The Not So Great Dictator

By Robert Exley

Comparing Arsene Wenger with Shankly, Clough, Ferguson and Graham

It’s well known that football managers have often adopted the veneer of history’s great dictators, while provoking and even welcoming comparisons with them. On returning home to Merseyside to a hero’s welcome, despite losing to Arsenal in the 1971 FA Cup Final, Bill Shankly proclaimed ‘Chairman Mao has never seen the greatest show of red strength’. Brian Clough, on coming into management at Hartlepool in 1965, claimed ‘In this business you’ve got to be a dictator or you haven’t a chance’. The fact of the matter, however, is that dictatorship hasn’t been any more enduringly successful or less troublesome and destructive in the football world than it has in the real one. It also flies in the face of the fact that the managerial set-up of a football club is as much a team effort as what happens on the pitch.

“Dictators free themselves, but enslave their people” (to mediocrity in Arsenal’s case)

The excellent Barney Ronay, in a 2003 ‘When Saturday Comes’ article, proclaimed that Arsenal’s Herbert Chapman was football’s first great dictator. It’s true that Chapman was the first such manager to run a club from top to bottom, but it would be wrong to portray Chapman as the Ayatollah of N5. His creation of the famed W-M formation which aided Arsenal in dominating the 1930s came on consultation with a Charlie Buchan peeved at Arsenal being thumped 0-7 by Newcastle at St James’s Park and the Gunners’ tactical inability to adapt to changes in the offside rule. Buchan was ready to retire from the game and return to Sunderland to continue running his Wearside Sports shop on a full-time basis, before the player forced Herbert Chapman’s hand into appeasement on the matter.

Also among Chapman’s set-up around the time were the influential Tom Whittaker and Joe Shaw. There was also the presence of future manager George Allison on the board throughout Chapman’s tenure. The fact that the edifice didn’t crumble on Chapman’s untimely death in January 1934 is, if anything, testament to the fact that Chapman never really instigated a Highbury dictatorship, but actually created football’s prototype boot-room of sorts, as all three became prominent in Arsenal’s staying at the summit well into the 1950s. The true end of Chapman’s hegemony came with the death of Tom Whittaker (the last of the line still in active football service) in 1956.

Just three years after this came the creation of the Anfield boot-room when Bill Shankly was appointed Liverpool manager and placed on top of a pre-existing set-up which included Reuben Bennett, Joe Fagan and Bob Paisley. Shanks became something of a quasi-political figure at Anfield. His quote ‘the socialism I believe in, is everybody working for the same goal and everybody having a share in the rewards. That’s how I see football, that’s how I see life’ was even repeated by the currently maligned Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn after his second leadership election win over Owen Smith last September.

Once again, the influence of the boot-room outlived Shanks and lasted at Anfield until the early 1990s, in contrast to, say, Matt Busby who had a less prominent back-room. As a result, Old Trafford’s influence on the game went into sharp retreat on his retirement in 1969, with Man United relegated just five years later. Shanks had his admirers, one such being Brian Clough speaking here to David Frost just after Shanks had retired from football management. Such was his admiration that Clough even got Shanks to address the Forest players in the dressing room against Everton at Goodison Park in the opening game of their 1977/78 title-winning season after coming up from the old Second Division the season prior.

Forest player John McGovern explains that the Forest dressing room was ‘usually sacrosanct. Clough wouldn’t even let in the chairman, but when he swung open the door his face changed. ‘Come in,’ he said, ‘delighted to see you.’ We couldn’t see who it was at first, but he said it like it must be the pope or the prime minister. ‘Bill, I’m just giving them a rollicking, telling them how poor they were, but I think you should do it.’ And it was Bill Shankly….Clough sat down with the rest of us and suddenly it was Shankly, this legend of the game, giving the team-talk for the next 15 minutes, with his hands in his pockets, in the classic gunslinger pose’.

Returning to the Clough quote at the top of the page, he certainly was one for adopting the veneer of dictatorship. Famously, he resigned at Derby County over a power battle with Chairman Sam Longson and made comments about football directors and their lack of knowledge of the game on an episode of Parkinson back in the Seventies. Clough’s self-styled ‘Old Big ′ead’ act too gave off a dictatorial air, such as the quote of ’We talk about it for 20 minutes and then we decide I was right’, when dealing with players who disagree with him. Other quotes which screamed of Mussolini-style demagoguery were ‘I wouldn't say I was the best manager in the business. But I was in the top one’ and ‘Rome wasn't built in a day. But I wasn't on that particular job’.

Much of Clough’s demeanour at the height of his powers in the 1970s and early 80s were rightly seen as tongue-in-cheek humour rather than megalomania. It’s also easy to forget too that Cloughie at his most successful was part of a double-act with the more down-to-earth Peter Taylor, who - lest we forget - didn’t follow Clough to Leeds United for his ill-fated 44-day stint in charge at Elland Road. Clough’s first season at Forest was also without Taylor. Forest’s march out of second-tier wilderness towards European Cup glory came after Clough’s reunion with Taylor in 1976. In Clough’s own words: ‘I’m not equipped to manage successfully without Peter Taylor. I am the shop window and he is the goods in the back’.

