If the Best Pundit Neville can’t succeed why listen to those criticizing Wenger who have not tried management or failed at it


No question it is a difficult time to be an Arsenal supporter. Things are not easy. There are a number of problems.

We are under-achieving. This was to be our year. We were settled – funds at our disposal, just signed a top keeper and the season beckoned. But we have fallen short. Premature to say that but you know what I mean. It would be wonderful to put in a run and nick the title at the end of an unbeaten run but it is unlikely. Hope springs eternal and all that and we will be hoping the goals go in tomorrow and that Leicester and THFC stumble but the odds are against it. If of course things go our way then we will be full of joy and Wenger will be a hero but winning at Anfield in ’89 with that last minute goal by Mickey Thomas used up our quota of miracles. So it is more likely we will be in post-mortem mood than celebratory mood.

THFC have done well – very well and their success has heightened the tensions within our camp. They play good football; they have put together a team with a good English spine; their manager has downed the Spurs doubters, kept his confidence and produced a team that is praised by many football independents. The “English” rankles because deep down whilst we extol the virtues of the foreign contingent we also would like a team that has a strong English character. We are English. We support England. We want them to do well in the European Championship and World Cup and we were pleased to see that picture of Walcott, Oxlade-C, Gibbs and Jenkinson (Ramsey too) and yet we are struggling to get any of our players in the national team.

1 out of 5 maybe and Spurs flood team

1 out of 5 maybe and Spurs flood team

Another factor is the high price of supporting Arsenal. To an extent we are customers. We are far from the only source of income but we matter and having the Emirates full and noisy is so important. We need to be stroked and loved and cherished and not just tolerated and the Club – who I concede have taken steps to strengthen links with the fans through meetings and consultations – need to be more aggressive in showing understanding and gratitude to fans who really dig deep to come to a game.

The players should do much more. Some of them make a point of applauding the fans but too many slink off to the dressing room at the end of a match. This should not be left to individual decision – this should be part of the make-up for each player. Wenger should be there on the pitch blocking their way and sending them straight back to applaud the fans. It is a part of the “selling”. We respond to the players positively if they respond to us. We disrespect them if they are off hand and cavalier and take us for granted. I do not take the “exhaustion” argument and the need for rest. They are paid the most enormous sums of money and should remember that they are supported by fans that pay the highest ticket prices. Humility is needed – as I said we need to be acknowledged, appreciated and esteemed. A little goes a long way. Bertie Mee told players – “Remember Who You Are and Who You Represent”. We are Arsenal. We have history. Today’s players follow in the footsteps of past heroes – James, Bastin, Drake, Rooke, Mercer, Bowen, Vic Groves, Armstrong and Rocastle. Go the extra mile every time and strengthen the bond with the supporters.

Players need to go the extra mile for Arsenal like this man

Players need to go the extra mile for Arsenal like this man

We have a non-communicating Chairman. Now it may be said that his job is to run the show and leave the passion and the commitment to the fans but for years we had the double-barrelled chairmen – the Hill-Woods and the Bracewell-Smiths. They were always there, never missing a match. Maybe they were upper crust and this was the era of Master and Servant but they were Arsenal through and through. The passion was there. We need Kroenke to find a way to link in with the supporters and to show his enthusiasm for Arsenal FC. Of course football has changed. It is a big money game but all the more reason why steps should be taken to build the relationship with us all. Not difficult to do.

Incognito Chairman

Incognito Chairman

When things are not going well on the pitch then the focus is on all the discontents. They mount up. They create strong frustration.   They make for an unhappy family and now – if we do fall short this season – the recriminations and the antagonism will revive and we will have more discord than accord – more disunity than unity – more anger then laughter. It is saying the obvious but this is a results driven activity. Winning is what counts and when we return to winning ways – as I believe we will – the tensions and the anger will be soothed away and the cheers and the smiles will return

The most respected pundit failed

The most respected pundit failed

The solution for some is to sack the manager. That is a view that is gathering pace. We have the banners; we have the growing anger on social media and if and when the title is beyond our grasp the discontent will become ugly. This article is not the occasion to debate the strengths and weaknesses of Wenger. My position has been clear and is unchanged. I rate him highly; I hope he continues as I believe in him. I know that many take a different view and think the time has come to make a change. The pundits set the tone of the debate – every after-match summary stokes up feelings for and against. But they are pundits who from the comfort of the studio sofa and without any responsibility can pontificate. But when you listen to their words also examine their managerial record – Shearer, Lawrenson, Souness, Hoddle and now the best of all the pundits – the one who speaks the most sense has just been sacked for under-achievement. If Neville can’t do it why place so much confidence in the comments and summaries of any of them.

