Defence, it seems, was an optional extra for last night’s Champions League matches. There was an element of the Minions about the respective back fours whose attitude to the ball flying over their heads was, “Ooooohhhhhh!”, “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh!”, and awe-driven smiles breaking out over their little yellow faces. OK, maybe they weren’t smiling; in fact, a few of them will be close to tears watching their mistakes this morning, including the £30m defenders.
Three managers passed their auditions for taking the Arsenal job. Roger Schmidt and Leonardo Jardim paid scant regard to the attacking quality of their opponents, leaving their back fours hopelessly exposed. Diego Simeone sat perplexed for a far part of the game, which is a familiar feeling at Arsenal, watching his defenders take the commanding lead built and almost throwing it all away. We can but hope the directors noted these credentials and the novel ways each manager programmed their teams to implode.
The current manager remains in situ but not for much longer. Although it’s not considered a landmark case, the FA decided to publish the written reasons for Arsène’s four-match ban. Not quite warp drive in doing so, was it Mr Scott?
Don’t Diss The Federation
Egged on by Moss Bros, the Taylor told the commission,
“Following the award of a penalty kick against his team in approx. 92nd min, Mr Wenger left his technical area to confront me in disagreement at the decision.
Before he said anything I said “think carefully before you say anything”. He responded by saying “you are dishonest to your federation”.
I considered this to be questioning both mine and the referee, Jon Moss’s integrity and impartiality. I stated to Mr. Wenger that such a comment was not acceptable and he told me to “f*ck off” on two separate occasions.
Once Burnley had taken the penalty and before the game restarted I informed the referee, Jon Moss, what Mr Wenger had said and he subsequently dismissed Mr Wenger from the technical area.
Initially Mr Wenger wanted 5 to return to his technical area and I had to ask him again to leave the vicinity as required. He then chose to stand at the opening of the tunnel. I again approached him and asked him to go to the dressing room area.
At this point Mr Wenger pushed me twice and I had to ask the security staff present to escort Mr Wenger to the dressing room area.
At the conclusion of the match Mr Wenger visited the officials changing room and apologised to myself and Mr Moss for his earlier actions.”
Some time ago, a video surfaced of a young child at a safari park, watching the monkeys clamber of the car. I can imagine Wenger’s “F*ck off” was in a similar vein. As for being “dishonest to your federation”, God alone knows what that means. Arsène reckons this meant “questioning the “quality” of the officials’ decision-making but not the integrity of their decision making”. In other words, it means “you cheating boneheaded scumbags” but in a better educated way.
When Push Comes To Shove
As for “pushing” the fourth official, there are varying degrees of physical contact but it’s hard to see Arsène doing anything more than a comedic John Inman touch of the arm. The real surprise was that Taylor chose not to take his lead from the players and go full-on Alcock with a comedy tumble. After the Di Canio incident, every pub he walked into, some clown must have tumbled over in comedy stylee; it would take years for him to have lived that down.
It’s certainly not the ‘rough and tumble’ you’d expect Diego Simeone to be involved with; that would be balaclavas and baseball bats, probably from his fanboys in the front row of the stand behind him. Diego doesn’t do the dirty work himself; he leaves it to others.
Anyway, it’s all over and done with now. Wenger dissed the Federation, got caught and had his knuckles rapped. He probably spent more on legal fees than the FA’s £25k fine; whether he considers it money well spent is another matter. Had he received a stadium ban, his claims that the players weren’t mentally ready for Watford might have had more credence attached to them; “they just slacked off as soon as they left for the stadium”.
Mind you, I recall reading somewhere that Anthony Taylor is a prison guard. If that’s the case, lockdown must take a hell of a long time. “But Governor, don’t send me to solitary; Mr Taylor didn’t tell me where I had to go!” “True, but you dissed the Federation and no-one gets away with that.”