night were not attacked by the newspapers – principally, Fernando Llorente’s offside opener and how Davinson Sánchez avoided a possible second yellow card.

    Wenger cannot make such demands in the forum of a press conference without personally bringing up the issues that he professes to be above. It is probably worth mentioning that Wenger does not generally go off the record.

    Wenger tied himself in several knots, although he did not seem to realise it. Was the answer for all managers not simply to accept the decisions of referees? “That’s what I do, I have no choice,” Wenger began. There was a but coming. “But you have to say as well, at the moment, we have to face surprising decisions.”

    “Like so many top managers, Wenger’s vision is selective. Obviously, he has not mentioned the decisions that have gone for Arsenal in this season’s Premier League, such as the penalty Albion did not get at the Emirates or the soft one his team got at Burnley. Or how Shkodran Mustafi was marginally offside when he scored against Tottenham”.

  6. Nitram,

    You’re absolutely correct that Klinsmann arrived in England with a well earned reputation for being a diver. But, precisely because of that, he restrained that unedifying part of his game when he came here. He was involved in no controversial incidents during his two brief spells with Spurs. I’ve no idea who should be burdened with responsibility for the spread of diving within English football culture. I wouldn’t blame it on any one player, foreign or domestic. But Pires was certainly one of a number of players – like Alli now – who had a well earned reputation for diving.

    As to Wenger being open and honest as always, that is more than somewhat seeing things through rose tinted glasses. It’s not for nothing that it became a standing joke that Wenger so frequently and conveniently claimed that he “did not see it” whenever one of his players had transgressed but always saw it whenever an opposition player had done so.

  7. AFC Nemesis

    Well said again sir.

    I don’t know how Wenger puts up with it without punching them on nose. I know I would.

    And surely some of what is said is defamatory, slanderous or libellous.

    Take what Garth Crooks said
    The other day.

    He openly accused Wenger of ‘destroying’ players careers.

    Could you openly say that about say Alan Sugar or Richard Branson and get away with it.

    Surely it’s slander at The Very least.

    Or am I missing something?

  8. Nitram, I’m certainly not a lawyer but I rather think that in libel and slander in law you have to show that you have been damaged, and the argument in football is that it is all part of the “banter”. I think that is an appalling argument, but I believe that is how it goes.

  9. Tony, you are correct.

    On Nationalism.

    1. Diving
    Foreign players are treated differently to the likes of Harry Kane and Dele Alli. This has been proved after the Liverpool game. I would not just say Kane and Alli but I would add Vardy to that list. The media make excuses for English divers. Eduardo and Pires were vilified.

    2. Dirty Tackles
    Eduardo, Ramsey, Diaby, Wilshere were all victims of BRITISH thugs. In each case, the BRITISH thug was excused. We heard that Ryan Shawcross was so upset his Mum had to pick him up in the car. Birmingham’s Taylor was ‘not that sort of player’.

    3. PGMOL
    Under the instructions of the FA, PGMOL ignore the rules of the game and interpret the rules to suit English football.

    We have a Nationalistic media and our organisations follow the same agenda. So do the media. A Frenchman coming to England, pointing out the backwards nature of our football, coaching, diet, training methods was always going to aggravate the dinosaurs. You see this with the ex pros and the Journos.

  10. OT: Liverpool 0 – 3 Arsenal Women

    Congratulations to the Arsenal women, on the win and keeping a clean sheet.

    We are still in 4th, being 1, 6 and 7 points behind the top 3.


    OT: Where does Stan live?

    I don’t know, I suspect the USA is home, he has houses all over.

    Stan is listed as #4 on landowners in the USA. That listing, says about 1.38 million acres. Which doesn’t (?) include the Screaming Eagle Winery in California. Another report said 1.6 million acres. Waggoner Ranch, Texas (520,527 contiguous – 535,000 total), Montana (Broken O 124,000, Cedar Creek, PV), Wyoming (Q Creek 550,000), Arizona (80,000). I don’t have sizes for Cedar Creek or PV, but those numbers come to about 1,290,000 acres. The Arizona number may include commercial land.

