Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Stubborn Streak Is Wenger's Big Failing

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Stubborn Streak Is Wenger's Big Failing

Article excerpt

Byline: Jason Cowley

HE'S still there, the malign monkey that has been on Arsene Wenger's shoulder jabbering away these last long six years about Arsenal's failure to win a trophy.

No matter how much Wenger protests that he has been nurturing an exceptional group of players while keeping Arsenal in the Champions League and competitive against far wealthier rivals, the taunt remains the same: so, what have you won recently? The answer is nothing since the FA Cup in 2005.

Wenger received a medal yesterday for losing in the final of a competition that he's long held in contempt or at least used as the means by which to experiment with young players. Not this season, however. From the beginning, when Arsenal were drawn at Spurs in the third round, he has approached the Carling Cup with the seriousness of one who wanted to win it.

In injury time yesterday, after Birmingham had scored what would be the winning goal, Wenger stood on the touchline as the ball was kicked out of play and retrieved far too slowly for his liking. He seemed suddenly powerless as he stood there, a humbled monarch raging at the injustice of it all. Arsenal were losing yet another major final, their fifth under Wenger, and this time against the artisans of Birmingham.

It must have seemed to Wenger as if the natural order of things had been violated. Again. After Roy Hodgson was sacked by Liverpool in January, Wenger complained of the "dictatorship of the instant" in football -- of the culture of extreme impatience.

Wenger was speaking out of sympathy rather than from bitter experience because he has not been tyrannized by any such dictatorship.

If there are dictators at work at Arsenal they're as benign as Queen Elizabeth II, certainly in the treatment of their manager who more than even Sir Alex Ferguson has been empowered to operate just as he would wish.

Wenger's disparagers believe that the Frenchman has been indulged for too long by the board. …

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