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"I Could Manage Arsenal!"



"Easy? You do it!"
Arsene Wenger is undoubtedly a man of high-intellect. Fluent in English, French and German – as well as an adept conversationalist in Italian, Spanish and Japanese, he is known as a thoughtful and cultured individual; the kind who knows good wine from bad, appreciates the finer details of renaissance art, and when asked to discuss Fellini, is unlikely to suggest he is a microphone haired, modern day Roy Keane wannabe - as opposed to artistic, Italian film director. 

Besides this, he is also a fourty-four year veteran inside the beautiful game; fifteen as player, twenty nine as manager, and carries a hard-earned reputation as one of footballs true great minds. A constructor of finesse, bank-roller of stadiums, and innovator of forward thinking professionalism, he is the sophisticated ideal, in which all football managers are defined. 

Regardless of his long list of achievements, however - should life at the Emirates go tragically pear-shaped this season; and Arsene face another trophy-less year? I know the perfect solution... I could manage Arsenal. After all, while fluent in only English and bullshit, and never having kicked a professional football in my life, I did win the 1997 Premier League with Barnet on Championship Manager; as well as successfully sell Carlton Palmer to Barcelona. Managing a professional football team - anyone can do it...

As I quietly write in one of my many coffee shop hideouts, two middle-aged Tottenham fans sit to the side of me; loudly discussing their clubs current tale of woe; you'd think they'd be used to pain, after five decades of achieving hardly anything. The louder, larger one, proudly proclaims, "I could manage Spurs!" He tells his friend how his rudimentary tactical plans to "play Defoe all the time", and no-nonsense attitude of "If they don't like it, I'll stick them with the twelve-year-olds!" will eventually lead to - in his boldest of statements, "not only win the Premiership, but also get to the semi-finals of the Champions League." I guess he hasn't figured out a way to contain Lionel Messi, yet. 

The conviction and passion in his voice, tells me he truly believes the delusion of his own words; as if he could take the helm at White Hart Lane - pick a first eleven, shout a few fist-pumped "let's ave ya's" at the team before kick-off, and sit back as Tottenham become the invincibles of 2014. Fighting back laughter, it becomes difficult not to turn and ask what exactly qualifies him to manage the England of club football. Before I do however, he provides the best possible answer without realising; "I know exactly how Spurs play and are meant to play... I read all the papers!"

Generally, I find Arsenal possess one of the more intelligent fan bases in football; honest, willing to analyse each situation on a broader level, and dignified, even in frustration. Just view the Gunners fans patient attitude to Wenger over the years, in comparison to the Spurs attitude to every manager of - 'enough is never enough'. However, no club or aspect of life is devoid of ignorance, and during some of Arsene Wenger’s barren spells - and he has had a few, I have heard those proclaim – much like Spurs fans do on a grander, more regular basis, that they could mange Arsenal better than the professor; which I guess means winning many trophies, and finding a way to stop Walcott getting injured every other month.

"A small fraction of people to keep happy"
It is one of those ever-present ideas I hear amongst certain elements of football fans – this notion they could successfully manage a professional, multi-million pound football club - as if the job was a simple game of Connect Four. They talk often about the players they would pick; as if the young impressionable sportsmen involved are robots who think nothing but football, and would capitulate to their every word. They also fail to consider a world surrounded by ruthless board members, dirty manipulative agents, insidious media hacks, wags,scumbags, scoundrels, and a percentage of supporters who – much like the Guy Pearce character in Memento, have a memory which cannot recall anything beyond the last 90 minutes. 

On top of this, they have to constantly produce results on the field without burning the financial coffers, create tactical plays better than the just as ambitious and determined manger on the opposite dugout, and satisfy a thousand itches which never stop pinching on the skin; hardly a simple game of dropping plastic, circular yellow chips through vertical holes. The media don’t help. They promote football managers as inept and foolish, and condition fans incapable of independent thought, that mangers are hired by selecting a name from a hat containing a list of monkeys who won a spot the banana competition in the Beano; or it's European equivalent, in some cases. All in all, the notion anyone can manage a football club as well as an Arsene Wenger, Alex Ferguson, or even a Sam Allardyce tend to forget, there is good reason they are paid the money they are to do the job they do; and why a fat bloke in a coffee shop mumbling platitudes, isn't.

In reality – much as a beggar on the street could perform on stage at the London Palladium, or a tone-deaf fool could support The Rolling Stones at Wembley stadium... I could manage Arsenal. I just hope the board have a seriously blind faith in my threadbare ability though, because my tactical plans would come from the joystick waggling motions of Sensible Soccer, the players would have zero respect for a man who - besides having never played the game professionally, lacks any form of coaching badge; I don't think my Championship Manager medals will assuage them. The media and fans would justifiably resent my appointment due to lack of credentials, and turn on me faster than a posthumous Jimmy Saville, and - as the house of cards falls before it was even built, we'd be relegated by January. I guess the Spurs fan in the coffee shop, forgot to give these ideas any consideration.

So yes, like all those knee-jerk reactionaries, who fail to think beyond black and white; I could manage Arsenal... badly, very, very badly! I doubt Arsene has too much to worry about...

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