Belfast Telegraph

Alan Green: So, what will Silent Stan have to say about Wenger’s Arsenal flops?

Stan Kroenke’s acquisition of Arsenal means that a quarter of Premier League clubs are now in the hands of Americans. None of them are philanthropists so what’s in it for them?

Bad loser: Arsene Wenger’s reaction to Liverpool’s late equaliser on Sunday was disrespectful and ungracious

Essentially, we’re learning there are two ways to actually make money out of English football: either you build up the status of the club commercially and, for Americans, that means tapping into what they believe are still relatively unexploited foreign markets, OR you take ‘dividends’.

We don’t yet know what Kroenke will do. ‘Silent Stan’ didn’t attract that nickname without reason. He rarely speaks publicly and, when he does, he gives little away. However, given how he handles his various sports’ franchises in the States, Arsenal fans can be assured that, while he doesn’t spend like an Abramovich or a Sheikh Mansour, he will invest substantially in the club and wisely.

What is less certain is how he’ll come to view a management regime that hasn’t delivered any silverware in six seasons. Can there be much doubt after Sunday’s incredible climax at the Emirates that Arsenal have too much ground to make up on Manchester United and too little time to do it? If United win at Newcastle tonight and Arsenal slip up again at Spurs tomorrow evening — I’m expecting both — surely it’s all over?

Let’s get one thing out of the way. While Arsene Wenger is as erudite and insightful as any observer of the game he is also a shockingly bad loser. I don’t know either how the referee added on quite so many minutes after the 90 but Wenger was disrespectful and ungracious to Kenny Dalglish who certainly wasn’t to blame: ‘Oh, piss off!’ is the least I might have said to the Arsenal boss . . . and no, it doesn’t equate to the Rooney offence.

What was really disturbing about Arsenal on Sunday was that they lacked the urgency that was so obviously required in the circumstances. The least their fans deserved was a ‘call to arms’ in a game they simply HAD to win. Liverpool, having lost two more defenders (to add to Agger, Johnson, Kelly etc), should have been on the ropes. They weren’t and, bluntly, they deserved their equaliser.

Fabregas is captain but Arsenal have no ‘leader’ in the manner of an Adams or a Vieira. Whose fault is that? In the same way they lack a top class goalkeeper, a commanding central defender and an out-and-out striker — Robin Van Persie isn’t one, he’s the type to play ‘off’ a partner — it’s all down to Wenger.

The manager maintains it isn’t a failure to finish second but I think it is in a season where, just a month or so ago, Arsenal were threatening to win any or all of four competitions. How rapidly those hopes fell apart.

I gather Kroenke has a good relationship with Wenger. It’s most unlikely he’ll be thinking anytime soon of sacking anybody but a growing number of Arsenal fans no longer believe that ‘Arsene knows’. Maybe the time is coming that the Frenchman himself will consider his position.

Belfast Telegraph


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