Sat. Nov 28th, 2020

Man Utd

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IAN LADYMAN: It’s sad that Arsene Wenger couldn’t see what the rest of us could

5 min read

Sir Alex Ferguson retired at the right time. He was 71, had just taken the Premier League title back from Manchester City and had already eclipsed Liverpool’s total of championships. There was nothing left to win or prove.

Arsene Wenger must be envious of that. In his revealing interview with Martin Samuel in these pages on Saturday, Wenger sounded like a man unfulfilled.

He twice could have joined Real Madrid — the club he idolised as a boy — but he didn’t. He could have managed England. He didn’t. Instead he stayed at Arsenal for year after year, citing loyalty and his responsibility to guide them through the financially challenging process of moving to a new stadium.

Arsene Wenger should have left Arsenal earlier - it's a shame he couldn't see what others could

Arsene Wenger should have left Arsenal earlier – it’s a shame he couldn’t see what others could

Wenger wasn’t given much money to spend on players, he tells us. Instead he put his individual stamp on the training ground. He chose the plates for the eating areas, apparently. Such commitment, care and attention to detail is admirable and believable. Knowing Wenger as we do, he would have put his heart and his soul into all of it.

It’s just a shame he could never see what the rest of us could. That he was staying too long. The fallow years of his second decade at Arsenal — they haven’t actually won the Premier League since 2004 — should have presented him with reason enough to leave long before the club encouraged him to do so in 2018. Wenger admits he was always a bad loser. But for years he allowed himself to be one.

Wenger believed he could guide Arsenal to further glory but became a habitual loser

Wenger believed he could guide Arsenal to further glory but became a habitual loser

In the pursuit of the trophies that matter to him, Wenger became the thing he hated, an habitual loser. In that regard he lost to Manchester United and Chelsea and then to City and even to Leicester.

And for what? So that Arsenal could remain solvent post- Highbury? No, there was more to it than that. Wenger always thought he could do it, thought he could win big again just as he did when he arrived full of intelligence, fire and innovation in the 1990s.

This is one of the problems with alpha males. They always think they will win, eventually, no matter the circumstances. But Wenger only grew further away from that the longer he stayed.

He speaks as though he never spent on players. He did. He just didn’t spend all of it that well in the later years.

Wenger still pines for the Arsenal job in a way that Sir Alex Ferguson never has at Manchester United

Wenger still pines for the Arsenal job in a way that Sir Alex Ferguson never has at Manchester United

For reasons so far unexplained, he allowed himself to veer away from the prototype Premier League team he first assembled. He allowed the qualities of cold competitiveness and steel brought by Patrick Vieira, Emmanuel Petit and Thierry Henry to be sacrificed. 

He became a manager who bought bad defenders, a coach who assembled teams that could be rolled over by less gifted opponents who were merely prepared to run further and tackle harder. He bought Mesut Ozil, watched him fail and then gave him a new contract.

And it’s all such a shame. It was then and it is now. It means we never saw the best of him for long enough. Wenger clearly still pines for that Arsenal job in a way that Ferguson never has at United.

In Saturday’s paper, he said that memories are short in football, that all that matters is the last result. Unfortunately for him that’s not true. People remember that last 10 years too. Wenger should have put himself first and left Arsenal when he had the chance.

Antonio shows West Ham wasted money on other strikers

At a decent estimate, West Ham have spent about £100million purely on centre forwards in the last three and a half years only to find they already had one called Michail Antonio. No wonder co-owner David Sullivan says he is ‘depressed’. 

Michail Antonio has impressed and showed West Ham wasted money on other strikers

Michail Antonio has impressed and showed West Ham wasted money on other strikers

Lowe right to call out Aguero’s grab 

Rebecca Lowe is the accomplished anchor of NBC’s Premier League coverage in the States. Last week she provided possibly the best take on Sergio Aguero’s decision to place his hand on the neck and shoulder of assistant referee Sian Massey-Ellis in the game against Arsenal.

‘There is a reason why thousands of women found that uncomfortable viewing and that’s because this has happened to them in every single situation and place,’ Lowe told viewers.

Rebecca Lowe explained why Sergio Aguero's actions were uncomfortable viewing for women

Rebecca Lowe explained why Sergio Aguero’s actions were uncomfortable viewing for women

‘Whether it be at work, in a bar, on the street. So the uncomfortable nature of what we saw resonated with them.

‘I don’t know Aguero’s intentions but they are irrelevant. If it makes somebody feel uncomfortable, it has to be recognised.’

Lowe’s comments cut through the rubbish spoken since the incident and the answer to one question is very clear. Should a female involved in a male sport expect to be treated differently from a man? When it comes to the issue of unsolicited physical contact, of course she should.

Honesty is the best policy, Ole 

One of the best lines I have heard in this business came 20 years ago in the Midlands.

Ray Graydon was the manager of Walsall and on being introduced to the lady from the Sun, said: ‘Ah, your paper prints all those lies, doesn’t it?’.

‘Yes, that’s right,’ she shot back. ‘Managers like you tell us fibs and we put them in the paper.’ She was right, too.

All managers mislead the press about injuries and transfer targets and it’s understandable.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer denied that Mason Greenwood has a problem with lateness but should be honest

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer denied that Mason Greenwood has a problem with lateness but should be honest

Sometimes, though, they can help themselves by holding their hands up and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is in that category.

It appears Mason Greenwood has a problem with lateness. Solskjaer has twice said the story is not true but it very much is.

He would have been better to address the issue publicly and stress it had been dealt with.

Then it goes away. Instead, it lingers.

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