Arsene Wenger – the man with the “dark side”

Arsene Wenger

Like Sir Alex Ferguson talking about “value in the transfer market” after buying an unknown player for £7m five weeks after he could have got him for nothing; like Liverpool fans having an opinion of any sort on crowd trouble; there are some subjects that people in footballing circles should really steer clear from if they want to protect themselves from accusations of staggering hypocrisy. Arsene Wenger took time in his weekly press conference to comment on Paul Scholes – whose early season form has been sensational – and, outrageously described him as a player “with a dark side”.

This is the same Wenger whose Arsenal side had a terrible disciplinary record when he first took over and has transformed his team into a bunch of over-rated, petulant, dirty little thugs – perfectly personified by their captain – who get away with their misdemeanours time and again because of their favourable reflection by Sky and the London Media. Mr Wenger has made a habit in recent years by singling out players and with this latest outburst has very clearly overstepped the line.

Arsenal’s terrible record with red and yellow cards doesn’t need to highlighted; it was a record setting period of bad behaviour from a team that kicked and spat it’s way to, more often than not, second place in the early years of his tenure. The recent trophyless incarnation, North London’s very own collection of Djemba-Djemba’s and Liam Miller’s that get hyped to oblivion, regularly fall foul of believing their own hype and kick out – usually, literally – when things don’t go their way.

Watching a precocious Cesc Fabregas spit at opponents, abuse respected figures in the game or a “mature” Fabregas cheat to get fellow professionals is one thing. Complaining about getting “kicked off the park” then chasing Nani halfway down a football pitch just to kick him as hard as anything is also par for the course.

The more recent development that Wenger is engineering is all too transparent and, indeed, hints at a very disturbed and deeply unprofessional side to an experienced man who should know better. After Eduardo and Aaron Ramsey suffered terrible injuries Wenger was quick to publicly condemn Martin Taylor and Ryan Shawcross – two players who, rightly or wrongly, have seen a promising career grind to a shuddering halt as an indirect consequence of those challenges. Wenger was notable by his silence though in January after William Gallas kicked Bolton’s Mark Davies and actually suggested Nani was being “disrespectful” in 2008, intimating that if our young winger didn’t want to be kicked then he shouldn’t show off his skills.

He was embarrassed into silence after the Liverpool match, choosing to come out with the classic “I didn’t see it” comment after Joe Cole was sent off for a foul on new signing Koscielny. The Frenchman showed signs of being an Arsenal player immediately when he called for a stretcher but perhaps his new club naivety paid off as he returned fit as a fiddle to play the rest of the game, negating Wenger’s opportunity to lambast Cole or exaggerate the injury to his player.

There are still a mind numbingly large number of people who persist with the bull that Wenger has re-shaped the Premier League and how football “should be played”. No, sir. This is a guy who has only excelled at gearing his side up for one or two 5 star showings against smaller clubs. Not much to show for someone who was given the funds to poach the worlds brightest talent at the start of the century. The beautiful game? How can it be, when Wenger himself openly admits he tells his players to cheat – a telling insight into the mindset of this wrongly lauded fraudster.

It’s that pathetic – there is no other word for it – exaggeration that leads some people to perhaps lose a little of their sympathy for those Arsenal players who are genuinely injured. When Wenger suggested Thomas Vermaelen had broken his leg in January (in the same Bolton game where Gallas attacked Davies in the build up to a crucial Arsenal goal), where were the derisory putdowns on him when the Belgian not only returned to action FOUR days later but lasted the duration, scoring late on?! Let me be clear; the loss of sympathy isn’t because of anything the players themselves did. It’s because of Arsene Wenger’s misdirected persecution complex and the disgraceful way he attempts to ruin careers of professional footballers with outright lies.

I can’t lie; sometimes I cringe at Paul Scholes’ tackles. The thing to remember though is that Paul Scholes is a fundamentally honest player and person. He isn’t a Fabregas, who will cheat to get an opponent sent off. He isn’t a Gallas, who will kick someone in the shin for NO reason. He’s not a Vieira, who will dive like a sack of sh*t at the side of someone half a foot smaller than him. Sure, he’s been known to be opportune and try and punch in a ball or two but if we were to descend into gamesmanship then again, Fabregas, Pires, Adebayor to name just three are high profile serial offenders for the Gunners. There’s no “dark side” to Scholes; Wenger, however, has shown his. The logical presumption to make would be that Wenger is frustrated that Scholes is still the best midfielder in the league; it must be a frustrating sight, year in year out, while he has to shuffle his system and pack his main man with protection just to try and get him playing well against the Blackburns and the Derbys of the Premier League. He’s had to suffer Scholes making a mockery of the best he has to offer for over a generation.

