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.