Sunday 19 July 2009

The Unwritten Laws of English Football

(GROUP) group noun [C]1 an organization of people with a common purpose or interest, who meet regularly and take part in shared activities.

I really want to know why Arsene Wenger is still manager of Arsenal Football Club.

No. Not because of his distinct lack of success in recent seasons. Not because of his inability to hold on to players he has taken on and then developed for the long term (Overmars, Ashley Cole, Flamini, Hleb, etc etc) Not because of his lack of eagerness to spend any of Arsenal's funds, despite them generating more match day revenue than any club in the world...yes more than United, Madrid, Barca..anyone!

I want to know why he is still manager of Arsenal Football Club for one solitary reason...and that is for the lack of respect he shows his team's supporters and the utter contempt he fails to hide when commenting on the subject of them.

I was shocked beyond belief with his comments regarding the sale of Emmanuel Adebayor. He took a swipe at the fans for not backing Adebayor, leaving the poor dear Togo international to feel unappreciated, unloved and unwanted.

What a complete pile of drivel!!!

“We have lost a great player and we wish him well,” said the Gunners boss.“He's done extremely well for the club. I don't believe that last season he got enough support. That was playing a part in my mind and in his mind, certainly, as well. I believe he wanted to do well but he didn't find the confidence he had the season before. There was a little resentment you could feel through last summer. Believe me, he's a great player and he'll show that again at Manchester City”

So Wenger's words can be taken directly in context:

  • Adebayor has been a great player for Arsenal and has performed well.

  • The supporters didn't like him

  • Adebayor lost his confidence because of this

  • It played on both the player's and the manager's minds

  • Adebayor remains a great player and Wenger wishes he still had him

Did i just interpret all of that correct? Did i get anything out of context? Is Mr Wenger pointing a finger at..erm...THE FANS?

I obviously do not care what happens at the North London club. I have no interest at all. But if i were an Arsenal fan today i would want that man out of my club. We all know many of Wenger's attributes, and they are numerous. But you would never hear Sir Alex Ferguson linking the sale of any football player to the fact of their unpopularity, their relationship with anyone (including himself) or for any reason that was non-football related. So because of this, Wenger has now started to break the unwritten rules which exist in English football. The ones of loyalty, of always respecting your supporters, of always positively trying to enhance the club you are employed by...not 'real' laws as people know full well..but ones which are probably more important that any others of the real ones!

When Ruud Van Nistelrooy allegedly fell out with a young Cristiano Ronaldo, whose father had very recently passed leaving the young man perplexed by the event, Ferguson knew he had to make a decision on who stayed and who went. Ferguson backed his young player, and moved the prolific Dutchman on. But Ferguson refused to create a public domain to give substance to the events or the reasons. When Roy Keane became a disruptive influence in the dressing room, he terminated his contract 18 months before it expired. But publicly he thanked the player, as a man of honour would. And when Jaap Stam blabbed to the press about dressing room secrets and his 'taping-up' by Ferguson, he was out the door so quickly his feet didn't touch the floor, to the point where he was being pictured in a Lazio shirt almost in tears because he did not think for a minute that his actions would have such alarming consequences. But again Fergie kept his mouth shut about the reasoning.

And that is how it should be.

Manager, Chairman, Board members, Players, Staff and Supporters. All wanting the same thing. Not always agreeing (in fact rarely agreeing) But respecting that essentially we all want the same thing, so lets not stab each other in the back, or give our enemies course to have a good old laugh at us.

Wenger has now broken this unwritten bond of trust. He has blamed his own fans for the departure of the club's front-line striker. Not attributing it to the validity of Adebayor's lacklustre performances last season. Not to the fact of Adebayor using the press to manufacture a move to Milan. And not to the fact that another club has met his valuation for a want-away player. No. He attributes it to a lack of support. This is totally despicable.

So now Arsenal FC are the biggest laughing stock in England. One of the best clubs in the world, selling players because once it a while said player was "boo-ed" Oh dear oh dear oh dear. Nobody at Old Trafford has attributed the sale of Ronaldo to the fact that he was wholly unpopular amongst the Old Trafford fans last season following his vulgar flirtations with his Spanish whore (of a club), threatening our loving marriage with him. Or the fact that "Viva Ronaldo" was only sung towards the back end of the season, when his form returned and we turned a blind eye. And that is because it is not the truth. The truth is United got £80 million for a guy with two legs, two arms and a head. ALOT of cash for one individual in what is a team sport. That is the real truth.

