Arsene Wenger: Getting His Excuses In

Is Arsene Wenger making excuses and creating a diversionary tactic because he knows this lack of trophies thing simply isn't on? Nick Miller plays amateur psychologist...

Last Updated: 13/03/14 at 08:18 Post Comment

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Arsene Wenger's a funny old fish, isn't he? He says some odd things sometimes, doesn't he? Do you think he's okay? Is he feeling the stress?

Not that you could necessarily blame him for feeling slightly, erm, 'embattled' at the moment, given that everyone is on his case, all the live-long day. Fans, journalists, even other managers are up in Wenger's grill, 24/7.

Even his rivals are starting to feel sorry for him. While the evidence rather supports Jose Mourinho's 'specialist in failure' jibe, that was such a hefty dig to the ribs that even Jose, a man who believed something that's against UFC rules was a smart thing to do on the touchline to an opponent, reportedly thought 'Ooooh, actually, that is a bit harsh'.

Arsenal lost 3-1 to Bayern Munich in the Champions League this week. That's obviously not good, but it's fairly understandable, given that Bayern are, as the astute among you will have probably picked up by now, good at football. Like, really good at football. They haven't lost a game since 1999 and are still a billion points clear at the top of the Bundesliga despite starting every game with a five-goal handicap. Indeed, Arsenal losing 2-0 in one game in which they had a man sent off and gave the best club team in the world a hell of a fright, and drawing the other 1-1 is very far from being a disgrace.

Bayern were and are better than Arsenal - just as they are better than everyone else at the moment. It's not exactly an admission of great failure to simply accept that, hope you aren't drawn against them next time and that someone else gets lucky against them. Or that their whole team suddenly gets ME, or perhaps suddenly realise that one day our sun will die and therefore all human endeavour is basically pointless, and thus and perform a little sluggishly, illness or ennui limiting their energy levels a tad.

Still, Wenger chose to point the finger of blame for the defeat at Arjen Robben, safe in the knowledge that nobody (in England) likes him, and the referee from the first leg, safe in the knowledge that nobody (anywhere) likes them.

So why is Wenger attempting such 'diversionary' tactic, when the reasons for their defeat are relatively clear? Wenger is famously reluctant to give any credit to any opposing team that beats Arsenal, and is equally reluctant to rip into his own players too much, usually making vague references to mentalitee and kwalitee and so forth. So when Arsenal lose, that sort of only leaves one option, unless he starts blaming the secret cabal of space lizards that rule the world.

Of course it could be that Mourinho touched something of a nerve, and that Wenger is, despite his public statements, horribly aware of the untroubled gust that has travelled through Arsenal's trophy cabinet for the best part of a decade now. The pressure upon him to rectify this is perhaps even worse now, given the situation in the FA Cup, since he will have absolutely no excuses should Arsenal fail to beat Wigan then either Hull or Sheffield United.

Is Wenger getting his excuses for another potentially trophyless season in early? Is he also aware that his once-revolutionary methods of asking his players not to drink their bodyweight in mild and eating pasta and stuff have long since become the norm, and he has been left behind? Is he trying to cover all that up with diversionary tactics and excuses?

Wenger is in the curious position of being (if we are to use trophies as the one true barometer of a manager's worth) pretty unsuccessful, but equally sure that there is nobody at Arsenal who really has the muscle to force him out. Chief executive Ivan Gazidis is too busy making sure the cushions in the Club Level seats are nicely plumped, chairman Sir Chips Keswick probably has urgent business at the Reform Club to attend to, while 'transfer fixer' Dick Law has that private investigator business to keep ticking over.

Wenger will leave Arsenal when Wenger wants to leave Arsenal, so matter how much time passes without the silver polisher having a new pot to buff. In the meantime, unless he does actually win something, he will continue to face criticism, so he has to have something to deflect it with. And that's where stuff like Robben and the referees (worst Motown band ever) comes in. The classic 'Look! Your shoelaces are untied!' gambit. Fergie would be proud.

Or he could just think Arjen Robben is a cheating arsehole. Make your own mind up.

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