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Manchester United taking on Arsenal’s role of the game’s great incompetents

By Tony Attwood

“Incompetence” has long been a theme of disenchanted supporters of Arsenal, and the bloggers and journalists who love to encourage their moaning, day after day after day.  Arsenal are not just poor at football, they are incompetent at management, recruitment, organisation, training, decision making, pitch maintenance…

Take these stories across the past five years…

Arsenal’s injury problems are down to incompetent training methods …

Daily Mirror, 12 March 2014

‘Arsenal are incompetent’ – Ian Wright slams massive problems in recruitment policy

Goal,com 6 May 2017

Why the days look numbered for Dick Law – Arsenal’s ‘incompetent‘ transfer fixer.
.
Football.London 8 May 2017 –

Arsenal FC equals incompetent…. 

JA606, 30 Aug 2017

Arsenal are ‘pathetic, gutless and incompetent’.

The Sun 26 Feb 2018

Is our medical team being incompetent again?

Football Transfer Tavern 24 Nov 2018

Looking back at the first of these examples, if you have been with us for some time, you might remember this injury and we discussed it at length at the time: Arsenal get more injuries than anyone else, and it is all down to the incompetent training methods of the club.

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There were three problems with this story.  First, Arsenal didn’t get more injuries than anyone else, second the supposed incompetent methodologies were never explained, and third nor was the fact that observers from the sidelines who didn’t attend training sessions were able to see what the staff at Arsenal could not see in the training sessions.

Just to take those figures for injuries: the Independent said that Arsenal suffered more injuries than any other Premier League team in 2016/17.  Their report went on to quote Talk Sport and “Dutch fitness coach Raymond Verheijen” and suggested “The numbers could raise more questions about the training methods employed by the north London club.”  He also criticised the methods of coach Jürgen Klopp, at both Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool, the Football Association of Wales, David Moyes… the list goes on.  He appears to have been out of work since 2012.

As we said when we covered that article in the Independent, even a quick cursory look at the statistics provided shows that the whole story is a fake – yet another fake to add to the stories about transfers, Mr Wenger’s tactics, training methods etc etc   Indeed we did a detailed analysis to show how wrong they were, a year before that.

The list of so-called Arsenal injuries for 2015/16 when this story was at its height, included Carl Jenkinson being out for 37 weeks, when in fact he was on loan to West Ham.   Yes of course we might say that Jenkinson was still technically an Arsenal player, but he was playing for WHU, being trained by WHU and being paid by WHU so it could hardly be Arsenal’s training methods that got him laid low.

Besides which Jenkinson suffered his knee injury on 23 January 2016, after playing 20 games for WHU, which means that even if in some odd way he was to be quoted as an Arsenal player for the season he was out for 15 weeks of the season, not 37.

Looking further I then discovered that Danny Welbeck was listed as being out for 56 weeks in the 2015/16 season.  Which is quite interesting given that last time I looked a year had 52 weeks, and a season around 40 weeks.

In fact Danny returned on 14 February 2016 in a 2–1 win over Leicester – I remember it rather clearly since I was there and had a perfect view of his goal.  By my reckoning they had added 28 weeks to Danny’s missing time.

If you have really been with us a while and have a good memory you may recall Walter did an in depth study of Arsenal injuries in 2014, which I am pleased to say people still quote as a key source in the debate – or at least people who don’t set up the debate as a way of knocking Arsenal, quote it.

As I say, the Telegraph regularly come back to this story – they did it for example with a piece on 22 December 2014 by Jeremy Wilson… who then came back and wrote a very similar piece in July 2018.   Well, it’s one way to get paid as a journalist but avoid doing new work – take an old piece and re-run it.  (And yes I am rerunning old news here – the difference is I am not paid for it).

