OPINION: One Arsene Wenger – By Baba Grumpy

You have read the reports especially after the match against Bayern Munich on Wednesday night. “Arsene Wenger snatches candy from kids”. “His team can never do it again”. “They don’t have mental strength”. “He needs to go now” etc. Overreaction I call it.

Apart from the fact that I am still hurting from the result, I am also incensed primarily at the Arsenal fans without a single sense of history. Those whose horizons are limited to any team currently winning the league or the nearest trophy. Those whose sample size for comparing Arsenal and Arsenal is severely limited. The ones that really annoy me are the “Wenger used to have it but he no longer does”.

Funny old game football. Its not like we have gone to Munich before and lost 5-1 after beating the same team 2-0 at the Emirates. Its not as if Petr Cech wasn’t the goalkeeper on the night as well.

When will people stop behaving like sheep, lapping up every nonsense from the media and pundits who clearly have a job to do and bills to pay. Click Click Click is the new Baa Baa Baa. Sheep the lot of them.

Let me help you out. For me, today, tomorrow and forever, The Invincibles will be a touchstone to Arsene’s INVINCINBILITY. TO HIS MAGIC. TO HIS IMMORTALITY. FOREVER. If any other manager were to achieve that in my lifetime, he can only but be accepted as a junior member into that special class of one, exemplified by Arsene.

To those with short memories, you might want to consider this.

The Invincibles were Arsene’s best team. The best team in England. Arguably the best team never to win the Champions League. They lost Nil 3 to Inter Milan at Highbury. Below is how the good ole BBC, ‘always looking to stir up sh*t’ reported the match.

“Arsenal’s Champions League campaign got off to the worst possible start as they were humbled at home by last season’s semi-finalists Inter Milan. The Italians destroyed Arsenal with a spectacular first-half display in which they scored three times and could have had more”.

Sound similar to the stuff spewed out after Wednesday night. But guess what that same team that was destroyed at Highbury went to the San Siro and stuffed Inter’s backside with five unreplied and sumptuous goals. That is football. You win and you lose. You get the highs and the lows. It is unrealistic to expect only highs.

At the time of that loss to Inter, Arsenal had the miserable record of six European Cup /UCL home matches without a win. I will hate to imagine the riot on the streets of North London if Arsenal were to dare have that type of record today. The meltdown on Arsenal Fan TV will be reported in the North Korean media and on CNN Breaking News.

In 2001/2 when we won the league, we lost 4-0 to Blackburn in the League Cup. In the 2000/1 Champions League Group stages, we shifted 3 unreplied goals against Shakhtar Donetsk and broke an 18 year record as we had never lost by such an heavy margin in Europe. In the 2nd group stage, we shifted four against Spartak Moscow and managed to squeeze into the knock out stages courtesy of the Head to Head rules.

So if you started following Arsenal yesterday or you deliberately blocked of some of the historical result in your Wenger hatred, there you are. Fixed it for you.

Wenger’s Arsenal record in the Champion’s League & its predecessor competition include the following 10 Round of 16 exits , 4 Quarter Finals, 1 Semi Final and 1 Final appearance.  The recent exits at the Round of 16 are what appears to be at the forefront of the mind of many. As for me and apart from the Monaco exit, I put all of these exits to a combination of bad luck and skullduggery from officials. We have been unfortunate to meet giants of European football, teams that were significantly better than us and when fortune could have favored us, the referee intervenes by sending one of our players off at the Nou Camp.

Good teams get bashed occasionally. Bad teams get bashed often. Bayern Munich has lost by a similar margin to Barcelona under the great Pep Guardiola.

So I am sorry, please miss me with your doom mongering. I still believe in Arsene, Arsenal FC and also the players who are committed to the cause.

We have not won the league for many reasons in the past 12 seasons. There was a time when the unity of the squad was threatened by a few players who are no longer with the club and because of financial issues. The players obviously have a path to play and if the stuff we are reading about the current squad is anything to go by, a disunited dressing room is unlikely to do well. The management of any group of people is challenging as anybody who has the remote chance to manage personal or professional relationships will tell you and there are may factors that can trip up the best. What happens if your best player is at the crux of the problem and clearly has a few people behind him?

Definitely, people can talk about 12 seasons without a trophy all they care but for me, we were simply unfortunate last season to come 2nd to a team that performed exceptionally well. A team performing the feat of a 100 lifetimes in one season. A Team who will never repeat the same feat in 5000 years. This season we are playing 2nd fiddle to a team that has gone on an exceptional run and equaled the feat set by another of Wenger’s team.

The fact that Wenger and his team can be competitive is evident by his performance against other teams. This season can still end like last season with Arsenal coming 2nd or in the event of an exceptional collapse by the current leaders, Arsenal can profit and win the league in extraordinary circumstances. I am holding to this dream until it becomes mathematically impossible.

In this 12 seasons that many keep harping on about, only 4 teams have outperformed Arsenal and Arsene – Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City & Leicester. In effect, there have been 15 failed clubs and managers in the Premier League in each of the last 12 seasons. Arsene’s one failure to me is the fact that he has made consistency appear too easy. He has created a sense of entitlement in Arsenal’s fans. Our people now expect Caviar & Champagne with every meal.

To juggle memories further, none of the critics who are mouthing off now gave Arsene & Arsenal a prayer  at the start of the season. Pep & Motormouth were going to knock everybody off their feet. Klopp will give the Anfield choir renewed hope. Conte will bring some Italian magic  with him and Pochettino is a better manager than Arsene.

On head to head aggregate results and goals for & against, Wenger has outperformed Conte this season.  At the moment, there is not much of a difference between him and the others. Yes it is so tight that we might fall out of the top 4 for the first time in like ever, but there is also a very decent chance we might still win it or end up 2nd.

If you think Arsene has failed. Please allow me introduce you to 18 other failed managers in the Premier League.

Just so you know, those who are determined to force Arsene out, will soon turn on the owner and the Chief Executive. Which will be great if their protests genuinely achieve the  desired results of helping Arsenal win a league title or the Champions league but all we see is the negative effects on the pitch.

They have tried to force out some of the wonderful talents amongst the playing squad, they are trying to force out the manager, they have tried same on the owner. When will they stop? Where will they stop?

The manager knows what the issues are better than any one on the outside. The Chief Executive is savvy enough to know what is going on within the playing squad and around the club. If the Chief Executive, the Owner & the Board are satisfied that the team is performing to expectation and pre – set targets, as fans we should get behind that decision and back the manager and our players on the pitch.

Confidence plays a huge part in playing and winning football matches. Do not ruin the confidence of our players and moan that they are not winning football matches.

So please stop the doom mongering and the negativity. Nail your colours to the mast. Rally round one of the greatest manager of all times in Arsene. And support the team.


Baba Grumpy works in Financial Services in the United Kingdom. He blogs mostly about football at http://babagrumpy.blogspot.co.uk. His Twitter handle is @BabaGrumpy

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