Kill Wenger? Or King Wenger? They’re all mad.

I’ve written before about the interaction between AKBs and WOBs, but having had another six or seven months to think about it I am now amused by the dynamics between the different factions of Arsenal fans. I wanted to draw a big and complex Venn diagram showing how we all interact, but when I started it I soon realised it didn’t really work. You’ve got your Wenger haters and your unconditional Arsène lovers and then you’ve got a bigger group of everyone else. No doubt each of the smaller groups thinks their own group is much bigger than the opposite group, and can’t see why those guys are quite so stupid – I mean, are they BLIND? Wenger is ruining Arsenal! Or saving it. You know – definitely one or the other.

Or maybe neither if you’re one of the ones in the middle tutting at the extremists on one side and laughing at the extremists on the other, the direction of laughing and tutting depending on exactly where you sit on the spectrum. So a Venn diagram looks like this: That isn’t really working. We can’t represent everyone with a proper Venn diagram because there’s no crossover. We are in our factions with our own beliefs. Those on the left of the diagram typically say things like:

  • “Who does Wenger answer to?” – rational response: ultimately, us, the supporters. If enough turn on him he’ll go.
  • “Everyone knew Diaby wouldn’t last a season” – rational response: just like everyone ‘knew’ Van Persie wouldn’t last a season.
  • “History didn’t start in 1996” – rational response: duh!

Those on the right of the diagram typically say:

  • “You shouldn’t overreact to losing one game” – rational response: how many years do we have to go without a trophy before you are allowed to react?
  • “You want to bankrupt the club” – rational response: no, I just want them to spend the money that’s there
  • “If we lose the next 100 league matches, Wenger will still have the best win ratio of any Arsenal manager” – rational response: yes (assuming that’s true), well done for the past, but will you still be saying he’s the best man for the job if we lose the next 98 matches?

I’ve seen all these on twitter just in the last week. I don’t usually bother answering them.

Back to the diagrams, though. (I’m like Swiss Ramble, except my diagrams typically consist of a couple of circles or a single line rather than a lot of well-researched figures. I call this efficiency.) If we’re going to all be represented on the same graphic we need to use something else, like the classic bell curve. I’m sure you’re familiar with the bell curve, they work for pretty much any large group or set of data. Extremes at both ends and everyone (or -thing) else in the middle. At least, that’s the situation with Arsenal at the moment, as we sit at this point in history when we’re neither a successful club nor an unsuccessful one. We don’t win trophies, but we could win trophies*. We don’t drift too far down the table (for long), but we could drift too far down the table and miss out on the Champions League.

I think this is quite an interesting balance. I happen to believe that there are roughly the same number of extremists at both ends of the scale at the moment. Some people are really pissed off with Wenger; some would not be pissed off with Wenger if he ate their babies; the rest can see he has faults but don’t want to sack him. If they’re like me they just want Wenger to learn from his mistakes and moderate his behaviour a bit. They (that is, I) want evolution, but there probably hasn’t been enough evolution in recent years, it had all gone a bit stale (pre-Bould and pre-buying experienced Spaniards and Germans). Without evolution there’s no progress, but if you go too far and have revolution you end up with the loonies taking over the asylum.

Look at the French Revolution: they went too far, tried to introduce a new calendar and ban holidays, and before long the population wanted Christmas back and asked for an Emperor to rule them. In Russia, Bolshevik revolution led to mass murder on an almost unprecedented scale and eventually an unsustainable arms race. Clearly the Arsenal situation is most unlikely to have such grave consequences, but it shows the value of sticking to a moderate middle ground.

However, if Arsenal dropped to mid table and were still there come May, the bell curve would probably look more like this:

Yeah, a load more people would have had enough. Though I reckon there would still be a few expressing unconditional love, because in any big group you will usually get a few who will never change their opinions, no matter how much new evidence you put in front of them.

If on the other hand Arsenal manage to win both the Premier League and Champions League this season, the bell curve will move to the right instead. I wonder how many years we would have to win both before there was no one left in the ‘Hate Wenger’ camp? Answers on a blog comment or tweet.

Twitter: @AngryOfN5

*Cue comments from the Wenger haters saying we will never win trophies under him.

