Insightful Wenger Provides More Food For Thought

In his press conference after the Braga game Arsene was asked if he expected Wilshere to play a central role so early in the season. In his usual forthright manner Arsene shared his wisdom,

Honestly, no. But football teaches you one thing – be open-minded and never have a definite opinion. You need to have opinions sometimes but you always have to have an open mind on players because you can never predict how quickly they develop.

While in the given context it seemed like a simple enough answer, if you think about it there is more in there. I was particularly intrigued by the words – “be open-minded and never have a definite opinion”.

How often have we seen players go from hero to zero in a game or two, and vice versa? Many scribes, pundits, bloggers, and whoever else talks about football seem to have a short memory. Some Arsenal fans are particularly guilty of knee-jerk reactions.

We’ve seen opinions change about Song, Bendtner, Diaby, and many others. Even established, dare I say ‘proven’, players like Arshavin and Sagna have had their ups and downs. Not as much on the field of play as in the public and pundit opinions.

By the end of 07-08 Sagna was in the Premier League team of the year. By the end of 09-10 he was useless, couldn’t cross, offered no attacking threat, and what not. I have a feeling by the end of this season he will be in the good books once again.

Often these changes aren’t even over the course of a season. If you doubt me, just ask Theo Walcott!

I think most gooners should pause and reflect on those words by Le Boss – Be open-minded, never have a definitive opinion. Once we form a definitive opinion, like “Almunia is Sh*t”, there is a good chance everything we see will be tainted and all our opinions irrevocably biased.

Is it a surprise that during the summer the internet went crazy about the need for a keeper at Arsenal? One almost got a feeling that we will be out of the title race within a month if we didn’t sign a keeper! Since the start though, Almunia has done really well. Petr Cech, on the other hand, has made some bloopers; same goes for Joe Hart, Pepe Reina, and other top keepers.

I don’t mean to say all those keepers are bad or useless. That would be another definitive opinion! The point here is that most of us are willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. Everyone makes mistakes. So why not do the same with our own players?!

I know the obvious argument against this is the number of mistakes. But I’d say look back carefully and more than half of those will be down to the fact that there is already a bias against the player in our minds.

For instance, some people blamed Almunia for the goal we conceded at Anfield. But if you watch the replay carefully it’s not hard to see that the pass from Arshavin was extremely casual and not the right one so near the penalty box, Wilshere didn’t do a good job of controlling it, Vermaelen was a few yards away from the striker and didn’t read the situation at all, and finally the strike from N’gog was powerful and really well placed.

This was another point that Arsene covered, this time in the shareholder Q&A.

It is sometimes easy to reduce that fact we dropped points [last season] to the fault of the goalkeeper. Normally in any goal you have four or five mistakes. But the keeper has the last.

Just as I wrote above, about the goal at Anfield, and as you’ll see in most match reviews on this blog, there are four or five mistakes in almost any goal that we’ve conceded. Don’t get me wrong I’m not trying to brag that I’ve been saying this all along. This is not something I’ve discovered. It is just the nature of the game and I’ve learnt by listening to people like Wenger and some others who talk a lot of sense.

I truly hope some Arsenal fans will show a more open-minded approach this season. We’re bound to have some rough patches and some or the other player will have a few difficult games. The Keeper might also make a few mistakes at some point. These things are to be expected over the course of a long, hard season. I’m not saying it’s good but it is inevitable and happens to all the teams. For some it happens in a short duration, for others it’s spread out over the season.

Anyway, the purpose of this article is not to preach. Wenger often forces me to think and I like to discuss the issues. As always, I look forward to your views.


30 Responses to Insightful Wenger Provides More Food For Thought

  1. gunner_expat says:

    well done desi…urs is a great addition to the positivity that is needed arnd the arsenal blogosphere.

    any ideas why arsenal seems to have the most active blogging community?

    • desigunner says:

      That’s a point I’ve been wondering about but can’t quite figure it out. One reason could be that Arsenal are far more inspirational than most other clubs and there is a lot more to discuss.

      A couple of other clubs have won more than us in the recent past but apart from transfer and titles they might not have much to talk about. We’ve gone through a transitional phase and that has been complicated leading to a lot more diversity in opinion and a much broader spectrum of issues.

  2. GF60 says:

    @Gunner_expat
    Why? Because Gooners are more literate and (well most of them at least)intelligent! I suspect that many of the Doom’n’gloom merchants are spuds.

    Echo your sentiments re the article. Well said Desi.

    • desigunner says:

      Yes, that’s another good point. I do believe most Gooners are smarter even if that does sound a bit patronizing.

      It’s related to the complexities that we have at the club. Those who can support the likes of Redknapp or Allardyce will never get it, nor will most of those who are happy to support a rich man’s plaything.

  3. Jozigooner says:

    Well said Desi lets hope all this has a knockon effect and everybody starts believing that we onto something this season dont tell we didnt have passengers in the great invicebles team

  4. Qasqas says:

    Well said desi! Conceding is a team’s flaw and not individual’s. Arsenal is more ‘teamish’ than other EPL teams of late. It’s not based on individuals like other teams. Is that why we cant produce a top-scorer in any competition yet we score goals? Maybe, maybe not. Food for thought desi.