An incredible selection of authentic Arsenal shirts at amazing prices!

An incredible selection of authentic Arsenal shirts at amazing prices!

Cliche I know but you need to be strong in the storm. That image of the Captain of the ship – strong and resolute – as the angry waves and buffeting winds stir the growing storm comes to mind. Wenger has to be strong. His stubbornness will assist him. He is ramrod straight and unbending. He will be able to confront his critics and remain in charge of the dressing room but he needs to get it right. It is not for me to tell him to spend the money. I am just another fan. I know nothing of coaching or management. He is Arsenal through and through and I continue to believe in him. But we are heading for a storm ourselves. There is a growing sense of civil war. Back to 1649 you were either a Cavalier or a Roundhead. Today you are either pro or anti Wenger and we have to brace ourselves for antagonisms.

This is not new – new to us but it is football and Arsenal football. Tom Whittaker lost the supporters when he signed Nutt and Tiddy in 1955; Jack Crayston never recovered from the Third Round Cup defeat at Northampton Town in 1958; George Swindin started well but was eclipsed by the success of the Spurs Double Team and poor Billy Wright  was out of his depth after a home crowd of 4,500 in 1966. Football is about ups and down and our down is quite relative – always at or near the top but never ending up on top, the bridesmaid not the bride. We will come through it, we always do. History tells us that but for the present things may be unsettled. Keep your temper – stick to your principles as the challenges mount.

You can follow my tweets @arsenalcircular

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23 Responses to If the Best Pundit Neville can’t succeed why listen to those criticizing Wenger who have not tried management or failed at it

  1. Victor Thompson April 1, 2016 at 1:06 pm #

    Hi Graham, once again I give you credit for your loyalty to Arsene and how civilised your submissions are. No one would berate you for that and no one should.

    In relation to the points you raise:

    1. Gary Neville has failed because of language difficulties. He could not communicate with his players. I still see him as the best of the pundits.

    2, To ask why we should pay heed to the opinions of other failed ex-players/ managers it is because they all were top players but if Alex Ferguson had wanted to be a pundit, he would have been brilliant. Cruyff likewise. Shankly and Busby were ex players as was Bobby Robson and Alf Ramsey, but their time was before media pundits existed. Ramsey would probably have been too shy. The answer is that there is a common thread running through all of the criticism of Wenger by the fans and the pundits. You have mentioned some of the parts of the thread yourself. The failure to buy players to ensure progression. The lack of Tactical nous. The 70th minute substitutions. The choice of substitutes. The failure to motivate his team ( the one with “great spirit” and “great resolve”)

    3. TRANSPARENCY: you have listed a number of examples why previous managers made decisions which ultimately cost them their jobs, but would the fans have deserted them if they had been kept informed and thereby involved in why decisions were made? Why did Wenger not buy a DM, CF. and CB two windows ago? We were told the money was available to compete with the big clubs. Why does he wait until the 70th minute ( slightly improved lately) before he makes a substitution when it does not take a genius to see what is wrong? Why did he take Campbell off and bring Flamini on against Barcelona? We don`t know because he says he does not listen to the opinions of the fans and therefore we get no explanation.. You have said that Arsenal needs to cosset the fans and respect them. Who is right, Wenger and the club or you and the thousands of others who feel the same? All of the above are constantly raised by the fans and the pundits. They are simple questions with simple answers that we all can see, so I think it is incompatible with the need to keep the fans on board and to let the above matters go unanswered. When we have these misgivings and the manager or the club do nothing to assuage them, then it is perfectly reasonable to listen to TV critics who are paid by the companies for their knowledge and ability to present their opinions on TV.

    The current avalanche of criticism and the corresponding response from Wenger supporters, is an unedifying spectacle and it does demean Arsenal Football Club. I don`t think Kroenke will intervene until it becomes a threat to the “Brand” then he may have to do something to protect it. The situation is becoming a case of an irresistible force meeting an immovable object and something has to give.

  2. Nick Birch April 1, 2016 at 1:29 pm #

    The failings of Gary Neville are completely irrelevant from my point of view.

    Firstly, those of us who want Wenger gone are basing our opinions on what we see with our own eyes, not what by what any pundit is saying.