The Clough-Taylor partnership broke up in 1982 and, after this, Nottingham Forest were never contenders for the League again, winning only back-to-back League Cups in 1989 and 1990 before Clough’s retirement in 1993. Forest played good football and were managing top-end league finishes. Of course, they were never really expected to be League Champions on a regular basis and Clough was, in essence, bigger than Nottingham Forest, which meant his directors gave him a free reign he’d never have got at one of the bigger clubs such as Arsenal, Spurs, Liverpool or Man United – or the England job he was always much touted for. The more Clough became the singular power behind the throne at Forest, the further away they were drifting away from the summit of Football, culminating in Clough’s personal demise and Forest’s relegation in 1993.

In the Premiership era, the ‘great dictator’ was obviously seen to be Alex Ferguson, though once again he actually sat on top of a more multi-polar power structure at Old Trafford than public perception would believe. From the very off, there was influential England captain Bryan Robson on the pitch. Over the years, Fergie also had a string of assistants who too provided their own input, such as Archie Knox, Brian Kidd, Steve McLaren, Walter Smith and Carlos Queiroz. The legend of the ‘Fergie Fledglings’ and the ‘you’ll never win anything with kids’ tale is also embellished somewhat – on the pitch Man United still had the experience of Peter Schmeichel, Dennis Irwin, Steve Bruce, Eric Cantona and Roy Keane to call on and influence the Beckhams, Giggs, Scholes and Nevilles of the team who over time became the on–pitch establishment in turn.

In contrast, even when taking the ridiculous level of hyperbolic argument which surrounds the Wenger in/out debate – Wenger’s current set-up at Arsenal is exceptionally dictatorial even by the historical standards of other top-level English clubs. Not only that, but there has also certainly been historically something within the set-up of modern Arsenal that has made the club prone to successful managers, either by accident or design, morphing into dictatorial figures. Arguably, it’s a factor behind why post-war Arsenal haven’t had the sustained period of dominance over the English game which the Northern powerhouses of Liverpool and Man United have enjoyed.

Arsenal’s first period of success since the abolition of rationing emerged in the late 1960s. Arsenal’s disciplinarian trainer Bertie Mee took over at the helm and his lack of top-level playing experience and tactical awareness was covered by the presence of top-notch coaches in the form of first Dave Sexton and then Don Howe. On the pitch too, Arsenal had a prominent and inspirational Captain in Frank McLintock. By 1973, Arsenal had lost the presence of both McLintock and Howe, who had moved on to pastures new, leaving Bertie Mee as the sole influence on things, with a disciplinarian approach that was beginning to rub a lot of prominent first-team players up the wrong way.

Allegedly, the roots of McLintock’s exit stemmed from Frank instigating a clear-the-air meeting between the players without the presence of the coaching staff, during a poor spell the season after the Double. Bertie Mee misinterpreted this as Frank undermining his authority. Within three years, Arsenal under Mee had sunk to the level of relegation candidates just before Bertie’s retirement. Undoubtedly, the most successful Highbury boss within such a dictatorial position had been one of Bertie’s former players, George Graham – whose authoritarian style even earned him nicknames like the ‘Ayatollah’ and ‘Gadaffi’ among his playing staff (though I doubt ever repeated to his face).

GG managed to make Arsenal increasingly successful despite purging the club of experienced figures such Viv Anderson, Kenny Sansom and Steve Williams, with only David O’Leary and Paul Davis remaining by the time of Arsenal’s title-win at the close of the 1980s. Even promising youngsters who showed a bit too much will to stand up to George found themselves facing a Highbury exit – such as Martin Keown in his first spell at the club and Stewart Robson, who were both banished within twelve months of George’s appointment. George had no time for ‘stars’ who threatened to overshadow him, as seen by his treatment and eventual disposal of crowd favourites like Charlie Nicholas and Anders Limpar.

Even an awestruck David Dein at board level was side-lined from team and transfer affairs by a George Graham who was generally quite disdainful of the young upstart on the Arsenal board and the threat of his players consorting with him behind his back. George’s general undoing was that in the latter years, the young players under his charge were becoming prominent personalities in their own right and less willing to submit to George’s dictatorial streak – quoted in 1999, his captain and the cornerstone of his two title-winning sides, Tony Adams, stated: ‘I would not like to play for him again. I have told him that, but he thinks I’m joking!’

By the mid-1990s, Arsenal were finding themselves heading in the same direction in the League as Bertie Mee’s side two decades prior, before GG’s sacking for bung-taking (which is obviously an offense that a manager can only really carry out if the board give him such an excessive level of autonomy to do so – no surprise; this too was alleged of Brian Clough around the same period). If you look at Barney Ronay’s 2003 piece at the top of the page, it’s interesting to note that Ronay then considered Wenger an exception to the dictator mould in that: ‘Like an ambitious middle-manager, Chapman’s Highbury heir, Arsène Wenger, works hand in hand with his directors’.

Fourteen years on however, Wenger’s role at Arsenal couldn’t be more different. Clearly, Wenger’s greatest period of success at Highbury grew within an Arsenal of multi-polar influence. The top-level players that he inherited, such as the famous back four of Adams, Keown et al, got a greater level of input over team matters than that which George Graham would have accorded. GG’s exit also meant that the door was reopened to David Dein to reassert his influence from the boardroom. As Jon Spurling described within his chapter on Dein in ‘Rebels for the Cause: The Alternative History of Arsenal Football Club’ ‘Once George, who’d enjoyed unprecedented control over which players he signed, was gone, Dein changed the parameters by which future Gunners’ bosses operated’.

