Only at Arsenal could a manager be allowed to fail for so long

From Alex Barker :

Thanks Myles for forwarding Andy’s kind words.

I think it’s great that you’ve given people a platform to let off steam in what was a unique situation.

People talk about how ‘entitled’ Arsenal fans are in criticising Wenger, but where else in elite sport has someone been allowed to fail so obviously and egregiously for so long?

And the supporters all the while paying the highest prices in world football. And when I say ‘fail’, I don’t mean failing to win titles.  I mean simply failing to make the most of the players, funds and opportunities we had through stubborn dogmatism, ego and refusal to change.

Anyway, it’s all been said so many times. Thank god it’s almost over.

I agreed with your response: I also understood Gallas’ tantrum.
And I understood why Arshavin got fat and miserable.

If you create a culture with no accountability, no consequences for underperformance – as Wenger did – then you either drive away quality (Van Persie, Fabregas, Sagna) or you destroy it (Arshavin).

And look, I get it. If you read a lot of comments from Gooners , you realise a couple of things: how many fans are young enough that Arsene FC is all they have known, also that a huge number of fans were brought to football and to Arsenal by Wenger: the style of play, his articulacy and intelligence. You also realise that for a lot of younger guys, in his constancy, he has been something like a father figure (perhaps the only one some of them have known). So it’s a bigger deal than for you, who has known different eras, or for me who was raised on George Graham’s Arsenal.

Similarly to music, we probably remember with most fondness and perhaps some rose tinting the football from when we were young and happiest. Certainly there was less exposure then and more mystery. We are grossly overexposed to the footballers of the current era and it is breeding contempt.

Glad the memoir writing is going well. I recently read Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast – his memoir of Paris in the 20s. It prompted me to re-read some of the novels. I had first read them when I was maybe 18 or 19 and clearly didn’t understand them. However, rereading them now in my 40s you realise he absolutely nailed middle age.

One more game to go!

Myles says:

It’s true that many people cannot remember Arsenal before Wenger.

I didn’t read Hemingway that young.

Recall reading F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Beautiful and the Damned at uni in Manchester and being depressed for a week.

Nobody who read as many novels as me also spent that much time in discotheques. I still love dancing and watching people dance. Those three years look like a movie in my head. I know that’s pretty odd and I can’t begin to explain it. The rest of my life doesn’t look like a movie – or feel like one. 

Two days ago I started reading a book and it’s wild. It’s way out there. Chapter 8 alone could be a comedy film.