Sunday 24 January 2016

The Circus of Legends in Football

Arsenal Twitter is a wonderful place. Scratch that. Twitter is a wonderful place and so is life. It is only on Twitter you will find someone trying to tell George Soros how to make money or advice McDonald's on how to sell burgers.

In the past if you felt particularly strong about something, you either had to persuade the Editor of a newspaper to publish your views or proceed to Speakers Corner at Hyde Park and share your no doubt profound views. The Editors were quite adept at leaving out the barmy ideas and the sheer energy and motivation required to get out of bed and travel by rail, bus or tube to Hyde Park discouraged many and potentially spared the Hyde Park audience some of the wackiest opinion now freely shared on Twitter and other Social Media platforms. 

As far as I am concerned, Social Media has democratised stupidity and ignorance. A newspaper journalist who is slightly more informed than the ordinary man in the street joins in spreading rumours and totally made up stories with a view to gaining Social Media eyeballs. 

Recently retired footballer touts themselves around as experts in football management. Fans know more about football than the journalists, the players, the referees, the managers and club owners. I can't wait for the first football club to be owned by fans, staffed by fans, managed by a fans and where the entire squad is made up of fans only. Sorry to say, I can bet you, it wont work. Not in a month of Sundays. Never. 

Fans should stick to 'fandom', leave managers to manage, owners to own and players to play. Which brings me to the topic today, Club legends. 

Club legends are wonderful for any club. They have been there and done that. They have represented the club, often with pride, won things, displayed passion and showed disdain for local or traditional rivals. They know the club inside out, they are often like a totem pole for fans, they have displayed loyalty and help with reinforcing the tradition of the club. All very good. 

However while legends are very much a signpost for the past, the manager is often about the present and depending on the type of the manager, he is also about the future in conjunction with the owners and or the board. 

Legends are excellent for ambassadorial roles, smooching sponsors, helping the club cultivate new markets, explaining how things used to happen in the club during their time. However in situations where they have no formal involvement with the footballing side of things, they can often prove to be a distraction. 

Look at the Class of 92 over at Manchester United. These class especially Gary Neville, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs have done their very best to undermine the last 2 Manchester United managers. Constantly harping on about the United way and the past whereas the present is a very different world. 

Sir Alex Ferguson had an aura, Old Trafford had a aura during his time, United could attract the best players with Sir Alex in charge. United had a World Player of the year during his time. Also the administrative and strategic management side of the club was well looked after by David Gill with the support of the owners. That's all change but the legends wont let go. You will think these legends will approach the current management and owners to fully understand what is happening inside the club  behind the scene but no, it is criticism after criticism. How difficult it is to understand the spectacular fall from grace that happened in the Moyes years. Opposition players are playing against Manchester United either at home or away with belief in a game that relies a lot on confidence. What part of this fact is passing the legends by?

Gary Neville is now managing in Spain, possibly regretting all the things he ever said about Van Gaal. Paul Scholes passed on the chance to manage Oldham to fully concentrate on his Talkshop. Same with Rio Ferdinand who is so in love with his own voice and is very good at spouting the bleeding obvious.  

The less said about Ryan Giggs the better. Clearly undermined David Moyes in return for his mess of pottage as a Man United Manager for all of 4 matches. He helped midwife the Van Gaal era & is hoping to get the call again. Ryan - you ain't no Pep Guardiola bruv.

This not about Man United legends only. Thierry Henry put his foot in his mouth about 6 months ago. I wrote this in response to that incident. I'm happy to see that he has somewhat recanted but you get the kind of circus show that accompanies legends .

Over the past weekend, Arsenal Twitter had its knicker in a twist because Patrick Viera gave an interview where he said Jose Mourinho was a better manager than Arsene Wenger. Obviously this contradicted something he had said before. 

Without a doubt, we are all allowed our opinions and depending on what stage we are in life, we can reevaluate those opinions and hold a totally different one. Also the context of the two interviews  given by Patrick at different times could have been different. So fair play to him. I am convinced he knows his own mind as he has always come across as a strong character. 

What I however found very disturbing was the impression that Patrick was waiting for a call from Arsenal & Arsene to join the management staff at the Emirates and was somewhat disappointed with this not happening and there is this impression that this perceived slight has resulted in his latest interview. I hope this is not true.

