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Wenger Criticism Is Wide Of The Mark

In the immediate aftermath of Arsenal’s 1-0 defeat at Craven Cottage on  the second Saturday evening of the Premiership, several pundits queued up to pass judgement on Arsenal, the players who performed and the lack of signings. Two games into the season and Arsenal have no chance of winning anything, finishing in the top four or making any impact in Europe according to these wise men who seem unluckily to be without employment in the game they obviously know so much about. Lee Dixon on the BBC decided to pass judgement on Sami Nasri, stating “He was nowhere near good enough to play for Arsenal.”

Now, I can quite honestly say that I don’t reckon Dixon has seen very much of Nasri at all over the last 3 seasons, in fact i’d stake a large wager on the fact that what Lee Dixon knows about Le Championnat could fit on the back of a postage stamp. English pundits tend to have an arrogant stance toward European football other than the Champions League, a passing interest in La Liga which is waning now Beckham, Owen and Woodgate have all departed and general indifference to Serie A, SupaLiga, Bundesliga or any other that you care to mention. I’ve always found this attitude both baffling and annoying, a constant precursor to the antiquated and deluded idea these pundits still churn out that anyone who plays abroad is usually technically better but weaker, afraid of cold weather, rain and playing away at Bolton on a Tuesday night in January. It’s an argument consistently weakened by England’s performances in competitions over the last few years, but then we play the referee, the weather and bad luck, it’s never the fact we’re not good enough

The criticism of Nasri and Arsenal though is beyond a joke, This is player who has played in one of the most frenetic grounds in Europe, the Stade Velodrome, a sea of seething, passionate and raucous fans that always let the Marseille players and management know exactly what the think of events on the pitch good, bad and indifferent.Anyone who has watched French football over the last few years know that Nasri is little gem of a player and one that Arsene Wenger will know exactly what he’s paid £11.8 million pounds for. He’s got a dynamic, exciting and sometimes inspirational player who can weave around players like they’re statues. Selling Hleb for more than they paid for Nasri was a wonderful piece of business for Arsenal and Wenger, but the barbs that are directed toward Nasri are also aimed toward Wenger.

Wenger’s last trophy was the 2005 FA Cup, but lets not forget the run to the 2006 Champions League final, equalling Chelsea’s record currently in the competition, lost to Chelsea in the 2007 Carling Cup final, finished 3rd in the league last season, lost to Liverpool thanks to some dodgy refereeing in the Champions League Quarter Finals and got to the Semi-finals of the Carling Cup. Now that in my opinion is consistent achievement across several competitions.

More criticism has been aimed Wenger’s way with the transfer window closing with Arsenal’s failure to make any more purchases, but Wenger knows his squad better than anyone, no-one has set off like a train in the Premiership, so find themselves a point behind Liverpool and Chelsea. He didn’t feel he needed buy anyone, players are coming back to fitness and form and he knows come the next round of matches, he’ll have an almost fully fit squad to choose from. He also working with the backdrop of two billionaires trying to gobble up as many shares in the company as possible to try and achieve the magic 30% mark, yet hasn’t let this disturb his consistency or his footballing ethic. Look at the recent upheavals at West Ham United and Newcastle, clubs in absolute turmoil, weaker squads and low morale. Where would Wenger rather be?

Wenger hasn’t been at Arsenal for 13 seasons by luck, he’s delivered trophies, great players for bargain prices and made transfer profits, year in and year out whilst getting his team to play some lovely football on a consistent basis. Uneducated criticism of him simply makes the critic look rather foolish, as Arsenals performance against Newcastle last weekends showed and it also does the work Roy Hodgson has done at Fulham no favours at all, they’ll get a few more scalps along the way this season. He let Overmars and Petit go and the team got better, let Vieira go and the team almost won the Champions League and let Henry join Barcelona only missing out the Premier League by a couple of points. At every point, critics said Arsenal would never be the same again. How many times do they need egg on their faces?