Anyway, all that is a look back at Arsenal, football’s great incompetents.  Except that now the new news is that Manchester United are the new incompetents.  That doesn’t mean that Arsenal have lost their crown as king of the incompetents, rather that there is a new kid on the block, as it were.  As witness this headline from the Guardian:

Manchester United have been seeking a director of football for some time now but nothing has happened. No wonder players are thinking twice about joining

“The thinking was that United needed a smoother recruitment policy and the topic was revisited after Mourinho’s firing in December. Paul Mitchell, previously at Southampton and Tottenham, was mentioned. There were links with Rio Ferdinand the pundit despite zero evidence the former United defender is suited to a demanding, highly specialised job. Darren Fletcher’s name was also thrown into the mix.

“Yet the search has dragged on and United… are likely to remain reliant on Woodward to negotiate transfers.”

And here’s another thing to add to the incompetence accusation.   Van Gaal is reported as saying he was “never asked about football when he was interviewed for the United job in 2014 and in that context it is possible to see how a club can lurch from a possession-based manager like the Dutchman to a pragmatist like Mourinho, before getting all misty-eyed and appointing Ole Gunnar Solskjær.”

However as the article slips away from the sort of finger pointing and abuse so beloved of journalists these days, it does make a good point.  “Managers of his calibre want a club with a plan.   The same applies to players who value career progression above money.”

Yes that is true.  But the continuance of the argument bends backwards into media hype when the article says of Manchester United, “They are linked with a new player every day, but they have yet to come up with a suitable offer for Crystal Palace’s Aaron Wan-Bissaka.”   The journalist can say this because he knows that the unwritten rule of football journalism is that no journalist ever points out the ludicrous predictions of others once they have turned sour, as 97% of them do.  Clubs are linked to players because journalists make the links up.

Besides which the linkage that Manchester Utd and Arsenal get in terms of anything being the same within the two clubs is mere media gibberish.  It has nothing to do with the situation.

The difference between Arsenal and Manchester United is that even with the huge dividends that the owners of Manchester United take out of the club, they still have all the money they need to buy virtually anyone they want.   In Arsenal’s case, once the dividends have been taken out and given to the owner, Arsenal have £40m a year to spend on players.

But the Arsenal management team know the rules at the club and there are signs they are working out ways of getting the players they need.  At least we can but hope so.

10 comments to Manchester United taking on Arsenal’s role of the game’s great incompetents

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    Hmmm. Pathetic to read that Arsenal are not haven’t money left in their coffers this summer but a meager £45m to do incoming signings this summer at the club. This is down to the fact that after dividends are taken from the net profit made by the club for the club owner, Stan Kroenke as his share dividends, Arsenal fc is virtually down to almost the bare bones skinned financially to hardly able to sign any marquee player in the transfer market this summer. But nevertheless, the operating bosses at the club will have to rely on their business acumen to deal with the financial lacking now at the club and still do the needful signings but on the bargain fees for the club this summer without having to jeopardize the club football status in all competitions as a top big club side contending to win titles for us next season’s campaign. For, those new players who Arsenal will sign on the bargain transfer fees this summer will still be of high top quality ones coming ti to the club. Whose top talents are hidden from the glare at their various clubs sides. And whose top notch qualities in playing are unrivalled and not yet revealed glaringly to warrant them being poached away, but until they arrive at the Emirates Stadium to start playing for Arsenal next season will their inherent top quality playing will be revealed for all to see.

    The current financial state discomfort at Arsenal is in contrast to the current financial comfort that is obtainable at Man Utd. Where after the dividends for the Glazer family, the club owners are taken out for them from the net profit made by the club, the club is still left with a huge balance sheet of money in green in the club’s bank account that is more than sufficient to take care of the club’s overhead cost running, capital projects, pay salaries and sign new top quality players for the club in every transfer window after transfer windows. And even still have some left in the club’s bank account to undertake some community projects and philanthropy works I would imagine.

    But despite this huge financial advantage obtaining at Man Utd season after seasons, Arsenal who doesn’t have such financial luxury to benefit from still finished above them in the PL last season. And even played in a big Cup final. But Man Utd didn’t play in any Cup finals last season. Will the massive spending of money to sign new players mean something special if used as barometer or gauge to measure success at a giant big club sides like Arsenal and Manchester United? Well, what can I say?