While I fully respect Patrick's right to know his own mind, I wonder if he appreciates Arsene's right to choose his back room staff. Clearly the allegations that Arsene does not want any club legends around is nonsense. His former assistant - Pat Rice is an Arsenal legend in his own right and so is his current Assistant - Steve Bould. Yes, later day fans especially of the Social Media variant might not know Pat & Steve but it doesn't change the fact that they are Arsenal legends. So strike that nonsense about Arsene not wanting legends around. 

What I think Arsene objects to is the circus around legends. What I have heard him say in interviews many times is that you wont get handed a role with the management staff on a plate. "Come and earn your corn". Do your badges, coach the junior teams and the reserves and then let's see. I don't see anything wrong with that. 

Maybe some of his critics are also missing the fact that Arsene has worked with these legends over a long period. He should have an idea of each player's strengths and weaknesses and be able to make an informed decision on their respective abilities to manage or assist a manager. Let managers manage. 

Its a bit of a shame and a revolting hallmark of the world we live in that the opinion of pundits (who often have never managed or owned a club) on managerial and club ownership issues  are considered superior to that of a manager or a club owner / board who is doing it at the moment even if that manager is not doing it to the expectation of the pundits who are either unable to do it or are running away from the same responsibility.

Let managers manage. 


  1. A babagrumpy classic! Grumpiness at its very best! While I agree with your view of SOME pundits trying to suddenly become experts, this is a true fans total displeasure with virtually anything anti-Arsenal.
    I also don't agree with your view of Untied's class of 92. IMO, they simply can't match the Untied they watch with the one they played in are simply voicing their displeasure.
    By the way, I still think Arsenal can win the title but have made it much harder with pivotal games versus Leicester and City still to come.

  2. I think this is my first comment on your blogposts so first of all I'd like to know if there are hampers given out to first timers in your comments box. If nae, then please I will send you an invoice. My comments are not free please. Mine is high quality stuff - even better than those of the legends you write about ;-).

    I very much see your argument. There is a great deal of knee-jerk, poorly thought out, inconsistent and seriously biased punditry out there; and this is especially from the legends you refer to. Even for the likes of Ray Parlour and Ian Wright who still have some insight into the goings on at London Colney, it is impossible to know what any football club manager sees day in, day out in the determination of his choices. It can therefore be a bit annoying when we all speak with some measure of certainty about things of which we only know a fraction. The 90 minute game is a culmination of training, plans, tactics, fitness and health regimes etc. that we certainly were not privy to.

    And this is where I take a different view. The 90 minute game is all we, pundits and fans alike, see. The pundits may see a thing or two in training at best. So if the argument is that we are guilty of limiting our window to just the game, ... But on the basis of what we see, knee-jerk and carefully thought out analyses alike abound. I wouldn't begrudge a Paul Scholes or Gary Neville for, as Sola puts it, looking at what's going on now and struggling to compute. I wouldn't also begrudge the likes of Titi either (although I thought his comments were curious at the time).

    I only just read about Vieira's comments and I think he, Tony and Sol may wish to look at themselves a bit more. Wenger has had Giles Grimandi, Steve Morrow, Pat Rice, Steve Bould and many more legends. Arteta is doing his badges and is already being talked about as one to watch for future roles at London Colney. Gilberto was offered a role. There is a pattern or character trait here.

    Please have you reconsidered my request for hamper?

    1. that hamper thing has been out sourced to Linda Ikeji of life :) if she doesn't perform I will give it to Don Jazzy. :)

      Appreciate the comment. Understand the fact the so called experts are looking at things from the 90 minutes on the pitch. But they then stray into uncharted territory when they go 'that's why Arsenal will never win anything'. 'thats why Van Gaal's time is past' etc. It then becomes a contest of who can voice the most extreme of opinions. I want to listen to this people and learn about football and even about some of the side shows but i listen and often i come away with nothing. A so called expert telling me Per Mertesacker doesn't have pace. Well hello. I can see that. What does he bring to the team / squad? Why does wenger keep using him? He is too slow. Yes I know that. Educate me. Tell me something I can't figure out myself