There have been far too many games in which at least one major decision has gone against Arsenal. And this isn’t a new phenomenon linked only to this season. The Gunners have also been lucky with some marginal calls and it’s not all one way traffic but based on my recollections the ‘against’ tally is like a cricket score while the ‘for’ list is an endangered species on the verge of extinction.
There can be many reasons for this. Leaving conspiracy theories aside, despite seemingly strong evidence, I feel one of the prime causes for this is the primitive approach to football by many managers, players, pundits, and referees in England. Unfortunately, Arsene or anyone at Arsenal cannot really change that.
The most disappointing and distressing aspect is that Arsenal can’t even honestly protest blatantly incorrect decisions.
Wenger has been portrayed as a whinger (partly his own fault but largely due to the fact that his thoughts are way too advanced for the Neanderthals) and his points, however well made they might be, are summarily dismissed by many analysts and pundits as the ravings of a sore loser.
The players can’t really complain. If they do it on field they risk a booking for dissent. If they do it off-field they face FA charges, if they do it at half-time the team might have to pay for it in the next game.
As far as I know the club doesn’t have any official means of filing a complaint either but my understanding here is sketchy at best.
Fans can complain all they want but it doesn’t really matter. Most of the times even valid arguments are dismissed as Arsenal are perceived to be a ‘whining club’.
I have been thinking about ways in which the club can bring the dubious decisions into spotlight without antagonizing the referees, the FA, or the opponents. As discussed above, the manager, players, or staff can’t really do it.
Then I thought, what if the Arsenal hired a guy like Pierluigi Collina, one of the most respected refs in the world, to provide a neutral analysis of each game for the official website. Surely a club can have expert opinions on its site for the benefit of the fans? Will the FA or Premier League have any valid grounds to object to this? If Graham Poll can write for a tabloid, why can the Italian write for Arsenal.com?
Collina is considered to be the best in the world. There could be a clause in his contract that he has to provide a neutral, honest opinion. Not sure if such a clause would make much sense or make any practical difference but the point is to highlight the neutrality of his opinion.
When an ex-ref with his background and experience writes something, others will have to show some respect. Surely that won’t always be brushed aside as ‘whinging Collina’? Can the refs continue to give poor decisions against Arsenal knowing that their performances will be analyzed after each game and put in public by the most trusted name in the field?
Of course, genuine mistakes will happen. I’m more than willing to accept that as a part of the game. But over time won’t we get a much better idea whether our conspiracy theories hold any water?
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t expect this to be a magic solution to end the title drought. I don’t think this will cover up for the mistakes of the players, the weakness in the tactical system, or any other fundamental problem at Arsenal.
I see this as an effective and efficient way of dealing with perceived injustice. If nothing else, Arsenal fans will improve their understanding of the laws and will have a reliable source to point to while debating the decisions from a game. The club can offer at least that to the fans? And if it works out, we might just get more objective data on the decisions for or against Arsenal. We don’t know what it will lead to. But it’s worth trying, no?
P.S. I haven’t talked about the Newcastle game after the match report as I haven’t had the heart to see it again. This article was prompted by the debate around the decisions from our last two games but is not meant as an excuse for the Newcastle result or other performances.