  • Gord

    OT: Possible signing

    Hey Brickfields, here’s a player who can outrun and outjump just about everyone. Think we can sign him?

    http://www.deadlinenews.co.uk/2019/06/27/get-him-signed-stag-filmed-playing-football-on-scottish-pitch/

  • Mandy Dodd

    Great article. Yes, Arsenal have certainly made mistakes, but so do others , as highlighted here by Utd. Others make mistakes as well, much less highlighted by the media, who can forget the Bale squanderlings signed at Spurs. Would add some very expensive players at Liverpool, and City who haven’t worked out, but their financial models allow such players to be quietly spirited away and replaced by even more expensive players, ditto Chelsea.
    As for injuries, we all know a few causes of injuries some of our players have sustained.
    Arsenal appear to be on a bit of a down cycle ( will avoid the AVB term for that), makes us easy meat these days. We have players on big contracts that it is reported emery wants to shift but cannot, allegedly. We have an owner who isn’t going to help us out of this in the way other owners might.
    We have a new manager who has not long taken over from a legacy manager, a manager with a decent record, but who has made mistakes as well in the last year, as he was bound to with the hand he was dealt, and who he followed.
    That’s our lot at the moment, those running our team will have to be smart, hope for a bit of luck from time to time, hope others “ luck” runs out a little, but they will make mistakes, not because they are necessecerily incompetent, but because that’s what humans do, especially many humans under pressure. I fear the headline writers are going to have many field days on our team for a couple of years, but hopefully we will move in the right direction and rise again.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    Can one imagine Lyonasis fc, a club side in the French Ligue 1 to have gone crazy in this current summer transfer window to the extend of demanding from Tottenham Hotspur to pay close to £72m before they will be allowed to sign their player, the 22 year old midfielder Tanguy Ndombele this summer according to reports. A midfield player at Lyon who scored only 4 goals in 96 appearances for his club. Tottenham Hotspur reported initial bid of £40m tabled to sign the player was said to have been turned down by Lyon.

    But how true is it that Arsenal are yet to return to Celtic fc with a 2nd bid to sign their target Kieran Tierney this summer, the 22 year old left back at the Celtic? But could it be Arsenal are weighing up their options haven seen something they are not pleased with or not thoroughly convinced thus waiting to be convinced before they return to Celtic with a 2nd bid to sign the player? But if the hernia procedures that Tierney was reported to have had and still recovering from it is not constituting a serious problem making Arsenal hesitant to sign him, then, Arsenal should in my view go ahead to complete the signing of Tierney this summer with the minimum delays.

    In summary, Arsenal should as a matter of expediency close the deals for their signings of Kieran Tierney and William Saliba this summer if possible with the £45 transfer kitty that they have at the club this summer. St Etienne are reported to be asking Arsenal to pay £27m for their 18 year old centreback. But isn’t that too much ask by St Etienne on the very high side of money for an 18 year old player? I think St Etienne should come reasonable come down in transfer fee for Saliba asked Arsenal. So that the transfer of the young Saliba to Arsenal this summer will accelerate without encountering further delays. And with St Etienne eschewing any exploitations to reap money from Arsenal for the transfer.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    Can one imagine Lyonasis fc, a club side in the French Ligue 1 to have gone crazy in this current summer transfer window to the extend of demanding from Tottenham Hotspur to pay close to £72m before they will be allowed to sign their player, the 22 year old midfielder Tanguy Ndombele this summer according to reports. A midfield player at Lyon who scored only 4 goals in 96 appearances for his club. Tottenham Hotspur reported initial bid of £40m tabled to sign the player was said to have been turned down by Lyon.