    Secondly, I don’t think any of us want Wenger to be replaced with a complete managerial novice with no experience….

  3. Mike April 1, 2016 at 1:50 pm #

    @ Victor Thompson

    The simplest way for you (and many others) to understand this is with an easy analogy.

    I watch the TV show ‘Casualty’. I have also seen documentaries showing surgery being carried out. However, if I am unlucky enough to have to undergo an operation I will not attempt to tell the surgeon how to do his job. He is a highly paid professional, qualified in his given role, very experienced, intelligent and will have access to information and techniques which I hadn’t even thought about. I wouldn’t for one moment think that I could even suggest that he might be doing something wrong because it is so far out of my realm of knowledge and experience.

    For the same reason, I do not advise lawyers, architects, vets or football managers. Similarly, I think those people who believe they actually do know better are only fooling themselves. By all means wonder why people make certain decisions but to suggest your way would have been better is irrational to say the least.

    You may, though, have a valid point about transparency and communications although my own opinion (and that is all it is) is that given the way the media attempt to twist everything Arsenal into a negative, it’s possibly the case that the less said the better.

    Similarly, I’m sure the club would be crazy to publish which players they had tried to buy since they may well try again in future and it would just be bad business to let your competitors know your intentions. To think that anyone in the media has a clue about any transfer dealing is just folly. They make up thousands of transfer rumours each year. A minimum of 99% are untrue and the other 1% are probably correct as a result of the law of averages. Add to this the questions; who is available; who wants to come to London; what are the wage demands; what attitude do they have; how would they fit in; would their current club be willing to sell to us; does the player’s wife want to come; wouldn’t they prefer to play for a club based in the sun; and we find transfers are not as straightforward as people would superficially like to believe.

    And finally, of course, irrespective of the difficulty in negotiating transfers, I think it is fair to say that just spending loads of money on transfers does not guarantee success ask Man U., Liverpool, Chelsea, Man City or indeed West Ham and many other clubs who spend more than us. At the end of the day, for anyone who bothers to do the maths, Arsene Wenger has secured more premiership points per million of net spend than any other premiership manager in the last 20 years including the media God, Alex Ferguson.

    It’s all too easy to take a tabloid view of football. Far, far more complicated (and perhaps impossible as an amateur) to actually take a well thought out scientific approach which constitutes any sort of actual proof.

    • Victor Thompson April 2, 2016 at 11:51 am #

      Mike, I have read these comments posted to you and I am sorry that you have received some of the treatment those of us who criticise AW receive on a regular basis receive. However, I agree with Nick that comparing a surgeon to Wenger is facile. In his every day work, a surgeon performs operations within a controlled environment with only medical staff present. He is god in the theatre and no one would criticise him, however I understand that prior to difficult decisions some consultations take place with with the patient who is kept fully informed and also with colleagues. There may be occasions when particular operations are performed on video link to a wider audience of junior doctors for educational purposes. Obviously criticism from uneducated members of the public who have no knowledge of such matters would be ludicrous and of no weight.

      That is not the case here. If one attends football matches or watches them regularly on TV and reads about them constantly for nearly 60 years as I have done, I believe that I have a quantum of knowledge. If anyone goes to watch football for that length of time and learns nothing he has been wasting his time. If I attended music concerts and bought music for that length of time, I would acquire a certain knowledge and my own taste in music and though I will never me an expert, I do believe that I could conduct a conversation with some value with a more expert person. In other words, I would be obliged if you would not discard or disparage the breadth of knowledge that people like Nick and I have gained from our life experiences.

      I would also point out that if 50% of the stadium ( some 60,000 ) and the uncounted numbers at home or in bars who share the same thread of opinion ( see my response to Alex the Czar ) then it is clear that Arsene is very much in the spotlight of general opinion. It seems that he is beginning to realise that because he says in The Sun today in his response to Ozil`s opinion “if people say that we will never have a better chance to win the league we just have to accept that”.

      • Mike April 4, 2016 at 9:39 am #

        I have listened to music for some sixty years too but I am no nearer being a composer than I was when I started.

        I have watched films regularly for a similar period. I certainly don’t think I could write a script, direct or produce one.

        I accept that maybe I took an extreme analogy (to demonstrate a point) but I do find it somewhat bemusing that you, as a former judge, actually believe the man on the Clapham Omnibus could actually manage a top football club. I do not deny anyone’s breadth of experience and knowledge but I do deny that it validates an amateur assertion that they know better than a highly experienced professional.