The years between 2005 and 2008 however saw an unprecedented level of influence within the club accrue to Wenger. By the summer of 2008, not one of the famous back four or any of the pre-Wenger players remained on the pitch. The club also lost all but Kolo Touré from the first-teamers among the Invincibles. At board level, Dein had exited and Danny Fiszman had significantly reduced his stake in the club. The loss of Dein had been significant in that, as explained by Spurling, around the turn of the millennium he had ‘proved himself an accomplished negotiator in tandem with Wenger’ in relation to transfer dealings both in and out of the club.

Over the last decade however, the club have clearly suffered from a lack of any prominent figures on the Arsenal board. With all the talk about how automation can make many jobs redundant over the coming years, the same level of effectiveness of the current Arsenal board can most probably be replaced by out-of-office email. The Arsenal directors are hugely deferential to Arsène Wenger on all football matters and I’ve actually seen first-hand evidence of this while being party to a conversation with current chairman Sir Chips Keswick and Nigel Phillips of the Arsenal Supporters Trust at the Christmas Drinks meeting of the latter organization at the Diamond Club of the E******s Stadium in 2007.

You’ll remember at the time that despite selling Henry over the summer, Arsenal lost just one game and topped the Premiership table. Sir Chips had smugly wagged his finger at Nigel saying ‘the stick this fella gave me when we sold Henry….and look at us now…because we’ve got a great manager’ (I don’t think I need to remind you how the 2007/08 season actually panned out!). The board’s veneration of Wenger in the form of busts and statutes at the E******s Stadium is also a huge act of short-sightedness and an honour that should never be accorded to someone – regardless of how successful they’ve been - while they’re still in active service, as it makes them practically unsackable – to remove them would be like a Christian church sacking Jesus.

Also, though I found Sir Chips pleasant enough and don’t doubt that deep down he has the best interests of the club at heart, I couldn’t shake the feeling I was in conversation with a hedge-fund manager who most probably knew more about rugby than football. Don’t get me wrong, I dislike the historical veneration of ‘Saint’ David Dein as much as anyone, as there were few figures within the game that were as culpable for creating the current climate of profiteering within the English game. Dein once replied that ‘the club is not a charity’ in response to the question of whether Arsenal were pricing its traditional fan-base out of the game.

One thing that was undoubted about him however is that he knew enough of the game to have a basic grasp as to what made a great football player or manager. Dein is a business man who knows the business of football, where in contrast you get the feeling that the current directors are merely businessmen who know the business of business. Dein also wasn’t someone who lacked the ‘cojones’ to make a big decision. The current board doesn’t seem to understand that calculated risks are an inherent part of any business (the club took on a risk when it moved from Highbury, did it not?).

You get the feeling that the current board’s philosophy on big decisions, in contrast, is never put off until tomorrow what you can put off until the day after, which supports the view of WWE CEO Vince McMahon that Stan Kroenke should be arrested for impersonating a good businessman. At another of the AST Christmas meetings, I also actually got to stand next to ‘Silent Stan’ at the bar. Even then, I never heard him say a word, despite the fact that the people around him were actually in conversation with him! This encounter made me wonder whether Stan’s eternal silence, rather than being some sort of well-thought-out crafty tactic, came from his just being the kind of bloke who takes a decade to think of something interesting to say!

Stan does like to masquerade as a self-made man and insist that his marriage into the Wal-Mart family is just mere coincidence to his fortune from THF (To Have Fun) Enterprises – even though the company’s wealth came from building shopping malls which just happened to be anchored to a Wal-Mart store (judging by the incumbent US president, you kind of get the feeling that you could probably be born with the intellectual prowess of Ralph from the Simpsons and yet still hold prominence within Corporate America if you were lucky enough to be born or married into the right family).

In his defence, Arsène Wenger isn’t responsible for the power-vacuum that’s developed above him. He is however 100% responsible for the vacuum that developed beneath him. In twenty years, Wenger hasn’t had a figure on the coaching staff anywhere near as prominent as that which Don Howe was to both Bertie Mee and Terry Neill (similarly, you could actually say the same of George Graham as well – his number two, Stewart Houston was often derided as the ‘cone man’ among the Arsenal players). Since the loss of Robin van Persie five years ago, Arsenal have not even had an official club captain who, if fit, is a guaranteed name on the first-eleven team sheet, let alone up there with the Frank McLintocks or the Tony Adamses for on-field influence.

What’s more, it’s not that Wenger’s personality even suits dictatorship. The man with his awkward bookish look who allegedly doesn’t like conflict is probably more akin to the intelligentsia which ruthless tyrants often send to the gulag for hard labour. It’s worth remembering that at the height of his Nottingham Forest demagoguery, Brian Clough actually had the audacity to punch Roy Keane. In contrast, it’s difficult to imagine Arsène Wenger even telling Theo Walcott a few home truths about his level of performance (has history ever had a demagogue that doesn’t raise his voice, as senior players noted of Arsène Wenger on his arrival at Arsenal back in 1996?).

