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'If It's Football, It's Vital'

'The team needs fans of the club' says Wenger

Wenger is one of the few managers who will regularly make himself available to the press in both his lengthy pre-match and post match press conferences. He will usually answer any question no matter how provocative with good grace and some humour. Few managers are as open and available as he is.

This couldn`t have been the best time to face a question and answer session from shareholders as he did on Thursday of this week. Not that all were shareholders. Some would have attended by proxy. I remember the last such session last summer when Wenger dealt with a number of questions, most of which were good entertaining if predictable stuff but with the occasional banal, trite contribution. One questioner at the time asked why Ronaldo was able to score 40+ goals from the right wing whereas Eboue hadn`t scored any. You can`t help but wonder why such people are even interested in the game of football.

But at least last season had some mitigation in our league position. We had gone out of the cups relatively early so the disappointment of losing two semi-finals wasn`t as fresh as it was in the minds of those attending this year`s session. By all accounts some attending this year felt their entitlement to give vent to their frustrations didn`t need to consider the normal courtesies of such an assembly. I guess any forum for debating football is going to have its share of malcontents and the disaffected and seemingly this was no exception.

As Silvestre was described as a 'geriatric`, Adebayor and Eboue slated for diving, a suggestion that Adebayor should be sold was cheered, the team accused of lacking fight and backbone and the ability of Diaby and Song questioned, much of that negativity behind the questions would have been familiar to Arsene.

He defended the team and his management of it obviously but he will have been aware that those most discontented will not have been satisfied that he doesn`t see their thoughts as the incontrovertible 'truth` that they do. Still it didn`t stop him from sharing his own opinion with them.

Apparently astonished at the language used by one shareholder to make his point about Silvestre he told him "I cannot accept what you say about our players. Are you a shareholder? I cannot accept that you speak about the players of your club like that. I don't agree with the terms you use." Defending Adebayor, while claiming he is part of his plans for the future, he said "All the big clubs wanted him last summer and it will be the same again this summer." Improving the team is relatively easy to do from many fans perspective. Change the squad every year until you find something that works would be the conventional thought but less easy in reality according to Wenger "No matter how much money you have ... the number of players available who make a difference is not as big as people imagine," he said. Responding to the accusation that the team lacks spirit he claimed "It is easy to sit in the stand and say that they are not up for the fight," as he continued "What they have done in this season in a negative environment shows what they can do."

It's that 'negative environment` this season that he feels has not helped in maximising our performance. "We have had negative vibes and manipulation around the team. It is very hard work to keep the confidence and energy demands because we had to support the team against the odds."

At the bottom though he is sure that the policy and philosophy of the club is the right one as he pointed to the less visible achievement of Arsenal being pretty unique in maintaining a relatively high standard while building a new stadium. Such small achievements though are lost on many.

It is fair that supporters and shareholders get the opportunity to air their grievances as personally as the club allows. That the fans make their criticisms felt in an era where football has purposely converted supporters into customers and consumers is inevitable as their sense of entitlement grows accordingly. Whether the criticism is wholly justified or not is less important than the fact that Wenger is one of the few, maybe even the only manager that is prepared to face his critics as openly as he does. But they shouldn`t expect any sycophantic acceptance of their wisdom. His is no sugar coated palliative exercise to calm the savage breast.

Pointing out that not all the fans are the same "There is a massive difference between the away fans, who are absolutely fantastic, and the home ones" he told the audience "But what this team needs is people who are fans of the club."



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The Journalist

Writer: Amos Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Friday May 15 2009