But consider this. Maybe Wenger has brought Arsenals’ woes on himself. The players, to a man, who wear the Arsenal shirt look physically underdeveloped and unable to sustain the rigours of the game at the highest level. That is Wenger’s fault for not preparing his players, not giving them a workout plan sufficient enough to cope. Consider that perhaps one week after seeing Arsenal players chase and kick Nani, Birmingham players were prepared to be a little more robust than normal in order to protect themselves against the thuggish behaviour of their opponents. Maybe Ryan Shawcross – dodgy disciplinary record even considered – was wary of an Arsenal side that had not less than a month previous seen dangerous high profile, career threatening challenges, go totally unpunished. Every dangerous tackle is a serious injury waiting to happen; Arsenal are just as guilty, if not more so, as anyone of performing them. A player shouldn’t be singled out and vilified just if they injure someone, they should be singled out and vilified for performing the tackles in the first place.

Yes, all managers have a duty, a responsibility even, to protect their clubs interests. To protect the clubs players. But Wenger crosses the line on a regular basis when he chooses to go as far as he does when attacking opposing players, and in now choosing Scholes as the victim of his senseless, moronic outburst, he has extended that ire to teams who haven’t even played against his team. A player who, in over 15 years in the professional game, hasn’t ever caused a serious injury to any opponent. The script is written for Scholes, on the last day of April, to score a crucial, trademark stunning goal at the Emirates to ram the words of the bumbling Frenchman down his throat. It’s just as likely – even more so, in light of Wenger’s words – that he will be sent off for two yellows. Scholes is a red card waiting to happen now simply because of those comments.

The saying goes that people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. These latest comments from Wenger indicate something I’ve thought for some time. This is a man whose professional integrity is crumbling every time he opens his mouth. The words he has chosen to describe Scholes, having a “dark side”, couldn’t be more apt for the Arsenal manager.

14 Comments on Arsene Wenger – the man with the “dark side”

  1. An article of this length about such an innocuous and arguably true comment (which, by the way, came amidst lashings of praise) smacks of an excuse to write about Wenger.

    Come on guys, you can think of better things than this to write about.

  2. What a painfully embarassing article this is, yet another blogger making extreme and ridiculous claims looking for a reaction to boost his hit count rather than make sensible points and interesting observations.

    Sad.

  3. got the link from twitter. as an arsenal fan this whole huge article has been taken really out of context. whole article he praises him and last line he says ‘dark side’. you yourself quoted ” I can’t lie; sometimes I cringe at Paul Scholes’ tackles. ” . thats exactly what wenger said. but he said that after he praised his main rivals player. i dont think alex has ever done that! i am not even sure why wenger is talking about him out of no where!

    2ndly chill man… we all know how rooney dives.. yeah eboue dives.. fuck it. everyone dives.. but not as blatantly like rooney. i mean youtube is filled with rooney diving videos.

    and i agree wenger targets players. he did it to fletcher .. its wrong. but we as a club have tooo many broken legs. i dont remember as many broken legs to players of man u, chelsea or liverpool [ are they even the same league? ] and others… he is bound to get paranoid. so lets chill… he praised scholes a lot.

    all the arsenal blogs write abt our financial state rather than trophies. u should write abt trophies and not the finance.. haha! =)

  4. Cheers for the comment Ian. Just responding to the comment made today.. it was in the news after all, and I’m defending Scholes. The Wenger comments are naturally going to be included.

    Re : it being “amidst praise” – maybe so. He was asked the question, had to provide a nice soundbite, then revealed his true feelings. Nice guy.

  5. A totally one sided piece and quite obviously written in haste.

    As a football fan and blog lover its a sloppy and a generally uncomfortable read.

    This isnt an article full of passion but hateful. In desperate need of light to this shade.

    Poor.

  6. Lets be honest here, wengers just a joke, an embarrassmdnt to the game, he nothing more than a laughing stock. The guys inability to play good football to deadly effect is clear to all yet those sissy lil gurls he now plays still get undeserved credit, yet all they do is master the dive and con refs, arsenal r known for being whimpz who like to kick more skillful teams (ie Utd), yet there whimpz cant even take a brush without fallin ova and rollin about, the gunners are nothing more then an over-rated joke
    http://www.manunews.com/

  7. Read this piece from a football place of impartiality and what an uncomfortable read I found it.

    Clearly written in haste whilst wearing red tinted glasses.

