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Is Le Professeur Now Der Fuehrer?

Is Le Professeur Now Der Fuehrer?

Plato's quote 'The wise man speaks when he has something to say. The fool speaks because he has to say something' is often repeated but I sense there's a piece missing which might be 'The football pundit speaks when he can say something worth paying for.'

Media turns on controversy and if it doesn't exist it needs to be created. The art of picking a piece from a lengthy interview and offering it out of context to enhance the controversy is well established and still pretty effective until that context is understood if only by those bothered or interested enough to seek the original source. The more straightforward method is simply to make a controversial statement or proposition. That's standard fare for presenters on 'phone-in programs on stations such as talkSport. A controversial proposition is mandatory to get indignant protesters ringing in. The more controversial the greater the response. That`s how they gain their audience and earn their money.

Similarly football pundits willing to proffer less balanced and more controversial opinions or 'inside' information no matter how dubious the provenance are eagerly sought. I wonder whether, noting the rewards pundits like Stan Collymore have enjoyed, that was the motivation behind Stewart Robson's recent revelation of a conflict between Wenger, Bould and Brady. Attributing the tale to anonymous sources at the club Bould was apparently appointed by Brady not Wenger, and Bould is now not talking to Wenger because his role is the same as the one Pat Rice filled. The silence must be deafening as Robson also claims that Wenger isn't talking to Brady because he appointed the troublesome Bould.

I suppose the story could be true but if Wenger is really as dictatorial as Robson suggests then he would hardly have allowed Brady to make an appointment that mattered to any great degree. At the same time if Bould knew the job specification, as he must surely have done, and wasn't happy with it then why would he have taken the job? He must have known beforehand what the extent of his influence over the team would be and presumably accepted it.

The story was intended to support Robson`s assertion Wenger 'doesn't have a defensive brain', ( a curious claim about a manager who during his time at Arsenal has recorded some notable defensive stats) and Bould was being deprived of exerting more influence over our defensive play. Given that recent performances have been notable for uncharacteristically anaemic attacking play with fewer chances created than we're accustomed to seeing (against ManU we only managed any shots on target when down to 10 men and a couple of goals down) then perhaps Steve's influence is still too great. A case of more boldness needed than more Bould if that is the case.

Whatever the merits of the story, in football management, as in many other forms of management, democracy can only go so far. Listening to opinions and taking on board those of others is necessary and eminently sensible in any managerial role but ultimately, unless you can pass any failing further up or down the chain of command, dictatorship can't be avoided if firm decisions are to be made and responsibility for them taken.

How many people can you have running a football team? RvP apparently wanted Wenger to sign the players he liked but should he also, for example, sign the players Arshavin, Sagna, Arteta or any other senior player wants? If so it would add enormously to the costs of retaining a player, and one who also wants to manage the team at that. Seemingly RvP also wanted Wenger to recruit Rice's replacement externally fearing that internal placements were 'yes' men which would seem to contradict or at least limit Robson's potential for much truth of a major fall out in the backroom.

Opinions should be heard but it is impossible to satisfy all opinion. A football manager can and should allow his beliefs to be informed by others but ultimately he must act on his own and accept full responsibility for any of his decisions that affect success or failure. Those others without that ultimate responsibility but believing their views should take precedence should either seek a position that allows that, if they're brave enough to do so, or accept that though their influence is limited so is their responsibility for failure. Bould was credited for a solid defensive performance at the beginning of the season but apparently not for any failings since then despite being in sole charge of the team in the game against Schalke.
The concept of dictatorship in football isn't new. It's an accusation sometimes levelled at Ferguson and other successful managers while some less successful managers will often cite the failure to allow them full responsibility as a reason for lack of success.

Maybe Brian Clough's take on the issue, insisting that he would always sit down with those who disagreed with him and discuss their views for twenty minutes before deciding that he was right is still the best one.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Date:Sunday November 4 2012
Time: 10:00AM


Ultimately there can be only one decision maker. I heard Robson speak at length on Talksport and you can really sense the dislike he has for Wenger by his tone as much as the message. He said that there are a lot of ex-players hoping to be Arsene's number 2 and that's why they don't come out with things in the media. I guess he's referring to the likes of Keown and Dixon.
04/11/2012 13:28:00
Stewart Robson does dislike Wenger and my guess is Wenger had a say in the apparent loss of his spot on the club's site where he would discuss tactics after a game had been won or lost. His response, becoming the media's lackey for controversial news about Arsenal, is rather unfortunate as his desperation is obvious to those who know his antecedents. It is laughable to suggest that Wenger doesn't see eye to eye with an assistant he hired/promoted; isn't that a recipe for the sack? We know Wenger can be single minded and at times, intolerant of dissenting views, but that trait appears restricted to the media when they make speculations sound like fact; with his assistants, It willl be a different matter because he is ultimately responsible for the success or failure of the tactics; I pay little attention to Stewart these days and Adams is another one soon to get that treatment.
04/11/2012 22:32:00
No real Arsenal fan would ignore what Tony Adams has to say. Adams is Arsenal through and through. Wenger is Arsene through and through.
Henry Baker Brown
04/11/2012 23:11:00
....And I am guessing you, Henry, are a real Arsenal fan?
05/11/2012 07:39:00
I don't believe that Bould was appointed without Wenger's consent, just doesn't make sense. As for Robson, I thought he was a really good pundit - brought out points that wouldn't normally occur to me. He's gone overboard a few times (like Theo does not have a footballing brain where I can understand what he's trying to say but could have worded it better) but overall, he has more hits than misses. So I think I understand what he means when he says Wenger doesn't have a defensive brain (there has not been a good defensive balance in the team for the past 3-4 seasons) but the way it comes across is over stated (he could have said defensive deficiencies have not been fixed by Wenger and that would be true). Don't want to speculate on whether he dislikes Wenger or not - frankly, I have no idea.
05/11/2012 08:38:00
Wenger was a defender. Wenger created/coached/managed the invincibles. "Wenger doesn't have a defensive brain".
05/11/2012 09:25:00
And Wenger's coached every team since. Like it or not Damiano he can't iron out these defensives eff ups season after season.
05/11/2012 10:07:00
Wenger also managed an Arsenal team that conceded fewer goals in a season than Graham's teams ever did. It's not hard to have a defensive brain - any tin pot coach can do that. It's much harder to create fluent attacking sides that can provide the necessary level of defensive competence.
05/11/2012 10:31:00
Wenger also managed our CL team that had a run of (was it?) 8 clean sheets. I know Jens Lehmann holds a record of 10 consecutive CL clean sheets, going into that '06 final. It is amazing how a few poor results can bring out the worst in us fans. I am a bit aggrieved with the Manager now, but I won't go as far as to suggest he doesn't have a defensive brain.
05/11/2012 12:36:00
Wenger speaks because he has to say something
05/11/2012 18:52:00
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