Time: 1:09AM

Your Comments

He also said something like dont judge us now, judge us after 2 years. Earlier on this season when we went through a bad patch he said dont judge me now, judge me at the end of the season. People now have the right to judge him, and although some of the shareholders/those in attendance put things bluntly alot of what they said is true. Calling Silvestre Gerriatric, the guy is not exactly mobile and not a step forward from having Senderos last year. He said we need a CB and swapped one average CB for another slower one. Wenger said the league rewards divers yet Eboue & Adebayor have both dived on more than one occasion this season. I question the quality of Diaby, and im sure most if not all fans do too. 1 good game every 5 or so. And if the right money was offered for Adebayor then we should take it. His workrate and attitude has been below par and to put it down to how the fans have treated him? He has to expect that after flirting with Barcelona & Milan one day, commited to Arsenal the next, the whole not having a phone for 3 weeks while in togo. Fans may be fickle but not stupid and that behaviour from soemone who was saved from the reserve bench at Monaco is unacceptable.
paul_ownz
Surely it's up to Adebayor to prove his critics wrong on the pitch! Not moan to Le Boss, that the bad fans are making him play badly that's Rubbish! Adebayor needs to look at himself for where the problem is, how many time this season has he been off-side? how many headers has he won against the other team's defenders? how many times has he held players off to laid on the ball for his team mates? May be if he spended less time Smiling and actual playing like winning meant something to him! Us fans would be less likely to get on his back! After all he put the Fans through last pre-season, he owned Us Big TIME!!!!!
hackneyval
Wenger - never in my life have i seen such a stubborn man so set in his ways..the thing is, he can almost convert you. But the bottomline is that its quite unacceptable to have no trophies to show in 4-5yrs...I dont think he wants to change this team much...with a buy like Silvestre and a midfield or Diaby/Song/Denilson..and attacker like Ade (maye RVP) we are going to be be playingt catch-up against Chelski/Manu nxt season again..the man is sooo damn frustrating. brilliantly frustrating...
number14
Ownz - bang on post mate, bravo. Amos you say that they're customers now, but not allowed to express discontent at the product they're paying for? Your slant on this article is slightly 'aloof' to say the least.
shewore
I dont know who Wenger is more concerned about...the fans or the players...who exactly is his allegiance to??? the thing is that he knows how secure his job is...in any other big team he would have been sacked..he would have sat up and paid more attention to winning. And we can only tolerate his because he saves the board a lot of money right??
number14
"But what this team needs is people who are fans of the club." ---sorry mate that is utter rubbish..its like believing the the infallibility of the coach. "stick with me...i know the way", this is what Wenger is saying here...bull****
number14
Where do I say that fans are not allowed to express discontent? Try reading it again.
Amos.
Talks*** radio has been going on about Wenger blaming the fans for some of the players bad performances! That "Fake Tan" "Only got 3 England Caps" Ronnie Irani who is a Man utd fan keeps bring it up! I think Arsene has made things worse by coming out with this stuff, or maybe it's a way of paving the way for Adebayor to leave the club?!
hackneyval
People are entitled to criticise him, but he's allowed to criticise back. This was a forum and Wenger was entitled to say what he thought, just as the fans were. Too many saw this as a chance to put him in the stocks and smile and take it. Fair play to him.
Little Dutch
This is so asinine its unbelievable! Do you guys really expect him to turn around and say, "yes, Adebayor has become useless, and Silvestre is indeed ready for his bus pass"? How do you reckon that would impact on the kind of transfer fee we're likely to get for him? Ignorance of the consequeces of our actions and or inactions is a luxury only we the fans can enjoy, Wenger's words and actions are treated with respect by those whose purse strings he'll need to loosen in the summer transfer market if he's to get a good price for Adebarndoor. Is Wenger stubborn? You bet. Single mindedness is the exclusive preserve of the genius and a true genius recognises his faults and or limitations. I am optimistic that Wenger will take steps to make us more competitive in the coming seasons.
deledudu
Sorry - you didn't, take it back. Wenger's criticised the support in interviews as well LD, no forum there.
shewore
He said "judge us in a couple of years" a couple of years ago. I love Arsene dearly, I don't want him to leave at all. But SURELY he can see that this squad, as it is, isn't up to it? If we're still sat here in a couple of years having won yet more feck all then he will wear all the blame.
Moorish
Its too easy to blame the fans for poor performances. Our home crowd takes a lot of flak and rightly so but what happened when we created the best atmosphere so far at the emirates in the Champions league semi final? They wilted after conceeding a freak goal.
iceman10
Well I was glad Wenger had to face the music yesterday, if we are shareholders we have the right to question people who lead our company so I did. Anyway, afterwards went to the 1989 Anfield 20 Year Gala Dinner. I sat on the next table to our man Ivan G who was very friendly and he chatted openly with supporters and had his picture taken with them. I quite liked the guy, he was very modest and polite. Gentleman Ken Friar was also on the table and recieved a warm welcome. Shame Tony Adams didn't see fit to turn up, also a shame Mickey Thomas was at Anfield for the Hillsborough do, although understandable. I though the auctions could have been better, very few bidders, Roger Daltrey must have bought half of them. I bid for the signed Boxing Gloves but gave up at £600. The biggest downer was the Compare, Tom Watt, the guy is a huge embarassment to our club, a complete wet drip, a top draw wally,his performance was so cringy the way he lapped up to the players with his squeaky voice, we could hardly watch, even Ivan said "no comment" when I asked if we could have got someone better to present.
Orange Quadrant
TA doesn't do these shindigs these days cos of the way the club treated an old back room staffer - am i correct? Apols can't remember his name, but was very close with all the players.
shewore
That's a fair point shewore, but Wenger will get a lot of criticism he can't answer in the media too, it must be frustrating for him. Arsenal is a club currently trying very hard to make "the enxt step" into one of Europe's heavyweights and it's a stressful job at the moment with the resources we have. In the long term, we've done the right thing by moving and that will help us achieve that aim, not hinder it. Unfortunately, the price of letting 60,000 people in is that you will get more negative people, and negative people are always louder. I thought Wenger's appraisal of Adebayor was lukewarm to an extent, note the use of the word, "normally" Adebayor is in our plans. I'll bet my bottom dollar the first chant that goes up tomorrow will be, "there's only one Arsene Wenger." He's correct to make the demarcation between the away and home support, everyone can see that's true. Whether he was entitled to say it is a matter of opinion given the prices people dish out, but I'm very much of the school that I'd never chide anyone for telling the truth, no matter how hard it is to here.
Little Dutch
"He's correct to make the demarcation between the away and home support, everyone can see that's true." That sentence could apply to most clubs
