Thursday, 8 November 2012

Of Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal Autocrats

"Mark the man with the balance sheet"
Of the many men managing football teams it is Arsene Wenger I admire the most. I appreciate Alex Ferguson has achieved far more, won an unbelievable haul of trophies but the Frenchman’s methods appeal to me. He is less visceral and far more cerebral.

Recently I tried engaging a chap with regard to football. He being an Arsenal fan, and they one of the UK’s top flight teams, I thought he might have a point of view on his team’s manager. It should be mentioned at this stage that I admire the Frenchman even though I find his stoic reluctance to inhabit the modern game hard to fathom at times. He remains calm, as a rule, scrutinising the game with an analytical intellect rarely seen on a football pitch. Like Marco Pierre White, Wenger exudes a Zen like quality that is refreshing to witness within the fields of football.

It should also be noted that, apart from some facts of the sport and a general knowledge of the game, I am not a fan of football. I seldom watch games played on TV. It has become so corporate and so far removed from the fan base that gave it reason to exist in the first place.

I posed this question to said chap asking what he thought of the team’s performance against their recent lack of success. Not that I was trying to be provocative but simply stating how odd to find a team that is capable of playing the most attractive football not winning a single trophy in seven years.

"The midfield is key!"

What I got was a wonderful lecture, along the lines of Freidrich Hayek, or perhaps George Osbourne, all given Soto vocé, on Wenger’s business acumen. Stimulating as it was it had little to do with the question I asked. With reflection maybe I was being naïve thinking that such a tribal sport could ever produce an opinion not governed by localised passion. After all Wenger is the manager of the team isn’t he not the CEO of the company?

It was even suggested that the rules of the game, specifically those of paying extortionate amounts in salaries and transfer fees, is about to change. This apparent fact will then enable Arsenal to start winning again.


For the elite of Arsenal supporters, not the die hard fans on the terrace who desperately want their club to win everything, but those in the comfy cushioned corporate seats the conundrum is this: their aesthetic is my anaesthetic. Where they seek succour in stocks and shares others crave success in shields and cups.

I suspect the chap, a decent enough cove, a pleasure to work with, is really being nothing more that deflective in his defence. After all being the most financially successful team in the English football league might alleviate somewhat the lack of trophies in the cupboard.

When I was young, all those years ago, Arsenal were top of the tree. Their success came prior to the Second World War. Since then those working class peasants from the north, Liverpool and Manchester United have superseded them. Arsenal have been progressively sliding down and now sit  third. It is only a matter of time before Chelsea or some other club overtake them.

The point I am trying to make is that here we have a man who sits outside the norms, the accepted conventions of football management. Arsene is a man with a vision and a soul who steadfastly adheres to his principles in the face of all adversity. Commendable perhaps but is not this hard-nosed ethic the single force that fails to win trophies? Refusing to kow-tow to players wage demands and the arbitrary whims of the transfer market, no matter how noble, can only defeat a football clubs avowed intent to win games, championships etc. Is Arsene not chasing a holy grail of sorts?

Such a great team with such a great manager yet still woefully underachieving.
"Sacré Bleu I need to Meditate"
On another note...
I was saddened to learn of Clive Dunn’s death. He, along with the rest of the ‘Dad’s Army’ team helped flavor my youth with their timeless comedy. He always acted far older than he was being only in his late forties when he first appeared in the classic series. His death comes soon after thst of another great: Eric Sykes. I loved the show he and Hattie Jacques performed in and for years believed them to really be brother and sister. At least I have the memories captured on DVD



all words and art are copyright © of Russell 'C.J' Duffy.To view my books on Amazon/Kindle go here: -- For another side of CJ go here: sOMeThiNg For tHE wEeKeND, SiR?

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A Utility Fish Shed Blog