Whinging Wenger Can’t Dish It Out If His Team Can’t Take It

by Ian Ford

Monday, September 20th, 2010

I’m not going to get high and mighty about this.

Yes, Wenger shouldn’t have shouted in that official’s face after his side conceded a last minute equaliser at Sunderland. He certainly shouldn’t have shoved him. Let’s be clear: it isn’t acceptable.

But, and it’s a big but, the idea that people playing Sunday League and park football are suddenly going to start assaulting referees because of his actions — perhaps aiming Cantona-esque karate kicks at the linesman’s flag to prevent it being raised for a marginal offside decision — well, it’s ludicrous. Sure, officials need protection, but not because of le professor.

That said, I couldn’t help watching the whole thing with a certain sense of schadenfreude. This is precisely because Wenger himself habitually gets so high and mighty about issues involving protection and officials — namely the lack of the former provided for his players by the latter.

It isn’t that he doesn’t have a nugget of truth buried beneath the sanctimony. Teams undoubtedly do go out to rough up Arsenal on occasions, with good reason.

New research published last week showed the Gooners possess the smallest and weakest squad in the Premier League. As a scientific revelation this ranks up there with the one revealing narcissistic people check their facebook pages more often than most — so it’s hardly surprising teams recognise and seek to exploit Arsenal’s literal weakness.

But the occasions where teams overstep the mark from respectable physicality to rugby and even career-threatening challenges  are extremely rare.

Wenger’s remarks on the subject are out of all proportion to the their regularity and severity. At times, it’s as if he expects opponents to simply roll over and allow his team to play their sublime football; as if he finds it morally offensive that they should try to tackle at all.

It’s partially because of this that he is increasingly on the receiving end of a backlash from other managers (that and the fact he doesn’t play the ol’ boys game of a glass of wine after the game).

Sam Allardyce may be the sole manager (or maybe even just ‘man’) on earth to believe he would win the double every year if in charge of a big club, but he is far from alone in speaking out against Wenger’s persistent whingeing (yes I know, pot meet kettle etc.).

He was joined this week alone by both Owen Coyle and Stoke, the latter going one better by reporting Wenger to the FA over his condemnation of Ryan Shawcross.

If Wenger wants to continue down his increasingly purist footballing path — forgetting that it was a midfield of steel, personified in Patrick Viera, that brought him silverware — then that’s his prerogative.

But you can’t  then go slating everyone else for not copying you without expecting blowback. Particularly if you’re capable of momentarily forgetting such purism and ‘tackling’ the fourth official.

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  • Stevie

    I think he had every right to moan, Ferguson has been moaning at refs about time added on for years.

    But if you’re talking about moaning in general then you have a point. Arsenal out Arsenal’d Arsenal on Saturday, with petulant little fouls and a sending off.

    Both Wenger & Fergi (chief moaners) are pensioners, so the chances are they really didn’t see it, or they actually forget what they saw.

    That’s my take anyway

  • Ian

    Merely because Fergie has been moaning for years doesn’t make Wenger doing so anymore right. And what’s more, this marvelous team that he always talks up shouldn’t be holding on for dear life at Sunderland.

    But that’s kinda by the by. I think the whole argument about time added on is generally a redundant one, if you bothered to count up the amount of time the ball spends out of play per half my guess it would be at least twice the amount of time added, at least, virtually every game.

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