Orange Quadrant
The point about the need for fans that support the club is illustrated by the away support - though not exclusively by it. The club has existed for 120+ years and people support it for different reasons. Many maybe linked to family or geographic ties. Some will support it simply because it is and has been a very successful club. But some of that support will be conditional on continued success and they will feel entitled to withdraw that support if the team doesn't meet those conditions - perhaps illustrated by those that streamed out of the stadium after an hour of the CL tie. Fans of the club, as opposed to the team, while wanting success every bit as much as anyone else will see the team, players, manager and board as transient - its the club that has their support - the rest will come and go. I think what Wenger is trying to say is that the unequivocal support of the club, and not just the team, is illustrated by the away fans who commit so much of their time and money to supporting the club. That level of support makes it easier for him to motivate the team and players becuase those supporters see it as part of their role to. But as football has changed so, understandably, has much of its support. Perhaps fans of the club and not just the team is just another romantic notion from a time that has passed.
Amos.
Another thing that hasn't been mentioned is that this is the week that season ticket renewals have come out, so a lot of people are going to ask questions given our prices. I gave Arsenal about 8% of my annual salary at the click of a button yesterday, whilst it is entirely up to us if we constitute that as good value or not, some people might have their sense of entitlement heightened the day they've been asked to pay four figure sums to the club and been given only three weeks to do so.
Little Dutch
I have never paid until late July every year and there's never been a problem, I totally ignore the 1st June date.
Orange Quadrant
I hope that you not buying the 925 pound season tickets then, otherwise life must be a struggle.
paul_ownz
Cascarino told Sport.co.uk: “Mark Blake at Aston Villa was impressive in the showers. But apparently the man is Thierry Henry. He is the one. It is only what I hear, but the boys in the French squad call him the anaconda.” Had to laugh
paul_ownz
Wenger is supporting his team and berating (some of) the fans. Quite reasonable really, when you consider that publicly declaring dissatisfaction with his players will achieve absolutely nothing and those lucky enough to get into the Grove should always show themselves up to be the twelfth man. But he also needs to play his part by tinkering with the squad, something that I think we all agree on (to differing degrees) and this has to be seen through his actions. In fairness he has pointed out our goals conceded compared to Man Utd and said that we need a couple of players. So he has acknowledged the problem which is good. We now need to wait and see and, in the meantime, play our part as supporters.
Sir Henry
Anyone else notice the fact that the cup games we had to stump up extra cash for were not aligned with the category pricing? For example i paid x6 more for Burnley at home in the FA cup than I did for the CC games.
shewore
"I cannot accept what you say about our players. Are you a shareholder? I cannot accept that you speak about the players of your club like that. I don't agree with the terms you use." Fair enough Arsene, you don't have to accept it, but 55,000 in that crowd are thinking the exact same thing. Would Ferguson sell us Vidic? Course not, he's too good to lose....
LondonGooner
That point about our goals conceded/scored compared to United is ridiculously over simplified.
shewore
I completely agree with the sentiment there LD. There was a time when you could decide the morning of a game whether you would turn up and pay at the gate. The commitment that even members of the ticket registration scheme, modest as it is, have to make just for the privilege of buying a ticket means that the relationship with supporters can't be expected to operate in quite the same way. That's the price for the commercialisation of the sport I guess. Still, we can hope that somewhere the club and enough supporters can find common cause often enough to create the momentum, or at least not hinder it, to achieve the trophies we all hope for.
Amos.
"But they shouldn`t expect any sycophantic acceptance of their wisdom." -- fair enuf, but neither should AW expect any sychophantic acceptance of his wisdom by the fans, which you seem to imply is owed him. Here's a detailed summary of the Q&A session by someone who was there: http://www.arsenalinsider.com/?p=4788 . Arsene's explanation for benching Arshavin in the FA cup semifinal beggars belief. Is Arsene really the only manager who faces his shareholders? He does this for one hour a year now. His attitude, according to people who were there, seems to be an intolerance of what he views as impertinence and he demands that fans simply support mindlessly. I don't see a lot wrong with the questions asked by the shareholders, but his reaction seems to be "how dare you question me." He also is on this bandwagon of scapegoating the fans for all our problems this season. By that logic MUtd fans are the best in the world.
jaelle
Wenger made a big mistake here. However hypocritical it is, the criticism is a one way street. He needed to be the bigger man because of his position. "But what this team needs is people who are fans of the club." I'm sure he would love to have this statement back.
gunnerkid107
Thank you Jaelle...dont blame the fans..remember - Vox Populi...-lol tenuous but I hope u understand what i mean. I think we will be silly to swallow the entire Wenger doctrine...we didnt even improve over last year??? we are worse than we were..seriously, which coach in world football does that? and which fans will accept that...last yr we won nothing..every other team strengthens appriopprately and we have to MAKE Do with Silvestre/Song/Diaby/Deni/Ade/RVP (sorry i had to name all the scapegoats)...it hurts..like i hv said long ago - I was a fan before Wenger..if and when he goes I will still be a fan irrespective of how well we are doing.
number14
Secondly, Wenger actually NEEDS Arsenal...we are sort of indebted to him for the quality he brought and how frugal he is yadayada..he wld hv lost his job a long time ago if he was coach of Real/Manu/Chelsea/Barca/Inter...not that i'm saying i want him out....(yet)
number14
Another thing -- one shareholder who's a consistent away supporter asked him why the players don't go over to the fans to acknowledge them. AW said that was a problem and that he would speak with his players about it. Why should it have to take a shareholder to point this out to him? Arsene can complain all he wants about the need for support from fans but he doesn't instill in his players the awareness to acknowledge the supporters -- so he and his players don't do very much to generate that positive relationship with the fans, do they? Supporters all supposed to just mindlessly accept everything without question and never get any acknowledgment.
jaelle
Oh, and apparently he did NOT show up at that 1989 commemoration dinner after the Q&A, which was located in another room on the same floor apparently.
jaelle
I actually think the fact that he's deciding that someone is not a 'supporter' because he doesn't blindly believe we'll win the league is downright rude, and completely dismissive.
shewore
Ivan and the board are going to have to grow some balls and TELL Wenger what the expect..simple..and maybe stick Keown or a mre stubborn no. 2 on him...oh for the days when footy was much simpler...no matter how well our current crop grows as a unit Wenger has to realize that Chels/Manu/Liverp and every other club isnt just going to fold theier hands...these other teams are getting better too. Its harder to keep our team until that magical day when they can all take on the world and trash everyone in their path..thats not going to happen..Wenger Wake Up