    • desigunner says:

      I think Adebayor was our last top-scorer. Then he had an attitude problem, RvP has never been fit long enough to be a top scorer, I do think Chamakh has a good chance this season to be amongst the top.

      We do have Cesc and Arshavin who have done well as a midfielder and winger.

      Our team game does make it difficult for one player to be the top-scorer. United played for Rooney last year and have struggled without him. I think something similar would happen if Chelsea lose Drogba for a few months.

  5. nirmal says:

    what about jose’ jibe that wenger gets 5 yrs without a win. what a one sided statement. i bet jose wont work with a club that is run like arsenal. he has no class in developing talent, only in using talent. if u had the riches of chelsea and real, most managers will win. big deal.

    • desigunner says:

      Yeah I don’t pay much attention to him. He knows he can’t win anything playing good football and he can’t really work on a budget. In fact, if Abramovic had not given him hundreds of millions I doubt he would have been a big name by now.

  6. sixx pac says:

    Dude u are fooking awesome. U must be a literature major because u write with seemingly effortless flow and ur analyzing skills are top notch.

    I have had some Arsenal fans tell me that I shouldnt celebrate the win cause Braga are a useless side. I say fook u all. Miserable sods the lot of em.

    Dont make me out to be a bad person because I think we are a way better team than last year. Or because I think Gallas was a cancer to oUr team and its no coincidence Almunia is playing better. For the first time in a long time he has defenders infront of him that he trusts. Defenders that dont belittle him

    • desigunner says:

      Thanks, you’re too kind.

      I don’t know why some people have lost the art of enjoying a football game. Doesn’t matter how Braga played or what is going to happen in the future, if we can’t love the beautiful game when we see it I don’t see any point in following football or any club.

      I agree that we’ve improved as a squad and the departure of Gallas seems to have helped the team spirit.

  7. sixx pac says:

    nirmal I think we can hold it over Jose’s head that he’s second choice for that Job. If Arsene were to resign now, Madrid would not even think twice about sacking that oily cunt

    • Bootoomee says:

      Fact!!! Jose is definitely second choice. Real will take AW in a flash. I look forward to him getting sacked next summer after nearly boring their fans to death.

    • desigunner says:

      Well his team is already boring the Bernabeu faithful. Let’s see how desperate they are for success and how long they tolerate him. Agree with you about Madrid jumping to sign Arsene if he shows interest.

  8. Yusuf says:

    Well written mate, we shuld have more faith in Aluminia dis season nd kp d spirit burning

    • desigunner says:

      Yup, if we show him the support when he makes a mistake he will do much better in the following games. That’s not too difficult to understand.

  9. aravindvr says:

    great article.Worth reading many times over.

    Wenger is a person to emulate by all in Management not just in Football.

    It seems all of us in this Football fantasy world seems to have the ‘Ghajini/Memento’ disease- short term memory loss.

    One day we have this cheap baby boys called Walcott,Diaby and Song who will never cut it to the top.
    And next day we r speaking of World Class Central midfielder Song, best French player in World Cup Diaby and only reason England didint make it in World Cup is Walcott’s absence.

    **Follow a racist called Myles Palmer (of Arsenal News Review blog) for more evidences/symptoms of this disease.**

    We r all glory hunters and always seem to ignore the human side in football business tht hard work and consistent efforts ‘takes time’ to reap benifits.

    thts why Jose Mourinho who reaped the efforts of his fellow predecessors like Ranieri at Chelski, Mancini at Inter and may be this season Pellegrini at Real is seen as the Champion/Winner who brought success to clubs within a blink of an eye.
    And Nobody seems to care how he benifited from his predecessors and Owners investment which ‘took time’.

    Arsene and our Club Management sticks to the players and invest, gives time to develop and then reap sucess.

    While we glory hunting fans cant live without sucess a single day.Every one wants to Succeed, but nobody cares about the efforts and time tht goes in to it.

    So the cries – “Hes the worst midfielder ever”
    “What a crap of a GoalKeeper”
    “This team is full of babies”,”The Manager should step down,his time is over”.”This guy has no football brain”.
    “We ll never win with this tam”

    The whole world has gone crazy, were business which makes profit ‘today’ is respected and admired while nobody’s concerned whether it can stand the test of time.Whether it survives a tommorrow.

    Thts y we ,the fans, n the Media were killing Almunia,Diaby Song,Walcott,Fabianski etc.We cant wait for sucess.
    And now wen they r really performing we r all talking and writing like we have supported them since ages even stood by them during bad times.

    This is the new Football world – a new bad world of Sithlord Mourinho.
    Where if u cant earn it, you just ‘buy it’ is the motto.

    • desigunner says:

      Thanks.

      Personally, I stopped reading some blogs a long time ago. It became unbearable.

      Good point about the sithlord thriving on the work of predecessors. If you look at Inter now, Benitez is left with a squad that just cannot play an attacking style and win consistently. And Benitez won’t get much money either. Short terms gains, no class or character.

