The Things Managers Say: Wenger, Jol, Bruce…And Beckham’s Book


Arsene Wenger – did he say that? [Photo: Alan Hill]Alan’s 2013-14 Season Diary no. 18

Wenger predicts relegation for the current Arsenal squad

Wed 30 October

I’m loving this. AVB’s criticism of the atmosphere at White Hart Lane had nothing on what Arsene Wenger said about the quality of his current squad. They were beaten comfortably 2-0 at home by Chelsea’s reserves in the League Cup last night, with Bendtner resuming where he left off in his previous spell with the club, turning in another classic performance. Despite being top of the Premiership, they are creating yet another mini crisis. Another early exit from a cup, this being their second home defeat in a row. The last minute signing of Ozil clearly gave them a very good first team but when they use the expanded squad against a good team they are getting beat. The Sky interviewer asked Wenger what he had learnt about the current squad. He appeared relaxed but this was his reply,

"We have the needed quality and when we will need that in the Championship we will be there."

Ha. Ha.

Fulham are beaten by Leicester.

Martin Jol says he does not feel under pressure. I like the guy and feel his sacking by Spurs was one of the worst examples of man management by the club I have ever seen. Nevertheless, if he doesn’t feel the pressure now, he must have a hide as thick as a rhino. That’s made me think of a game to play in our idle moments. What dog or animal does each football manager remind you of?  The following spring to my mind;

Martin Jol                   Rhino
Harry Redknapp       Bulldog
Jose Mourinho         Jack Russell (sometimes a poodle)
Alex Ferguson         Dodo
Roberto Martinez     Welsh Collie sheepdog
Paulo Di Canio        Doberman
How about you – any ideas?

Wednesday 30 October

Bale On His Way

Bale comes good at last. I have not been alone in taking the rise out of Gareth’s stuttering start for Real Madrid but he came out of the blocks flying  against Seville tonight and got two first half goals and two assists in a 7 – 3 victory against Seville. It’s at times like this that you heart tells you what you really feel about a situation or a player. As soon as I saw that he had scored two, I was delighted for him. I tuned in to Sky Sports to watch the rest of the game. Ronaldo got another hat trick of course but Gareth is back on track. Good luck to him.

Steve Bruce Charged

Steve Bruce has confirmed that he has been charged for his comments about the referee awarding the penalty on Sunday. I have some sympathy for him. It wasn’t a penalty but people make mistakes, including him. Trouble is, when a ref does it managers like Bruce come out and intimate that he is not a good referee. If someone in a position of influence had said that about Bruce every time he made a mistake down the years, I think they would have turfed him permanently off the managerial merry go round years ago.

He has now trivialised the possible punishment as trivial by saying “It looks like it is going to cost me a few quid”. For that perhaps they should raise the fine and consider a ban. He needs to be made to understand that it is not a question of whether the penalty decision was the right one. It is the fact that he insulted the ref by calling his ability into question. It looks like he is doing a good job so far at Hull but if he carries on with this sort of thing he may live to regret it. Better to punch a lamp post on the way out of the interview. Used to work a treat for me in similar situations.

Saturday morning 2 November

David Beckham’s book [Photo: Alan Hill]Just back from my weekly trip to buy a selection of Saturday newspapers. I also bought David Beckham’s autobiography. I bought Sir Alex Ferguson’s last week and was disappointed with how much he slagged people off. When I read that it was the best-selling new hardback book for first week sales, I felt determined to do my bit in the hope that Beckham’s would replace it at the top of the charts this week. They say never judge a book by its cover.  Very true but if you did, Beckham has already won hands down.

It is amusing how the appearance of the two books reflects the character of the two authors. Beckham’s looks much classier. It is bigger than Ferguson’s and most other books on the shelves. Its full price (which most retailers never charge anywhere near) is more expensive at £25. I was able to get it for a tenner with a discount voucher in WH Smith, the same as I had paid for Fergie’s. It has a black cloth binding on the spine with his name embossed into it and a stylish black and white picture of him from the waist up wearing what is no doubt a designer pullover.

When you flick through both books, Beckham’s oozes class and design. Ferguson’s looks more basic but appears to have a lot more words and therefore more substance. Beckham’s has an appearance inside closer to that of a classy football annual or coffee table book and the writing at first glance appears to be little more than a series of captions to glossy photographs. Then I read one of these “captions”. Page 23. It tells the story of his free kick against Greece that took us to the World Cup finals. How he felt, how he had prepared. How he wrested the ball from Teddy Sheringham and why. It gives a better insight into what makes the man and his character than a thousand attempts to tell us about him could. Gets you right there. I defy an Englishman to read it and not get a lump in his throat. That passage is worth the price of the book alone. It sums the man up. Don’t be tempted to dismiss him by the money, the lifestyle or the celebrity status, the gloss on the surface. What is underneath is 100% gold, the genuine article – and by all accounts he doesn’t slag people off either.