In the words of Voltaire (or for those less well read, Spiderman), with great power comes great responsibility, but there certainly seems to have been little in the way of checks and balances on the influence of Arsène Wenger in London N5 over the last decade or so. One of the greatest speeches on the perils of a lack of such limits on the powerful came from Charlie Chaplin in the 1940 Satirical movie ‘The Great Dictator’, which contained the famous line that ‘dictators free themselves, but they enslave their people’.

Over the last ten years, Wenger seems to have freed himself from responsibility for Arsenal’s failings, while enslaving the club to mediocrity. The ‘machine men, with machine minds and machine hearts’ might argue in mitigation that it’s a mediocrity that’s ensured Champions League football and a couple of FA Cups over the last decade, but in comparison to the optimism of 2004, it’s still mediocrity nonetheless.

Follow me on Twitter@robert_exley

16th March 2017 09:57:07


Comments and Reaction

User comments on this article are now closed. If you want to continue the debate, why not do so on the Gooner Forum.

MAF  11:02am 16th Mar 2017

It is Game over this year for Wenger + the idiots in Charge who saw 4th place as always enough. the rule in life if you aim low you can end up lower. Arsenal will finish with a max of 71 Points this season which means Liverpool only Need 16 more Points to be ahead of us. Mediocrity has arrived already as we all know - we just now Need this confirmed in our 5th or 6th place finish, 5-0 loss to City in the semis and being in the draw for the Europa League Thursday nights Marathon. a very slow and painful disaster being managed by a bunch of Clowns and a French Aristocrat who only thinks of himself - Post No. 105321

!No Pasaran!  11:51am 16th Mar 2017

Interesting read, memorable names. Particularly like Shankly's quote regarding working for the team and sharing in the rewards. You never heard Bill Shankly, Clough, Bertie Mee or any other of these people continually speak of mental strength as much as Lord Wenger tends to, but then again, they didn't need to. When all is said and done, the truth is always on the pitch. - Post No. 105323

ArsenalMagna  12:17pm 16th Mar 2017

A great piece of work, Robert! In 'Keane and Vieira: Best of Enemies', Keane said 'you don't win titles with choir boys'. It really is tragic the way Wenger demands meekness from his players, but more tragic is his simple-minded clinging to the all-attack philosophy. When Bould first joined as assistant coach we played brilliantly - there was a revolution in tactics and in our first few games we didn't concede a single goal and created plenty of great chances (only the hapless Giroud prevented them going in...). Wenger was so childish and egotistic/controlling that he reverted back to (losing) type tactics rather than endure the continued praise for Bould! The worst part about the dictatorship however is its popularity! I despair at the AKBs over the years who have lapped up the failure and blindly defended Arsene to the detriment of our club - they are the greatest enemies of this club who keep him in power! - Post No. 105324

The Man From UNCLE  12:40pm 16th Mar 2017

Lots of quotes in this article so here's another one, from John Dalberg-Acton; "absolute power corrupts absolutely". - Post No. 105325

TonyEvans  13:08pm 16th Mar 2017

It's a crying shame that one man's vanity has stripped the club bare of any resemblance of a 'boot room'. Instead we have yes men aplenty that bow and tug their forelock as the great dictator, Wenger, decides on every aspect of how the club should be run. What a boot room we could have had too, with the likes of Adams, Viera, Keown and even someone like David O'Leary - Arsenal men through and through that could inspire and instil the fighting, never say die, attitude that Arsenal always stood for. - Post No. 105326

DJW  13:29pm 16th Mar 2017

Great article on all fronts esp the points about David Dein. Supporters champion my Arsenal! Only ever interested in money and power, if one thing gets my goat more than Wenger it's all the newbies thinking he could be our saviour! - Post No. 105327

Yes its Ron  13:34pm 16th Mar 2017

Really good article Rob, as ever. I tend to think though that where you say Wengers character isnt tyrant type, i disagree a little but can see why you have yr view. Hes not physically strong clearly and looks like he needs locking in a butchers shop for 3 months and fed some raw meat, but i think its his intelligence that makes him fearful. Few Coaches are in his bracket 'between the ears'. AW can frame an argument in support of himself that always sounds cogent and unarguable, until you stand back and think oh, hang on a minute. Only then does his spin seem doubtful, so basically i think he rules by stealth and manipulation. Hes a master i feel at allowing players to think that theyre in control of decision making, the Board too, but really hes pulling their strings and pressing their buttons. I suspect that he can make people feel important when in fact hes dismissive of them and treats them with disdain. Hes very cute and his suave looks and well groomed upright stance and demeanour make all of his methods and attributes a powerful force to contend with. Of course he clearly enahnces all of this by bringing in players who arent going have the mental resolve or desire to challenge him. His recruitment this last 10 yrs makes that so very obvious. So, in short, Wenger in my view is a master of mind control and if you like, all that he utters is propaganda. The man really should be in politics! This is his package and its makes him strong, truly does. Underneath it all is that hes actually quite sensitive, doesnt like confrontation and in many respects hes weak i suspect. Many dictators are later proven to be so, thats why they master the art of how to become a dictator i guess. Sorry for the psychological rant. Youre all probably asleep by now guys!! - Post No. 105328