  10. LiviB says:

    Fantastic post. I hate entrenched views, Jumping on a good player that makes a mistake or praising an average player because he scores. Almunia has been one of the best keepers in the league despite the lack of support. I hope he proves wenger wrong!! Up the Gooners!

  11. Furic says:

    I guess alot of the knee-jerk reactions come from fans/commenatator/analyists etc because they are so passionate and emotional about football. Seeing people keep a clear head when analysing a player or match etc is not that common. There’s probaly no better example then the world cup. The absolute rubbish that people come up with trying to expalin a player or teams performance is incredible. Wenger however is extremely wise. I also love listening to what he has to say about football. Always seems to be a voice of reason.

    • desigunner says:

      That’s a good point. I agree that passion and emotion can affect one’s ability to analyze. That’s one of the reasons why I like Wenger’s concept that we should take distance from the result before analyzing something.

      Just because someone won doesn’t make them the greatest and just because someone lost doesn’t make them hopeless.

  12. Phil23 says:

    Wow Desi your articles certainly attract a good crowd. That definitely reflects the quality of your blog and well deserved too. I think part of my problem is that people don’t take into consideration that young players grow at a much faster rate. Most young players are going to get better and the older players also look better because there are less collective mistakes. Football is a great game because as much as it is a physical, technical and tactical game, it is also mostly a mental game. This season we have improved physically due to players getting older and added players like Chamakh. Technically we have improved as we added two technical defenders to the squad. Tactically all of our players have improved due to being one year wiser. Mentally all our players have improved because of good additions to the squad and learning from past experiences. That looks like one hell of a lot of improvement! Wenger is a genius and people will only admit it once they start winning everything but we will be the ones saying we knew it was coming and we enjoyed the ride all the way!!! Glory Glory Arsenal…

    • desigunner says:

      I can’t describe how much pleasure I get from reading balanced, sensible, thought provoking comments.

      You’ve made some important points. We’ve certainly got a much stronger squad and the improvements you mention will make an impact this season.

      I’ve loved the ride so far and will continue to enjoy the roller coaster no matter what. Some have already changed their tune because they know success is inevitable. Some Doomers now talk about the chance of us winning, very few are stupid enough to say Arsenal will finish outside top 4, and so on. It’s a pity they didn’t know how to enjoy the ride.

  13. Irish Desi Gooner says:

    Well done mate, keep up the fantastic work on your blog.

  14. drvics (mumbai gooner) says:

    Another good post Desi.
    Always love to hear Wenger’s views on football and everything else.
    His statement about being ‘open-minded’ is not only restricted to player development, I think. The reason that I rate Wenger so highly is because he is open minded in most of his decisions. What I mean by that is, he is willing to analyse ever decision on a case
    by case basis. The belief in the media that he has a set a ‘Golden rules’ which he never goes against is pure bs. Such as, he never buys a player over 30 (read Sol and Squillaci) and never pays over the top for a player (Kosceilny for 8.5 million pounds is pretty high, considering his inexperience in the top flight, I read somewhere that we actually tabled 5 or 6 successive bids to Lorient before landing Kos).
    I think he analyses, or tries to at least, each decision individually, while always keeping the ‘long term’ benefit of Arsenal in mind.
    Thats why I dont get the ‘Wenger bashing’ on other sites. The last thing that you can crib about Wenger is that his decisions are illogical. The only thing that you could disagree with Wenger is the premise (judgement call) for a logical decision. But people dont want to see the logic, the line of thinking and most importantly. the fact that he has more knowledge and information with him while making a decision.
    I ‘d love to get my hands on a biography of Wenger, if it ever comes out. Would be nice to know the real reasons behind some of his decisions.

    • desigunner says:

      Very well said. You’ve covered some important points.

      People think Wenger is stubborn, he is anything but. No one can achieve what he has on the budget that he has without being extremely objective and knowledgeable.

      Even I’m waiting for his autobiography. There was a biography a while back, I think it was by Xavier Riviore or some name like that. Haven’t read it yet but no book would interest me more than a Wenger autobiography, that’s for sure.

  15. mide tha dreamwright says:

    good post desi.i think over & over again le boss, makes us realise that no one really knows the club,the team & whats best for everyone,as well as he does.its just that oftentimes, we let the frustration of him not doing things ”conventionally” as done by all the other clubs who buy trophies, get to us.patience is a very scarce virtue in today’s world of ”instant everything”, but one all we true fans of arsenal must learn ‘cos if we’ve waited so long already for a return to winning ways, we should try to be a little more patient to do it not just right but in style too. it will be difficult even painful but i assure us all what we all know for certain, it will be worth the long wait…..

  16. jp says:

    I understand the words of wisdom to defend the current position but Wenger tried to get another keeper and it didn’t work out. So he is stuck at the moment and forced to live with what he has. It is natural to highlight the positives as much as possible in an effort to build up Almunia, what else can he do. Despite this all, I do believe that Almunia has shown true professionalism and is genuinely trying to prove people wrong. Nothing wrong with that, we benefit as a result. It’s no different if you almost get fired from your job and take a look at yourself and change your behaviors on the job! Let’s support him until he leaves even when he does make his first blunder, (which will come). Let’s beat Sunderland Lads !!!

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