Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Wenger takes pop at press in otherwise dull conference + Arsecast 209

The build up to tomorrow’s game against Blackburn is as low-key as I can remember for Arsenal in recent times.

Usually, in the immediate aftermath of a press conference, from which many Tweets are sent by those in attendance, there are a host of stories scrambling to the top of the various news feeds. Yesterday, there were Tweets from the official Arsenal account and it took ages for the fuller information to trickle into the public domain.

Maybe it’s because it wasn’t exactly the most expansive, interesting press conference of all time, but in a world where any new information is treated like gold dust I don’t think that was it. Maybe after all the drama surrounding the club in the summer, in August, and up until the end of the transfer window, everything now seems somewhat mundane. A week in which we didn’t lose, in which there can be no analysis of crisis or calamity, probably doesn’t lend itself to too many headlines.

There’s no doubt that bad news provides better copy than good. “Everything is fine!” won’t sell nearly as many papers as “Arsenal in such dire straits Mark Knopfler appointed manager!”. Having to listen to the Walk of Life over and over again would be terrible news indeed.

The manager spoke about the need to produce consistency and said that was the only way the club could quieten critics. He said:

We must win. We live in an environment that questions us when we don’t win. We do not criticise that and have to live with that. We have to show performances, consistency and attitude quality, that makes us respected.

He refused to say we’d turned any corner but said:

Inside the club, we feel we are on the right track, the spirit in the team is good, strong and together. We want to change the scepticism around us, but that will only be if we are consistent with our results. Let’s get result after result, stick together and not talk too much.

Which all makes perfect sense. Two results are just two results. Six-eight results and you can start talking about a run, but until then we just need to take it one game at a time. The run of fixtures until the next Interlull (in early October) is pretty kind. Blackburn tomorrow, Shrewsbury in the Carling Cup, Bolton at home, Olympiacos at home then Sp*rs away. Middle of the road opposition all the way and a good chance for us to provide some of the consistency the manager talks about.

The most interesting thing about yesterday’s press conference, however, was the fact that Arsene took a couple of pops at the press. Asked if he had sympathy for his Blackburn counterpart, Steve Kean, he said he did and although the pressure seems to be coming directly from Blackburn fans (who are planning a protest ahead of tomorrow’s game), he pointed the finger squarely at the media for not giving him more time.

Then, having been asked a question about money in football, he paused and went in a completely different direction, saying:

People have always at the moment definite opinion. One game played everybody knows who will win the European Cup, everybody knows who will win the Championship [Premier League], everybody knows absolutely everything.

But they just forget that when it’s wrong the next day nobody says ‘Sorry, I was wrong’.

I like the idea of a back page headline ‘SORRY. THAT WAS BOLLOCKS’, but it’s never going to happen, is it?

It was as animated as he got during the entire thing and quickly moved on to the next topic, but it was obvious he was irked, or continues to be irked, by the sh0rt-termism of football opinion. And it’s surely an issue. Definitive judgements are made about teams and players so quickly these days. The might of online discourse means opinions become facts as quickly as you can say ‘No, Gary Lewin, John Terry is fine, he’s just resting his eyes’.

I don’t even think he’s referring much to Arsenal here. After just four games of the season, and one in Europe, people can speculate and give their opinion, but it’s clearly the manner in which they’re presented that bothers the manager. More and more his relationship with the press becomes tetchy, he continues to reduce his availability to them, and I just found this little outburst interesting, sandwiched as it was between two completely different topis. I suspect Arsene is something of a powder keg at the moment, just needing that one spark.

Ahead of the game tomorrow the team news is that Ramsey has a “small chance” of being involved but there was no news of Tomas Rosicky so I’m assuming he’s out. Vermaelen will be back after the next Interlull while Jack Wilshere continues to wear his protective boot. Once he’s out of that we’ll have a better idea of a date for his return. A fuller preview of the game on tomorrow’s blog.

Other than that it’s pretty quiet so on to this week’s Arsecast. Joining me to discuss life as a ‘company man’ and the Arsenal news of the week is comedian Ian Stone. You might know him from such podcasts as The Tuesday Club. Also, thoughts from Wenger, Arshavin, Internet Joe and the the usual waffle.

You can subscribe to the Arsecast on iTunes by clicking here. Or if you want to subscribe directly to the feed URL you can do so too (this is a much better way to do it as you don’t experience the delays from iTunes). To download this week’s Arsecast directly – click here (23mb MP3) or you can listen directly below without leaving this very page.


Right then, that’ll have to do for today. Back tomorrow with more in-depth look at the Blackburn game and that entails.

Till then.

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