Okay, he hasn’t actually said those words, but he did say he believed he would have failed by 2011 if he hadn’t won a trophy, as you can see from this piece from 2009. We Arsenal fans still await a trophy, therefore by his own definition he is a failure.
All right, I’m just kidding, he has of course had a good deal of success. Albeit some time ago. Unless you consider third or fourth place and repeated qualification for the Champions League a success, which some people do. You make your own mind up. The fact is, some Arsenal fans consider every year without a trophy a failure and others consider every year with Arsène as manager a success, with a lot of views in between. We all know that. Abuse flows from one side or the other no matter what I say.
Anyway, what this article from 2009 shows is that it’s very risky to try and predict the future, especially since the internet was invented, since all history is there for everyone to see. A lot of it is distorted, but it’s still there.
What I wonder having seen this, is whether Arsène does now feel he has failed, as another four full seasons (plus most of this one) have gone past since he thought two years without a trophy would be a failure? Or does he think he has done everything he could and his strategy was always the best one? But I don’t suppose any member of the press would ask these questions. They didn’t even say to Mourinho the other day, when he started talking about big horses and little horses, “Jose, what are you talking about? The club you manage has had a billion pounds invested in it. A BILLION POUNDS. In what sense does that make your club the ‘little horse’ in your ridiculous analogy? Your club won the Champions League two years ago. Please tell us why you’re the little horse, we are dying to know.” Because that was the biggest pile of horse manure I’ve ever heard. I’d have thought in these days of honesty and transparency that perhaps the gentlemen of the press would feel they could call managers out a bit more than in the old days when they start talking palpable nonsense. I mean, all the journos are on Twitter, some talking more sense than others, and usually they are happy to point out BS when they see it on that medium, but less so when they’re face to face with a football manager. The only one who always asks tricky questions and gets right through the crap in a very polite way is Gary Richardson on Sportsweek (5 live Sunday mornings at 9am). He’s exceedingly polite, but refuses to take any rubbish, it’s a rare talent. The others play along far too much.
Back to Arsène. So why did he think he would have failed by 2011 when the long-awaited promised land of mega-sponsorship deals and competing with the Bayern Munichs was not due until 2014? Was it that Arsenal had improved in the League in 2008 and 2009, and Arsène thought success was again getting close. Maybe he also thought Fergie wouldn’t last much longer, and Man City, although they had been bought by the Arabs in 2008, were still at the time no threat. Sadly Fergie stuck around, City grew quickly, and Arsène had another ‘big horse’ to deal with. Or maybe he just thought, “I can’t tell them it will be another five years without trophies, they’ll kill me. I’ll say two years and hope they forget.” But no – the internet, you see Arsène. It won’t let us forget.
The headline ‘Wenger pleads for fans’ patience’ has a familiar ring. He does seem to have been pleading for patience on various topics for a while. I Googled the phrase and it came back with 7.2m results. Seems quite a lot. Then I googled ‘Mourinho pleads for fans’ patience’: 8m results! ‘Ferguson pleads for fans’ patience’: 11.6m! Conclusion: football fans are impatient. But despite the trophy drought, maybe Arsenal fans aren’t doing as much complaining as others.
For further comparison, ‘Wenger best manager in the world’ gets 36.6m results, Fergie 44m, Mourinho 38.7m. But I wouldn’t use that to try and prove anything, as even ‘Sherwood best manager in the world’ gets over 11m! Though if you read them, none of them are actually saying he is. Not a single one. Because no one believes that. No one.
Arsène’s comment about failure came in the infamous shareholders’ Q&A where he was questioned about the purchase of the ‘geriatric’ Silvestre. Things went downhill from there.
Arsène was also insistent at the same meeting that Adebayor was ‘a great player . . . all the big clubs wanted him and it will be the same again’. I’ve never been a fan of Adebayor, who is a limited player effective only in certain formations, and even then he misses far too many chances and is totally one-footed. And that’s without the fact he always plays more for himself and his next contract than for the team. So yes, some of the big clubs did want him, and they signed him, and then he left and went to Spurs. That’s his level – not the top clubs, just below the top clubs.
So, lessons from all this: 1) don’t try and predict the future, that never works; 2) don’t trust Google results totals; 3) Sometimes Arsène is wrong about players.
And 4) Jose Mourinho talks absolute bollocks.