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23 thoughts on “Kill Wenger? Or King Wenger? They’re all mad.

  1. The bell curve must be swinging the other way at the moment. Even the most critical (=anti Wenger) sites are headling a positive message?

      • Twitter users are representative of all opinions. How would you like to measure how many fans hold each opinion? I am genuinely interested if there is a better way.

      • In the States in the 1930’s a us election survey by telephone showed that a majority would vote Republican. The actual election result was massively for the Democrats, as most phone owners were Republicans. You figure it out

      • All you’re telling me is that there was no point phoning democrats 80 years ago. Are you saying a particular section of Arsenal fans have no computers or smartphones? Which ones?

      • I am saying you couldn’t phone Democrats, there’s a difference. The younger you are, the more likely to embrace technology, The older you are less likely. That means Twitter doesn’t represent all types and ages of fans. Twitter has 10million users in the UK. There are 3o million plus adults. That is 20m plus adults excluded, so no not representative of all opinions. Younger fans are more likely to have grown up with success. Older ones like me grew up with a crap team and maybe more than younger fans appreciate you can’t win a trophy every year.

      • I’m saying Twitter does represent all types, but I agree it’s skewed towards youth in terms of age demographic, present company excepted. Just because not everyone is on twitter doesn’t mean that not every opinion is represented.
        I also agree that younger fans are more likely to be less patient, but I know plenty of fans who aren’t young but still think Arsene Wenger is doing a bad job. Overall I think the numbers who want Arsene out right now and those who love him UNCONDITIONALLY are about the same.

      • Maybe, but there is also the issue that those that want change may well be more visible and vocal than those that want to keep the status quo. The former protesting, the latter not necessarily even listening.
        You get the same in government protests of course. 100,000 protesting on the streets but 56 million sitting at home, but not all anti of course, just not bothered to join in either way.
        If we win nothing this year the protests will grow thought that is for sure!

  2. I admire your struggles with the Venn diagram but I’m afraid you have ended up looking like a bell end. To place yourself in the same paragraph as the esteemed Swiss Ramble has as much credibility as Tony (middle name Dick) Pulis as a fashion icon. :-)

  3. Is that a normal bell-end? Seems a bit stumpy to me. Mine hangs to the right, but each to their own.

    Congratulations on the lateral thinking though, did it occur in the shower this morning?

  4. Mine is to continue the walcott campaign. I mean he is our joint top scorer with only 2 starts in all competitions. His finishing is fantastic and so is his confidence. You feel that every time he gets in front of goal he scores. Why then waste his talent on the wing when played in front of santi the magician, could not only score 20+ goals for us, win us those tight games like against city?

  5. Personally I think the way to look at Wenger is psychologically, not through charts. Except last year we have had a chance or been close to winning the league at some point every preceding season. We have always been about two class players away from winning the league. Wenger is aware of this. He doesn’t buy those players so we cannot win anything. It’s not to do with money because the money is there to buy. The Board and Wenger say this and the Financial records show that money is available. Wenger is a great coach he has proved this with his abilty to produce exhilarating teams who are not quite good enough. To me adding these facts together suggests that something in Wenger likes to have his ‘back against the wall’. He’s fighting the war with an army who cannot win it…and somewhere he knows it. It seems Wenger is a great coach who, at some level, doesn’t care if we win trophies or not… at some psychological level. He works as if in adversity. I think Wenger is psychologically damaged. And, although he is a great coach, we will never quite find out why he keeps holding us back.

  6. Personally I think the bell curve is permanently skewed to the right. The man is charismatic, has changed the way we play football (not just the A), and many people care much less about the trophies than about watching that kind of football. Could be just my personal aesthetic, but I do also hear it around me all the time. Therefore I think the fundamental split in the Arsenal camp is between those who deeply care about trophies and those who deeply love to watch artistry on the field (which pretty much guarantees a CL spot anyway) – more or less, something along those lines.

    I don’t see myself as an AKB (I’m sure many will). I’m as devastated as anyone when we lose. I just don’t see which manager is going to do better (guardiola?)

