Arsene Wenger is a bloody animal.
You wouldn’t think to look at him, but underneath all the geography teacher chic and unimaginably massive puffer jacket, is the heart and mind of a UFC fighter.
The Arsenal boss has just earned himself a four match touchline ban for his vicious verbal and physical assault on the fourth official during the Gunners games against Burnley. The victim in question, Anthony Taylor, was quite frankly lucky to escape with his life considering the brutality of Wenger’s attack. When I say “Lucky to escape with his life” I of course mean “almost didn’t notice he was even being touched.” Whilst it was certainly a hot headed and unnecessary reaction, if Arsene’s push on Taylor had taken place on the field of play even Ashley Young would have struggled to throw himself to the ground without getting embarrassed.
He can however consider himself lucky that the random wheel of FA punishment this week stopped on a four game ban and twenty five thousand pounds fine. When Bacary Sagna gets a FORTY grand fine for an Instagram post and Jose Mourinho receives a one-match ban for kicking a poor-innocent water bottle then he could possibly consider himself a little fortunate with this one. Maybe the powers that be considered his quick draw apology partial recompense for his sins. In his post match press conference, barely minutes after the incident Wenger gave a heartfelt apology saying that he should have “Just gone home” after being sent off. Yes you should have. You should have left the ground straight away, before the final whistle. Just like most of the Arsenal fans.
This isn’t the first incident of type for the Frenchman either. Previous run-ins with the likes of Alan Pardew and Jose Mourinho prove that he has a fiery temper and likes a bit of fisticuffs on the touchline now and again. In no way is he the only manager who gets up to such antics, and no one seems to really mind that much.
What incidents such as this does do, is keep football and the Premier League on the back pages of the paper for the whole of the following week. What would talk-radio phone-in’s and 24 hour rolling sports channels do without the odd manager outburst or moody post-match press conference to fill their air time? With that coverage comes interest and with that interest comes viewers and with those viewers comes revenue. In other words, whilst on the face or it pundits, Premier League chiefs and the FA all condemn actions such as this, secretly they must love it!
Football is now a performance. You only have to witness the expectant silence that Manchester City fans watch their team with week in week out to realise that the modern game has more in common with a trip to the theatre than a group of lads down the local recreation park with jumpers for goalposts. In the “theatre” scenario, the moody manager plays his role perfectly as the pantomime villain. Giving everyone something to sagely tut and shake their heads at for the next seven days and importantly, adding a touch of drama to the on-going soap opera and keeping the sport in the spotlight for a little longer.
So, next time Arsene, land one on the fourth officials chin. We’re all behind you.
Jim is the host of Alternative Football Show “On The Left Side” this week’s episode has more on Wenger, the Klopp-astrophe at Liverpool and a new PPI-esq money spinner for football. Listen here!