The problems with the football phone-in were there for all to hear on Today FM’s ‘Live after 5′ show last Saturday.
Pugnacious presenter Michael McMullen and Mick Martin (one of Giovanni Trapattoni’s well-paid scouts) were discussing Arsenal’s meltdown in the context of Man City’s 3-0 win and William Gallas’s sin-binning, when John from Dublin called up with his two cents’ worth. Sack Arsene Wenger, he said, echoing a call he’d made on the same programme three weeks before, which makes the fact he was allowed more airtime one of the seven wonders of broadcasting.
Right, says McMullen, let’s say he’s shown the door, who would John replace him with? “The Dream Team”, he ventured, “Denis Bergkamp and Martin Keown.” They’d sort the dressing room out. No matter that they’ve zero managerial experience or even the inclination.
That Wenger’s woes were so unexpected is perhaps the reason people struggle to explain them, or come up with a viable alternative to Arsene. His problem, and moreover the club’s, is a lack of financial clout. Budgetary prudence as much as his proven philosophy about how football should be played, have culminated in the Gunners’ mini-crisis of sorts. Too many players he’d put his faith in haven’t developed as he thought they would, while others patently were never going to. His frustration has been visible for a while now (remember the ‘Basil Fawlty’-esque slideshow the RTÉ lads ran last year, much to Liam Brady’s chagrin).
Clearly he should have invested in a goalkeeper and centre-half for starters and, while he won’t admit, the Frenchman must now be seeing the error of his ways. You can’t always build from the front.
However, demands for Wenger’s head are ridiculous. He has won more trophies, not to mention respect, than any foreign manager in English football. Alex Ferguson, now that they’ve bridged their differences somewhat, might remind him that many United fans, this doubting Thomas included, were calling for the Knight’s Old Trafford exit not so long