The “legal” case for and against Arteta as Arsenal manager
For reasons of variety in articles and a good way to fully examine the whole evidence both for and against MA, I have chosen a fictional Crown court setting with two barristers or counsels, one defending (CD) and one prosecuting (CP). A trial judge presides!
When the case has been put by both sides, the Judge will give his conclusions and after that I will give my own conclusion, which may or may not agree with the Judge.
JUDGE HENRY ADAMS: In this case of some Gooners against Mikel Arteta as manager and head coach of Arsenal Football Club (AFC), I call upon Mr. Cardew Robinson -Somegooners QC to outline the case for the prosecution.
CP: Thank you m’Lud! I am here today to represent a number of supporters of AFC in the case against Mikel Arteta. I now set out in detail the full case against MA remaining as manager. M’Lud, Mr Arteta was appointed as manager of AFC almost exactly two years ago and my clients strongly contend that he has singularly failed in the job he was hired to do; namely to improve the team known as Arsenal and in particular to win trophies and qualify for the Champions League and finish in the top four of what is called the Premier League. In his first half season the team finished in a lowly eighth position, an unsatisfactory one, and this was the lowest position that AFC had sunk to in more than 25 years.
Moreover, the team has consistently played a style of football that has been boring, defensive and not at all entertaining; three qualities that AFC has been known for producing regularly for the last quarter of a century, mostly under the managership of the legendary Arsene Wenger (AW). AW had instilled in the worldwide support of AFC fans a rightful expectation and reputation for exciting and free scoring football and my clients rightly contend that a continuation of this pleasing style was a statutory requirement. They also rightly expected a clear improvement on the Premier League position from the fifth place achieved under MA’s predecessor, one Unai Emery. MA has failed to attain the minimum requirement of a place in European competitions for the last season, twice finishing eighth and this is unacceptable for a club of the stature and world standing of AFC
It is our contention that under MA, AFC has clearly regressed and failed, both in Prem positions and in lack of entertainment. We contend that AFC has no recognisable style nor pattern of play and that a sideways and backwards type of boring play has become the club’s dismal trademark. Far fewer goals are scored this season than the previous ones and the players are being confused and muddled by the so called “tactics” insisted upon by MA.
We also state that this manager has singularly failed to motivate most players and players who were formerly better player have regressed under him. We think he lacks motivational skills and simply confuses many players, who are thus unable to understand his constant micromanaging habits from the touchline for almost the whole game.
MA had no pedigree in elite football as a manager to enable him to qualify for the position two years ago and we contend that one Stanley Kroenke and his son Josh Kroenke (KSE) are unfit owners for AFC and thus they decided to give a huge responsibility to a novice, who was unfit for the job when first appointed and who has failed ever since.
However, KSE, multi billionaires, having seen how their investment value was falling and who then became worried for that reason alone, have provided MA with funds to spend on new players last summer. A sum of approx. £147 million was provided and this sum was more than any other single football club in the whole continent of Europe had to spend. Our case is that MA has made many grave blunders in both selling and loaning good players instead of keeping them and playing them. His mistreatment of names such as Ozil, Guendouzi, Martinez and Saliba, among several others too, has angered and bewildered my clients. His team selections are puzzling, and his substitutions are often made too late and are mainly ineffective and wrong.
He has what may be described as an unhealthy team “love affair”, albeit in a non-romantic way, with one Granit Xhaka and he appears not to want to give certain players, especially Martinelli and Pepe, among others, a proper chance to play enough. Despite bringing in last summer a number of what some regard as talented players by using the KSE£147 million, AFC has not improved this season from last and has recently succumbed to a number of embarrassing defeats, in some cases by teams they are expected to have beaten rather easily. AFC never look like scoring goals and its forwards are dreadful and ineffective, as is the attacking midfield, save only ESR.
M’Lud, our case is not complete, but we feel that as time is short, that to let the defence put their case now would be the fair and correct thing to do, so for now we rest our case.
Judge: Thank you Mr Somegooners. I now call upon Mr Herbert C. Fewergooners QC to put the case for the defence.
CD: I am most grateful m’Lud. I am here to defend Mr. M. Arteta and refute the many errors and puzzling omissions in the prosecution’s case. It is noteworthy that the CP chose to omit mentioning that a mere half year after taking on the job, MA won the FA Cup, a highly prestigious trophy, beating both Man City and Chelsea, both world class teams, whilst having to use previous managers players, almost entirely. Only a few weeks later he then won the FA Community Shield against Liverpool, another world class team.
MA had spent over three years at the side of one Pep Guardiola, as chief coaching assistant and Guardiola was loathe to lose MA when he left Man City. Mr. Guardiola is widely regarded throughout the football world as possibly the single best manage of all and his opinion of the ability of a MA carries huge weight. The defence contends that, so far, MA has not had a fair chance to succeed at the level of what Mr. Somegooners clients unfairly expect.
When MA first took over at AFC, he was faced with huge problems, chief among which were a clique of troublemakers and some lazy players. MA soon got Matteo Guendouzi, a notorious young arrogant troublemaker, who has been in trouble both before and since, out of the dressing room where he could do no more damage to team harmony.
We contend this was sensible and positive, though we realise the other side disagrees. We believe we will be proven right and indeed already have been. Importantly. MA also side-lined one Mesut Ozil (MO), a one-time world-class player who had long ago stopped being one and who had an unenviable reputation as a lazy player who faked illnesses and injury when he did not fancy playing. Finally, as a huge MO contract was a great obstacle, MA managed to get this harmful and divisive player gone from AFC permanently. This was a positive achievement that many now accept was the only sensible thing to have done Again though, we realise that some do not agree. We feel they are profoundly mistaken.