One more thing, as a Tottenham fan, I never thought I’d be defending Arsenal or Wenger but sometimes stupid comments from ex players trying to gain publicity need addressing and Arsenal will be in the mix across all four competitions again this year. Unlike pundits on a channel with no live football until August 2009.

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  1. Invisible Soup

    September 5, 2008 at 4:51 am

    Brilliant article! and i totally agree with Mike.
    A lot of Gooner fans need to re-assess their alligiance.
    Shame on the plastics!!!
    After all, football is first and foremost an entertainment buisness and y’all should be glad that your team plays an entertaining and winning football. Yes, you may not have a trophy to show for the past 3 yrs, but having Bling dosen’t necessarily mean you’re successful [look how miserable Ambramovich looks at most Chelsea games]. I think we’ve enjoyed such good fortunes under Arsene that we’re starting to take our situation for granted.
    Just for the record, any team that gets into any of the European competitions through their Premiere League positioning should be considered to have enjoyed a successful season.

  2. Mike

    September 5, 2008 at 2:01 am

    Respect to the author of this piece.

    You are not just a Spurs fan, you are obviously a fan of football as well.

    Great insight, and I find it embarrassing that some Arsenal fans are too stupid to have anywhere near the same level of insight about their own club as you have about it.

  3. besor

    September 5, 2008 at 1:10 am

    why some gooners are so obsessed with wenger that they put a blind eye to the fact that he’s not that successful as a manager. the lack of signing is his own doing and the fans had to put up with his lie season after season. and yet some wenger’s fanatic still worship him when if he’s managing mu or chelsea with his recent recor, whe ll get sack long ago.
    wenger is also totally hopeless in transfer market. the berbatov transfer prove it all. spuds made 20 mil profit from the sale that should be ours. reason? because previously, wenger was so stubborn to accept b. leverkusen valuation of berbatov of 11 mil while wenger wont budge on his estimation of 8 mil. spuds snap him up and now, we all wonder where the spuds gets their transfer money from..

  4. A

    September 4, 2008 at 10:35 pm

    When Scolari said “Wenger wanted Kalou to use him as a striker, so maybe that’s where I should use him” the other day…

    .. the fact that a world class coach admits that he knows that Wenger knows better… is telling.

    I’d rather win one cup with Wenger than 5 cups with any other manager. I do get frustrated sometimes, but what supporter doesn’t?

    Btw I was stunned at the revelation at end of this article.

  5. Mak

    September 4, 2008 at 10:06 pm

    “How many times do they need egg on their faces?”

    Many many times. I think they are too thick to realise that the egg coating their faces is causing blindness.

    I love watching the gunners go out and play with style each week. I can’t imagine a better manager will ever come along.

    Enjoy it while you can. In 20 years we will be remebering the golden “Wenger days”

  6. goon case

    September 4, 2008 at 8:58 pm

    its not how many but how big the egg.

  7. ARealFanAmrik

    September 4, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    Hey Marcus go read some history books, I suggest something by Nick Hornby. Tool!!!

    The fact is wenger is our greatest manager ever (to some obv not), Herbert Chapman set benchmark! We should be behind the time 110%. Managers get sacked willy nilly these days, look at newcastle and spurs prime as examples (apologies to the author). The fact is that time goes by so quick these days that we forget the good times even quicker and subsequently dont appreciate them for long enough. At the moment Le grove is boiling cauldron of gooners with conflicting views on DMs and takeovers etc and most of these are being fuelled by a bored media tryna make a quick buck so just stay in ur seats and think to urself as gooner fan where would u have suffered more discontent the 80’s or now. I know where id rather be!!!

  8. ARealFan

    September 4, 2008 at 7:16 pm

    Hey Marcus – I very much doubt you’re a reall gooner. Perhaps you started supporting Arsenal after they won 1 of their recent doubles because they were the most successful club then and now they haven’t won anything for 3 seasons you’re throwing you toys out of the pram and having a strop. Go and support a plastic club like Chelsea or Man City….

