What Mr Wenger said at the shareholders’ meeting

Every day this site gets about 10 or 15 comments which I don’t publish.

Quite a few are in Russian (honest!) and I can’t allow them through because I can’t read the lingo so I don’t know what they are about.  I suppose they are attracted by the fact that I renamed Chelsea to KGB Fulham after the club started doctoring the minutes of the fans  “open forum” meetings.

Others have nothing to do with our debate, so I cut them out for that reason.

But the rest I let through – and we have had contributions from Everton fans over the violence at the Arsenal/Everton match and Rangers fans arguing that they are not violent and that the match against them in August will be a placid affair.

However I am having to think long and hard about the situation concerning the people who write in, in strong anti-Wengerian tones.   As the headline on the blog proclaims, the starting point of this blog is to support Wenger, so it seems a bit odd to come on and just call those who write and read this web site the “Clueless Clan”.

But I hesitate, because my entire life I have been against censorship in all its forms and in my youth while others proclaimed the evils of America in Vietnam I was more concerned about the way in which the publication of newspapers in the UK was controlled by a tiny moneyed elite who supported the status quo.

So I hesitate, and in my hesitation have read the anti-Wenger pieces here several times through.

Well-reasoned argument I can take, and I don’t particularly mind being called part of the “deaf, dumb and blind satellite brigade” since I know that I go to games, that I am regarded in some quarters as one of the top copywriters in the country, and I have a string of academic letters after my name which goes half way round the planet.

But it is the diversion into pointless debate that concerns me.  “What a load of baloney was spoken last night by him [Wenger] from the transcripts I’ve read and it’s mainly the fans fault,” said one correspondent.  But then there is nothing to back this up.  No example from the actual event, no logical point made – just an assertion.

“It’s the fans fault that we have Diaby and Adebayor strolling around as if nothing matters;”

Well, maybe we can take this point a little further.   The club has a long tradition of players who stroll.  George Graham was even nicknamed thus, and yet was quite highly regarded (and yes I went to those games too).  Pires in his first season was condemed by some as lazy, and yet became Footballer of the Year and was fundmanetally instrumental in our success with Henry.

These are just the starting points of interesting debate.  Diaby has blown hot and cold since he was out of the game for so long – his game in Turkey was sensational, other times it doesn’t happen.  But Wenger has shown with a number of players how it takes time to get going and how brilliant they are in the end.    Pires’ first year with us was middle range at best.  Henry was played in every game and was awful for a while.  (Remember the joke about not even hitting the clock?)  Bergkamp looked as if he didn’t even know which way we were playing in his Rioch season.

This then is the point of debate.  But our correspondent ignores that, and having written his barb he moves on: “it’s our fault that Song has no positional sense at all” and on and on.

Of course Wenger didn’t say that – he said that the players are aware of the fans’ booing and it doesn’t help them become better players.  A fair point I’d say.

The ending is, I think, a non-sequita.   ” Who cares what they think- they’re an irrelevance and hopefully they can go and support Spurs or West Ham – they’re used to mediocrity and will be welcome there.”  I am not quite sure because if you want a history of mediocrity then Arsenal, as much as any other club, can provide that.   Perhaps uniquely among our support I have read the reports of the games in 1910.  And being old I can remember what football was like in the 60s – and even the latter part of the 70s.

It is a bit like writing an scientific article on what happened to the universe in the first billionth of a second after the Big Bang, and having a Fundamentalist Christian writing in saying “You are wrong, it was God”.  Here are two opposing views, and that simplistic statement does nothing to bring us together in debate.

In the end, I guess my anti-censorship feeling is so strong that I can’t bring myself to block out such views, even though I find nothing there I can argue with because there is no logical argument.

If you could perhaps write in and say, “the average defensive midfielder undertakes 54 successful tackles in the course of a game, while Song only gives us 12 largely because he is in the wrong place each time” that at least is the start of a debate.

The argument that “anyone can see that” always seems to fall down.  It certainly did with Denilson, and the insanely stupid “lightweight” article in the Independent on him.  It was patently obvious that he has an extraordinary ability to stand off the player and be where the ball will be.  And what can be observed by anyone who gives up a game just to watch him, is reflected in all the stats.  The player who touched the ball more than any other single EPL player.

So it is with most simplistic one liners.

I’ll put a point if I may, to the ladies and gentlemen who (for reasons that are beyond me) give up time each day to read, and often reply to, this blog.   I’ll let the anti-Wenger non-developed non-logical pieces go through.  But please ladies and gents, just relax.   Let us conserve energies for a debate on the question of importance.  If someone discusses in genuine discursive mode,

“If Wenger went who would we get to replace him who could do better with the resources available”

fine, we can  all join in.

If you would like to know exactly what happened at the shareholders meeting you can either watch it all on Arsenal TV, or for a summary there is no better place to go than…


(c) “Mild Mannered” Tony Attwood, inside a phone booth, Metropolis.

10 Replies to “What Mr Wenger said at the shareholders’ meeting”

  1. The whole problem with freedom of speech is that it is open to abuse. However, allowing the abuse is the lesser of two evils when given the alternate choice of censorship.
    The editors pen carries immense power and once wielded, can be difficult to put back in its box.

    I suspect that the majority of regular posters here are drawn by originality and genuine debate in a relatively calm environment devoid of the usual foul language-ridden tirades of other blogs.

    The reason why this may not have been an issue for you before Tony is that you don’t use the proper names of clubs in your articles and thus they fail to flag for their club’s equivalents of Arsenal News etc. Consequently their fans don’t join the debate and as a result it is usually like minded types who come in here.

    Personally, I don’t mind crossing literary swords with any and all of the tantrum troupe who like to type and think at the same time.