number14
...and I don't think there will be ONE fan left - here - who will still be behyind Wenger if we end the next season just like THIS one...except his/her second name starts in W and ends R..hmm
number14
Where did I say I thought that the fans should be sycophants? Wenger put himself there to take the criticism. I can't think of any other club or manager that would allow such an open forum knowing, as he must do, the strength of negative feeling. Most shareholders Q&A sessions don't invite open questions from the floor. The response is usually to written questions. Wenger took the flak and responded honestly and openly. Whether I agree with him or not I can appreciate that he didn't choose to hide from what was bound to be a difficult encounter. It seems to me that some fans and shareholders are horrified that he should have the audacity to challenge their rationale. I happen to think that it is healthy that he does. As I say in the article it is right and proper that fans and shareholders should be able to speak as freely as they feel. But they shouldn't expect their views to be patronised if feelings are strongly against what might be considered ill-tempered, ill-thought opnions. Free speech works both ways.
Amos.
Agreed shewore, as someone pointed out earlier it makes him look hypocritical and he'd take that back in an instance if he could. The team needs to show fight, the fans will respond. The players need to show appreciation, the fans will respond. The manager needs to keep his decisions simple and straight forward, the fans will respond. A few astute, top quality signings, the fans will respond. He is in a very, very privileged position as manager of a huge club; he has almost no pressure on him as others do. Yet he talks down to us as if he has been an Arsenal fan for more than 13 years, I was at the club before Wenger and I will be there after Wenger. Regardless of budget etc, this team SHOULD be doing better and the fact they aren’t, is down to the manager, the buck stops here! If there is again another reversal of the progress we saw last season, next season then I think Wenger might start giving the yearly Q&A sessions at the shareholders meeting a miss.
LondonGooner
Why SHOULD this club be doing better than Man Utd or Chelsea? They have had far more resources put into them over the last 5 years and longer than we have been able to manage in the same time. For the same reasons why should we expect to do better or as well as Barcelona or Real Madrid or AC Milan even? Expectations have only risen over the last 10 years or so. Why is that do you imagine?
Amos.
"Most shareholders Q&A sessions don't invite open questions from the floor." -- I heard that those questions were vetted beforehand, even tho they were not on paper. I can't imagine there's no preparation made by the club to make sure those sessions don't get out of hand. Fair enuf that AW has the guts to stand there and answer those questions but frankly I think it's the least he can do, he owes it to the shareholders, I don't think it's something we should be grateful for. // Anyway, my priority is not bringing in new players (tho certainly I'd like to see a couple of experienced ones come in). My priority is working on the simple things: crossing, tracking back, closing down opponents, fighting for the ball, showing character when things look bleak, working on set pieces and free kicks. The Guardian recently reported that our players are not drilled in corner/free kicks. Now I don't know if that's true but it wouldn't surprise me if it were. I think we're all sick and tired of looking away when our opponents get a free/corner kick. I think we're all sick and tired of knowing we won't score from a set piece no matter how many we get. If the only signing we had was Martin Keown, I'd be perfectly happy just with that, we wouldn't need anyone else.
jaelle
Amos i'll tell you why we should have donr better this season..we led the season for a long time last season..ended 4 points adfrit of the leaders..lost Flamini/Diarra/Gilberto/Hleb..replaced Hleb with Nasri...relaced Flamini/Diarra/Gilberto with Song/Denilson (diaby hasnt played that same position)...lost Senderous and replaced him with Silvestre..a Manu reject who no other top 4 want. methinks that it a recipe for disaster..no???? I think a better defender/DM were available..but u heard Wenger - he would not like to "kill" his youngsters..the board says he HAS money..the thing is that his priinciples seem warped atimes...can u tell me truly that we couldnt have had better midfield/defensie personel? Thats how Wenger failed - not necessarily in results. of course we cant chase all the best footballers a la Real...but we can do better..much
number14
Where did you hear that questions were vetted beforehand? Do you really imagine that they would have been allowed in the tone that they were if that were true? Does Wenger owe an open Q&A session to shareholders anymore than any other manager does? How many are you aware of that are prepared to do so? If the Guardian says that we don't practice corners or set pieces the reporter is talking from blind ignorance. Read Pires autobiography for verification. Why the blind faith in Martin Keown that you aren't prepared to award to other legendary defenders like Pat Rice and Steve Bould who are at the club?
Amos.
Of course one cant blame Wenger for Ades attitude..or Diabys (or RVPs)...but if he persists with them inspite..then he is to blame. we all think our manager can do better..we simply demand it..if he can't , then his time is up
number14
Shewore, my cup games actually came up at £5.57 cheaper! Not sure how that works but I won't complain. I can only repeat that I have no problem with Wenger being frank with the fans when they have been frank with him. That's a healthy thing, it's only because political democracy has become so bland these days that people are amazed and horrified when someone says what they think. Ask the 71 Double side what forged their team spirit, they will tell you about their Monday morning meetings where frank words were exchanged and things got better. What I want to happen is for this to spark a reaction from the players and the fans tomorrow. I know the away fans will respond, the players had better. Even if they lose, they need to show that these stark questions that have been openly posed of them hurt their professional pride. Players like Diaby and Adebayor demonstratably have something to prove, tomorrow will tell you a lot with regards to how sufficient their characters are to represent our club.
Little Dutch
Well Amos..maybe its better that we have blind faith in Wenger..he really does know better than us all. but come next year..or 2 more yrs and no laurels have been won..what will be your tune???
number14
"We have had negative vibes and manipulation around the team. It is very hard work to keep the confidence and energy demands because we had to support the team against the odds." - Wenger. How about £80 grand per week Arsene? I'd run myself to a stand still/cramp/coma for that sort of money and lifestyle. Maybe if you instilled the right attitude into these players they would run their arses off for the club/fans and appreciate the most privileged of positions they find themselves in.
LondonGooner
Last season we proved we could seriously challenge for trophies, AW's youth project looked to be evolving into the next step. It was natural to expect this season we'd continue with that progress.
jaelle
"Why the blind faith in Martin Keown that you aren't prepared to award to other legendary defenders like Pat Rice and Steve Bould who are at the club?" -- because it was under Keown's helm that we reached the CL final with the meanest defense in the tournament's history, with players like Senderos and Eboue and Kolo playing at their best.