    Wenger has gone 3 seasons without winning a trophy before, 99, 00, 01. But I don’t remember him copping this much stick for it. Football tends to go through phases as teams personnel changes. And it changes a lot more frequently nowadays what with players wanting to move on every season…

    At least give Wenger this season to prove whether he’s made the right decisions with the squad or not. He’s taken a gamble this year more than ever – lets see if he can prove us wrong and get behind the team rather than bitching and moaning….

  9. DanCake

    September 4, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    Good article, and well said.

    Although we have not won anything recently, we are consistently competing at the top, and have a new stadium. There is light at the end of the tunnel, and the tunnel isn`t even bad. This conversion of Arsenal is down to Wenger, and I see no reason not to trust him to continue making our club massive. At the very least, his successor will be left in a good way.

    I must admit I became alarmed after the Fulham match, thinking complacency is going to be our downfall this season, but what a great performance last week! I am confident that a killer team will once again rise from the ruins.


  10. gunneralways

    September 4, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    AW has shown that he values talents and character, players attitude, over big names. Imagine signing a big name player like Rabinho, with his salary demands, and having to put up with the disruption in the dressing room and on the field. We have a team that is unified. Which goes a long ways towards winning games.

  11. Norseman

    September 4, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    you obviously know nothing of football

  12. TopCat

    September 4, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    I would rather lose it like Arsenal than win it like Manchester United or Chelsea.

    Stan Getz, possibly the stupidest post ive seen anywhere on an Arsenal blog, what sort of a twat are you. Wengers a joke and a liar, time for a change.

  13. Anonymous

    September 4, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    J-LAY,i totally don’t understand this firepower thing or depth you are talking about that manu have……..they have played a few games without ronaldo and they are struggling to win….yet they had gigs ,scholes and carrick on the pitch…when u look on their bench,they have thses little twins and anderson….so where is the firepower?? dont make laugh!!

  14. marcus

    September 4, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    wenger is a liar, bullshitter and conman. If you dont believe that the just take a look at some of the above comments. Here we have the most overrated manager who has to be the biggest liar footballs ever seen, the guys won fuck all in years yet some of you would have us believe the mans a genius. Listen one last time, the mans a fraud and a proven liar.

  15. Stan Getz

    September 4, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    I would rather lose it like Arsenal than win it like Manchester United or Chelsea.

    If you want trophies at the expense of competition and philosophy, just become a fan of another club. Four points behind last years winner, but look how we got there…

  16. Achi

    September 4, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    Hey Good Analysis,

    Questions: Are you sure your a spuds fan. May be you might want to check again bcos you’re analysis was that of a passionate gooner.

    Wenger always said that he will not sign anyone. unless the player is better than what we already have. Second, he pointed out that new players doesn’t equate success, it only brings about headlines in the media.

    I feel that not signing a new player means that Song and Denilson have to be ready to step up into the new vacant row. Denilson and Song both have complementary attributes and can contribute to the success of the team. There are two possible scenarios in which we can use them.

    1. Denilson can pair up in the midfield with Fabregas. He is a very attack minded player which is the reason for his two assist and one goal so far.
    2. Song is more of a holding midfielder with an eye for giving brilliant passes. For Cameroon he played the center half roll with the license to link with the midfield and sometimes attack. There were some Carling cup games were Wenger put him in the midfield like at Blackburn last season were he excelled. Finally, at Charlton, he also played the holding midfield roll well and pundits were amazed at his passing ability.

    Therefore, we know he has the ability. The next step in the process is can he perform at the highest level and I believe so. Especially Song, he has played so many senior internationally games for Cameroon which shows he can perform at the highest level( African nations cup, Olympics). Denilson has played 26 games for us but just of recent has he had a consistent run in with the team. With more games he will be able to perform at the highest level. I think Le gaffer has made the right decision. Right decisions are never easy to make especially in the business of football.

