Arsène Ban Another Arsenal Farce & More
Arsène would have been looking for a positive start to the week, a rousing beginning to raise morale for two tough away trips. It sums up his luck that before lunchtime most of his plans were swept away in a footballing sandstorm.
Per Mertesacker got the ball rolling by stating that the only one who knows where he will be playing this season is himself, and that is in Bremen. The German defender must be a nightmare client for his Mr20%, all that hard work in keeping contact with other clubs has been to no avail. Worse still, his client didn’t even tell him. Hard life, isn’t it.
The day turned for the worse when Wenger received a two-match ban from Uefa following his indiscretion in transgressing against his ban for being indiscreet with his opinions. This new ban trebled meant that a one match ban extended to three and highlighted the lunacy of Uefa. It is now more of a serious offence to flout a ban than it is to be, ahem, honest with your opinions of a referee. Next time Arsène is upset with an official, a swift uppercut would land him a three-match ban straight away and stop this faffing around with appeals. At least then we would all know where we stood before the season started.
The club has said it will appeal against this further punishment. Admirable though their defence of the manager is, why bother?
The ban is surprising and at the same time expected. Arsenal and Arsène know that media work is a central part of the Champions League, something upon which Uefa has always placed great emphasis. Wenger made a crucial misjudgment in unilaterally extending his ban to the media conferences, creating further tension in the situation. This was then compounded by the club’s failure to send Pat Rice in his place. Little wonder that Uefa have come down on Wenger like a ton of bricks.
Uefa are impotent when it comes to dealing with most issues but if any attempt to undermine theirs, or the referee’s, authority takes place, the punishments are swift and disproportionate.
There is no conspiracy theory. I find it amusing when people claim Uefa would prefer an Italian club to go through. They would not. Globally, English clubs are more attractive to the sponsors than their Italian counterparts, especially in the current economic climate. If anything, Arsenal should be favoured in this conspiracy. Platini may dislike Wenger but he knows the value of the sponsors pound, which is infinitely more important than personal antipathy.
What makes this so pointless is the schoolboy error in the first place. Wenger has enough form with the football authorities for both the club and manager to be well aware that he could not communicate with the bench. The story that there had been confusion arising following a pre-match briefing with a Uefa delegate does not hold water. If the club were uncertain, they would have contacted Uefa HQ to clarify the situation.
It was no surprise to anyone other than Arsenal that Sky chose to follow Wenger with a camera for the Udinese game. They have cameras pointed at the managers during most matches anyway; simply changing the angle to the stand is no hardship. It was an excuse concocted once the full extent of Sky’s coverage became apparent.
As much as I dislike Uefa and Murdoch’s empire, the blame for this farce sits squarely and firmly at Arsenal’s doorstep. And it is the team that suffer. Ahead of an important match, Wenger is missing from the dressing room. It is not a minor omission. For whilst there has been important work done beforehand, the manager cannot make any minor adjustments to tactics in the final minutes. This result is all down to the players and Pat Rice.
For their efforts, Arsenal will be opening the piggy bank and sending Uefa €10k in white fivers to pay off their fine. Still, if Arsène doesn’t make the trip that will £26 saved in flights (although including taxes and fees, that rises to £2,827.46). You have to question whether it was worth it in the first place, the blank expression on Pat Rice’s face suggested that the message was lost in Chinese Whispers each time Boro phoned down the orders.
Team news is little different from the weekend. The squad received the boost of Jack Wilshere training last week and things improved further with Sebastien Squillaci’s calf-knack not improving. Perhaps he and Arsène could have a barbecue, share a few Special Brews, chill out and watch the game on ITV.
Pat could always pretend it is his wife on the phone when Arsene calls with instructions. “No darling, I haven’t forgotten that I need to pick up some spaghetti on the way home” or “I don’t know how I got here. I turned left at Hangar Lane and the next thing I know, I’m in Udine”, when any officials are nearby, writing down a shopping list that is a coded tactical message. Pat, just remember that 2 kilos of Maris Piper is code for “Tell Arshavin to get his lazy arse into gear” and not something to pick up in Asda on the way home.
And to top Wenger’s day off, Howard Webb is to referee for Sunday’s encounter with Manchester United. At least we don’t have to wonder if the referee was incompetent or biased in United’s favour…
Posted on August 23, 2011, in Arsenal, Champions League, Football, Premier League, Soccer, Transfer Gossip and tagged Arsenal, Champions League, Football, Premier League, Soccer, Transfer Gossip, UEFA. Bookmark the permalink. 615 Comments.