    But how true is it that Arsenal are yet to return to Celtic fc with a 2nd bid to sign their target Kieran Tierney this summer, the 22 year old left back at Celtic? But could it be Arsenal are weighing up their options haven seen something they are not pleased with or not thoroughly convinced thus waiting to be convinced before they return to Celtic with a 2nd bid to sign the player? But if the hernia procedures that Tierney was reported to have had and still recovering from it is not constituting a serious problem making Arsenal hesitant to sign him, then, Arsenal should in my view go ahead to complete the signing of Tierney this summer with the minimum delays.

    In summary, Arsenal should as a matter of expediency close the deals for their signings of Kieran Tierney and William Saliba this summer if possible with the £45m transfer kitty that they have at the club this summer. And thereafter raise money through sales and loans out to do other necessary signings for the club this summer. St Etienne are reported to be asking Arsenal to pay £27m for their 18 year old centreback. But isn’t that too much ask on the very high side of money by St Etienne for an 18 year old player? I think St Etienne should reasonable come down in transfer fee asked for Saliba by them from Arsenal. So that the transfer of the young Saliba to Arsenal this summer will accelerate without encountering further delays. And St Etienne have to eschewing any exploitations exploiting to reap money from Arsenal for the transfer.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    All hail the NEW Incompetents in the NORTH !

    As for the media, …” they know nothing !” , as was similarly said of Jon Snow !

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Which of course , begs the very pertinent question , ” Who were the previous Incompetents of the North ?

    I’m so glad you asked !
    Take you pick from the following list –

    – Leeds United – a former great who blew all their money in pursuit of European Champions League glory . From a not so bright financial idea by Peter Risdale .

    – Blackburn Rovers – Jack Walker’s dream and legacy of bringing honours to his home club was soon upturned by incompetents , whose list of names are just too long to mention. And to pronounce !

    – Liverpool – The George Gillett and Tom Hicks great American comedy schtick . With special appearance by the Royal Bank of Scotland .

    – John W. Henry and his,”What do you think they’re smoking over there at Emirates? ” quip, on the Arsenal offer to buy Luis Suárez for £40,000,001.

    https://twitter.com/john_w_henry/status/359926622922608641?lang=en

    An sure the regulars here have their own ideas and opinions of Northern Incompetents and Nincompoops ! And I don’t even include the PIGMOB ! Sorry , Menace !

    Do wade right in and share your funny story !

  • Brickfields Gunners

    @ Gord – 27/06/2019 at 8:08 pm – Oh, deery me ,very impressive and with much pot-ential. And it got me all fawning at its skill.

    A truly mouth watering prospect. A feast for the eyes . And it obviously oozes so much zeal and a lot of venison ,…sorry vision !

    It has also evidently has had a head start in horning its ball skills , by hoofs and bounds.
    But cutting to the chase ,I feel that it’s transfer may meat its end up in a right old traditional stew.

    I don’t think that it may work with the Arsenal , seeing that the PIGMOB will simply be in their cross hairs and they would just penalise it for the way it moose . Even if it were to buck up , I think that this deal is good as dead in its tracks.

    Antlernother thing , they are not going to fall for or fawn at its doey eyes , and would probably skin it alive, and it’s head would be mounted on Mikey R’s wall .

    Best for it to move to Lapland leagues , where the Caribou roam free, elk a living and rein justly , or maybe even the North Pole , and join Santa’s little league.
    Have to watch out for Rudolph , though , he tends to be too (brown)nosy !
    https://me.me/i/sibsn-rf-foot-oil-rudolph-the-brown-nosed-reindeer-16029687

    I’m done !

  • Casmir

    https://untold-arsenal.com/archives/34602

    Some of us haven’t forgotten the untold injury records… Showing stats gathered by untold from 2002-2014(when the series was written) that “proved” unequivocally that arsenal had more injuries than the rest of the league and a conclusion was made that it was the referees fault,and was responsible for our poor performances in the leae so don’t claim the arsenal get more injuries story to be a fabrication of the media

  • Casmir

    https://untold-arsenal.com/archives/34668

    And in a follow up article in the series, Tony seems to suggest untold is the “SOURCE” of the story that we get more injuries, and the press as usual copied the research without acknowledging.