These days nothing makes me spring to Arsene Wenger’s defence quicker than absurd comments which call his managerial ability into question. This week, I felt compelled to defend him on a forum where people who were ostensibly Arsenal fans were criticising Arsene and various players – including name-calling – following our ‘disastrous loss’ to Manchester United (you would think from the vitriol that we had suffered a repeat of the Anfield aberration). I think that you have to accept that some people just aren’t as intelligent or considered in their opinions as others. That’s one reason I am sticking with BK.
But to see the bile spewing forth from the mouth of Jose Mourinho on Friday has really made my blood boil.
Now, I get frustrated with Wenger reasonably regularly. I admit that I was one of those calling for his head on a fairly regular basis recently, probably blinkered by my own frustration and the team’s perceived stagnation over the years since we moved to our shiny new multi-million pound home. I still find it frustrating to see the occasional inexplicable rigidity with which he approaches in-game tactics and the prickliness with which he handles the media.
This is what the Chelsea manager said (according to the BBC):
“If he is right and I am afraid of failure it is because I didn’t fail many times. Eight years without silverware, that’s failure. He’s a specialist in failure. If I do that in Chelsea, eight years, I leave and don’t come back.”
To me that smacks of a billionaire’s spoilt brat suggesting that a self-made millionaire is a failure because they don’t have the same resources at their disposal as the child.
Mourinho, after all, has never really wanted for anything managerially; at least not in the last decade, and he has no qualms about playing dreary football. He was handed a blank cheque book at Chelsea, so of course he wouldn’t have been allowed to not win anything for eight years.
Let’s contrast that with Arsene Wenger who has had stewardship of our great club for long enough that he has fielded a player in the first team who wasn’t even born when he took the reins. He may have benefited from some of Danny Fiszman’s money but it was nowhere near the level of “investment” that Roman Abramovich has made in Chelsea; in fact Abramovich has put four times as much into his hobby than some estimates of Fiszman’s overall net worth (£236m according to Wikipedia).
He has won the league three times (still more than Maureen’s current count), overseeing some breathtaking football in the process, continuing to stick to his footballing as well as his economic principles, and ensuring continued qualification for the Champions League on a shoestring, often being compelled to sell our best players, while waiting for improved sponsorship deals to kick in.
Now, who thinks Mourinho, a mercenary, would have the application (let alone the managerial nous) to pull off a feat like that? His return to the English game has seen him become even more charmless than before, in this instance repaying a compliment about the position he has got his team into (with no mention of the silver-spoon used to get it there) with vitriol. You evidently can’t buy class.
In my own failure to see the bigger picture, I often accused Wenger of myopia but now we are seeing the possibilities his prudent financial management over the years can facilitate going forward. My brother (an accountant, not a Gooner) has been telling me for years that Wenger was doing amazing things at Arsenal and I just needed to have faith, wait, and see. I have seen the light my Toffee brother preached to me for years, and even I can see now that, while it may not be this season, great things are in store.
It’s never been a more exciting time to be a Gooner.