By Tony Attwood
Just Arsenal News recently published an article titled “It’s Arsenal’s fault for appointing a clown as the manager” and it immediately became one of the most read articles among the Arsenal blogs and online newspaper columns.
And I think it is quite wrong.
The essence of the article is that Emery should be sacked at once, on the grounds, primarily, that he made poor substitions in the Brighton game and has not brought in the right players all season.
Looking back, the writer claims at the start of the article that “We appointed a manager who’s biggest success is winning the Europa League.” Which when it comes down to it, isn’t quite right. And that undermines the article a bit.
Because apart from his triumphs with Sevilla in winning the Europa three times, Mr Emery also won the French League in 2017/18 with PSG, along with the French Cup and League Cup, and indeed the year before that he won the two cups. So a double and a treble.
It is a bit of a blunder if you are going to do a hatchet job on a man – I mean we all make mistakes, and as every regular reader of Untold knows, I make them by the bucket load, but even so, when the idea is to write about the manager in a manner that destroys his reputation, leaving out his main achievements is a bit much.
N0w it might be argued that this hardly matters since PSG were bound to win the league since they have all the money, courtesy of Qatar Sports Investments and Emirates Airlines, money that has been found to be of such an amount as even to cause Uefa some concern. And I suspect indeed that PSG have gained unfair advantages, just as I suspect Manchester City have in England (although what I suspect is of course neither here nor there).
But the point is that Mr Emery was not the man who got the money – he simply managed the team – and given a team that cost a lot of money he romped home last season by 13 points and with a +79 goal difference, 35 points above Rennes in 5th.
So Mr Emery can deliver when he has enough money to buy a team of champions. However what he is doing at Arsenal is dealing with a club that does not have the money to spend. It did not last summer, nor it seems will it have this summer. So why blame the manager?
The reason I guess is that it is a lot easier for many people to do this, than to blame themselves for joining in the “Wenger out” campaign of last season, which did not mention who should be appointed instead or what should happen to the owner’s policies of restricting expenditure, but simply suggested that changing the manager for someone else was the answer.
In fact, it has turned out not to be, and so people are starting to suggest we… well, not to put too fine a point on it, do the thing that has just failed (ie sack the manager) again.
It won’t bring success. What would change the club would be a constant, loud, pictorial campaign against the owner. But no, the idea seems to be to take a failed approach, and repeat it.
Now to be fair, tucked away in the text of the article is the note that, “To go forward, this football club ultimately needs a new owner. Somebody who would actually care. because we don’t have the fanbase that will put the necessary effort to make a real statement. But even with that said, make no mistake, this was a golden year to capitalize on the mistakes other made and make it back to champions league. The manager has ZERO excuses.”
That seems to me to be wrong. Mr Emery was up against clubs that, apart from Tottenham, were spending much more than Arsenal on players. And before the argument is then made that we ought to be better than Tottenham, in that case, I would say no. Some clubs do occasionally find themselves with an excellent team, irrespective of cost. Tottenham are in that position at the moment. Arsenal have been in that position for 19 years – and then bowed to fan pressure to persaude the manager to go, so he did.
Tottenham in fact are doing a Wenger. Our problem is we are not doing a Wenger.
And for the most part we are competing with teams who have money Arsenal could have if the owner behaved like the owner of Liverpool, Man C, Man U, or Chelsea. That obviously does not guarantee success – but it makes it much more likely.
Mr Emery is dealing with what he has got. I suspect Mr Wenger would have done better because he would have handled the youngsters in a different way, but that is neither here nor there. Because of the Wenger Out campaign Mr Wenger has gone. Now all we can have are managers who will work with smaller budgets and simply hope to do what Mr Wenger did year after year after year: succeed without a budget.
So when the writer of the article says, “We should’ve gone for an experienced manager, who can handle pressure,” I don’t think that will make any odds. What we need is a Wenger II, a man who can work against the monied clubs, without money.
Are there any Wenger’s about? Possibly, but having seen what some of the “fans” did to Mr Wenger, I doubt they would even give Arsenal a second look.