jaelle
Wenger played a bit of a stinker in the market last summer, I always felt that as did a lot of others. But the guy has had far more good innings than bad in that respect over the years, recently he has bought Eduardo, Sagna and Arshavin and nobody would call them anything other than top drawer signings. He's repeated the need for a couple of experienced players and I think he has enough credit in the bank to be allowed to do that without the need for this hostility. Criticism is one thing but a lot of what happened last night was unmitigated bile, people can't whinge when he bites back. I think a lot of people are getting tetchy over the over dramatised trophy count that the media volley our way. Say we hadn't capitulated against the Spuds last year and won the Carling Cup, would we really be in a much better position than we are now as a result? There's a decent argument that winning breeds winning, but in truth, I don't think that would have allayed the fans complaints as much as they believe. After all, how often do you hear our 2005 F.A. Cup win written off because we played badly in the Final? When people feel like complaining, they will happily indulge in these trite points.
Little Dutch
"Does Wenger owe an open Q&A session to shareholders anymore than any other manager does?" - Amos. No, but then what happens at other clubs means bugger all to us. That is a moot point at best Amos. EVERY manager owes the clubs fans at least an explanation of his actions both positive and negative, whether other clubs allow their managers to do that or not is of no concern to us and is totally irrelevant. As for questions being vetted, none of us know either way, whatever we think is pure speculation. Your defence of Wenger is admirable, but I think there is very little to defend him from and what there is, is indefensible as it is mainly based on what has happened not what we imagine has happened. Eg: this season, one big disappointment after another, he’s the manager, the buck stops with him and him only.
LondonGooner
I notice that this time last year we almost couldnt wait for the new season to start...we felt we had been robbed of the CL..and were just plain unlucky not to win the PL...its a different feeling this year..we have conceeded 4 goals to a Chesleas team that isnt any better than what we are used to (as well as in the FA..cue our rock Silvestre) ..we been dismissed by a Manu in the CL this season..the same team we beat at home this year and put up a good fight againsta last year..i dont think its quite acceptable..if the players and fans are to be reprimanded..who will give Wenger a talking to? He is supposed to be accountable to some as he doesnt won the club..
number14
Progress isn't always a straight line - hardly ever in fact. If it were the 1930's Arsenal would have continued to win trophies for the following 80's years. Take the starting point further back than the 4 years without trophies and see the route the club has taken since 1996. Imagine yourself as a Villa, Everton, Spurs, Man City, Newcastle (all equivalent in terms of stature to us at the time) supporter back then told you would be where we are in 2009. The club is better positioned to challenge for enduring, if not continuous, success now than it has ever been. Use that rationale when grown men are prone to bleat at shareholders meetings that the players don't come and wave at them.
Amos.
LD - The League Cup didn't do GG's team any harm (a spring board for the players to help the m realise they CAN win trophies, confidence that no team talk can give) and it kept Ferguson in a job. He didn't do too badly from winning that either....
LondonGooner
LD - The League Cup didn't do GG's team any harm (a spring board for the players to help the m realise they CAN win trophies, confidence that no team talk can give) and it kept Ferguson in a job. He didn't do too badly from winning that either....
LondonGooner
ok Amos..we can dance around this all day...time will tell if Wenger is just deluded or a genius..I hope we will all still have favorable things to say about him next year..and i hoipe he wont he asking for another year after that
number14
Thing is fans can only have their say it seems...
number14
"Use that rationale when grown men are prone to bleat at shareholders meetings that the players don't come and wave at them." - Amos. Clearly you don't go to many away games spending valuable time and lots of money in the progress helping to fattent he wallets of the players you are supporting, the least they could do is that. The comment I have quoted above gives away a major lack of understanding what away fans do and that is both dissapointing and sad.
LondonGooner
I also don't believe that the grown men you speak of (in a rather snobbish, aloof way) were "bleating" about being waved at. The actions does not quantify the true meaning of the gesture.
LondonGooner
I must confess it has been 3 years since I went to an away game and a few years before that since I went regularly. But I have spent time and money supporting the club home and away over many years. It is disappointing that some players, but not all, fail to acknowledge support but not something I think a grown man need to stand up in a roomful of other grown men and highlight as an issue of any great importance. I am not defending Wenger. He does that well enough for himself. I don't agree with every decision he makes, quite the contrary, but I think I can understand most of them even if I still feel the decision is the wrong one. It's a principle I am defending which seems to be that it is all well and good to offer criticism but apparently not to defend it.
Amos.
Who gives a flying one how succesful or 'embarrassed' the team have been on the day - you acknowledge your travelling fans, end of. How many times you seen Fergie sending players over to the away section when they haven't acknowledged them.
shewore
I don't doubt your outlay and time spent following the club, that wasn't what I was intimating. The fact that the almost complete majority of away fans appreciate and more importantly deserve a nod of thanks for their support and effort, the fact they don't always get it is both rude and selfish, which generally sums up your average footballer tbh not just at Arsenal. Do you really think Ferguson has to constantly remind his players to thank the away fans? Why does Wenger have to? It is the unwritten rule of football that players perform this task as diligently as their actual games. Because it doesn't matter to you doesn't mean it shouldn't matter to the 5000 or so that bust a gut to follow and support this team and its players.
LondonGooner
"Use that rationale when grown men are prone to bleat at shareholders meetings that the players don't come and wave at them." -- well, then if establishing a good relationship with the fans is something to be sneered at and dismissed, then maybe Arsene shouldn't be so upset if there isn't much of a feelgood factor among us. "but not all, fail to acknowledge support but not something I think a grown man need to stand up in a roomful of other grown men and highlight as an issue of any great importance." -- you're assuming that the man who brought this up thought it of "great importance," you're blindly disparaging the man's attitude and manner. Were you there? Did you see him ask it? From the account I heard the guy just asked a simple question about it. He's a loyal supporter who goes to away games. Who are you to just trash him without knowing nothing about him? Look, I know there are a lot of idiot fans out there but neither do I just assume (in knee-jerk fashion) that all those people in that session are just blind morons whose questions are worthless. I don't understand this assumption on your part that no one expects Wenger to defend himself from those questions -- who the hell expected that? Of course he's going to defend himself, it's a silly assumption on your part that those shareholders (and we supporters) expected him not to. You really think they expected him to just nod his head and agree with them? The reason I took issue with your article is that you posed it in an entirely false setting: the ignorant, whingeing shareholders went there to rant expecting Arsene to just take it but Arsene dared to defend himself and deigned to take an hour of his time to listen to them. I don't accept that picture at all.
