I’m No WOB, I’m An ANP

I haven’t had much time for blogging lately – good thing too, you might think – but my last short piece questioned Arsene Wenger’s excuses for dropping points in the three games against Everton, Man City and Chelsea. Naturally by daring to question Arsene Wenger some people, possibly people of low intelligence, I don’t know, I haven’t met them, accused me of being a member of the WOB – that’s the Wenger Out Brigade, for the uninitiated. No doubt some would also accuse me of being in the AAA, the Anti-Arsenal Arsenal, a ludicrous acronym made up by a ludicrous person who I won’t bother naming. In the eyes and minds of some, there are three rules of supporting Arsenal:

1 – You must never criticise anyone who works for Arsenal

2 – You must never criticise anyone who works for Arsenal, but especially especially especially if it is Arsene Wenger

3 – Everything is great at Arsenal so can everyone stop moaning

For some reason there is a proportion of the Arsenal supporting population who see certain people, especially Arsene, as above any form of criticism, as though he is so perfect that it’s pointless to suggest there might be room for improvement at Arsenal – “Goddammit, look how he competes year after year with clubs spending mega-millions, do you not see it!” I imagine them shouting at their twitter feeds. If I dare to criticise then I must, by definition, be a WOB. Well I’m not. I just happen to think there is always room for improvement. If Arsenal won every competition they entered every year, then there would be no need for improvement (even if there were still room), and I would shut up. They don’t, so I won’t. Not to try and improve is a dereliction of duty. So I’m an ANP – Arsene’s Not Perfect. He’s great in many ways, but he’s definitely not perfect.

This puts me in the middle of the scale on Arsene – I don’t want him sacked (and have never said he should be), but I do criticise him (because he’s not perfect). I criticise everyone else too, because they’re not perfect either. (And yes, smartarses, that includes me.) For some reason people at the ends of the Arsene scale tend to be limited in their understanding of the scale: they perceive no middle ground. If you don’t love Arsene then you must hate him. If you don’t want him sacked then you must love him unconditionally. This can get tedious.

If I suggest – as I often do – that Herbert Chapman was the greatest football manager who has ever lived, and therefore by definition slightly better at being a football manager than Arsene Wenger, that is too much for some. Clearly – to them – this means I hate Arsene. Again, there is no middle ground. Anyway, Patrick Barclay has written a new book about Herbert Chapman. Maybe all those whose love of Arsene just tips over into blind obsession should read it. They might gain a sense of perspective.

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No comment.

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17 thoughts on “I’m No WOB, I’m An ANP

  1. No ‘sense of perspective’ needed.
    Chapman made Arsenal an English Superclub.
    Wenger made Arsenal a World Superclub.
    Perspective ain’t your forte.

      • It depends how you want to define Superclub. Is Porto, having won the European Club, a bigger club than Arsenal? Yes, Arsenal haven’t won the Champions League (and I put that down partly to the weight of history, and partly to the styles of play in England being so different to the continent) but Arsenal have millions of fans around the world, DESPITE not having won the CL, or indeed any trophy for close to a decade. Arsenal, by almost any parameter, is a superclub. How many European cups did Barcelona have till the 90s? And indeed just one till 2006. Yet, no one in their right minds would have said Barcelona are not one of the biggest clubs in the world even in the 80s.

        When Arsene Wenger reached Arsenal,Arsenal were training on university grounds. Look at the infrastructure now. Of course, he’s benefited from the growth in the game as a global spectacle. But he has also contributed to that phenomenon. More than most. And he’s done it with some disadvantages that others haven’t had (and indeed probably would have chosen to avoid) Arsene Wenger is a brilliant football manager. Nobody claims he is perfect. That you use someone’s exaggerated response to what was probably your exaggerated criticism to hold up the validity of your argument is disappointing, although by now, pretty much par for the course. It’s interesting though that you don’t get riled up so much by the militant anti-Wenger core. Maybe because they see you as one of their own and hence don’t harass you?

        Just to be clear, I’m not saying you are anti-Wenger. But honestly, I think you are too concerned in proving yourself being in the middle of some imagined spectrum, as if that somehow validates your view and proves you correct.

  2. Phil….Very few of us are truly WOB since we acknowledge that Wenger is sometimes clearly:

    1) human
    2) fallible
    3) uniquely different than other managers
    4) Not SAF
    5) Sometimes too loyal to his players
    6) Frugal but
    7) At times over-protective of players who should be publicly pilloried
    8) far too calm and dignified for the English game
    9) French
    10) far too clandestine and surreptitious in his dealings

    However, comparing him to Chapman is rather a stretch, since the differences in epochs is too pronounced and any attempts to compare the two fall on unprovable and incomparable dichotomies. Whether Chapman would have done better in Europe with today’s Arsenal is totally speculative and impossible to prove. Whether Wenger would have succeeded in creating a tradition like Champman’s is open to interpretation, since Wenger has created his own legacy. Your article is full of hyperbole and excess histronics. Your 3 points are something any sane Gooner would never espouse. You seem very intolerant and aggressive when dealing with acronyms that annoy you, and that’s fine with me, but so what. Its all part of the internet anonymity allowing anyone to call anyone else by any name or title…a game of cowards i agree but a game nevertheless.

  3. It seems to me that those broadly supportive or understanding of Wenger do so acknowledging that he isn’t perfect – that he does and will make mistakes – that he has all the normal quirks, foibles, flaws and idiosyncrasies of a human along with his undoubted skill sets. It’s those most discontented with him that seem to think he should have messianic properties – superhuman powers of prediction – a level of infallibility beyond the human. The disappointment in finding that he isn’t a god makes some angry – much as you might expect some children to be angry with their parents when they discover that Father Christmas and the Tooth Fairy aren’t real.