        This is the first time I’ve visited this site and liked what I read. I’m not that keen on a handful of Wenger haters being allowed to hurl quite vitriolic abuse without offering evidence to substantiate an argument……or even offer any argument at all. I shall therefore not be visiting again.

        And to the rest of you, just because you speak loudest it doesn’t not give you the right to claim you represent the silent majority (and no, I’m not claiming to do that before Nick or Alex decide to completely misrepresent me again.)

  4. Nick Birch April 1, 2016 at 3:44 pm #


    Comparing football management with surgery of any type is a foolish.

    I’m not a qualified chef but I’m still able to use basic logic and follow recipes when I cook my dinner.

    Football isn’t a complicated game, if it was then please explain to me why some footballers with a below average IQ can play it?

    You cannot say for certain that someone outside of the professional game wouldn’t be able to get the best out of professional players either, being a good manager is often down to personality and being able to read players personalities in order to make a judgement on the best way to talk to them, much like any other industry.

    There are also many singers who haven’t made it professionally but can sing better than ones who have. I’m a big fan of the Stone Roses but I can assure you I have encountered many non professional vocalists that have better voices than Ian Brown, by that I mean a greater range to their vocals.

    Simply because someone wasn’t talented enough to make it as a professional, has no relevence to their ability to make an observational judgement on players, tactics or what type of player is missing from our current team.

    Your arrogance holds no bounds and yet at no point do you actually offer an opinion of your own.

    It’s not about anyone believing they know more than Arsene, it’s about offering an opinion and despite you belief to the contrary, professional managers aren’t right about everything in the same way is supporters aren’t wrong about everything.

    If you don’t have any time for the views of others, why bother reading them?

  5. Dazzer April 1, 2016 at 3:56 pm #

    Mike, Sceptic, Wenger or whatever your name is. You must be Arsene’s boyfriend with the claptrap you are coming out with, pull your head out of the sand and cut the patronising crap you ******** [edited]

  6. WC April 1, 2016 at 3:57 pm #

    I love how everyone talks about Neville’s sacking as some evidence that Wenger should stay and should not be under pressure to provide results. Coaching is highly experienced based and one failure doesn’t instantly make you a dud. Maybe Neville will come back later with more wisdom and experience and come good. Many inventors, scientists et al failed early in their careers – that didn’t mean they weren’t good or needed to give up and be replaced. Sorry but the proof is in the pudding that Arsene simply cannot compete with the best anymore. Leicester and Spuds are currently outperforming him and he’s nowhere near good enough among Europe’s elites.

  7. Alex Field April 1, 2016 at 4:18 pm #

    Mike you are a prized ***** [edited]

    • Alexandra Anderson-Field April 1, 2016 at 6:11 pm #

      hello who is posting for me?

    • Mike April 4, 2016 at 9:45 am #

      A very articulate and well thought out argument. I can see why we should all take notice of your opinion.

  8. Mike April 1, 2016 at 4:18 pm #

    @ Nick Birch

    You have misinterpreted so much of what I say I am probably wasting my time responding, however, I’ll give it a go.

    For starters I suggest your analogy is akin to suggesting that because you can clean and dress a small wound it is possible to be a highly skilled and knowledgeable surgeon. Which I find unfathomable.

    Similarly, you are also inferring that every club within a worldwide multi-billion pound industry chooses to pay managers £8 million a year when anybody with a bit of common sense could do the job for a fraction of the price. That seems unlikely in my opinion (there I gave you an opinion).

    Your comment, “your arrogance holds no bounds” is not only uncalled for but completely illogical since all I have proposed is that I would not attempt to give an amateur opinion and claim that it is more worthy than that of a professional. I’d say that was far from arrogant. Calling someone arrogant for not offering an opinion on the other hand…………….

    You may not have picked up the overall message of my text but what it means is that I have no problem with anybody having an opinion. I have a huge problem with amateurs perpetually claiming they know better than extremely highly experienced professionals. I at no point, however, suggested the latter was always correct.

    Finally, I did not suggest that physically playing football (or an instrument) is complicated but my opinion is (there’s another one) that managing one of the biggest football clubs in the world is unlike to be so simple that anyone can do it just because they watch football and have been a manager in another industry.

    I suspect that the major reason you have take exception to my original comment is less to with the content and probably more to do with the fact that I clearly don’t agree with your original comment. But that’s only my opinion………

  9. Nick Birch April 1, 2016 at 4:26 pm #

    You are arrogant because you won’t accept that Wenger doesn’t have all the answers.

