What is wrong with Arsenal and what we do about it now

By Bulldog Drummond

There were two problems with the movement that forced Mr Wenger out of Arsenal.

One was that, so certain were those who wanted him out that all Arsenal’s problems were due to Mr Wenger, and that any manager other than Mr Wenger would be an improvement, no one bothered to think of a plan B.

The other has been that the current owners and directors, and the managers who have been brought in to replace Mr Wenger, seem completely unaware of the background corruption that swirls around football, and which we have been highlighting for over 12 years.

Because of this an utterly simplistic approach to reforming Arsenal was adopted: new manager, and lots of money spent on new players.

And yes indeed we did win the FA Cup last year, but overall, all that is happening is that the win percentage that Mr Wenger maintained over 1245 competitive matches is declining, and with it our chances of being in Europe.

Which raises the question: did anyone have a plan as to what to do if the “new manager, new players” project failed twice?  Other than repeat the same mistakes over and over again (which correspondents to this site used to recite as the definition of madness).

Of course a lot of comments were heard about the refereeing yesterday, and I agree with these.  But the point is not so much that this sort of refereeing was still going on, rather that we don’t seem to have a management team who knows how to deal with it.  I got the impression that Mr Emery had never quite seen refereeing like we have here because he had not worked in England before, and Mr Arteta certainly wouldn’t have seen it when working for Manchester City.

Mr Wenger had a great benefit in this regard in that he was French.  Indeed the English press never got the irony of Tony Adams’ infamous comment, “What does he know about English football, he’s French”.

For the fact was Mr Wenger through being French knew all about referee corruption because he was familiar with Girondins Bordeaux, Olympique Marseille and others.  He watched it all, with inside knowledge when Bordeaux chairman Bernard Tapie, was jailed over match-fixing allegations which went all the way back to 1993.

Mr Wenger left French football in 1994 with match fixing rife.  Indeed we have to remember that when Bordeaux was beaten by Hamburg in 1981 in the Uefa Cup through a very dodgy penalty, it was a penalty awarded by “world famous referee” in a match subsequently reported throughout Europe to be openly fixed.  Of course in England, it was all just blamed on “foreigners” who “being foreign” couldn’t be trusted.

Mr Wenger knew what all that looked like, and he was reminded of it when in August 2000 Arsenal played Sunderland.  It was suggested that after the game Mr Wenger, who until that moment had an utterly unblemished record as a manager,  had indulged in violent and threatening behaviour against  Mr Taylor, the fourth official at Sunderland.

There was no evidence against him of course and so on 10 October 2000 Mr Wenger went to a hearing on the issue but in the mistaken belief that the famous “British justice” existed in football, did not call any witnesses since there was only one man’s word against his.   He then got a 12 match ban and a mega fine.

That taught Mr Wenger his lesson.  He obviously appealed and the case was thrown out, but PGMO still made Mr Wenger pay a £10,000 fine for “touching the referee” plus the costs of the case.  That was how he learned.

Since then there have been many more such cases, as we have charted on this site.  But the image of British sport always being “clean” lives on.   This is one of the great problems with bringing new managers to Arsenal… they don’t know the history between the club and PGMO, and so they don’t study techniques on how to cope with English referees.  Mr Wenger had the advantage of being French.  Of course being French, had seen it all before.

Mr Wenger also learned what the media can do to a club, as when soon after his arrival they gathered on the steps of Highbury shouting at him “What about the rumours Mr Wenger?”

The current owners did not experience those tumultuous fight with the media at the start of Mr Wenger’s reign, and have never appreciated how Mr Wenger dealt with the press, the PGMO and others.   That’s the bit of the jigsaw that is missing.  That is what we need at the club – someone who has experienced all that Mr Wenger experienced and who’s advice would be listened to, and taken.

Someone like Mr Wenger in fact.


8 Replies to “What is wrong with Arsenal and what we do about it now”

  1. An interesting point after some very curious refereeing decisions yesterday. The dying scream was very much in use by Southampton players although it was not needed. I got the impression that at times we were punished for mere proximity rather than any visible offence being committed. The German commentary I had suggested several Southampton players would be moving to stage or film careers on retiring from football. So obvious for those jolly foreigners to see but not a word in an English match report.

  2. I look forward to an article from UA on the recent remarks from Mark Clattenburg last week where he said that when SAF was a manager at United there was an aura on the referees to influence decisions. I saw some people on twitter talking about it but not the UK media sadly.

  3. The article seems amiss with the headline.
    What is primarily wrong with Arsenal is that we have made some recruiting mistakes, probably on and off the pitch.
    It happens and it can be rectified. But possibly not quickly enough to rescue anything from this season.

  4. And to keep a positive perspective, we have a fighting chance of finishing the table above Liverpool and Chelsea.
    So we are not the only ones with problems.

  5. “I got the impression that Mr Emery had never quite seen refereeing like we have here because he had not worked in England before, and Mr Arteta certainly wouldn’t have seen it when working for Manchester City. Mr Wenger had a great benefit in this regard in that he was French.”

    Stopped reading after this. The usual anti-City bias and idolatry of manager who was once extraordinary: regardless of his nationality. See Santini, Tigana, Houllier etc.

  6. I noticed against Southampton we got penalized again for a foul throw. That makes it 6 times I believe this season. I watch a lot of the other games where we are not involved and see lots of similar throws not punished. Further proof we are treated more harshly than other teams. I bet Riley has instructed his underlings to keep an eye on Arsenal when we have a throw in and at the slightest hint that it may be slightly dodgy penalize us.

  7. Did I miss something on the uncalled handball in the second half? Was VAR even consulted? I had a Russian stream so didn’t understand the commentary. Curiously, it was only shown once on replay.

  8. “Stopped reading after this.”
    And that really is the problem. For a proper debate those opposing an argument need to understand and take in the full argument and then put a rational response. But what seems to happen is that the debate is not engaged in. Instead those against the exploration we have undertaken simply stop reading because it is not to their taste or fitting with their beliefs.

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