Yes its Ron  13:54pm 16th Mar 2017

ArsenalMagna - the 'dictatorships popularity'. Great point and its one id like to have added to my response to Rob. Hitler, Gadaffi, Mussolini, Napoleon, Henry V111, Genghis Khan, Stalin, even Maggie Thatcher et al. All enjoyed massive popular support until their respective roofs caved in and made people sit up and ask what was happening, but not until it had a direct effect upon them. Like these tyrants subjects, the AKBs have done and continue to sleepwalk their way through this in total, unbridled ignorance. Theres comfort and joy in the ignorance of the masses. Its stable and doesn't involve asking questions either of their leaders or of themselves. There you have the AKBs in my view. - Post No. 105329

mbg  15:37pm 16th Mar 2017

There is no comparison, they were all successful and more importantly knew what they were doing, this old past it laughing stock of a manager we have isn't, and, doesn't, and none of those was ever a laughing stock. We want wenger out. - Post No. 105330

mbg  15:54pm 16th Mar 2017

Perfect photos to go together one skinny dictator and a fat one, the skinny one wouldn't last long under fat boys rule though, he doesn't suffer fools and failures lightly. wenger out. - Post No. 105331

Siddy  17:20pm 16th Mar 2017

Good piece, Robert. I like your historical take on things. The thing about Wenger is that I think he has changed a lot since he took over. It's like a marriage: Back in 1998, it seemed like AW and AFC were made for each other and it would be happily ever after. But now it's like a bad marriage. We need a divorce. - Post No. 105333

Alsace  17:46pm 16th Mar 2017

Was this a list of managers whose boots OGL is not fit to lick? Cloughie stayed on way too long and destroyed what he had built, but Forest were Champions of Europe twice. I wonder how many Forest Fans and boardroom denizens chanted " be careful what you wish for". Just imagine the sheer joy of hearing that George Graham was coming back to defenestrate the unworthy and then hand over to a modern capable coach? - Post No. 105334

Arseneknewbest  18:08pm 16th Mar 2017

MBG - Fair point, but to be fair I don't think King Jong-Un would last too long in Wengo's stalag colney environment either. Salads, pasta, endless tippy tappy, warming up and down, psychological rather than actual torture. Within ten minutes, he'd be giving it the big one - "Oi, you pseudo intellectual bollix - when do I get to kill someone?" - Post No. 105335

Up For Grabs Now  18:33pm 16th Mar 2017

Wenger is currently displaying all the classic signs of being a dictator, namely the inability to see that his time is up. Think of Nicolae Ceausescu on his balcony in Romania in 1989, giving his speech, completely oblivious to the fact that right below him his own overthrow was already taking place. Wenger and the board might think that by simply stating a contract extension has been signed, that the protesters will simply disperse. That will be one hell of a fatal mistake, but I am expecting it, because dictators simply never see the end coming, it comes with the territory! Unlike a conventional dictator though, he can’t have us bumped off and silenced, hence whether he likes it or not, the end is coming. - Post No. 105336

markymark  18:58pm 16th Mar 2017

Alsace - blinking Nora, the defenestration of Prague ! Get those Hay carts ready and get ready to shove Syrup and Chips of the Tower. I'm liking the historical links. - Post No. 105337

markymark  19:11pm 16th Mar 2017

Alsace has got me thinking that after Chips and Syrup have been defenestrated. That Wengo should be forced to pass under the Yoke. Standing either side of the Yoke would be Mourinho and Conte. Provided of course they could put their little spat aside. A nice Roman / Italian humiliation for our failed dictator. - Post No. 105338

CORNISH GOONER  19:44pm 16th Mar 2017

Excellent& interesting article. Also enjoyed Ron's psychological take on Webster - although I think "psycho" is a more appropriate description of Old Lankypoo, Doesn't he talk a load of bollocks these days? Must be difficult even for the Press to keep a straight face at his conferences. The whole point is surely that all supporters of sound mind (99.9% on this site) must realise it's over for this Great Dictator & we must keep up the pressure so that even those Public School types masquerading as directors can see it. It will probably get very ugly in the meantime though. - Post No. 105339

jjetplane  21:14pm 16th Mar 2017

Great stuff as always Robert and is a lesson on how to deal with football historically that Untold could take a lesson or two in. For me Wenger has become lazy, disinterested and ultimately complacent. He reminds me of Trump who is a past master of the 'power is boring me now' attitude. Nowhere can this be witnessed more than Wenger on the touch line. No jumping around and losing it for him. he gets ever so self-conscious just clenching his bony fists. Never bought into the erudite, philosophical model neither as over his twenty underwhelming years in public he has not got further than a vocabulary which is 'little bit' 'look you could say' and of course 'mental spirit.' Still waiting for someone to point out to me something he has said which was remarkable. Would much rather listen to the dictator/coach at Lincoln City. That's a tyranny worth buying into and the language employed is indeed football poetry with a suprematist tinge (see the Russians). The French are great for reinvention as Monaco are proving to everyone and they sacked our reluctant dictator and sent him into exile. Look at them now. - Post No. 105341

mbg  22:29pm 16th Mar 2017

Alsace, great post, yes and old Cloughie had an excuse the booze, what excuse has TOF ? fooking arrogance, bring back George Graham. wenger out. - Post No. 105342

