Wenger and Ranieri under pressure
The big shock result last weekend in the Premier League was probably Sunderland’s 4-0 win at Crystal Palace, or perhaps Hull City beating Liverpool 2-0, but the talking points have centred more on the two managers at Arsenal and Leicester City.
I once said a team is only as good as its last derby (or three derbies in our case now) but how long does a manager retain support when his team maybe slips from the pedestal he’s placed it on?
Two Premier League managers are coming under severe pressure right now and, no matter what their recent results, I am always amazed when the criticism of Arsenal boss Arsène Wenger rises to the surface as it has done following their 3-1 defeat at Chelsea.
It came just days after the shock home defeat against Watford, but prior to that they’d recorded four wins and a draw in the previous five games, the draw coming in that crazy game at Bournemouth when they trailed 3-0 with twenty minutes remaining.
Every man and his dog seems to have had a say in Wenger’s Arsenal future since the Chelsea game. Former defender William Gallas has told Arsenal to replace him because he lacks Jose Mourinho’s winning mentality while Martin Keown, the BBC pundit who ignorantly couldn’t name our manager recently, said he believes Wenger will go if they don’t win the FA Cup.
Paul Ince has been highly critical of Arsenal’s lack of mental strength although I’m not sure on what basis Ince feels able to comment on the merits of a successful manager. Gary Neville, one of Ince’s former Old Trafford team mates, thought the Arsenal fans were disrespectful last week and didn’t like what he was seeing.
“It’s time to say goodbye,” said one banner. “All good things must come to an end,” said another, and then there was one photograph of a young boy, not even born when Wenger walked into Highbury in 1996, holding up a ‘Wenger Out’ poster.
It’s become almost an annual event when the Arsenal fans start to realise that they are not going to be Premier League champions. They’ve seen the title move to Chelsea, the two Manchester clubs and Leicester since they last lifted it.
Their invincible team is forgotten now for most supporters. It’s just their lack of silverware in the last decade or so which has been deemed unacceptable by an ever growing number despite their regular qualification for the Champions League.
I shouldn’t stick my nose in probably, after all this is about Arsenal and their manager, but I find it difficult not to comment given his contribution to English football for over twenty years.
Like most football supporters, I’ve sat and marvelled at their performances over the years on television and I can still recall that Cesc Fabregas inspired start they made at the Turf in 2009. We drew that night; I shudder what might have happened had Fabregas not gone off injured.
He’s brought some great players into his club. Admittedly he’s lost quite a few too, many leaving at their peak when other and wealthier clubs have come in for them. I know he’s like a spoilt child at times; there was recent evidence of that when we played them a few weeks ago, but he’s a manager I have so much respect for and I do find it a sorry state of affairs that he’s having to contend with the media circus concerning his future.
In my years of watching Burnley, Harry Potts was our most successful manager. He was in charge for around 12 years but thankfully never had to put up with this. He lost his job unexpectedly two days after a 5-0 home win when no one, other than Bob Lord and Jimmy Adamson, saw it coming.
There was talk about Wenger being offered the England job last year. I can’t recall whether that was pre or post SAm Allardyce’s one game in charge. I’d have been absolutely delighted to see him get that job.
He’s not the only manager under public pressure right now though. Last May there was one proud Italian stood on the pitch at Leicester holding opera singer Andrea Bocelli’s coat. Claudio Ranieri, a surprise choice to replace Nigel Pearson as manager, had taken them to the Premier League title, the most unlikely of champions.
It was all Dilly Ding Dilly Dong and no matter what they did, it worked. They suffered only three defeats all season and it’s still difficult now to believe it actually happened. There was never going to be a repeat although I’m not sure many expected them to be down with the strugglers near the bottom of the league come February.
This happy clappy club have, in so many respects, got way above their station since the success. The Ranieri jokes and pantomime press conferences aren’t working this season and, after the were soundly beaten by Manchester United last Sunday, the knives came out.
Some of the knives have even appeared in the dressing room with Leo Ulloa, in particular, having some unkind words for his manager when he didn’t get a move. It all forced the club to issue a statement this week in which they made absolutely clear the club’s unwavering support for Ranieri and that they would remain fully in support of him.
It is known that chairman Khun Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha is a strong supporter of his manager but even the public showing of support hasn’t removed him from number one in the betting to be the next Premier League manager to leave his job.
Is it the players who are trying to get him out? I think we all saw how that worked at Chelsea last season and I do believe there has been more than one occasion when players at Burnley haven’t been hiding in the background when a manager has left. The strong suggestion coming out of the King Power is that this time it will be the manager winning the battle. Time will tell.
Wenger and Ranieri are two different stories. Maybe it is the right time for Arsenal to make a change but I don’t think it will ever be the right time for the sort of condemnation Wenger has received recently. As for Ranieri, Leicester fans and players need to take a long, hard look at themselves. This is the manager who took their club to a position no one in football thought was possible. That was over achieving to a new level.
Our manager, right now, has been successful at Burnley. I hope that remains so until the day we and he part company. I would not like to see Sean Dyche having to go through what’s happening at Arsenal and Leicester. I still remember the abuse he was getting from a couple of supporters at Middlesbrough just 14 months ago when we went down 1-0, it shows what short memories some people have.Share this page :