  17. Wondrinfree

    September 4, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    JLay – a couple of points, firstly, it’s not our money, it is the money of Arsenal football club and they have the right to spend or not spend as they see fit. Arsene, for the last 20 years or so, has demonstrated that he is a better manager than you, yet you question his judgement, go figure?

    Secondly, there is no point in buying for the sake of appeasing the incontinent tantrums of petulent fans. Arsene is trying to build a team that will work together and flow together. As he has said endlessly he wants to buy the ‘right’ player. True there are good players on the market but not what we need. If bought they would sit on the bench till January and then demand a transfer, Diarra anyone?

    If you don’t understand where Arsene is ‘at’ have the humility to accept that perhaps, just maybe, you don’t know best.

  18. panbish

    September 4, 2008 at 2:58 pm




  19. Fabregas' Dad

    September 4, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    Sorry for the comment from talkish (from an Arsenal fan). This is a fantastic article.

  20. talkish

    September 4, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    as a spuds fan, what are you doing here? now pack your bags and look at deedz at n17. Be a good boy ok

  21. Archibong

    September 4, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    Wenger is an excellent coach, no doubt. However, a team that cannot endure to the end will be short of glory. The past two seasons clearly showed that Arsenal somehow lacked depth compared to rivals Manchester United and Chelsea. Starting a season beautifully and ending it without laureal makes a club fan unhappy. We hope Arsenal will make us feel real good and proud this season!

  22. Segedunum

    September 4, 2008 at 10:58 am

    Wenger has done an amazing job over the years, and what he has achieved in that time should be a lesson to other clubs. I’m astonished that he manage to sell Anelka for a huge sum, bring in Henry for less, and then sell Henry and make a profit on him. No one else can keep a club afloat like that, especially one like Arsenal where the only cash they get is from being in the top four and not from wealthy backers. No even Ferguson could do a job like that.

    If you’re an Arsenal fan, enjoy yourselves. You’ll always be there or thereabouts with Wenger at the helm, and you’ll pick up silverware along the way. Not trophies every season maybe, but you’ll win your fair share. I bet West Ham and especially Newcastle fans would kill for that.

  23. JLay

    September 4, 2008 at 2:20 am

    Nasri is quality, and definitely an upgrade over Hleb – but I liked him even before he came into the league.

    Arsene has done an amazing job of finding and developing young talent. However, at times he seems more concerned about turning a profit in the transfer market than he is about winning the league – and I think that’s where a lot of the criticism comes from.

    If Arsenal really do have all of that money sitting around and he’s refusing to use it, then gooners have a right to be upset.

    With 3-4 higher-end signings, Arsenal would be in a much better position to challenge for the title. Right now they play a beautiful style and have a couple of truly great players – but they don’t have anywhere near the firepower or depth that United and Chelsea have.

    While it’s true that pundits generally hover over the same stories and ways pof thinking, they have a point, and I don’t think that they are being unfair in expressing it. Yes, Nasri was a quality signing and he came on the cheap – but Chelsea and United both made bigger, better signings…

  24. Lonnie

    September 3, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    I found it funny last season how almost all of the journalists dumped on Arsenal at the start of the year (were not going to be challengers for the title), jumped on their bandwagon and raved about their ‘beautiful football’ when they (in my opinion) overachieved and then turned on them like rabid dogs when they ran into injury/depth problems and couldn’t hold their lead in the title race.

    The coverage of Arsenal to me was a stunning microcosm of the bulk of the mainstream media. They don’t write objectively, just topically (i.e. what’s the hot topic everyone else is writing about at the moment). It’s hard to find intelligent discourse on football amongst all the noise at times and it really shouldn’t be.

    Granted there is obviously a market for the tabloid sort of journalism. Look at the outrageous amount of coverage given to the Ronaldo and Berbatov soap operas.

    OK…rant over. Time to breath deeply and relax again 🙂

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