As to selections and tactics, we note that many fans of AFC believe they know better than MA, despite not having any personal experience of playing, coaching or managing Prem football. We think they are hasty, foolish and unfair. MA as club manager must be entirely free to make decisions for the club and team as he sees fit. We utterly refute as nonsense the unfair accusation of the CP that MA has a vindictive nature and holds grudges against certain players, apparently mostly younger ones. This is no more than fans personal bias, widely published on social media, itself a notorious platform for know-alls and would be self-publicists. We sadly note that this unfair fan criticism is not uncommon at all football clubs, in particular among the social media generation. We do not believe that section of fans represents mainstream football Arsenal fan opinion worldwide.
As such we disregard all criticism from such fans as of no validity whatsoever.
We realise that an adjournment for the day is overdue and thank the court and m’Lud for their indulgence. So although we have more to put in defence of MA, for now, we too rest our case.
Judge Henry Adams:
Having heard and now had time to digest my thoughts about how both sides of this case have presented their cases, I can see that both sides arguments carry some weight. I am inclined to agree that the appointment of an inexperienced elite level manager in MA was a clear, although deliberate, mistake by the owner, whose patent lack of knowledge about how Premier league football and indeed all football, actually works, is the ongoing problem which AFC faces until the owner is forced out.
I believe that to concentrate simply on removing the manager, whilst ignoring the real problem, which is the owner, would simply be to carry on the cycle of pushing the can down the road and would not achieve any lasting improvement in the clubs’ fortunes. In all walks of life, successful enterprises need to be based upon a sound footing and that can only happen when the person at the very top is personally emotionally invested in that business. Financial investment alone, particularly in a widely accepted “emotional attachment” world-sport such as football, is bound to bring both resentment and outright anger at such an owner The fans recent demonstration against KSE, after the owner tried but failed to railroad the club into a European Super league, whilst caring nothing whatsoever for the feelings of the clubs fanbase, was a disgrace and shows the truth of my lack of emotional investment statement. I also realise that this owner problem is very common and unsatisfactory. The club of my own heart, Manchester United, has suffered a very similar- I would suggest even a worse fate – under the ownership of the Glazer family.
I also give some due weight to the counter argument that many of these social media fans are too hasty and life inexperienced. There are, however, others who agree with them, to whom that does not apply, mainly older fans and those who can remember the years when AFC was far less successful even than now. I find it a truism in life generally that when people have never truly experienced bleak and unsuccessful times, they are more likely not to accept situations that upset them, than are those who have experienced bleak times and who are then more able to face fewer good times with equanimity and stoicism. I can also see much truth in the argument some have made in the notes which have accompanied this evidence, that fans of AFC were misled by a certain Ivan Gazidis and others too about the time the club changed grounds. It was put to fans in general that the move from Highbury to Emirates Stadium was to ensure great success, but the opposite has been the case for fans ever since the move in 2006. Some great and lasting measure of resentment at this gross and deliberate deception is to be expected and correctly too.
I do, on the balance of all the evidence, find a case to answer but apportion most blame to the owners KSE, Ivan Gazidis and to former directors who sold their shares to a dishonourable man in Kroenke. I find MA to be an honourable man but one lacking in certain man management techniques. I find that fans of AFC who initially thought MA would, and perhaps should, have learned more about man management skills from Pep Guardiola, are entitled to be disappointed at the evident lack of them in MA.
It is not for me to answer whether or not MA ought or not to be removed as AFC manager. But despite my reservations at the overhasty criticism from many fans, especially a number of younger ones, I do find that fans in general have a right to feel disappointed and even cheated, but cheated by the club owner and directors, not by MA. MA may or may not be regarded as incompetent, but that is not a crime and therefore not a matter for this court.
CASE ADJOURNED UNTIL MAY 2022.
Those who have read this far will hopefully accept that my intention in writing this piece was to not rehash once again the many almost carbon copy articles that we read so constantly. I hope to properly examine the evidence as in a court case, in order to give some true balance and without undue bias. I do find obvious fan bias so tedious and unthinking and have said so countless times, so have tried to put it in this “legal” framework, for some variety.
It is surely obvious that many of the phases that counsels and Judges used are my own. Each writer will have his/her own style and it will be shunned by some but appreciated by others. That is simple truth.
I find Charles Dickens for example, far too descriptive for my personal taste, in that he uses far too many adjectives. But I have still read almost all his works and think him a great writer.
Whilst actually writing this piece, entirely from my imagination, though thinly disguised as either my views or in many cases definitely not my views, I decided against reiterating my own personal opinions directly.
The truth I that right now I am still deeply considering exactly what I do or do not feel should be done about MA and his future here, and right now am not yet ready to make up my mind.
I hope that view will be respected, as I feel I will be far from alone in this respect. I also feel that as circumstances are always evolving, those who may choose to change their minds if enough evidence suggests they should, ought never be pilloried for so doing. After all, even fervent AW must go fans, such as I and other regulars on here, did at one time sing his praises and thought him a God! But events and timing alter opinions my friends, and it is wise to remember that.
I also much hope that other Gooners will submit articles of their own and in their own style.
God bless you all and thank you to those who will have chosen to read all of this tome. I know many will have not done so and that is personal choice, as indeed it should be!