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Another day at the office

Another day at the office

Being somewhat novice to the world of research in academia I have come to learn some interesting things. For example, anecdotal evidence is great to show off in front of fellow researchers proving you know and you`ve talked to people, but not very welcome while discussing your research questions and hypotheses or when you want to publish a paper.

I`ve never been a sports journalist and I can only imagine what it`s like, especially in England. When it comes to football I imagine all football journos are under immense pressure to publish stories that will sell copies and accumulate clicks. In this everyday struggle for more audience, journos seem to be more than ready to go out on a limb on a specific issue, mainly because they know that even if they get it horribly wrong, it will quickly be forgotten and replaced by another similar story.

One needs to go no further than the summer transfer period for evidence. I read somewhere that something between 4 -8% of all published transfer stories are actually substantiated. Could you imagine that situation in scientific research? But there is something that binds together these two worlds: I have noted and written (but dare not to publish anything on it) that senior researchers, in order to reach their publication goals often contained in their contracts with their institutions, resort to 'recycling` some topics. This means that they use one good research paper several times, publish it three, four, five times over a period of as many years, only adding half a chapter here and there and changing its title/focus slightly. No consequences, since we`re talking about senior researchers who have accumulated a lot of experience and power and are able to do (almost) whatever they want. In English football journalism it is very similar: one topic gets serially raped by some 'renown` reporter names, publishing it week-in, week-out.

Unfortunately, mass media are far more read than scientific journals and these topics often flirt with the infamous Lenin quote "A lie told often enough becomes the truth". One could use words other than 'lie` to suit this case, such as 'rumour` for example.

This brings me to the real reason why I sat down to write this piece, namely Matt Law`s critique of the totalitarian regime in place at Arsenal Football Club published in today`s Express. Mr. Law`s ego has been thoroughly massaged by a number of his known and unknown followers on Twitter, some of them avid Arsenal fans, who have wholeheartedly agreed with him and his notion that Arsenal FC is run by a dictator, a deranged Hugo Chavez of modern football who has made everyone at the club follow his wrongful ways. It is good to know that, for example, people like Sir Alex Ferguson and Roberto Mancini are left out because they must have created rather different type but nevertheless democratic atmosphere in their own clubs.

The line of 'arguments` offered to substantiate Law`s assertion are following:

1. Arsenal PA announcer`s lies every time he announces attendance. Empty seats can be seen therefore instead of 57,989, he says 60,000. Shameful. The fact that the same thing goes on in every ground in EPL where the industry standard is to announce tickets sold is another matter (Gazidis` words). Another fact that slipped Mr. Law`s reasoning is that at least this year Arsenal have abolished announcing attendance through the PA. Oh well.

2. Ivan Gazidis. One of the Yes-Men. Law points to IG`s statement that 'we are the model club, everybody wants to be like us`, which was given in the context of club ownership, but he cunningly uses it to demonstrate his acquaintance with irony by saying how after 7 games the leading pack consisting of two clubs bankrolled by sugar-daddy(s) and one with a massive debt courtesy (again) of its benefactor, "…are jealous of the 15th-placed Gunners". Boldrick would be proud. No Mr. Law, all clubs should aspire to be like Manchester City and Chelsea, such fine examples of 'how to build a football club`.

3. Stan Kroenke. The majority shareholder at Arsenal, known as Silent Stan, much criticized for his quiet ways on club affairs is next in the line of arguments: namely, Kroenke`s words of support for the best manager in the club`s history are interpreted as another proof of Wenger`s dominant character. AW has amassed so much power that he can make Kroenke say whatever he wants. I mean, where else have you seen or heard a chairman offer support to a manager when results have not gone the clubs way? Outrageous.

4. My favourite part: the transfer 'sagas`. Apparently Arsenal negotiated Cesc`s transfer for so long only to insert a clause in his contract. Not because the first offer was less than 30 mil. Not because there were board - manager discussions which according to Stan`s and Cesc`s statements had opposing stances. Board didn`t want to sell - Wenger did. Oh and Nasri isn`t greedy. He wants to win trophies. He decided that when him, Vieira and one Darren Dein, you know the son of David 'Saviour` Dein, chatted over the summer about his expiring contract and of course, trophies.

