Arsenal’s chief whinger Piers Morgan applauds Wenger? Pass the sick bag

Arsène Wenger inanimate

It has often been said that putting a top manager in charge of Sunderland, or recruiting such players as Messi and Ronaldo (throw in a Pickford for good measure), would not change anything. They’d still succumb to the SAFC malaise.

When we look at players or bosses who arrived at the SoL with big reputations, the point is perhaps well made. But I have a feeling that Arsène Wenger would have been a great Sunderland manager. I just wish he’d been ours for 22 years, not Arsenal’s.

I care little about his reluctance to criticise his own team or even see incidents that reflect badly on his players. That’s not what he’s paid for.

What he is paid for, until the end of this season, is to use whatever skill and resourcefulness he possesses to ensure his club. Arsenal, win or get close to winning trophies.

Forget the whinging Gooners with their ludicrous delusions of grandeur: he has delivered exactly that for a club that has pots of money but not enough to compete with those with Middle Eastern or Russian gold.

And what should we make of Piers Morgan, an especially loud anti-Wenger voice, attempting now to heap praise on the departing manager? I felt nauseous when I read the following remarks :

I’ve led the Wenger Out campaign on social media but I don’t feel gleeful. I’m not gloating about it – I just wish he’d done it years ago. He lost me when he sold Robin van Persie to Man United. That did it for me.

Last year was Wenger worst ever year, this year is even worse [please call in the sub-editors – Ed]. It’s time to go, I’ve known that for the last eight years.

It’s a good day for Arsenal, but it’s also a sad day for Arsenal. I’ll be singing ‘one Arsène Wenger’ on Sunday – he’s done the right thing.

I would be very happy to call the Emirates Stadium the ‘Arsène Wenger Stadium’.

The oafish faction among Arsenal supporters, as exemplified above, sees Arsène Wenger as a failure.

If only Sunderland AFC could have suffered such affronts to their pride as this:

FA Premier League (3): 1997–98, 2001–02, 2003–04

FA Cup (7): 1997–98, 2001–02, 2002–03, 2004–05, 2013–14, 2014–15, 2016–17

And a constant presence near the top of the Premier League and in Europe.

Should we just mind our own business?’

But every cloud … at least I can now look forward to hearing more of Wenger’s eloquent thoughts as a pundit during televised games on French TV.

M Salut, drawn by Matt, colouring by Jake. Go back to the Salut! Sunderland home page by clicking the cartoon

Wrinkly Pete: accept the situation Sunderland fans and get behind your team

Malcolm Dawson writes…………Our mutual friend, Peter Lynn aka Wrinkly Pete, despite living in the West Midlands is still a regular at the bleak house we know as The Stadium of Light, still keeps the faith but calls upon the fans of Sunderland AFC to accept their fate and get behind the team during these hard times.

Peter Lynn, aka Wrinkly Pete

Great Expectations

Inspired by the output of our own literary genius earlier this week, I turn to Dickens for inspiration for the title of my latest modest contribution to the Salut! Sunderland site.

The article started life just over a month ago, when The Guardian covered the Arsenal AGM on two consecutive days. It had coverage of the stormy meeting and the rescue of the club at that very same meeting by the eloquent, yet often under fire, Arsene Wenger. However what really caught my eye was a statistic that showed that alongside their past ten years’ final league positions (one second place finish, four times third, four times fourth and twice finishing in fifth spot) that they were actually the most successful PL team of all, when measured by the number of points gained in relation to transfer expenditure.

Now I think that is a reasonable yardstick to have used and I also think that most Sunderland fans, myself included, would be delighted with one fifth place finish during our ten years playing alongside them. However, as we all know, (and if you are like me find hugely amusing) a large proportion of Arsenal fans are not at all happy with this record. I am not sure I know why but I think the reasons are quite complex and involve the price of their season cards, the rivalry with Spurs and I think, an unrealistic level of expectation.

If you are still reading, here is what this has got to do with us.

I am of course dismayed that we were relegated last season and now play at the second level. However I have accepted it. I don’t believe that is the case for many of our fans, judging by some reactions. Take last Saturday’s game at Burton for example.  It took some time for our boys to break down the home defence and indeed the Brewers had chances of their own. There was understandable frustration amongst the away contingent but there were some near me who shouted at the tops of their voices “Come on Sunderland, this is Burton, for f—s sake.”

Wrinkly Pete sees things differently to some of those around him at Burton Albion

Now, I am thrilled we beat them but strictly speaking they have more right to be in The Championship than us. They were promoted rather than demoted to it and had survived in it, which we have yet to do. So why is there this level of expectation amongst our fans and an arrogance that somehow “we are better than where we are”?

I believe like that with Arsenal’s support, it is complex and is tied up in our glory days, the size and grandeur of our stadium, the derby rivalry and our huge fan base. I am not sure though that the arrogance is helpful as it can create an almost automatic expectation of success which if unfulfilled, quickly leads to bitterness, that most evil of emotions.

Let’s look at why we are in The Championship. No John McCormick needed here.

In the same ten years that Arsenal were flying high we once finished as high as tenth (and most of us agree that was in part due to fluke final matches results) and the rest of the time have flirted with relegation for large parts of most seasons. More tellingly perhaps, during each of our final five seasons we occupied a relegation position more than any other position. No one could reasonably argue that what finally happened, which had seemed inevitable in the previous four seasons, was unexpected. Thus like it or not, we are where we are on merit. It may not be where we want to be but let us accept it. To do so means we can embrace the task and give full support to the players and our new manager.