    In Canada, the property is headed by the Douglas Lake Ranch. One historical name attached to that property is Woodward (of Woodward stores fame), at some point owned by Ebbers of WorldCom fame, and then sold to Kroenke. Douglas Lake manages 1.5 million acres in Canada (not own, they are managing a bunch of crown land as well). Douglas Lake Ranch 515,000, Alkali Lake Ranch (37,000) Quilchena Ranch (27,000), James Cattle Co (20,000), Riske Creek (23,000). I think Alkali Lake was said to be the first ranch in BC.

    One thing I noted in passing, is that most of these big ranches, are earning 4-6% ROI, pretty much steady. Waggoner was somewhere between 515 and 725 million USD, so Kroenke probably has a bit over $1 billion in ranches in the USA and Canada. And manages in the vicinity of 5000 square miles of ranch land.

    Connecticut (#48) and Puerto Rice are both in the 5000 square mile range.

  11. AFC Nemesis,

    3) No, I disagree. PGMOL bend the laws of football to suit some unknown agenda. It has nothing to do with sa-called british football and everything to do with some powerplay happening behind the scenes.

    And last time I checked, Poschetino is not british, and none of the top 6 or 7 coaches are british…. So the nationalistic issue I believe is not valid or the other coaches would get attacked like Mr Wenger is.

  12. Very clever Arsene.
    Putting pressure on the ref, and the Spuds usual tactics for this game. Not that Mr Taylor will be doing us any favours at all in this game, but highlighting this might mean the spuds are stopped in their tracks by teams more indulged by the media and PGMOL.
    Even Harry Kane can’t get away with it every game, doubt if he will this summer either

  13. Pires had a well earned reputation for diving in the same way that (as I have admitted) Klinsmann had, and Alli has, a well earned reputation for diving. I have no problem with admitting it and condemning it when Spurs players do it. Why do you find it hard to do likewise about Pires?

  14. I suppose Jim, because it is a historic issue, and since the people who run Untold Arsenal also run the website of the Arsenal History Society that would be the place to do it.

  15. Jim B.

    I accept we have in built bias, you as a Apurs fan and me as a Gooner.

    However, Wenger saying he hadnt seen things was no different to other managers. The difference is, because his tenure have lasted so much longer, it was highlighted. It was the same with the countdown clock on red cards, when Arsenal were crucified for red cards despite the obvious reason for these being ignored.

    Arsenal players were subjected to ferocious tackles, more than any other team. Why? Because it was accepted that you had to stop Arsenal from playing. I would urge you to watch on Youtube the highlights of teh game at Old Trafford where our unbeaten run ended.

    Is it not also interesting that we witnessed more players being carried off with broken limbs than any other team. The Eduardo assault was 5 minutes into the game, an English thug smashed his leg into 2 pieces. The Ramsey one was later on in the game at Stoke, where Ryan Shawcross committed an atrocious tackle. Diabys career was ended when Sunderland were losing 4-0 and an English player, Dan Smith, smashed Diaby late and over the top – this tackle ended a promising career because he never really came back from it.

    So hate Wenger as much as many people do, media, ex players, fans like you but at the end of the day he stands for what is good for football. But if he says he hasnt seen anything, to avoid controversary, he’s criticised. If he says he has seen something and gives his view, he gets fined and banned.

    Perhaps being so successful and having won more in his short time at Arsenal than many clubs have won in their lifetime, I include Spurs in that, he was never going to be popular. Taking on the dinosuars and changing football culture is another reason he’ been a target.

    Its all wrong but when the ridiculous nonsense about not seeing incidents is recycled, I laugh. I laugh because it is another example of a narrative used to ridicule one of the greatest managers any of us are likely to see in their lifetime. He took on the establishment, the nationalists, the money, the dinosaurs and the media – and won.

  16. JimB

    As usual no proof.

    Having a reputation and being a fact are 2 completely different things.

    As I have said about you many times, you are a complete time waster.