    Think you need to look back at the Man U managers comments in the week with regard to kamikaze spending to realise that one comment made in a 15 minute interview will make the headlines…this was nothing more than that.

    It’s a lazy article which has little structure and can be regarded as nothing more than a rant.

    Am just annoyed that I wasted 2 minutes reading it.

    Poor.

  8. I cannot read the entire post here, but I went on to read Wengers’ comment.

    Here is the deal – he has to say that. He is the manager of a rival club.

    You do not expect him to jolly praise his opponents’ general 100% do you ?

    And the assessment he made of Scholes are spot on; That doesnt in any diminish Paul. He is human. He isnt supposed to be perfect.

  9. Firstly, thanks for commenting, all.

    Apologies for the lack of linked references. Some, I didn’t think were necessary, others I thought I would be insulting readers’ intelligence by including. For anyone wanting a reference explaining please feel free to ask and I’ll do so.

    It’s a general point people are making that “he praised Scholes so why not concentrate on that”? Simple. Because Wenger is experienced enough to know how the media work and how they are going to report whatever he says. He knows by saying Scholes has a “dark side”, it is that which is going to make the headline. Why do it? There’s only one reason. The same reason as his comments on other players. He speaks of dangerous tackles but he means those against his team rather than tackles in the game of football. The first Koscielny yellow last weekend was the worst tackle of the game and was incredibly dangerous, and could easily have led to a career threatening injury.

    Saying there is a “dark side” and my cringing at his tackles are two different things. Dark side implies there is something pre-meditated about it, and I think it is totally uncalled for. Regardless of Wenger’s protectiveness of his own players, Paul Scholes has not caused one serious injury to any player and though he has made many late tackles I can’t remember one in over 15 years as bad as, to take that recent example, Koscielny.

    Mbal, I can assure you I don’t need to write anything to “boost a hit count”. The points are sensible; however being an Arsenal fan you refuse to acknowledge their relevance. Rather than attempt to do so, you just trash and go away. Ridiculous.

    Lewis; you may notice I made reference to Ferguson’s comments re: value in the opening paragraph of this very article – amending your first comment to include that as some kind of focal point is pretty bad considering you clearly haven’t read the piece properly. Apologies the structure was difficult for you to understand or comprehend, I generally attribute my potential readers with prior knowledge. As I said at the top of the comment here, anything you are unclear of please feel free to ask.

    Dax; I don’t expect him to “jolly praise”, but when asked a question and saying something nice, why not leave it there? Wenger has previous for doing this kind of thing.

  10. To Arsenal fan: very recently whilst on tour in America, SAF was asked about Henry – arguably one of the greatest Arsenal players there has been. He was only full of praise for him and spoke at length about how he would have a positive impact in America, similar to the positive impact he had on the Premier League. It was very easy for Ferguson to be praiseworthy and he had no desire to detract from that with any derisory remarks that would pull a negative slant on the interview.

    As Yolkie says, Wenger has been around long enough to know how the media works. Five minutes of praise vs. five seconds of constructive criticism…we all know which one is going to get the most coverage. He didn’t need to say it. He knew what the consequences would be.

  11. Seeing an implication isn’t the same as one being intended.

    And regardless of whether he intends to hurt people, I don’t believe he does, we all know that Scholes is wilfully reckless at times with his tackling and there are usually a couple of times a season when United fans cringe at the way he’s flown in.

    And there’s not a cat’s chance in hell that if it were, say, a Liverpool player and Ferguson said the player had a darkside that you wouldn’t side with Ferguson.

  12. Interesting article Yolie. I can see peoples points that you may have went a little bit far but in idea your perfectly right.

    Wengers cruel and vindictive. Its shocking that he can talk about players like that and get away with it. It affects how the players are viewed especially by referee’s and its similar to other fans complaining about Fergie scaring the refs into giving us decisions. Which is something I’m sure many of the people complaining about this article have moaned about in the past

  13. Ian you’re right, seeing one isn’t the same as it being intended. But in reference to Wenger and his previous, I didn’t think it needed explaining more. In my eyes he’s the most unprofessional manager with regards to sportsmanship in the league. His track record is appalling and this swipe at Scholes was calculated.

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