Many Arsenal fans are often perplexed that Wenger’s perspective can be so different from their own. His attempts at rational analysis can drive those supporters for whom players and performances are either turd or legend to rages of frustration. It’s a game that doesn’t lend itself to such analysis, certainly not immediately after a game anyway. The result determines everything.
For that reason Chelsea can be an unbeatable powerhouse one weekend, only needing to turn up to games to stroll to an inevitable title, and then lose two away games by the following weekend to dent, if only slightly at present, the aura of invincibility so positively asserted by the footballing media only days earlier. Player rating systems will universally rate the players of a winning side higher than that of a losing side. Logic tells you that the best team doesn’t always win but football logic is that the team that has won must always be better than one that has lost. Losing teams must been outplayed, out muscled, out thought and out fought even if they have totally dominated play, had the better chances and lost to a fluke goal that has diverted in off a beach ball.
Wenger’s attempts to analyse the defeat against Chelsea leading to gleefully reported misinterpretations of his opinion of the team’s physical limitations and Drogba’s work rate were too much information for some frustrated supporters and too much ammunition for a sound bite hungry media. The analysis has to be done of course. The coaches have to have a much clearer idea of what the deficiencies are, where the game is won and lost how they might be rectified. They don`t usually lead to the same conclusions as a straw poll of internet blogs might. These would invariably conclude that a giant centre half stopper, midfield destroyer, 30 goal a season striker and wingers are essential. They would be unlikely to conclude that you could get within 4 points of the title by selling your star striker and buying a right back as Wenger did in the summer of 2007.
Not everything that Wenger says is intended to provide forensic analysis for the consumption of footballing scientists though. He has admitted that he will sometimes be less than honest if he thinks it will help protect a player. “A coach is there to help. He must think that if he helps in the correct way the players will respond.” Arsene explained when asked if he sometimes claimed he didn`t see things he had seen.
There seems little reason to protect Mikael Silvestre. He is a back up player and the teams current Aunt Sally. Pretty well all teams have them and he follows a long line at Arsenal through players like Cygan and beyond. So what is the purpose of Wengers supportive description of Mikaels qualities?
“Mikael is a quiet leader. He is highly respected in the dressing room,” Arsene claimed. “He`s a positive guy who helps the young players. The best help, of course, is if we can keep winning. For me, he doesn`t get enough praise for both his attitude and his quality. But he has a job of marshalling the team. He has an important role to play.
“He was absolutely fantastic in our match against Manchester City. His commitment to the cause in that game was absolutely fantastic.”
It could be that he is just looking to publicly motivate a player that might become more important to the team, especially if, as is rumoured Senderos leaves the club in the next window while Song takes himself off to the ACN. On the other hand it could be a rational analysis and that Silvestre’s performance against Manchester City behind a very young and immature midfield was indeed a very good display of the defensive arts.
I would guess that most would be cynical about Wenger`s view of Silvestre. It is very difficult to be heard to say anything positive about a squad player in the latter stages of a highly successful career elsewhere now content to play a backup role. Taking Aunt Sally away from fans risks their scorn. It isn`t likely to be universally understood and maybe a rational analysis of Silvestre’s contribution will never be possible. In which case Wenger`s words are less likely to lead to enlightenment among bemused supporters than to frustration that he doesn’t see what they do.
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