KC38  22:53pm 16th Mar 2017

Great piece. Wenger has to go but GG, don't make me laugh that failed Spud manager, for those that are paying we want to watch 21st century football not dinosaur, boring hands up in the air, purgatory 1 0's with Morrow, Carter, Jensen, Helder, Hillier, and McGoldrick boring us to sleep. - Post No. 105343

jeff wright  22:53pm 16th Mar 2017

Wengo is not really a proper football man neither are any of the clowns who Syrupy Stan employs so the whole sheebang at AFC is non-football related regarding what success is judged by. With other factors such as making profits replacing what a football club should be about. Wenger is a control freak who uses various methods to control everyone at AFC some supporters and the media in general have bought into Wenger's charade of superior persona to the rest of the pack. The old le prof image of Wengo sitting at home at nights watching videos of Cruff's Ajax and Eintracht playing 'total football' were bought into by many until were shocked to discover that it was not true .This is like kids believing that Santa Claus brings their Xmas presents and then shock horror finding out that dad left them under the Xmas tree. Wenger blaming the ref for the 5-1 home defeat to Bayern, 10-2 on ag, is a typical control freak Wengo ploy to divert attention away from the reality that yet again he had come up short ,well short actually, in the tournament that he craves more than any other to make his mark in. The sad truth is that despite all the hype regarding Wengo's consistent qualification for the European Cup that his record in it is one off appalling failure.That is nothing to be proud about and yet he claims that it is. He actually said so! You couldn't make it up. - Post No. 105344

TonyEvans  9:18am 17th Mar 2017

Latest deluded drivel from Wenger this morning was this pearl of wisdom - 'Walcott is now a big game player' I wonder what game he was referring to, as it surely can't be football can it? We really don't need any more evidence as to how detached from reality Wenger is, but he seems to be getting worse than ever. - Post No. 105346

TonyEvans  9:43am 17th Mar 2017

All - check out the Arsenal Truth blog website. Great spoof advert for a Sporting Director job at Arsenal. - Post No. 105347

MAF  10:07am 17th Mar 2017

Tired depressed old has-been's record v Tony Pulis Teams: played 7 won 1 drawn 2 lost 4 scored 9 conceded 12 Pulis, being like it or not, a tactically minded, disciplined Coach. sounds familiar - Post No. 105348

The Man From UNCLE  10:16am 17th Mar 2017

KC38; I'd take George Graham back tomorrow. A man who knows how to organise a team and make them difficult to play against - the very least a manager should be able to do (except ours). By purgatory 1-0's, are you referring perhaps to Liverpool (A) 1991, Man Utd (A) 1990, Parma (ECWCF 1994) so on and so forth. Or are you just a WUM. - Post No. 105349

Yes its Ron  10:41am 17th Mar 2017

KC38 - Always have to smile at poster like you who trot out those names to support yr spurious points. Hows this as a retort - Denilson, stepanovs, bendtner, Djourou, Senderos, Vela, Eboue, Song, Luzny, cygan, santos, Jeffers, wright,squillaci, gervinho, bishcoff, silvestre, vivas, chamack and on and on and on. 21st C football indeed! When it comes to signing stooges and persisting with them, Wengs has no equal. GG was a novice by comparison when it came to that. I dont believe that you were an AFC fan back in GGs day. - Post No. 105350

jjetplane  11:32am 17th Mar 2017

KC must not have grown up with GG as a player then coach. The man was a class act on both counts. Back to Arsene Mugabe and that brown nose Boro who has been slurping at his side for twenty years. He reckons the fans are ungrateful as are ex-players and I haver never known a club that has so many arse licking fans who just hate every player before Mugabe 2 turned up. They must all cram into some ****ing temple and get reprogrammed to hate Arsenal when it was The Arsenal. Boro Primorac - **** off! - Post No. 105351

Seven Kings Gooner1  11:50am 17th Mar 2017

Ron, you missed out Almunia, England's future goalkeeper, LOL. Almunia's style of goalkeeping was if I stand in the same place all the time, the ball must hit me eventually. To complete my point Kallstrom - there cannot be another manager on the planet who would sign a player with a broken back! KC38 : "Failed Spud manager" I'd back any George Graham side in a one off game against any of AW, including the Invincibles! - as for Steve Morrow at least he's won a League Cup medal and scored the goal to win it, no Arsenal player under Wenger has achieved that honour. - Post No. 105352

The Man From UNCLE  12:08pm 17th Mar 2017

A mate of mine, AFC fan since the early 1960's, told me he rated Graham higher than AW, as "he won trophies with worse players!" I think I know what he meant. We also had the sweet taste of European success under GG - and a team that scored 155 league goals in two seasons. How dull we were in those days. - Post No. 105353

