So, the final weekend of the Premier League season is upon us. As usual, Arsenal are scrambling around for points, hoping that someone else cocks up, to move up the table.
A healthy crowd is expected at the Emirates, with the outside possibility that this may be a historic occasion. Arsène’s time to say goodbye as he takes charge of Arsenal for the last time in a domestic league match. I very much doubt it.
“Patrick Vieira once suggested Arsene does not like big characters and personalities around, especially ones from Arsenal’s history.”
The root of his frustration is trying to get back into the club in a coaching role or working behind the scenes. Adams didn’t hide why he thought Arsène blocked his move:
“He was coming under pressure for not winning a major trophy and to have me around as a successful old captain might have highlighted the underachievement.”
Possibly but I think Vieira was nearer the mark.
Out With Old, In With The Old?
There’s more to it than just being overlooked and I’m sure Arsène will be asked about Adams version of events this morning. Gazidis, Wenger, Hill-Wood; from Mr Arsenal’s recollection, they all gave him the runaround so you understand his frustration boiling over.
With the talk of a director of football coming in, the lack of football experience is something Adams tried to rectify:
“Then there was the time when ex-chairman Peter Hill-Wood questioned where all the people who gave time and expertise — and ran football clubs for free, out of love — had gone.
I wrote to him. “I’m in my 40s, I don’t need paying. I will advise about playing matters and the future, perhaps be Arsene’s long-term successor.”
The board needed someone like me, I reckoned. I never got a reply. So that was four attempts to come back — one to get on to the board, one to become Arsene’s assistant, one to do the reserves, then even the offer of a freebie.”
There is an elephant in the room at this point, one which Adams raises. As fantastic a captain as he was, there’s no way his record points to him as a future Arsenal manager. He doesn’t hide that ambition and fair play to him, but there’s a sense that he saw the ‘advisor’ role as a back door to that position.
It’s not hard to see why the board wouldn’t make the appointment but to not reply? It might be me but when you see the content of these exhibitions and the club’s behaviour in the past, modernisation isn’t always a good thing.
— OpAa (@OpAa2016) May 13, 2017
Wenger’s answer to the comments this morning:
“I do not give much important to what Tony Adams says, honestly.”
So there you have it. No immediate prospect of a thawing in relations, which comes as little surprise.
To be honest, the romanticism which surrounds former players coming on board is dangerous. We need footballing experience on the board and fresh blood on the training ground? Is a former Arsenal player necessarily the right answer?
We know there are plenty of them with coaching badges; they were all fast-tracked through the FA of Wales programme. However, it doesn’t mean they are the best.
The FA’s Yellow Submarine
Holding Ajax up as an example is well and good, so long as you acknowledge the open warfare which preceded it. Yes, that involved former players in senior positions and with influence as well.
Finding the right individuals in the right combination is the toughest job of all.
One aspect of the modern game which infuriates is diving, or simulation as the authorities like to call it. The FA has announced their raft of measures to deal with the issue but their effectiveness is open to debate.
The biggest issue is proving simulation with Rooney in 2004 a case in point. Retrospectively, he receives a two-game ban; so what? Future opponents benefit but the injured party still lost.
Keith Hackett raises that point. The technology will be available so why not use the VARs to adjudicate, with a tangible change in punishment: 15 minutes in a ‘sin bin’. That impacts on the here and now, giving the advantage to the opponents who ‘suffer’.
There are weaknesses in that system as well, with unscrupulous defenders seeking to make out players dived and influence the officials. The immediacy of the punishment lends itself to the scenario; perhaps a trip to the ‘sin bin’ for agitating officials could be introduced although a good question is where does this end?
It’s a start if the FA are serious about stopping diving but it isn’t a quick fix either.