    Unfortunately we are just going through a period of universal unhappiness for our fans and many of them do not respond in a mature and measured fashion to disappointment. This is going to translate to many of the comments that have tempted you to wield your editor’s powers.
    They know they are angry and they need a target for venting. As usual however they lack insight or even the logic to offer alternative strategies or indeed the common sense that compels most of us to pull together rather than apart in subjective and self-absorbed tantrum.

    Bring them on I say! We can all distract each other until that first summer transfer is confirmed, renewing hope, expectation and devotion to club.

    What I have always found so ridiculously ironic about these people and their comments is their completely oblivious attitude to Arsenal’s founding principle.

    Victory Through Harmony.(Hence Arsene’s supporter comments)

    And they call themselves supporters. they have no concept of such.

    (I was hiding out from Usmanov in a cave in Asia until I realised I had moved closer to him! 🙁 )

  2. By the way I know it is a tad harsh ( I never mind harsh as long as it has a healthy injection of humour)but it is worth a look at Adebayour’s auction on Ebay (No joke!)
    I think it was goonerblog that put it up but in fairness it ranks up there with Arseblogs letter to the FA on behalf of Hull CityFC.

    ADE is up to £22 so far with 8 days to go.


  3. “I feel like I’ve killed someone”

    I can feel the pain here. I can feel it. Dreadful.

  4. I think Arsene is hurt not by the criticism so much, as everyone is entitled to their opinion, but by the disrespectful way in which these criticisms are being expressed. I agree The Great Arsenal it is dreadful and shameful and I hate being associated with those types.

  5. Cowards and simpletons DBTH. Face them down wherever you come across them. Let Arsene know how much he is appreciated by true Arsenal fans. Seriously, write to the club.

  6. You were lucky Tony…I had the mid to late 50s as a prelude to the 60s…by which time, as a very young gooner, I’d been spoilt with an FA Cup and the championship in 53.
    Yet I can’t remember as many gooners moaning the same way as they do today? Maybe it’s the ease today of anonymous public comment as for sure we had far more to complain about.

  7. Almost no-one playing under Arsène questions his honesty, even after they left the club. For that reason I trust everything he says about his team.

    Arsène the media man, however, is a complex figure to say the least. As far as issues regarding football governing bodies, attitude of opposing managers and players and, well, the state of the media are concerned, only one clear principle emerges from his words: nothing, including beautiful football, interests Arsène Wenger more than the welfare of Arsenal. This does not mean he lies or tries to manipulate the media as some quarters suggests.

    An example of what I have in mind is this quote “We live in a League now where the divers are rewarded,” referring to Drogba after the Chelsea game. The statement is both technically and morally ambiguous as in that same game Adebayor committed to something very close to a “dive” as well (but didn’t get “rewarded”). I also like his “Nothing happened” response to questions of what the squabble between him and O’Neil at Vila was about.

    I’ll need to think carefully and look for concrete examples before writing more (pretty soon). But Arsène is not a saint and I’d rather love and admire him as a mortal human being with tastes, drives and unapologetic self-righteousness.

  8. “Bergkamp looked as if he didn’t even know which way we were playing in his Rioch season.”

    I find that an amusing statement in a piece about not backing up your comments with facts; I very much got the impression that Bergkamp was merely several levels of footballing intelligence and class above the rest of the team. He was passing to where they should’ve been, not to where they were. The only person who truly seemed on his wavelength in that Rioch team was Ian Wright, who lapped the service up.

    You also complain about when people use the “anyone can see that” argument, but then you say “It was patently obvious” – surely just the same thing with different words, no? The obviousness is simply your opinion based on what you see, nothing more – even if 40,000 people agree with you. That’s the beauty of football; no-one is the arbiter of truth, not even whoever holds the facts, because football is a hugely complex mix of science, strategy and art. That’s why, when you look at the teams often considered the ‘best’, you cannot separate the art from the science – the components are blurred to such a fine detail that everything appears deceptively simple.

    You’ll always get people trying to decipher football – it’s human nature to try and understand something by breaking it down. We all do it. It’s just that some do it with more skill than others.

    I’m glad you resist the urge to remove messages, because opposition is fundamental to position. We wouldn’t be the Arsenal we are today without people disagreeing or complaining. History decides who is right and who is wrong – the fan who advocated giving Rioch time, the fan who complained we had too many frenchmen, the fan who thinks Wenger should go.

    Personally, my only concern is that we seem like a club that has suddenly gone from being heavyweight to club punching above its weight – and I’m not sure how much that has to do with Wenger. Arsene talks as though we should be happy with where we are – and of course, we’re in a much better position than the vast majority of clubs. All I’d ask is a little more transparency as to where the board/club feel we stand at the moment – are we plucky fourth placers, or unlucky young team?

  9. To “D”

    Yes you have caught me out, and I have slipped into doing what I complained about.

    You are of course right, I write, as we all do, from the basis of memory, and what I should have said about Bergkamp is something more akin to this…

    “During his first season, Bergkamp looked to me, and the guys who sat with me and traveled to the games, as being completely at sea. He had left his previous club, not as a superstar, as I recall, but as a player who had lost his way (as happened to Henry a couple of years later).

    “He was billed as a striker, but failed to score for something like his first 8 games or so, often seeming to snatch as his shots and missing the target by apparently trying to do the magical rather than the simple.

    “As far as my mates and I could see, he really found it hard to adjust to British football, and even after he started scoring there were many in the ground (judging from the groans) including me, who really wondered if he would make it. Since we had no faith in Rioch, we doubted his ability to integrate Dennis, even if Dennis were to prove a good player.”


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