Massive rant from rational Wenger fan

From Glenn Dalton :  New Year rant

Hi Myles,

Happy New Year.

You may know from previous mails that I am a staunch Wenger fan.

The recent tirade from Arenal fans infuriates me but I cant help returning to ANR on a daily basis (It\’s still the best football blog around). Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, of course.

My daily torture reminds me of a great quote I once heard about Van Morrison… I don\’t remember  who it was  but a critic once said that, having met Van Morrison, Ii\’s a credit to him that you still like his music.

I feel the same way about Arsenal fans right now and Arsene\’s team. Having read so many fans views on your blog over the years it\’s a credit that I have any interest in what tune Arsene Wenger is trying to compose.

I\’d love to have the time and energy to analyse all the mails I have read on ANR over the last year or so.

There are so many that come to mind but one of the most recent posts from the likes of ‘Gooner\’ Gerry is as good a starting point as any. Gerry states that if Wenger were to be judged by results on the field, he would be out of a job. Really Gerry? Does a top 4 finish in every PL since inception constitute what you would call a poor performance?

Arsene has finished 3rd, 1st, 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, 1st, 2nd, 1st, 2nd, 4th, 4th, 3rd, 4th, 3rd, 4th, 3rd.

That\’s 3 titles, 5 runner-ups, 8 3rd and 4th positions and has qualified for the CL and the knockout stage of the CL every season.

I apologise if it feels like I am picking on Gooner Gerry (I am not, it\’s just that he has a few posts recently) but another mail from him suggested that the whole world views Arsenal as ‘no longer having a top football team\’. The whole world!? I accept that this is more than likely a figure of speech but he just loses any credibility as it makes little or no sense… Who in the whole world are we actually talking about here? Are we talking about the 111 professional teams that lie beneath Arsenal in the English Leagues and the infinite European teams that don\’t regularly make the knock out stages of the biggest club football tournament? I\’m certain Bayern Munich (last year\’s CL finalists) certainly don\’t share Gerry\’s opinion and have concerns about their upcoming tie.

Another Gooner, Paul Kelly, wrote that ‘the he most repulsive aspect of the whole charade is the fact that every single ex-player/manager/director/ball boy does not have the balls to question his (Arsene\’s) continued reign\’. Is that really the ‘most repulsive aspect of the whole charade\’?

Loyalty is a characteristic long lost in football and is something we should encourage and admire. I can think of far more repulsive aspects of the modern game but loyalty from past pupils is certainly not one.

Simon Hill suggests Jack Wilshere can be ‘Arsenal\’s answer to John Terry; captain, leader, legend- a rare and precious commodity in this X Factor age\’. I\’m sorry Simon but when Paul Kelly writes about ‘repulsive aspects\’ of the game morphing Jack Wilshere into a John Terry type ‘leader\’ is right up there with the most hideous of suggestions I have read on Myles\’s blog.

David Kwalimwa thinks Henry is no good to Arsenal… Two weeks after his arrival (training again with the 1st team) Walcott scores a hat-trick opening his account with a carbon copy of 50% of all Thierry Henry\’s goals. Who did Theo credit it to? You guessed it… TH14. Of course he\’s not good enough to be in an Arsenal starting XI but there is one thing you can sure Henry will be and that\’s ‘good to Arsenal\’. I can\’t think who would be better to Arsenal. He may have been a poor captain but he can add value to this squad and I don\’t mean by playing.

The constant and ridiculous suggestions for Wenger\’s replacement also keep coming… Two seasons ago it was Owen Coyle… This year it\’s Michael Laudrup. Nothing infuriates me more than those who highlight problems without viable and credible solutions. These ‘solutions\’ do not make the situation any better. Laudrup may be a solution but not today.

Let\’s try and put some perspective (David Crowley style – an excellent mail) on where Arsenal currently stands in the Premiership.

David\’s mail was succinct and addressed real issues at Arsenal that looked to be constructive.

At the time of writing this (New Year\’s Eve) Arsenal have the 4th best defence having conceded just 21 goals. Stoke have the best defence having only conceded 17. Arsenal have scored the second most amount of goals season to date (39) behind Manchester United (50).

All this suggests that they have the 4th best goal difference in the league (18) with Manchester United having the best (22).

This 4 goal difference between the two is more impressive when you consider that they have the second most potent side despite selling their top goal scorer from last season (RVP) to Manchester United who is currently the league\’s top goal scorer having netted 14 times and made 6 assists.

RVP cost Ferguson £22m up front.

Reports suggest that RVP stands to earn an extra £10m on top of his £250,000-a-week wages just for staying at the club for the duration of his four-year contract.

The cash bonus does not take into account any bonuses that the 29-year-old will earn if United win the League, FA Cup, League Cup or the Champions League. That\’s an £84million investment Fergie has made in Van Persie and the single reason why Manchester United have a 4-goal superior goal difference.