    I retain my opinion that comparing surgery, if it makes you happier, complicated surgery, is a poor analogy to make. Have you ever watched Masterchef, the Australian version in particular, where amateur cooks follow recipes provided by professional chefs, usually the professionals signature dish and do so to great effect.

    In football, picking a team, the tactics or signing players isn’t potentially going to kill someone or cause them physical damage, performing surgery could.

    It’s a relief to see you type an opinion of your own instead of plucking phrases out the Wenger text book.

    Couldn’t care whether you agree or disagree, as I said to you yesterday when you used the alias of Sceptic….

    • Alexandra Anderson-Field April 1, 2016 at 6:26 pm #

      since wenger has won nothing this year would you not accept he is being paid on what he did do rather than what he does now?
      I would suggest to you that Diego Simeone is a much better manager than Wenger is or ever was TBF he is paid 6 million Euros sad to say from all my delving he is 100% happy with his life in spain

      Similarly, you are also inferring that every club within a worldwide multi-billion pound industry chooses to pay managers £8 million a year when anybody with a bit of common sense could do the job for a fraction of the price. That seems unlikely in my opinion (there I gave you an opinion). oh and see above your opinion is wrong

    • Mike April 4, 2016 at 9:43 am #

      I never once claimed what you assert. Your continual desire to assert that I said something I did not is exceedingly tedious.

      I do not watch the programme to which you refer but it is extraordinarily ironic that that you are quoting an example of where the amateur does quite well WHEN HE DOES WHAT THE PROFESSIONAL has directed.

      Be careful what you wish for.

      • Nick Birch April 4, 2016 at 6:26 pm #

        Mike, they watch and observe what the professional has done but are not directed by the professional when they attempt to replicate the dish and are often forced to rely on their own intuition to overcome problems during the cook itself.

        Using your logic, having spent over 25 years watching how professional managers, mangage, I could in theory mirror their actions as the amateur chefs do.

        Nobody can categorically say that Arsene has superior footballing knowledge, in terms of being able to make in game decisions that affect the outcome of games, to any of his critics amongst the Arsenal fan base.

        It is a theory based on assumption and professional managers generally only have the opportunity to manage professionally due to having played professionally. Sadly my footballing ability was at that level.

        There are many pundits who share similar views to those of us who want Wenger gone, including many who have managed and won trophies professionally, which would imply that we aren’t completely wide of the mark with our opinions.

        We could go back and fourth all day but you won’t change my opinion and vice versa.

        Alex and James, keep things polite please. Everyone is entitled to an opinion….

  10. Alex Field April 1, 2016 at 4:40 pm #

    Fighting a losing battle against prized ***** [edited] like Mike

    • Alexandra Anderson-Field April 1, 2016 at 6:12 pm #

      ok im not laughing who ever you are stop posting for me

  11. alex April 1, 2016 at 5:12 pm #

    you do seem to like weird comparisons and clichés gray nevil is a good pundit in english but his spanish is non existant so not very good he sadly didnt think when asked to help out a friend nobody wanted to know if he could speak spanish a fairly basic requirerment for a coach in spain i would hazard a guess!!
    mr Wenger hmm i dont anylonger have faith in him and i do not wish him to continue after his contract ends sad to say this board only care about money not trophy’s ori think his time would be up !
    Little Leicester have shown that all the lies told re not being able to compete without monies while the stadium debt was paid was the biggest loads of carp you ever heard !!

  12. Alexandra Anderson Field April 1, 2016 at 7:35 pm #

    Wenger is a senile old fool and the sooner he leaves the better. He can take the Twunt AKB with him too.

  13. Alex Field April 4, 2016 at 1:22 pm #

    Go away Mike you senile old Twunt and take the stubborn old goat with you we want Wenger gone as he’s bloody useless!

  14. James Parkins April 4, 2016 at 4:24 pm #

    I can’t stand self righteous cunts like Mike who mirror every comment the French cunt in charge makes. Fuck off and when you get there fuck off again you fucking wanker! An appropriate surname for you is Hunt! Alex is right you are a twunt!

  15. James Parkins April 4, 2016 at 4:24 pm #

    I can’t stand self righteous cunts like Mike who mirror every comment the French cunt in charge makes. Fuck off and when you get there fuck off again you fucking wanker! An appropriate surname for you is Hunt! Alex is right you are a twunt! Fucking tosser!

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