Yes its Ron  12:24pm 17th Mar 2017

SKG - Ha. Almunia was a glaring miss wasnt he! Him and Kalstrom come under ' and on and on and on'. Agree with you totally re GG teams v Invincibles. if they played 10 games, i d expect GG s best to beat AWs best at least 7 times. The truth about this regime is that the flakiness and mental weakness we ve seen this last 10 yrs all started with that invincible s team. They just had a few guys who could overcome it and carry the rest whereas today, the same weaknesses are institutionalised in the Club. - Post No. 105354

markymark  12:39pm 17th Mar 2017

Leek - there a bit of chatter re good old GG. care to join in? Cat got yer tongue? - Post No. 105355

mbg  15:22pm 17th Mar 2017

Tony Evans, the game he was referring to is the playground game, when the children (players) all join hands and move around in a circle,(very apt that) Ring a ring of roses a pocket full of posers a tissue a tissue we all fall down. wenger out now. - Post No. 105358

mbg  15:58pm 17th Mar 2017

KC, Ron has said it all in his reply to you, but give me some of those George Graham boys you've mentioned over those wenger failures Ron has any day, and failed spud manager, he never had or never was going to have a chance there, and I bet you weren't saying that about him that night at Anfield and Copenhagen, among others, and just what would you call the football we're playing now under wenger ? if that's not boring i don't know what is, i'll tell you this if we had George back he'd have that bunch (a lot of them no better than we had under George either) organised a hell of a lot better than they are now or have been for many years, especially tactically and defensively and he'd certainly make sure we weren't wimps and pushovers like we have now under this excuse for a manager. wenger out. - Post No. 105359

Alsace  16:20pm 17th Mar 2017

Comrade Cornwall. Not all Public Schoolboys are worthy of your mild derision. Some of my schoolmates are professors of hard sums and some open people up and put them back together again successfully. Our collective (however schooled)objection to Wenger and his disciples is that they have no concept of what AFC means or is meant to mean. It isn't some louche Parisian salon where one drinks absynth to dull the sheer ennui of reality. It is much more like a crisp and hostile tackle from Nigel Winterburn / Bob McNab /Eddie Hapgood. Hopefully soon we shall be rid of the Alsatian disease and the weak wet w*nk*rdom that he has engendered. - Post No. 105361

KC38  16:24pm 17th Mar 2017

Ron, Before I respond, for the record I have been an Arsenal supporter since 71, I witnessed the Terry Neil, Don Howe era and all that followed. This only highlights the small world you live in where you believe any one that preferred Wenger to GG only started supporting under Wenger. You often post some very interesting thoughts and many that I agree with. I can appreciate what GG done for Arsenal but firmly believe that Wengers Arsenal at their best was several levels above GG’s Arsenal at their best. When we beat Parma, I enjoyed winning but deep down wanted to see my team win by being the better team not being a destructive let’s stop the opposition team. To even things up I left the millennium after beating the Mancs on penalties feeling good as we won but deep down feeling gutted that a Wenger team had decided to defend deep and luckily won a game they never should have. The same applied to the Liverpool final we smashed them that day, probably the best we have played in a final, but bad luck, shocking referring and two great finishes by Owen stopped us winning a game we deserved to. As we waited for a train after a supporter moaned he was going to chuck his season ticket and slagged off Wenger, I stood there knowing that sometimes the best team does not always win and you have to look beyond the result. Our dominance that followed proved that as much as I know that victory over Utd signalled the start of the end. For the record, I want Wenger out, I won’t listen to him anymore as he can send you mad with his BS. I accept that his time is way past its sell by date. This site has many GG lovers which I think lacks class and principles, the man stole the club’s money and sold himself to our rivals what a man! His football turned into a bore fest and to sum it all up the Suds could handle our success under GG but hated it under Wenger because we won with style. I agree Wenger has overseen many crap players but Wengers reign is all about part A and Part B. Part A saw the best players, the best football and the best moments, we were the best and neutrals applauded as well. I totally agree that Wenger must go but appreciate all of Part A, the childish, bully comments and acronym’s (Wenger out) written time and again on here just give you an overview of the people writing them. How about some positive opinions on who should take over? I find it very strange that individuals that hate the club, the stadium, the manager, the owners, the supporters spend so much time on here. Where I sit, I can tell you is surrounded by fans that have been going for many years and they appreciate part A. Over on Untold you have a cult like following that I despair at but in all honesty, this site is very similar, sets of opinions that cannot appreciate a view that differs to theirs. No doubt I will receive more of the same, but so what. My struggle is to understand that to remove Wenger requires wanting my team to lose something I find alien; I am after all an Arsenal fan. - Post No. 105362

KC38  16:36pm 17th Mar 2017

MBG - Go to a game and voice your opinion, it will have a far greater impact than typing Wenger out over and over again! - Post No. 105364

markymark  17:09pm 17th Mar 2017

I'm now very worried for the well being of Leek the Squeak. Normally my infantile goading is enough to produce a bitter Wengie love reply. But nothing not a peep. All I can think is the following. 1: Leek is dead. (i mean Cyber dead). 2: Leek is engaged as a sexual play thing of Jamerson and he can't reply as he is chained to the bed and is wearing a Gimp mask. 3: He's busy writing of his love for Waddle and Hoddle on a Spurs site. 4: he's realised the game is up and is busy buying tinned goods for the 'End Times'. Squeak are you there? Hello Squeak?........ - Post No. 105366

mbg  18:15pm 17th Mar 2017

So wally wasn't best pleased and not being called up for England especially on his Birthday, Theo this is what happens when another manager sees and knows what we all know, and what the new manager will quickly see too, your fooking useless, except one old blind one who hasn't a clue, Happy Birthday. wenger out. - Post No. 105367