  7. What none of us know, of course, is what goes on behind the scenes. How much power does Arsene have. And particularly, how much financial power. The Wenger-haters tell us that he has absolute power including how much is spent on player transfers/sales and wages. If (as I believe) his remit has been zero nett transfer expenditure since the Emirates project, then he has performed a near miracle to keep the Club in top four these past seven years. Do I think he should have fought his corner to keep RVP? Yes, I do: Arsene is absolutely vital to the regime, and if he had made Robin a resignation issue they would have given way. Does he have a major fault? Yes: he has a greater loyalty to the people paying his wages than he does to the fans. Should he resign if this proves to be our eighth consecutive barren season? Yes – but not because I believe another manager might do better (I don’t), but because further failure might hasten the departure of the dreadful bunch who are running our Club.

    • I’m in the middle and I can tell you with certainty that Arsene Wenger decides which players he signs, how much he wants to pay them and how much to pay for them.

      He can’t spend more money than there is, but he can spend until the Board tells him to stop. He spends less than there is, so that puts him in control of the total.

      I don’t believe he’s been told to break even on transfers, but the club wants to break even overall. If he spends more on wages (which is his choice) he has less for transfers and vice versa.

      • I am in the middle, too. I accept utterly what you tell me you know with certainty. It only confirms what I suspected: Arsene works under tight financial constraints. He is allowed to spend ‘what there is’ but ‘what there is’ (decided by Ivan and Stanley) is not really ‘what there is’ – it is what they tell him there is. And it is hedged by warnings that if he spends it now then he will not have anything next time. For example, Hill-Wood tells us he has £35m to spend in January. It has been the case every January and every June for years and he never spends it. In other words, it’s the same £35m.

      • You’re right up to a point, but I would argue there would be more if AW spent more wisely on wages.

        Also don’t forget the property crash scuppered them. It took a lot longer to make a much smaller profit than was expected at the time we moved into the new stadium.

  8. What property crash, Phil? Residential property value is higher, not lower, in Central London. Rents are far higher than they have ever been. The hierarchy (like politicians) will never shoulder the blame for the mess they create. We have fallen light years behind Man U in revenue, the very eventuality that the Emirates was meant to prevent. Rather than a rights issue to raise money (which would have diluted their holdings) the former owners accepted long term sponsorship /partnership/naming rights deals which they must have known would prove to be bad value for money. And let us not forget that in the three years since Stanley became a director and Ivan CEO, Man U have more than doubled commercial revenue against our !0% increase. And success on the pitch has not only added to their profile, their fanbase, their glory, but to their revenue as well. Our hierarchy makes much of the Emirates debt – the Glazers have loaded Man U with much more, the annual interest payment is far greater. Heaven knows how far ahead of us
    United would be but for the greedy Glazers.

  9. Like you I am perfectly in the middle when it comes to both Wenger and the Board, since one is inextricably linked to the other,like Siamese twins. He is a master at the diamond in the rough, or in Santi’s case, a diamond in the grass discoveries and while Podolski was already a star, Giroud an up and coming debutant, Cazoprla is the genuine finished article….as good as Cesc in many ways and perhaps with Wilshere back in, potentially a pairing that will change AFC’s destiny. It makes the 16M paid seem a super bargain.
    Then there is Bould and company who are turning the ship around defensively. The entire team seems more compact this season and more strikers are backtracking to help the defense and midfield. Jenkinson is showing signs of becoming a permanent fixture at right back, and with Sagna returning, Wenger has a lovely dilemma.
    However, Wenger does have a few blindsides to his vision and is , at times too much of a risk-taker, (Diaby, RVP, etc.). He also defends his players too enthusiastically and diplomatically, so, in my opinion he is too kind-hearted and tolerant. I want to buy him a ¨hair-dryer¨ for Christmas so he can whack some of the underachieving clowns around the ears when they drag their sorry arses off at half-time (Arshavin, Walcott, Ramsey at times, Djourou, etc.).
    My other concern is his willingness to respect players’ wishes ahead of the Club’s interests, letting RVP and Cesc ride off into their respective sunsets and selling Song because he was a pain in the Arsenal apparently…..but he seems to fill the void every season and for the first time in a long while I am quite impressed with the end product. We’ll see in February whether we can say the same thing!

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