jaelle
BTW, I do think there are positives we can take from this season: reaching the semis of 2 cup competitions, making a dramatic improvement in the 2nd half of the season, Arshavin, the improvement of Denilson, Song and Bendtner. I'm not demanding AW's head. And I also agree with Amos that evolution is not always linear, in fact it rarely is. So expecting a trophy this season after last season's challenge may have been naive. But neither is unfair to expect us NOT to lose 5 games in the first 14, NOT to lose an entire midfield, NOT to be thrashed by the likes of Man City and NOT to have our 30-goal striker act like he doesn't care anymore.
jaelle
I wasn't at the meeting jaelle but I got a call last night from a friend who was. He gave me much of the run down on the tone and atmosphere of the event. On the basis of his feedback and reports elsewhere I don't think the setting is a false one. The meeting lasted for one hour. In that short time I am not sure that waving would have been my choice of topic. Not that I have given much thought to the questions I would have asked but I am pretty sure that wouldn't have been uppermost in my mind. I didn't assume that all there were morons and that certainly isn't what I said in my article. The thread of the piece is that Wenger (uniquely among many managers) put himself up for it at a time when he was bound to know it would be hard going. He took the brickbats (and the bouquets) and didn't patronise the shareholders by nodding at every opinion without expressing his own in correspondingly determined fashion. Were some there surprised that he did so? According to my informer very much so.
Amos.
Well Amos if they were surprised that he'd challenge them then they are indeed idiots. :-)
jaelle
Is'nt it typical that our most succsessful manager ever is coming under such criticm as people questioning his commitment, sanity and the possibility of sacking him. We seam to forget that he has kept us in top four on a budget that would be considered shoostring by the likes of manu, chelsky, liverpool, man city and the spuds of wich two consistantly finish below us. The building of a new stadium was always going to limit our transfer budget and i would love some of our fans to point out ONE manager that could have done the same in the last few years that Wenger has done with ***** all recources, and before they start pointing out that the board has allways said that the funds were there then let me say that I agree with that but those funds were never of the size the media and some of our fans were saying they were. As for Wenger beign *****ed of at some moron calling Sylvestre 'geriatric`, I don't blame him, he's not as bad as we fans say he is. Let me give you an example, Benthner coul not hit a barndoor erlier this year and a moronic minoroty at the Emerates got on his back, last sunday walcott showed us all wat a bad finisher he can be but hold on a minute, did anyone get on his case, no, becouse he can do no wrong. Same story with Denilson, Song and Diaby who few months ago were not good enoug to play for our reserves, yeat alone first team. Denilson and Song have proven most doupters wrong and it would not surprise me if Diaby will do the same next season.
Armory
Also, Amos, interpretations differ about the tone and manner of how the session went yesterday. Your friend had one interpretation, the 2 guys at arsenalinsider had a different one, in which AW came off as remote and upset that the shareholders dared to be impertinent because he can't handle criticism. An edited version of the Q&A will be on Arsenal TV tonight and repeated all next week, maybe we can make a better judgment after watching it. At any rate, what annoyed me about AW's responses was not him defending himself or refusing to trash his players (of course he won't do that) or pointing out the impact of the stadium, etc. It was his explanation for benching Arshavin in the FA cup semi and his scapegoating of supporters for the team's failures. Many fans criticize AW for prioritizing the sensibilities and development of his young players over winning trophies. His reason for benching Arshavin in the FA cup proves that: he wanted his young players (who would not have Arshavin to rely on in the Man Utd semi) to go out and prove they could beat Chelsea w/o Arshavin.
jaelle
Invariably people will see events in different ways depending on their own opinions and prejudices. That's why it always pays to take on board more than one account. Better still make your own judgement if you get the chance to view it. As I said earlier jaelle, you don't have to agree with Wengers decisions to understand them. His explanation of the decision to exclude Arshavin sounds a bit bizarre but I guess there is a sort of logic there. I would be surprised if that were the sole reason though.
Amos.
"I would be surprised if that were the sole reason though." -- very true, I don't think it was the only reason.
jaelle
It's just worth pointing out that nowhere does he make fans the scapegoats for the teams failures. He simply points to the benefits in building confidence and team morale when supporters take a positive view of supporting the team rather than a negative one. A simple enough proposition for anyone to accept surely?
Amos.
For perhaps the best and balanced view of the impact of the negative environment that Wenger referred to try this one: http://aculturedleftfoot.wordpress.com/
Amos.
I'm not a fan of ACLF tbh so what he says doesn't surprise me. It's one of the most deluded blogs on the net, the opposite extreme from Le Grove. Dare to make any mild, constructive critical point against the manager and players and you're branded a traitor. What annoys me about that blogger's (and AW's) take on this "negativity" issue is ably addressed by arseblogger today: "There's no doubt the players deserve credit for going 21 games unbeaten but ultimately the fans are reacting to what they see on the pitch. What came before, and even during, the 21 game run was deemed by many who pay their money, and a lot of money, as not good enough. The fans reacted to players who thought they just had to turn up to beat the likes of Hull and Stoke, to players who even admitted there was a lack of effort and focus in the squad. As I've always said fans will forgive players for lacking quality but they are merciless when it comes to those who fail to put in the required effort. I would agree that it has gone a bit too far at times but I think, genuinely, that the players were the easier targets when most of the frustration fans felt was with Arsene himself. Can you really blame fans for being negative when you're out of the title race by November? When you've suffered five losses? When the issues that the manager spoke about (a centre-half to deal with the ball over the top, for example) in the summer remained unaddressed? Is it any wonder fans were negative when the manager said we would be 'reassured' by the players he brought in and he then brought in Bischoff, Sylvester and the talented but far from ready Ramsey? Nasri was the only player signed last summer who strengthened the team in any way." Yes there's all this negativity and it affects the players but the negativity is a RESPONSE to what happened on the pitch. Gooners didn't start the season booing players. Gooners saw this team act like they just had to show up against Hull and thus destroyed our home record against a newly promoted side. Gooners saw our players failing to close down opponents and give Geovanni all the time and space in the world to score a wonder goal against us on our home ground. Gooners saw us lose a comfortable lead at home against Spurs, give up completely against Man Utd. So fixating on fan negativity as if fans just decided to feel that way for no reason, without any context, just doesn't convince me as credible.