RVP is 29 years of age (2 years past the average peak of a professional footballer) with an appalling injury record. That\’s a huge gamble. We all know they would stand a better chance and be in a better position in the future if they had used those funds ( £84m!!!!) to buy a quality young midfielder or three (I agree Myles he is trying to make Cleverley a star but this project will fail).

Fergie doesn\’t care about the future though. He wants a quick fix. If he did care about the future he wouldn\’t publicly be backing the Glazers or holding on to Scholes and Giggs. The Glazers have the cash (read debt) he desperately needs to get his quick fix and Giggs and Scholes can do a limited job today but not tomorrow.

So bottom line: Fergie is desperately trying paper over the cracks of his European achievements (or lack of).

Two European Championships in his 27 years is shocking and he knows Paisley, Shankley, Clough and even Mourinho would deem this as a personal failure.

That hurts him. He has never bit the hand that feeds him, never will. He only cares what his CV looks like when he leaves the club. The RVP purchase is Fergie pushing all his chips into the pot.

That is the polar opposite of what Wenger craves and believes.

This is the biggest difference between the two clubs and nothing to do with magician\’s mis-direction as Gerry Griffin alludes to in his mail on the 28th December. On the contrary, every decision Wenger makes he takes huge consideration of the repercussions of what the financial state of the club will be like when he is no longer around. This may mean forsaking immediate silverware and make no mistake he is more than aware of this than anyone.

Myles, you are right when you say that sometimes his love of Economics does over-ride his coaching and what a world we would all be living in if the politicians and banks took a similar approach. That\’s a different mail altogether. Another time, maybe.

So when I read ‘Gooner\’ Gerry\’s mail that ‘Wenger is a great man but not a great football manager- and never was\’ makes me think about ‘Gooner\’ Gerry and ‘Gooners\’ everywhere. Myles you wrote a book on him. You know the heights he is capable of.

The Invincibles were majestic and the back 5 (contrary to common belief) of the most exciting team ever to play in the Premiership were all AW\’s purchases so let’s just say that you may disagree with Wenger\’s current philosophy but don\’t ruin your argument or your memories by saying he was ‘never\’ a great manager. He certainly was a great manager Gerry and I personally think he still is a great manager but wholly accept everyone is entitled to their own opinion and that he is fallible.

Secondly, no footballer is worth £84m and especially if they are in their 30th year! This decision by Wenger not to match United\’s offer and try keeping RVP is not as Gooner Gerry puts it as Wenger ‘personally leading football’s version of austerity that seems to appeal to those who don’t understand the reality of top level professional sport\’.

Nonsense. Voltaire once said, “Common sense is not so common.” I couldn\’t agree more.

On the other hand you have some readers I agree with that aren\’t in the ‘we want our Arsenal back\’ or the ‘spend some f*cking money\’ brigade. Channel that energy into supporting your team! Try it.

Ivan Pavkovic\’s piece that some dictators are better than others was insightful and informative.

In it he wrote that ‘Wenger’s vision may be a bit impaired, he still has plans for future; he still has a strong philosophy and seems to be keen to leave the club in a decent position with decent players\’. That\’s hardly a heinous humanitarian war crime that dictators are often guilty of but a good point nonetheless by sensible Ivan, a sensible Gooner.

In a nutshell Arsenal have moved to the best stadium in the country in the most expensive city in the UK while all the time keeping their books balanced.

Of course everyone wants to win trophies but do Arsenal fans want to be more like Man Utd, Chelsea or Man City? I don\’t think so as all have huge issues of their own and all can put success down to debt or oil and are hugely dependent or unstable institutions that may not be around in the future. Ask Portsmouth fans how good it was winning the FA Cup in 2008 or Birmingham fans if they are still celebrating their Carling Cup victory last season?

Some think the ‘big 4\’ are too big too fail. That\’s a huge assumption. The most sensible Gooner mail I have read this year was from Neil Peters where he said… ‘Happy Christmas Myles. Eat and drink too much, enjoy the family and don’t switch your computer on for a week\’. I tried to do just that but failed miserably.

Happy New Year,  Myles. When Gooners do force AW out we will gladly have him at Anfield.

Guaranteed top 4 spot, brand new state-of-the-art stadium, good football and knock out CL stage every year, all while we are keeping the books balanced. Where do we sign?

Mind you, Rodgers is doing a fine job so far.

As much as I love King Kenny it was an episode that we had to see. My heart thought it would work. I never asked my head. I thought I had. If we hadn\’t appointed him every other manager would have had him looking over his shoulder.

It\’s funny watching Chelsea and wanting to see them do well. I know you aren\’t a fan but I still miss Rafa. Take care.

Myles says :

You’re a man of balance and perspective, Glenn. Are you a historian by any chance? Or maybe a schools inspector? I feel like ANR has been Ofsteded. I‘m stunned and can’t reply because it would take the rest of the day.