If the Gunners fail on the pitch again this season, or if Wenger gets offered another challenge by someone else (Manchester City??) I think their union will come to an end. And in my eyes? that would not be soon enough. For a football club needs a heart and soul. It is not the mechanical robot that Arsenal seem to be today..made of some incredibly special parts, technologically advanced. But essentially devoid of passion. Machines do not know what passion is.

And that is the managers fault..for he is the Professor and architect.

"Give us a ring when Hughes gets the sack Ade!"


  1. I like it. If this is another trophy-less season at Arsenal, perhaps the fans will turn on Wenger - now that Adebayor is gone...

  2. Hi,

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  3. I have to point out that Keane famously took a shot or two at our fans during his tenure at Old Trafford. Remember the prawn sandwiches? I, like most United supporters, didn’t think he was in the wrong to ask for more support from the fans. In fact, it validated my fandom by acknowledging that my support was important to the team’s success. I was embarrassed not by the fact that he berated us but by the fact that he had to. I felt the way I think I would were I a player Keane had ripped for not trying hard enough on the pitch: embarrassed for not giving fully to the cause and determined to do my part in the future. If it was acceptable for Keane to chastise our fans for not cheering hard enough for our team, then why is it unacceptable for Wenger chastise his for actually booing their team.

    You are right that every unit of the club, including the fans, should be working toward the same goal. This singularity of purpose is what binds us all together and turns the club into something greater than just some physically talented players, an old manager, and a few businessmen in suits counting the money with a mass of supporters cheering and waving scarves. This pulling together, “us versus them!” bond and passion makes the club greater than its individual parts and that is why we (players and manager too) all care so much. This principle is vital to it all and should be respected and protected by rules. You accuse Wenger of breaking these “unwritten rules” but I would say it is the fans that actually break them when they boo one of their own while he is playing, and especially when he is already struggling with form. No one could think booing a player or manager helps the team win.

  4. We can all agree that it is acceptable for the captain or even another teammate to have a word with an underperforming teammate, letting him know that more is expected. But you wouldn't want to see that teammate really dressing down one of his own, during a game, would you? Remember Boyer and Dyer? (Possible exception to this if it’s the keeper-lol Schmeichel!) Your entire argument is based on the idea that above all else, the fans shouldn't be embarrassed under any circumstance. But what of the embarrassment the fans heap on their own players and managers?

    Some would say that fans have paid their hard earned money and therefore have the right to boo if they please. I hate that argument and I think it contradicts your earlier point about us all working for toward the same goal. Imagine you ate at a restaurant and didn't like your dinner, would you shout obscenities and boo the chef from your seat? What about if you bought a new computer and after a couple of years you were unhappy with its performance, would you find the man in the factory who installed the hard drive and boo him as he worked? We aren’t invested in their performance the way we are with our team you might say but this is all the more reason to support, not undermine. In football we are all teammates in a way and turning on your own in such a visible and venomous way is, to me, even less acceptable.

  5. (Part 3)
    If the fans are part of the club, as we all feel that we are, then Wenger did what he would do if any other part of the club showed blatant disrespect to a teammate. We are all so quick to call for a change personnel but would Fergie have even made it to his second season if he were starting out now? Or would he have been run out of Old Trafford by the Boos before he ever had the chance to lift us to glory. We demand that our players and managers remain loyal, kiss the badge and love the club as we profess to love it, but should they not produce man of the match honors for a little long or lose one too many, we turn on them like snakes, behaving in a way we would never tolerate.

    In my opinion Keane was right to call out the fans and Wenger was right to do the same. And anyone who booed Ronaldo for wanting to play for the team his father and he supported as a boy must not have been bright enough to imagine what they would have done had they found themselves at Real and heard United asking them to come over. You speak about honor but somehow ignore the fact that it is the fans that are most lacking in that trait.

    Like the blog by the way.