jeff wright  18:33pm 17th Mar 2017

KC38,speaking as one who use to attend matches home and away over 3 decades I'm not convinced that paying for tickets to watch home games and then voicing protests,usually for some ONLY when a poor result has taken place, is the way to go about getting shut of hapless Arsene and the odious creepy Stan. My protest started 5 years ago when I decided , along with others, not to give money to the current regime by ceasing attending games. Of course my paying to watch games on BT and Sky sports provides cash to Stan so I still feel that I have the right to protest about the shenanigans and chicanery that are going on at AFC even if I am not at the games .Personally I think that these protests currently going on are not actually achieving much at all other than providing a bit of public humiliation to flaky Wengo but it's noticeable how he quickly recovers from the constant heavy and rather embarrassing defeats and just shrugs them off with inane excuses.This is because Stan and his gang are supporting him and know that the gullible home crowd can soon be got back on track ,the same one that the fast track bullies operate on, if results get a bit better . We have been here before .Only missing out on a top 4 spot and more supporters refusing to buy tickets will have any impact on Syrupy Stan by on his ranch in the good 'ol U.S of A, thus convincing the cretin that it really is time to get rid of Wengo . Losing in the FAC will not work the oracle it will just be dismissed as not being worth the bother of winning and more will be made of the top 4 trophy challenge . Although of course if by some chance the old fraudster wins it then the Cup will become a 'major trophy' again. As I said,we have been here before.Wengo is waiting along with Stan to see how things transpire in the league .C' est la vie ! - Post No. 105368

mbg  18:43pm 17th Mar 2017

KC38, like yourself I have been going to games for many years but have never seen the need to let others know it and won't start now, but I am and have been voicing my opinion and started doing that even louder when I gave up my long held season ticket three/four seasons ago and stopped going to help keep wenger in a job, and as far as I can see my actions from home and from typing on here(along with a lot of others) are working very well, because your messiah has never been under as much pressure in his life and is as close now to getting rid off as he's ever been. wenger out. - Post No. 105369

jjetplane  19:18pm 17th Mar 2017

Having been there since 1963 I got out in 2004 and wish Wenger had never come to Arsenal in the first place. Shown up over the last 13 years for the accountant he is. Monaco sussed him out years ago. Shyster. Never had Sky either and get my football off the radio and of course go to games most weeks now in County Football . Fiver a game and the idea of spending 100 quid to see the virtually lionish Theo and the rest is well ... ****ing insane! Paul Merson - I love you! PL is just a brand circus now and I am tuned into just that which is why the best bit of the season so far has been the Deli Alii handshakes. Totally boss that and Conte on the touchline is a joy too! Wenger in contrast is an embarrassment. Leicester v Athletico - serious stuff! - Post No. 105370

CORNISH GOONER  19:28pm 17th Mar 2017

Alsace, you are right I must not let my distaste for Webster's Boardroom colour my opinion of all public school peeps. There are also some decent Americans somewhere (Tango coloured ones excepted) & I have been a blues & jazz enthusiast since school/college so I like their culture. I am rebuked nonetheless - apologies to your worthy mates! Let's hope THAT BANNER flies tomorrow & gets the media attention it deserves. Bring on the revolution! - Post No. 105371

jjetplane  21:23pm 17th Mar 2017

Theo that vertabrae that gave life to Wenger's great English spine has been dropped from all England team plans. Not a proper footballer in the way that Wenger is not a proper coach. You can see why they have stayed together for a decade. Theo is 27 and Arsene is 67. Maybe they like fishing together .... - Post No. 105374

Arseneknewbest  21:52pm 17th Mar 2017

Will tomorrow's planned flyover be the (sopwith) camel that breaks the old fokker's back? Going down in flames to the lamentable ayatollah pooless and his baggies squadron would surely help to sabotage the flight plan. Chocks away! - Post No. 105375

Alsace  22:53pm 17th Mar 2017

No rebuke intended matey. It's just takes all sorts to make The Arsenal. Confusion and desolation to those who support, in really any way the present regime. I have reached the stage where I am so desperate to see the creep gone that I do not wish AFC to win the cup. Many years ago I predicted death by a thousand cuts. I underestimated the scope of the death or the number of cuts. - Post No. 105376

mbg  0:58am 18th Mar 2017

jj, yes remember that great English spine that TOF produced that was going to be the backbone of England for years to come and the AKB's took great delight in telling us about, and gave their messiah much praise for, (they'd believe anything)and the egoistic old shyster himself took great delight in taking the adulation for, smirking and grinning every time it was mentioned. Well as we all knew at the time it was a load of b******s spin and indeed it was shown up for just that many a time since, and shown up yet again now LOL, it was just like his own back bone that of a gutted fish after the cat was finished with it. wenger out now. - Post No. 105378

KC38  9:36am 18th Mar 2017

MBG you don't feel the need to tell everyone you used to go to games, but you have anyway!! You honesty believe typing on here helps pressure Wenger!! What world are you living in? You're posts are utter BS. You're like the untold posters, type a lot know very little - Post No. 105387

mbg  21:26pm 18th Mar 2017

Typical AKB when their backs to the wall and they have nothing left, resort to name calling, how many times have we seen it. You couldn't make it up. wenger out now. - Post No. 105422

Issue #269 - Out Now!

Gooner Editorial

15th January 2018

Being muscled off the ball by Bournemouth is like being mugged by your grandma

Online Ed: Another poor Arsenal display on the road just another signpost as we near the end of the Wenger era