The Big 60: Arsene’s Birthday and the AGM

By on October 22, 2009

Arsene Wenger

Arsene will spend his 60th birthday today at the club’s Annual General Meeting with the shareholders, and, unlike last season, a much more cordial atmosphere is to be expected.

I watched the AGM last year and I have to say that the reports in the press made it seem as though Arsene was attacked and strung up by his legs by the shareholders, who went on to poke and prod him but eventually let him go. Of course, it was nothing like that. A few questioned specific decisions made by the manager, the leaving Arshavin out of the starting lineup in the FA Cup semifinal being the most obvious. And one snippy older shareholder made some disparaging comments that were mostly directed at Silvestre.

One thing you can always count on Wenger to do is defend his players. And he did. It was that comment that lit the fire under Arsene and he began to question some fans’ commitment telling a story about a fan he met in the bathroom after a match that had no faith in the players.

Arsene Wenger in the crowdFor Arsene, and our youth project, it all comes down to faith. He has an unshakable faith in these kids, and so should we. It’s easy to understand why the man would be a bit upset considering everything he’s done for this club. He must have been thinking, “Have I not earned the right to be trusted?”

It’s one thing for Hull fans to question decisions made by Phil Brown. But can the average fan, who maybe watches 5-6 hours of football per week, really know, better than Arsene, what’s best for Arsenal Football Club? That is the very definition of presumptuousness. The man eat, sleeps, lives, and breathes Arsenal 25 hours a day. More than even the most fanatic among us.

Now, of course, this is football and a big part of being a supporter is questioning things like tactics and team selection. We all do that. But that is not what got Arsene upset. Arsene only got upset when one of his players was insulted and it was insinuated that he didn’t know what he was doing. He believes, and told the shareholders, that true supporters always get behind the players and support the team.

Peter Hill-Wood has said:

Arsene is going to say a few words and woe betide any shareholder who stands up and tries to criticise him. I am not going to have it because what he has done over 13 years is unbelievable. If you were a sensible, realistic shareholder, you would be very pleased at what is happening here.

Arsene Wenger 6

Considering that it was right around the time of the AGM and the close of a most frustrating season that Real Madrid came knocking at his door. Almost any other manager would have at least considered it and most would have left. Arsene could have said, “I’m gonna stick it to these ungrateful sods and I’m going to take half the team with me.” Well, of course, HE couldn’t have said that because he is Arsene Wenger, but another manager in a similar position could have said that.

It all just goes to show that this man is dedicated to Arsenal Football Club beyond anything we could ever hope for in another manager. He has said that if we don’t win anything in the next two years, then he will stand up and say he has failed. Somehow, I find that to be a highly unlikely scenario. Happy birthday, Arsene.

In other news, I expect there will be some talk of Stan Kroenke having just recently upped his stake in the club 28.86% He is only one percent short of being forced by law to make a takeover bid. Of course, the other shareholders are not obliged to sell to him but he is required to make an offer.

A Kroenke takeover no longer looks to be a bad thing, especially from Peter Hill-Wood’s perspective:

It does look like he is edging towards a takeover, which I would welcome. I have not asked him if that is what he plans to do, but I am very relaxed about it. If it was to happen, I don’t think you can expect any big changes because he seems to like things very much the way they are.

Obviously, Kroenke is the lesser of two evils, but as time has gone by and he has come into the Board, an eventual takeover by him seems far less ominous now than it did 18 months ago. But make no mistake about it, a takeover will happen within the next few years. However, if it is Kroenke, and not Red & White, we can reasonably expect that there will be no major changes at the club.



  1. bobbygee

    October 22, 2009 at 9:10 am

    You have to have a good farm system if a club wants to survive. This is what we here in the states call it. It is a baseball term. Free agents are a quick fix but to have lasting success you have to have good young talent. Wenger is 60. I thought he was younger. I’m 57.

  2. ros

    October 22, 2009 at 9:28 am

    HAPPY 60th ARSENE been a fan for 40 years now and have enjoyed every single season since wenger has been here had so much fun with the spud fans theve hated everyyear under arsene jealous of the great players he has brought to the club and our success,fantastic football , enjoy life being a gooner its so much better than being a spud Arsenal 4 life in wenger i trust

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