What the hell just happened?
Closing this series, it's a welcome back to Magic Spongers for Drew Kearns, on a mission to make you spit your Friday brew all over your keyboard with this tirade about the Professor...
Dickheads. The world is full of them. When confronted with one such being I usually respond by placing them ‘on the list’. And the list is long. Louis Walsh, Daniel O’Donnell, Piers Morgan, H from Steps, George Lucas, Cliff Richard, Kim Bauer are but a few luminaries present. Unfortunately, the world of football is just like the real world and also full of dickheads: Glenn Hoddle, John McGinley, Robbie Savage and Bolton’s Lofty the Lion mascot all rest in the football volume of the list. But one name stands out above them all. Family, friends and people I’ve stood next to in the queue at Tesco will know where I’m heading with this. If there is one thing I hate in football today, it has to be Arsene Wenger, Arsenal manager and luminary dickhead. As the wife pointed out this season while watching the Gunners’ FA cup game against Manchester United: “Not even Spurs fans hate Wenger as much as you do”. This is very true. I shall attempt to explain.
It has been abundantly clear for years now that Arsenal CANNOT win anything if they CANNOT defend. To do this, they need a good solid goalkeeper and a pair of disciplined centre halves who CAN defend. This is not rocket science, hell this isn’t even finding out which room the rocket science lessons are in. This is basic football management. Arsenal last won a trophy in 2005 (the FA cup on penalties against Manchester United). Pretty, precise football indeed – but what has it achieved? His side were far more successful when he himself adapted a more rugged approach. Adams, Keown and Vieira were the cornerstone of his most successful side. It is not a coincidence that since he flooded his team with a plethora of identi-kit small, nimble midfielders they have struggled to compete for titles and trophies.
Despite his lauded intellect, he appears to fail to understand that as technically proficient as his mini-me players are, they must play against the likes of Blackburn and Bolton. It’s developing a team to beat those sides on a consistent basis which wins league titles. Not passing team x off the pitch. He’s tried creating an uber-skilful side, but the shame was that it played Barcelona in Europe last season and in the words of the great Jamie Redknapp, they were ‘literally passed to death’ – or as we say in English, ‘murdered’. Arsenal were so one dimensional and lacked any backup plan in the Nou Camp that Nasri ended up at left back and Van Persie’s position became more akin to a hostage situation than the lone striker role. Before he got sent off, anyway.
Let us remember, pertinently, that Barcelona – Wenger’s perceived ideal – press and defend like no other team on earth. They also have a goalkeeper who reassures his defenders. Wenger appears not to realise that success is achieved when you beat the opposition you play against, not by playing in a style which you feel is superior to the rest. And by god does he feel he and his team are superior. Such monumental arrogance from a man whose side lost their last final to Birmingham City, who were later relegated. Never has a Bluenose win brought me such satisfaction. Allow me to remind you, as well, that this defeat was self-inflicted – by some pretty piss poor defending. Funny that.
At the start of the season there was an incident which neatly and perfectly encapsulated the true and outstanding nature of Wenger’s dickhead status. The incident to which I refer revolved around his comments on other team’s approach/style/tactics, this time aimed at Stoke. Even as a fiercely committed Wenger disparager, I was stunned to read his comments about Stoke and their “rugby” tactics. Now I don’t like Stoke any more than the next man having endured the worst 90 minutes of my entire life watching them play my lot at Molineux the season before last. It was truly awful stuff. I’ve never before or since simply chanted ‘football’ to taunt opposition fans. But I’m a paying punter, whereas Wenger is a manager of a PREMIER LEAGUE FOOTBALL TEAM. The world would hope that we should conduct ourselves in different ways, respectively. His comments led me to thinking whether there had ever been a more blatant attempt by a manager to influence officials before games.
Wenger was calling on referees to identify and punish what he feels are illegal challenges on goalkeepers. Here he was pre-empting what may happen in a game and expecting a particular decision and outcome based on his interpretation of the rules. For me, this was the very definition of bringing the game into disrepute. These comments came after the Stoke v SPURS game. Arsenal weren’t even involved! Yet Wenger felt he had reason and justification to comment.
Stoke, as you would expect, made an official complaint to the FA. The result? The FA decided there was no case to answer. And we all know how many dickheads work there.
Wenger genuinely feels football should only be played one way. That way is his way and it is right. He simply cannot comprehend that the game could possibly be played in different styles with different tactics. It is this very fact that makes football the game we all know and love. Sure, Barcelona are most football fan’s fantasy, but if every side played like them then we might as well move to the States and support a franchise in the NBA. Football is all about light and shade; the big against the small. Style looks good but substance also matters.
One final thing. It happens less now than it used to, but what the hell was the ‘I didn’t see it’ stuff all about? Did the dickhead really think we would swallow that horseshit? He’s studied the opposition late into the night for two weeks. He’s compiled several dossiers for his players to read and remember. He’s worked tirelessly on the training pitch to fine tune the complete passing game. He lives and breathes football. Yet when the team he is in charge of is actually playing and they or the opposition are in the penalty area he suddenly recognises an old friend in the crowd. Or pops off to buy a £6 hotdog.
And, at exactly the same time he is reminiscing and getting misty-eyed about his University days or wiping the mustard off his shirt, a key and fundamental incident always seems to happen on the field of play. It is a shame therefore that he is now unable to comment or offer an opinion on whether his useless defender did indeed hack down that Everton midfielder in the box in the last minute with the game tied. I mean, if nothing else the sheer repetition of such events is unlikely. Surely Arsene himself must begin to think this was becoming more than a coincidence. All these friends suddenly appearing in the crowd. At Highbury, at the Emirates, Old Trafford, Villa Park, Anfield... oh hang on. He was lying? Really? For all that time? In public? To the press, the TV viewers, his players, the opposition, his fellow managers, the supporters of his team – who pay his wages? Lying to them all? In the vain hope of squirming himself out of the situation he was in?
Well he or one of his players fucked up. Rather than take responsibility and discuss the issue he would say he didn’t see it. That’s gutless and embarrassing. Dickhead.
Football and football teams need a combination of styles to be successful. Wenger’s falsely-held belief that his approach is better than everybody else’s hasn’t just cost Arsenal trophies over the last six years, but resulted in the top tier of the English game becoming weak, shy and precious. This is the real reason for my Wenger rage – that and the stupid, idiotic, ridiculous fucking awful ‘sleeping bag’ coat he wears every game. Dickhead.
You can direct your ill-considered responses at Drew on Twitter