July 4, 2012
As Arsenal fans we find ourselves in one fairly unique position. Manchester United aside we have one of the longest serving managers in football. Arsene Wenger has been with the club for sixteen years. That means for sixteen years Arsene has been a fairly major part of all of our lives. The decisions he makes, rightly or wrongly, impact on our moods on a daily basis. He has an extraordinary amount of power over us. And I’m not sure you find that in quite the same way in any other sphere of life. This man who you’ve never met (well once, briefly, but it went badly and I don’t really want to talk about it) being such a such a major influence on your mental well being.
The effect is probably greater than you even realise. He makes regular appearances in my dreams. He’s that familiar to my subconscious. He even does that think when I think I’m talking to my my mum or my dad for example but then I realise I’m talking to Le Boss and he’s offering some kind of life wisdom. And I don’t want to disappoint any of them.
So knowing how mentally interweaved AW is with the other major figures in my life you can imagine my confusion when he even starts behaving like them in reality. And reading the news this morning I found myself face to face with a terrifying revelation. I think Arsene Wenger is turning into my mum.
I’m referring to these latest quotes from Arsene’s Eurosport blog in which he states the importance of keeping Robin Van Persie this summer. If you haven’t seen them yet, this is what he’s said:
We want to keep Robin van Persie at all costs, because we depend on him offensively.
Fair enough. Quite plaintive, quite honest. Carry on:
I’ve always supported him even in the hardest times, and I hope he will end his career at Arsenal.
Ooh, hang on a minute. That sounds distinctly to me like a massive guilt trip. That’s textbook mum territory. You state what you’d like your son to do, then as an apparently unrelated aside lay it on quite thick about how much you’ve done for him in the past, then swiftly back on topic. Here’s an example:
I really hope he comes to that boring family wedding next week instead of going to watch the Arsenal. Ooh do you remember when I was pregnant with him? I was so ill. Nine months of absolute agony. Anyway, it would be nice if he came to that wedding.
Bonus points of course for not saying it directly to the son but saying it within earshot so he feels the full effect. And that’s exactly what Wenger seems to be up to. A massive public guilt trip which of course he knows that RVP will hear and prays he’ll feel bad enough to sign the new contract. It could be a masterstroke.
Robin is quite an unusual case in that we have effectively nursed him through the majority of his career and it’s unfortunate that as soon as he’s been capable of offering his best to the club with an 18 month spell free from injury and packed full of goals he’s at the point in his where he has to think about pastures new. He’s a bright lad and he’ll know how much we’ve done for him but at the same time he’ll know he only has one short career and he’ll want to see as much glory as he possibly can. If it was me I’d be swayed by the guilt trip and I’d stay. Let’s see whether Robin is as easily manipulated.
Arsene was also talking about Olivier Giroud and the qualities he expects him to bring to the side:
I’ve known Olivier Giroud for some time. He played for my friend Daniel Sanchez alongside Laurent Koscielny at Tours. The first time I saw him, I found he had something intelligent and dangerous. I always said he could score goals and assist his partners.
Our game is based on cooperation between the players in the offensive phase and he’ll integrate easily. I don’t like simple goalscorers, they must also add to the collective. He is good in the air which is rare. He’s quite complete and has a great room for improvement.
It’s exciting to hear him talk so glowingly about Giroud but the ‘great room for improvement’ thing could be a blessing or a curse. If I could highlight one feature of Arsene’s transfer record it would be that he tends not to sign the finished article. I think he always feels that he can add his own value to a player and that’s something that he’s proven time and time again. But sometimes it can backfire. Look at a signing like Gervinho for example. I think there AW saw a player with great pace, great mobility and a tendency to find himself in decent positions. His problem perhaps was that he didn’t score as many goals as he could. I get the impression that like, say, Thierry Henry before him AW thinks that he can add that final dimension to Gervinho’s game and if he can develop a cool head in front of goal he could become an extremely dangerous player. So far though that hasn’t quite happened. Gervinho just doesn’t appear to be a natural goalscorer and maybe it can’t be taught.
Still, let’s wait and see. Gervinho could well come alive in his second season in the Premier League and I can’t wait to see what Giroud has to offer.
I’m sure footballistically if he can play with the handbrake off and show a little bit the mental strength we’ll all soon see his super quality. As my mum would no doubt say.
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