jaelle
I like A Cultured Left Foot, i think the guy just tries to add a little bit of reason to the hysteria of the press. Arseblogger does well to churn something out every day, but ultimately uses a lot of words to say nothing much at all. I don't think it's true that fans will always love a trier even if he's crap. Nobody worked harder than Parlour or Groves, but they got untold amounts of abuse. Bendtner works his ********* off every game, his quality you can question, but his effort you can't. But people still give it to him both barrels. Fans just have their hobby horses that they lash out on when the collective goes wrong, these "fans" don't have the intelligence to watch and assess a game,they just turn up and as soon as things go wrong, they pick on that same player irregardless. In this respect, arseblogger is the guiltiest out there, he has his players who never do anything wrong (Cesc, RvP) and the ones who can do no right (Gallas and Silvestre).
Little Dutch
Kevin Whitcher predicted this morning that the broadcast of the Q&A session would either be pulled or culled by 10 minutes. In the event it was culled by 20 minutes - a third of the session. It's a shame that the club didn't have the balls to broadcast the whole event. It was reported pretty widely anyway and it would be much better for fans to see how well or poorly Arsene responded to the tougher questions no matter how unpalatable they might have been. At least we know the questions weren't vetted beforehand otherwise we would have seen an hour long programme.
Amos.
"Bendtner works his ********* off every game,"...Funny how we see things different!...in my opinion along with Adebayor he is the laziest player at the club!
Orange Quadrant
If you look at his stats Bendtner isn't lazy. He puts in more work than any other forward we have based on minutes played this season. Just lacks the concentration and decision making at times that would see him benefit from his effort. Trying too hard sometimes.
Amos.
This is a 2 way street and fans will respond to what they see on the pitch. However, apportioning blame solely to either party (players or fans) is extreme. Both are equally guilty (perhaps, more the fans). The players have not looked like they put in all their effort, as the scorelines in a lot of the games this season does not reflect the gap in quality between the teams. Wenger has to take the blame for that, as he has not motivated them enough to deal with adverse situations. For the fans, they have reacted to what they see on the pitch, but a lot of the reaction is extreme. Booing a misplaced pass, for instance. Double standards in treating players (Bendtner & Theo are roughly the same performances at present although Bendtner works harder for the team, and yet, its only Bendtner who's booed). I dont think Wenger expects unquestioning loyalty, although it does come across that way with his comments. Its not unreasonable for Wenger to expect a reduction in the negativity, to a more constructive level.
prits
Everything at a football club can change (manager, player, board etc...) but the fans are the one component that doesn't change. They fact is players players do not care about the club. For them it's first of all a job. You can boo them, they are still getting paid and whether they played a bad game or not is irrelevant. They go home after the game and they talk to the wife, plan the next holiday.. do you think they worry about a defeat? Maybe Arsene does but that's it. I had hope at the start of this season, not hope that we'd win a trophy but hope that we'd get closer. We were brutally wiped off by Chelsea in the FA cup, MU in the CL and Chelsea again for 3rd place. To say that we were close to these teams is a lie, we were babies against men, conceding 7 goals at home in a week. That's what kills the kids confidence, not buying an experienced player.
Gael-Force
Oh and that notion of 'shared leadership' sounds like traditional management speak garbage to me. It sounds nice but rings hollow. Every winning team in every sport has had a strong leader, not a posse of average leaders. Why should Arsenal FC be any different from a proven and tested formula. We had Adams and then Vieira. MU had Roy Keane and now Rio. Chelsea have JT, Pool Gerrard. They all bark at their teammates and set the tempo of the game. This year Arsenal have had 9 or 10 captains, namely Gallas, Kolo, Cesc, Denilson, Almunia, Fabianski, RVP, Clichy, Arshavin and possibly Bendtner... Arshavin does not even speak good english and he's been at the club less than 4 months. The captain's role cannot be devalued the way Arsene does. The captain sets the tone for the team. Cesc's game has deteriorated because of it. He's 22 and he's asked to carry a team, that's unfair. Do you think the likes of Ade, Kolo, Gallas will listen to Cesc when cesc talks on the pitch? No they won't because they are older than him and they'll slap him. Roy Keane was my favourite captain and although i loathed MU, I had to admire him. The way he got the best out of his players was exceptional.
Gael-Force
If i was Cesc, i would be tempted to leave this underperforming team where i am the veteran and go to Barca where i would play with real grown players like Messi/Henry/Etoo/Xavi/Iniesta/Toure/keita/puyol/Marques/Alves/Abidal. It would be easier to express my game and if i have a subpar game, i know i can rely on them. The money and the weather ain't bad either. But he won't... why? because he knows he won't displace Xavi or Iniesta in the starting line_up..
Gael-Force
Of course the fans change. Many more will follow the club when it is successful and others will drift away when we aren't. Not all fans are unremittingly loyal any more than all players are. Some are only fairweather fans. Ask yourself if would we have as many fans as we do now if we were playing in the Championship. There is a strong core of committed support that see themselves as playing a role in actively supporting the club exemplified by the away support - though not exclusively by them. The captain's role is devalued but perhaps you shouldn't overvalue it either. Vieira wasn't a particularly strong captain, especially when flirting with Real season after season. He was fortunate to be leading a team of experienced players some of whom had captained their national side. The captains role in this current team would be harder whoever is doing it. And how strong is ManU's current captain really?
Amos.
Gael, Cesc at Barca right now would be a benchwarmer since Xavi and Iniesta are ahead of him. I think that's the principal reason he doesn't go there now. Amos, I used to like Yogi's blog at ACLF but I stopped reading it because it got taken over by people who attack you all the time for daring to criticize the team and the manager, even constructively. You constantly have to defend yourself as a loyal gooner if you make any criticisms. People really get personal there with their abuse and I came to see that Yogi has no problem with it. Yogi's also the same guy who came up with the pathetic, patronizing excuse for Ade's recent comments about money, saying we should be tolerant of him because of cultural differences and because he comes from such a poverty-stricken background. I find that offensive, actually.
jaelle