5. Wenger`s reply on a question whether he`d consider bringing in new faces to 'freshen up` the backroom staff was that he`s been coaching for 32 years, and he should be able to choose who will work with him. Mr. Law interprets that as 'clear implication fresh voices are not required and certainly will not be welcomed`. Again, even Sherlock Holmes would envy Mr. Law`s deduction capacities. To offer more substance to this wish-wash, Mr. Law uses the legend Bob Wilson, who left his job at Arsenal because… blah-blah. In fact, Bob Wilson is so pissed off at Wenger that he recently said that "Arsene Wenger will only be appreciated at Arsenal when he's gone", as reported by another gem of a journo, one Charlie Wyett.

6. The so-called mysterious injuries to some players are succinctly used to support Wenger`s totalitarian character, obviously because he`s not like 'Arry who might go out and say that his missus would defend better than Squillaci and Almunia (on some evidence she might). Mr. Law has thus finally revealed the Arsenal`s secret code of conduct when it comes to unwanted players or those out of form.

It does not end there: Mr. Law knows that Vermaelen`s tweet that his return is on track was instructed by Wenger. I can only imagine AW taking the time to give Verm a call and tell him what to tweet. Very real stuff I tell you. There is also space to mention Jack`s tweets on Hoddle and Spurs, Szczecny`s opinion that the Spurs aren`t better than the Arsenal - all pointing that Wenger has developed this 'culture` to make people do whatever he wants.

So there you have it ladies and gents, that`s why Mr. Law was being congratulated by some Arsenal and football fans and his fellow writers. That kind of 'honest` interpretation of facts, statements and situations gets praised and lauded by your fellow football fans. The truth is Arsenal IS in a crisis, the worst one since AW took over. And Wenger has been (along with the players) the first to come out and say that he takes full responsibility for the results, but that never appears in the mixture of codswallop and tripe Mr. Law serves to everyone. Take it easy and UTA! Through thick and thin.

Twitter: ZeeDees

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Date:Tuesday October 4 2011
Time: 2:10PM


Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth. It doesn't really but it becomes received wisdom so that 'everyone knows Wenger is a dictator'. Use your own eyes, ears and grey cells and the lies are transparent enough for those who want to see them. Full kudos for doing so G4L.
04/10/2011 14:24:00
Law's a complete ***t though, most people knew that already? Good article pointing out the complete hypocrisy in the modern sports media.
04/10/2011 14:29:00
* whether Wenger is a dictator or not, what we DO know is he is making a complete pigs ear of the last 10 months or so and the seaosn ahead as things stand.
04/10/2011 14:31:00
Whitewash of a blog. Law's article was spot-on. Your criticisms are pedantic and incredibly minor-his basic argument stands. He's entirely correct about AW--his refusal to shake things up, his belief he's unassailable, that no one should question him because he's been a manager for 32 yrs, that the same old staff that's been there for 15 yrs needs no freshening up. Nothing needs to change. Any time you hear anyone take umbrage at the suggestion they need help or need to try something new because they've been at their job for however many yrs and therefore don't need to be told anything, that's an automatic sign that person is stuck in their control-freak world & can't see the forest for the trees. The summer transfer window was an utter shambles and we're paying for it now. Law argues the club spin isn't convincing people anymore -- except of course the bury-head-in-the-sand brigade who'd be singing the same tune even if we got relegated (before anyone shrieks, of course I don't think we'll get relegated).
04/10/2011 14:40:00
Agree that the piece was OTT, but the point still stands about us not being the good times, we're in a lot of trouble and it's purely down to Wenger. His reaction to being asked about getting someone in for defence really irked me.
04/10/2011 15:05:00
In order for it to be a whitewash of an article you'd need to show where it distorts the truth in order to do so. If the argument is pedantic then that doesn't make it wrong and it probably needs to be to put Law's opportunistic slating into proper perspective. A claptrap is a statement deliberately designed to elicit applause. There will be plenty that have willingly fallen into Law's claptrap but while many will share his opinion it's still nothing more than a populist view designed to appeal to an audience that's feeling particularly vulnerable at the moment. Quite why anyone should be irritated that someone should point that out baffles me.
04/10/2011 15:20:00
From a mixture of what I think and what I know, I think Wenger is a dictator. He always has been. He oversees every single facet of training- whereas Ferguson for instance, takes very little of United's training, choosing to leave it to his coaching staff whilst he observes. Wenger oversees the strategic direction of the club. He practically runs it, which is why you'll see Kroenke continue to gush over what a fine job he's doing. Wenger is effectively running the club for him. Wenger sat on the interview panel when Gazidis was appointed for the CEO position. He interviewed his own boss. He maintains a very timid, quiet playing squad. Gallas was the only voice to be heard in recent years and he was submerged in a group of quiet, timid types who couldn't handle the home truths. Of course this is no great shift in how Wenger has ever operated at the club and we can't say it's been a bad thing for us this last 15 years. The problem is, in my opinion, not just that the game changed with the financial distortion of the likes of Citeh and Chelsea- which we can do nothing to control. But also that the club has changed. Though not able to compete with Abramovic and the Shiekhs, we're not penny pinching anymore. We're relatively debt free. After this summer's business, we have an estimated £50m in the TPA. We're not where we were 5 years ago- having to tighten the belts and rely on developing young players at a pittance. We look like a club in an identity crisis. The shackles have loosened yet we struggle to behave like big players- we're locked into the "plucky underdogs" attitude. Whether this is because the club is now too big to be at the sole behest of one man is a matter of speculation. To an extent, we're hanging grimly on till 2014 when we can renegotiate the commercial deals- matchday revenues and television revenues are maxed out. But when we've got £50m in the kitty unspent and we're 15th after 7 games, it's hard to believe in the autocracy. Such is life.
Little Dutch
04/10/2011 15:26:00
The TPA doesn't really exist other than as a budgetary tool. There's nothing to stop the club allocating the funds in it to other accounts as and when they wish. Wenger is only a dictator in the sense that he runs the football side ( a fairly significant part of a football business granted) but when did it ever make sense for the board of directors to run the footballing side? Wenger agrees his player budget with the board (covering wages, transfer fees, agents fees et c.,) and is entirely free to do whatever he wants within that budget. If he has to step outside it then he'll go to the board just as any manager/executive or any department in any organisation anywhere in the world might be expected to do. It isn't dictatorship it's just someone talking full responsibility for the job he has been given. The board aren't coaches or team managers they're businessmen. Their business is to manage the funding of the business, build it's brand and commercial development. If Wenger wants to employ another coach then he's free to do so. There's absolutely no point the board listening to suggestions from journalists or fans as to who Wenger should employ whether coaches or players. There's every point in the board deciding whether in making such decisions he's doing a good job or not and therefore whether he should stay or go. But that isn't dictatorship. Dictatorship is when you can sack a manager one season after doing a domestic double simply on the basis of a whim.
04/10/2011 15:47:00
If we are out of the CL and lingering in midtable by 2014 the commercial contracts that are up for reneval won't be such a attractive option as they would be if we where still compeating at the highest level. As for Law I dont need a nespaper hack to tell me that we are in dire straits and have been on this course for the last few years. Whether his article was wright wrong or indifferent, we have the worst squad since he took over as manager and even after years of trying we cant still defend a ******** set piece. The evidence of our demise will not be found in Mr LAw's articles, you only need to look at the team and how we have been this year and I don't mean only this season but for the last 20 - 25 games.
04/10/2011 15:51:00
Amos where has there been calls on here for a board member/director or a businessman to run the footballing side? And are you sure there's no agreement in place to not spend the TPA on anything other than new players in fees or wages? I definitely read that somewhere.
04/10/2011 16:25:00
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