Arsene Wenger and his Arsenal players are no strangers to criticism, especially in recent years, so we should not be surprised to see that the man who has an opinion on everything, but is also strangely unable to take any of it aimed in his direction, Joey `le muppet` Barton, has stuck his oar in on the day before the Gunners face another of those big away games that have been our undoing in the last few seasons.
A BBC report reveals that Barton, now playing for QPR again, has kindly offered his insight into why the Gunners struggle in these games and it does not make nice reading for Wenger and the players.
He accuses Arsenal of not having any real leaders in the squad, something we have heard from various other people as well. And he lays the blame for that squarely at the feet of the manager. Claiming to have some sort of insider information from the Arsenal dressing room, Barton says that the Frenchman actually discourages players from doing what many think is needed, blasting team mates for not doing their jobs and rallying the troops.
And he also thinks that the managers of other big clubs find it easy to needle Wenger and to tactically outwit him, which is why we have won only one away game against a top five team in the last five years.
Barton said, “In big games they get under his skin and work them out tactically.
“That record is probably the reason they haven’t won a title for years.
“Nobody can criticise Wenger on the job he has done to build the infrastructure at that club to a fantastic level. But it’s probably been sacrificed at the cost of trophies and challenging at that level.
“You think of his teams of [Emmanuel] Petit, [Patrick] Vieira, [Tony] Adams, [Martin] Keown and all those kind of warriors. You look around the Arsenal dressing room now, the people who would win you those kind of games against the top four clubs – they don’t really have an abundance of them.
“At the latter stages of a season they come unstuck because of that lack of – I hate to say it – a real lack of character or spine within the team.
“One of the things that comes out of the Arsenal dressing rooms is the change in culture from his first sides to now, where he’s developing from within.
“One player told me that Arsene doesn’t like anybody raising their voice at half-time if it’s not going well. He almost frowns upon it.
“Sometimes you need someone to galvanise and that might be a shouter and bawler. It may not be Arsene’s way, but I think they lack that.
“Psychologically, the managers of these big clubs are usually top managers and I think they’ve had Wenger on toast. Sir Alex Ferguson had him on toast in the end and Mourinho’s got him on toast now. That’s what costs them.”
As much as I want to dismiss Barton, because he is hardly qualified to tell other players and teams what they are doing wrong, you have to admit there is a real problem. However, I think that we have started to look like a tougher nut to crack this season, apart from in Dortmund.
If I was Wenger, I would make sure all the players read what the QPR man has said and make them determined to prove the little twerp wrong. What do you think Gooners?