      • Yes – the declaration that ‘Arsene’s Not Perfect’ is about as revelatory as ‘The World Is Not Flat’. It shouldn’t really need saying but that anyone should think it does is probably a decent insight into their mindset.

  4. Well Herbert Chapman is not available now so I am not sure what the aim of this article is. Pointless article of the year?
    It seems you are looking for approval online mate, never the best place.

  5. It was Chapman that made Arsenal the finest, most progressive club in the world, and revolutionised football training, management and professionalism in the process. Hard to compare old with new, but it does seem to me that Chapman’s influence in a few short years makes him a standout as the greatest manager of his era and perhaps ever.

    I like Arsene, but he’s not quite even the greatest manager of his era. That’s clearly Ferguson.

  6. I completely agree. One of my biggest criticisms of Arsene is that if we are two goals ahead at half-time, he tells the lads to sit back and defend. In my opinion, when we’re 2-0 or 3-1 up, and we have control of the game, we should hit them HARD, and got 3 or 4-nil up. AFC are supposed to be an attacking club. Do you ever see Man City sitting back when they’re 2-0 up? Or Liverpool? No. Because when they realise that you will not win every game, and either will your rivals, and that someday (crazy, I know) it may come down to goal difference. Man City won in 2012 due to goal difference in the last minute. Sure, we beat Liverpool in 89 due to the fact that we scored one more goal than them in the final minutes!
    This was VERY apparent at Aston Villa. When we came back into the second half 2-0 up, the lads were already sitting back. They got complacent, and the Villains got a goal back in what turned out to be 20 minutes before the end of the match (due to the 6 minutes of added time). We then had a hard fought match where we were just trying to clear every ball from our half, and no sign of attack from us. That match could have easily ended 3-0 to us if we’d kept on the attack. It does not stop the lads from being tired, as they’re fighting just as hard defensively as they would be when attacking. In fact, the one goal difference only made Villa fight harder, and ended up with Monreal damaging a metatarsal and Rosicky getting a broken nose as they decided to play rough to both add precious extra time, and to stop any Arsenal attack. If we had gone 3-0 up, the heads may have dropped, and 3-1 in the 76th minute wouldn’t have mattered half as much. In fact, the goal probably wouldn’t have happened.
    Thus ends my one major criticism of Arsene Wenger. Of course, I have another few small ones, but it would take all night. That is just so major that I felt the need to discuss it.

  7. Look Phil let’s not get discouraged. I wouldn’t agree with your last article concerning fixture schedules but it certainly isn’t WOB territory.

    WOB are annoying because they make so little sense. It is easy to confuse criticism with just shite brain attacks.

    E.g.

    1. Wenger was forced to buy Ozil by the fans who arm twisted Ivan the terrible (c’mon…..)
    2. Wenger does not want to buy a striker because Giroud is too handsome or Wenger is too cheap (sigh)
    3. Wenger destroys players careers, just look at Chamakh. (what?)
    4. Wenger sides can’t defend. I rather they try win games, oh wait that is in 2012. Wenger sides can’t attack, they need to score goals since we pay good $$ to be entertained, 2013/2014 version (shifting the goal posts eh) This last point is fairly valid but the shifting of context shows that some will attack Wenger because they want to. If Wenger change, they will change their views accordingly to continue attacking him.

  8. check the meaning of ‘support’ and ‘detractor’, then look critically and honestly at yourself and your posts. then tell me where you belong.

  9. I adore Arsene, he is brilliant but he is not perfect, he has under achieved for all his greatness. Simple, the Invincibles team under achieved as well, for that kind of a team just one premier league trophy was not worthy, they should have won the league atleast a couple of more times, the UCL atleast once. Wenger what he has done is make Arsenal sustain against all odds, not overtly successful but very well sustained.

  10. Phil, not to get into one of our protracted discussions but if you are as in the middle as you think why not use that to spend about half of your Wenger blogs highlighting what he (and/or the club) does well and thereby garner support for what is being well done so that “we” can do more of it.
    I assume the point of any criticizing you do is to point it out in the hope that one way or another “we” might stop making those mistakes.
    Similarily, we can also improve by doing more of what we (Wenger or the club) does well, and by highlighting it, and supporters then getting behind it, do even more of it, or do it even better.
    Many studies show that it makes as much sense to focus on strengths as weaknesses when looking for improvement and that taking a positive approach is at least as effective as a critical one. Improvement IS what we want, isn’t it?
    This is a serious point on the basis that you are knowledgable, sincere and a good communicator with a good platform to get the word out. It is not a “gotcha” point.

  11. There is no questions in my mind that Wenger is among the top managers in football history and I believe we are lucky to have such a great man at our club.

    As an experienced manager his decision surely are not agreeable by every one.
    But who are the everyone’s ?
    Journo ? Never kick a ball let alone to judge the professional.
    Blogger ? Like yourself how many teams have you manage before ?
    Is your know how based on reading or writing football ?
    Thank you. If you answer me honestly they I can learn something.

    Mind never herd from other top managers like Sir Alex criticising him . Infact giving the circumstances of the club they have huge respect.

    But all this is talk .let’s wait and see if Mr . Wenger will sign his new contract. Probably will not . Probably had it enough of unwarranted critics of his own fans and may call the day.

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