    AFC Nemesis

    You are wasting your breath on JimB, as all he does is come here with his repeated accusations that we are all paranoid about the media, and that Pires was an habitual diver, and never provides an ounce of evidence.

    You show him (as I have done many times) endless links to the likes of Robson, Wright, Merson, Adams, Nicholas, Henry and countless other ex gunners laying in to us, and request him show similar amounts of ex Spurs or Liverpool players doing likewise to them and he cant do it.

    Yes of course there’s the odd criticism but what I, and we all I believe, are saying is, the sheer quantity of abuse we get is way way more than them.

    And that’s without the non gunners such as Souness, Carragher the Nevilles, etc.

    Or the long list of reporters such as Custis, Ashton, Reade, Olly, Kidd, Cross etc etc, or a radio station that has a guy that for nigh on ten years has had a DAILY Arsenal rant, let alone the general tone of that station.

    Or the managers such as Mourinho, Fat Sam, ‘Arry, Hughes, Pulis, that cant wait to stick the knife in.

    Honestly, it’s ridiculous.

    Ask him for evidence of Pires habitually diving and he cant do it.

    I’ll tell you now. There are 3. One against Portsmouth that we all here about endlessly. One against Man utd, miles outside the box, so hardly trying to con the ref into a penalty, and one for France, which hardly constitutes ‘bringing diving to the Premiership’ does it?

    But google Rooney or Gerrard and other Englishmen re diving and there’s example after example.

    A couple of very funny montages in fact.

    I’m telling you now he will not contribute ONE piece of evidence that will support, either that we get the media bias thing out of proportion, or that Pires was an habitual diver.

    Wont stop him keep coming back month after month with the same accusations though.

  17. I gave that list of Wenger/Arsenal knocking journalist and didn’t even mention the ones Tony keeps highlighting from the ‘quality’ press, especially the Guardian.

    Amy Lawrence and Hyntner is it who are particularly whingy?

  18. Proving the damage is easy, especially if you prove that it is systematic, but if you wanted a serious payout, waiting for related matters to be resolved would be useful, very useful.

    Been to work, then suspended with full pay, kill a brewery, or raise
    It above the 3 main offenders. Their call!

    Money in the bank.

    Boxing more clever.

    If you have twitter, check this feed, I gave him and them something else to to panic about!

    FYI this man has worked for gambling institutions, sports illustrated (mysognistic perhaps, there isno point to it at all), The Telegraph also and this is certainly libellous, prior to the derby demonstrates intent, also, I’m sir Stan won’t mind going after the money, because to say the impact on the club is negligible is ludicrous if not farcical!

    Changing precedents is all I care for!

    My tag line: I am social policy reform.

  19. It’s when they say things like:

    ‘they didn’t have a bad transfer window considering what it looked like it was going to be like prior to the window opening’

    That gets me.

    Ask yourself, ‘looked like it was going to be’ according to who?

    Not me.

    I’ll tell you who. HIMSELF.

    HE predicts doom and gloom for Asrenal. X Y and z all going. Nobody coming in.

    Then when it turns out he was utterly wrong he refers to it as if it was everybody else that was predicting it.

    No hands up that it was actually HIMSELF that got it all wrong.

    No admitting that really he didn’t have a clue and was just making shit up simply to criticise Wenger before anything had even happened.

    That’s what they all do.

    Make shit up then when it turns out to be bollocks make like it was everyone else that got it wrong.

  20. Nitram

    Thanks for the info about the Pires accusations. Someone said that to me the other day. Doesn’t really compare with the Spurs players who dive more or less every week.

  21. JimB – Pires has an issue with his feet. They point outward rather than forward. A slight push from behind will cause him to fall. A push from the side would have no effect. Now if you think he was a diver then please give us 3 instances when he fell without being pushed or tripped.

    Kane is a diver & does it by creating a contact after beginning to fall. He is a cheat. Alli needs no references.

    Pochettino has made a statement that clearly condones Maradonna’s hand of God as tactical excellence. He probably includes the many disappearances in Argentina as part of the magic of his homeland.

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