By Tony Attwood
We published yesterday two little pieces that in essence asked why criticising the manager and players was a good thing to do. Many answers came back to the effect that the performance of players and manager against Osterstunds was awful.
If you see that there is a non sequitur there, then you see what I am trying to argue. If you don’t, well, I guess we have reached the end of the line.
And that in essence is the problem that I see – although as I suppose I’ve always known, not many others see the same issue. The willingness to, or maybe the ability to engage in the question of why are people criticising the club is often limited to the issue of “because the manager and players deserve it”. The question of whether this criticism makes the team play better is only asked by a handful of people and so discussion on the more difficult, and I would say more interesting, interesting topic of the effect of this endless, ceaseless, remorseless criticism, is for most correspondents, not one to be had.
This morning, according to a writer in the Guardian, “Even those in Arsenal’s “Leave” camp might indulge Arsène Wenger’s chance to tick off missing items in his résumé.” He refers to winning a European competition and winning the League Cup.
Reading the commentaries against Wenger across the blogs and in most newspapers I think that is way out. The level of antagonism is now so great that the notion of wanting the manager to win something as part of a farewell package looks beyond what most of those who think that criticising the manager and players “because they deserve it” could give. Instead there is talk of “Wenger’s wilderness period” during which of course he still achieved more consistent results and more wins than any other long term Arsenal manager ever in the entire history of the club,
Just under a trophy every other year on average – no not good enough. The sheer nonsense of redefining the FA Cup as not counting as a trophy, just because Mr Wenger has won it as many times as Liverpool in their entire history can’t really be debated.
No. For the Guardian writer the only benefit of winning at Wembley on Sunday and in Lyon in May would be to “convince him it is finally time to pull the curtain down.”
In his press conference Arsène Wenger was asked if Pep Guardiola had taken football to a new high level in England, and Mr Wenger replied “No. We, as managers, can maybe impart our philosophy but this game belongs to the players because the importance of the players has become bigger than ever before.”
So, Untold’s little attempt to suggest that there is another conversation – a much, much more important conversation, to be had, got nowhere. The debate about the effect of all the criticism on the manager and players can’t really be had because of the noise of people saying “if you don’t see it’s Wenger’s fault you are an idiot.”
Where we go now, I honestly have no idea. In the face of a situation in which there is no willingness or perhaps no ability to see that constant criticism can have a negative effect and make a situation worse, what can one do or say?
It is a bit like a teacher in a school who sees the class misbehaving and shouts at them, even though he has no evidence that getting the children to behave in a school classroom actually improves the quality of their subsequent lives. It is not that shouting at the class is unhelpful (although there are good reasons to think that it could be). It is more that you can’t have a conversation with such a teacher when he can’t even understand the issue to be debated.
Or maybe it is like a society that thinks that locking criminals up in inhumane conditions is a good way to ensure that they don’t offend again when they are let out, and then when the inhumane conditions are pointed out to them, they claim that it is the Parole Board’s fault for not letting prisoners out early enough.
I guess in such a country the debate we see, in which logic is seen as something to be bypassed, that’s all we can expect.
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