The difference here on Vital Arsenal is that I don't have to constantly defend myself as a true supporter. BTW, I've now read two reports of the Q&A from 3 guys who were actually there and their view of things was that the shareholders were taken aback by what they saw as Arsene's disfainful rudeness, not the fact that he defended himself. Kevin Witcher describes Arsene saying disdainfully to one woman "are you a shareholder?" Whatever the case, there are differing views of the whole tenor of the mtg by those who attended.
jaelle
It's up to you jaelle but I wouldn't let your opinion of ACLF prevent you from considering whether the piece I referenced has a point. Even those you disagree with will be right about some things. Almost every first hand report, including Whitchers, will tell you that a good number of the questions were agressive. Many reports are clear that some of the questions were excessively so. Remember that Wenger is the respondee in this situation. The tone is set by the questioner. If you accept that they are entitled to express their points as forcefully as they wish (I don't agree but I can understand the stance of those who do) then you have no choice but to accept that Wenger is just as entitled to treat their points with disdain if that's what he thinks.
Amos.
Wenger is entitled to respond how he see's fit Amos, but people are within their rites to complain about how he responded, which is what they are doing. If they weren't rude or patronising to him, why should the response be from him? On several occasions in that meeting that is what happened...like Wenger is the only person in that room that knows somethign about football and if he knows more why should he be bothered to dignify a question with a response. Almost like it was beneath him. That isn't on and unbecomming of an Arsenal manager talking to it's fans.
LondonGooner
On that basis then I guess that people are also entitled to complain about those complaining about the way he responded! Everone is entitled to do what they wish. My view isn't about that people are or are not entitled to do. If anything it's about wasted opportunity. Rarely will you get a chance to put a direct question to Wenger - even as a small shareholder. I don't understand why you would waste that opportunity by structuring your question in a way that is bound to be treated with disdained - such as claiming Silvestre is a geriatric. Even if that's what you think it should be possible to put your question in a form that would get a considered response. Most of the questions were and got an informative response. The fact that about a third of the questions apparently were put forward in an 'agressive opinionated' manner, as it has been described elsewhere, is only because those putting the questions in that way were more interested in making a point than receiving an answer. Wenger has enough of a track record for anyone to know that he will give a genuine answer if the question allows it. A good number given their opportunity to do so were more interested in their 15 minutes of fame.
Amos.
So don't be surprised when people have the ********* with the manager being rude, arrogant and snobbish in the direction of supporters who "dared" to ask impertinent questions. In your opinion the question was a waste. To the person who asked it is was probably very important to them, question it all you like but you are the one saying everyone can have their opinions and say, that being a prime example of it. There was NO aggressive questions fired at the manager, some were direct and not exactly sugar coated but nothing rude or snobbish such as Wenger's responses. Wenger's track record....hmmmmm how about the question "why didn't you play Arshavin (our in form top notch world class attacking midfielder) in the FA cup semi final when he had had a week off before the game?" to which he mumbled a ridiculous response that was both patronising and un-informative. Commented on by yourself also I might add.
LondonGooner
did you not get the memo LondonGooner? Fans are meant to stay silent (think of Old Trafford on match day) and never dare question or criticise the managers, clubs or players.
The Fear
Must of missed it mate lol It seems to me that the board and manager at Arsenal believe themselves to be above criticism and have exceptionally thin skins. The manager has done a great job and takes the plaudits, which means when you make a f*** up you take the brickbats also. Which he and PHW haven't done very well at all.
LondonGooner
There's a little bit of distortion of reality going on here. The whole event was organised so that people could question the manager on a whole range of issues. Unlike a number of other managers who refuse to talk to certain media and pick and choose where and when they can be questioned Wenger isn't one of those selective about to whom he is prepared to answer questions. As I said before there aren't many clubs that have such open forums as this one was. Perhaps now it is easier to understand why. Of course you may prefer to see Wenger as at fault here but if you are prepared to stand back and put your prejudices to one side it is easier to see that Wenger didn't duck the difficult and challenging questions nor did he or should he meekly accept the bile of those not wishing to accord him the same courtesy that you seem to expect him to give automatically.
Amos.
Not once have I talked about this with predjudice or condemmed Wenger for standing up and taking questions. Again what other clubs and managers choose to do has no bearing on this whatsoever, our manager, our club, his decision and I'm sure everyone is grateful for the chance to question him (those that could) and yet agauin I find myself answering your identical statement of how he should sit there and "take it2. I haven't said that either, some ogf the questiopns that were put to him politely and sincerely were still answered with a snobbish "my **** dont stink" attitude from Le Boss. That is what I saw, that is what I have been told and that is what I will believe. yes he didn't duck the difficult ones, but dont act like we're beneath you or that you are doing us a favour, simple request and shouldn't be too difficult for ANYONE to follow.
LondonGooner
I think my main gripe is the supporters didn't go there and belittle Wenger or treat him like a 10 year old naive idiot, can he honestly say the same, from were I stand, no he can't. And if we can take any of this quotes seriously about the Madrid job "allow me stay silent on that!" etc etc, does Arsene think he is bigger than the club? Those are the actions (allegedly) of someone who thinks so.
LondonGooner
Because I criticse him doesn't mean I want him out, but people at Arsenal seem reluctant to take any form of criticism in any way shape or form and almost take it personally regardless of constructive or destructive it is treated the same.
LondonGooner
You are wrong there LG - from a first hand account some, and only some, did go there and pose their questions to be deliberately insulting. In exchanges like this it looks as though the sensitivities are the other way around to me. Criticism of the manager, board, team, club, players is normal and to be expected. It's always been there and it always will be there. You might wish it be to constructive and reasoned but at the least courteous and fair. But either way criticism in all forms is all part and parcel of the debate and some will never be happy whatever the situation. But as soon as someone offers any criticism or rebuke of those making the criticisms, on any grounds whatsoever, then that seems to invoke complaints of 'it's not fair - it's our right innit!' Now give me one example of a response from Wenger to any question at the Q&A that was 'snobbish' (whatever that is).
Amos.
If the fans turn on Wenger it will be their biggest mistake that will come home to haunt them.
denno4
 

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