Well I say, what an explosive press conference. Probably the most outrageous Wenger eruption of the last 16 years. He’s agitated, why? Because he knows time is running out on his Arsenal career. He knows his 9 lives are nearly up and if he doesn’t make something pretty magical happen tonight, he could find his season one match away from near total implosion.
Was it a meltdown, no. This is a meltdown.
It was pretty mental considering Wenger’s zen like approach to conflict.
What started the explosion? A question about Stan Kroenke offering him a new deal. I’m pretty sure most who follow the game with any interest were pretty sure that was a load of nonsense, but the reporter in the room let rip with the question, probably with the best of intentions. This was his response…
“I am not a conspiracy theorist. I am 30 years in this job and if I was paranoid you would know it already. I just think that when I worked for 16 years in the country I expect a certain respect. You can criticise me and say I am doing a bad job, but manipulative things when they are wrong, I don’t accept. I think I deserve a bit more credit than wrong information \[reports about a new contract\] that has only one intention: to harm.”
He then went on the chop down a female reporter mid question which was even more out of character. He lost his composure and he tore into the press corps. Amazing the usual suspects around the web were in total denial about the seriousness of the blown fuse, but there we are.
What could have sparked such a reaction? Well, this is the first time he’s ever had 18 months on a deal without the fan fare of ‘please, please sign on’… and I don’t know for certain, but I’d be almost certain that talks of an extension haven’t been mentioned. If they had, Wenger would have delivered a wry smile and a ‘we will see, but now is not the time’.
Regardless of my opinion on the mans performance, I don’t like to see people react like that. He’s obviously suffering like any iconic figure past his best would be. Accepting you’re no longer the best must be incredibly hard to stomach, especially in top level sport…
‘My contract ends in 2014, I will have completed 30 years without interruption at the top level. Football demands a lot of commitment — I may not have quality, but commitment for sure. I am sure you would miss me when I am gone.’
…because the only way you get to the top is by donating your soul to the game you love. That doesn’t mean I can’t be totally baffled when he drops quotes like the one below.
‘Not because of what happened on Saturday, but because we started the season with a lot of scepticism. I think we have made improvements and it would be nice for us to continue with this improvement until the end of the season.’
I’m not quite sure what he’s talking about, unless he means we’ve made marginal improvements? We needed a massive lift this season and some serious investment. Instead we sold out two best players and mainly performs cosmetic surgery around the edges of the side.
People say they want the old Arsene back this summer. That’s exactly what we don’t want. Why? Because the old Arsene Wenger couldn’t compete in the modern era. What we need is a less powerful Arsene who is surrounded by experts he’ll listen to on coaching, players, technology and the insight generated from them. We need an Arsene who believes in video analysis. We need an Arsene who can motivate players. We need a whole new man… because heading into your sixties trying to rekindle skills that have been made redundant over the last decade isn’t going to bring back the glory.
£70m can make us competitive again. Don’t listen to the naysayers who were backing Wenger to make us competitive up until a month ago. You just need a smart set up and a smart manager (modern smart). This whole ‘we compete well compared to our wage spend’ grates me. What happened to our competitive streak? What happened to the culture of competing beyond your means? Swansea have a £20m wage bill and have some fantastic players. Everton consistently out perform their wage bill, Newcastle did last year. The reason we can’t is because we’re not cutting edge anymore. We’re getting up good players second because we’re too late or not bold enough to make a quick decision.
That can all change… you just need the right man to make it happen. The men who pioneer don’t look at the big boys and cower. They look at them and see an opportunity to be smarter, more nimble and more creative. You know, just like Arsene did when he arrived over here.
Tonight is where our focus should be. Part of me wonders whether the players will look at the manager losing the plot and think… ‘Jeez, we’ve been sh*te this year, perhaps we should show some sort of passion for the cause this evening’. I’d love that. The fans would love that. Arsene would love that.
It’ll be tough though, we don’t have a left back, which actually, I beleive, is an omen. Why? Well I’m pretty sure we made it to the Champions League final 26 left backs short. The year Flamini stepped into a make shift defence with Senderos, Campbell and Eboue… and kept the record amount of clean sheets. So, when your chips are down, don’t always think that means it’s time to go home and drink the night away. Tonight is going to be tough. Bayern have attacking fluency meshed in with defensive solidity. They’ll come with a tactical game plan and they’ll know everything they need to know about us. That said, in a one off 11 v 11… you just don’t know what could happen. We’ve enough quality to make an impact. How much of an impact over two legs? Well… we’ll find out. I’m not counting out anything… we’ve had a few fantastic nights at The Emirates Europe wise, so let’s pray for one this evening.
Tear the roof off the place people. Make it a night to remember.
P.S. We drank all the Jaeger in that German bar last night, you know, marking our footballing territory. (LINK)