The “Professor” speaks, should we listen?

So Arsenal had their AGM last week and the fans let fly at everyone accept the “Professor”, who as always was able to calm them with his easy manner and thoughtful philosophy. Now in typical Wenger fashion some of these ideas were, well, different and interesting, but should the Arsenal fans be buying it or should every fan look at it for himself?

It would seem, according to Wenger, that there are “5” trophies to win, yes 5! In order, there is: the EPL, Champions League, qualifying for the Champions League, the F.A. Cup, and the League Cup.

At first glance this seems a bit of a copout, adding in qualifying for the Champions League, but if you think about it, he actually has a great point.

As fans you want to see your team play against the best and the only way of doing that is to play in the Champions League. It also brings in extra revenue from gate receipts, shirt sales, global exposure and TV, but even bigger is that the top players want to play Champions League football! Therefore, if you want to sign the best players in Europe you must be in it or have the ability to be in it to get them. As Wenger said, “When you look to sign a player, he does not ask if you have won the League Cup recently. He asks if you are in the Champions League.” The “Professor” also broached the topic of racial issues in the league. He has rejected suggestions that English football would benefit from the introduction of an initiative comparable to the American-style ‘Rooney Rule‘, which forces NFL teams to consider black candidates for every vacant coaching position. “I have always been against discrimination, positive or negative,” said Wenger. “Just to put a quota out, for me is exactly against what sport has to be. Sport is about competition and competence and you should be judged on whether you can do the job well. This rule would be a kind of racism and what we have all to fight for is competence, to put people who are good at their job. Whether they are white, black, red, no matter what colour, put guys who have a competence. That is worth fighting for.” So simple, if only, but he is totally correct. Equality is about everyone being treated the same, not treated special. Don’t get me wrong, it has been appalling what has been happening it the past 12 months, but forcing people to do things, normally makes it worse. What needs to happen is consistency in dealing with the issue; so if you give one player an 8 match ban (Saurez) for racial abuse then don’t give another player a 4 match ban (Terry) for the same offense. The other key is standing by your values and statements, too many times the F.A. and clubs say they want to stamp out racism, but then weaken or hide their punishments of star players. Chelsea for instance have a policy of banning fans for life if they are caught being racist, but Terry has kept the captain’s armband and we are told has been dealt with by the club, so I ask “are they truly committed or only when it suits?” This is where the problem lies and this is where the anger and frustration comes from.

Wenger also told the fans that he is confident that the team he has will perform and that the previous two results were just a minor blip. It is easy to understand the Gunners fans being a little agitated, especially has they have seen some of their star players leave in the past 18 months and Arsenal keep their hands in their pockets. They are also paying the most for season tickets and paying a whopping GBP13.90 for fish and chips! But Wenger never fails them, he does get them into the Champions League consistently; they are always competitive and are the best run club in the Premier League if not the whole of Europe.

The “Professor” did speak and yes I believe we “ALL” should listen, not just the Arsenal fans. He is a thoughtful coach and person, with one of the best track records of any coach out there, especially when it comes to developing young players. Take it from a Spurs fan, Arsenal and the “Professor” have got a lot more right than they have wrong!

PK @ themagic-sponge.com

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