The Sweeper: Is Arsene Wenger Dull?

Arsene Wenger

Big Story

Arsene Wenger has gone on a media offensive ahead of what could be a difficult season for Arsenal beginning this weekend, with The Times including no less than four articles on the Frenchman, after an in-depth interview in an “anteroom” at a hospital (?!) in order to reveal “who is Arsene Wenger?”.

Matthew Syed quotes Sartre twice and gushes over Arsene’s poetic love of the game — and promises to get to the “deep mystery” of the man. Yet in fact, though Arsene might have depth in his love and understanding of the game, he displays little breadth in his interests; the interview’s focus on Wenger’s single-mindedness and admission he has no time for anything besides football, including family and film, makes him appear just another monomaniacal sportsman — this is not necessarily a criticism of his passion, but it’s hardly a “mystery” that is being unravelled. “When you are 30 years in this job you have to be, somehow, crazy, because you cannot say it has not had a psychological impact. You live it, you think it; it is impossible to escape.”

And in an admission that really ought to shock no-one, Wenger admits he’s not always been entirely objective when discussing his team. “Sometimes I see it [a foul by an Arsenal player], but I say that I didn’t see it to protect the players and because I could not find any rational explanation for what they did.”  I’m shocked, shocked!

North America

  • So Landon Donovan has swine flu. Pretty random, and I don’t have much to say about it. It appears to be a mild dose that he caught in the U.S. and which he says hurt his performance at the Azteca once he got to Mexico: “During the game and even after the game I thought maybe it was the altitude, the heat, whatever. But even so I’ve never felt that bad. The last time I was there [at Estadio Azteca] I didn’t feel that bad. I just felt lethargic, slow. I didn’t feel normal.”
  • The MLS All-Star game provided a $3 million boost to Sandy’s economy, according to one of those dollar multiplier study’s that always seem a bit suspect.
  • Obscure channel mun2 received a huge boost by showing the English-language version of the Mexico-U.S. game on Wednesday. The afternoon kick-off did not stop the channel, which was put on free preview on cable and satellite systems across the country for the occasion, recorded its highest-ever ratings with 322,000 home viewers watching live. It remains a lost opportunity that the game was not shown on a better-known and promoted English language channel, but those are still pretty impressive numbers.
  • Freddie Ljungberg is learning the tough side of soccer in America: the frustratingly poor officiating, with players getting away with things that “would be a straight red in Europe. They wouldn’t be allowed to play more of the game.” Welcome to MLS.
  • According to Reuters, CONCACAF.com will begin showing highlights of US national team matches.

Worldwide

  • Some follow-up on our piece about internet rights in the Premier League: paid:Content UK looks at the auction underway for digital rights for the 2010-2012 cycle, reporting that ESPN are keen to add the VOD rights to their portfolio from next season (Virgin Media currently owns VOD rights in the UK). However, this package would not include live streaming rights, which remain bundled with domestic television broadcast rights.
  • In Lebanon, a unique event took place: a match between landmine survivors. The MidEast News Source writes that “Despite their limited numbers, and the lack of teams to play against, the action on the pitch is fierce. These players have been through years of physiotherapy and are well accustomed to their prosthetic limbs, so the speed and skill of play on the field is not unlike what one would see on a regular soccer pitch of able-bodied players. Tempers flair, spirits are high and when goals are scored arms shoot up in jubilation or fall in despair.”
  • Paul Simpson at FourFourTwo takes a sweeping look at the various efforts of billionaires to build a network of global clubs, from Dietrich Mateschitz’s continued effort at global branding with Red Bull in Austria, the U.S., Brazil and Germany to Joe Lewis’ faltering attempt at global hegemony (the Tottenham owner having begun shedding himself of shares in AEK Athens, Basel, Rangers and Vicenza).
  • It might be somewhat buried under the men’s version, but the FA Women’s Premier League gets underway this weekend as well. Fair Game has the preview.
  • Norway’s tonking of Scotland on Wednesday led to the quote of the week from the Scottish FA Chairman Gordon Smith, who gave one of the weakest votes of confidence in living memory by stating “While George is employed by the SFA we believe he is the right man to take us forward.”
  • Two Hundred Percent has a typically quality piece on Chester City’s travails under the disreputable ownership of Steven Vaughan. “So, Steven Vaughan wins and the game of football dies a little more inside. The FA have decided to back the Football Conference and have given Vaughan’s Chester the right to start the new season, in flagrant contravention of rule 2.7 of the Conference’s own constitution and awarded the club a licence to play football for this season.” The decision sets a terrible precedent for the sport,  as THP writes: “There is no point even having a rule designed to stop clubs body-swerving their obligations towards their creditors if, when push comes to shove, the authorities relent and allow these rules to be bypassed. The Conference has broken its own rules, and the FA have sanctioned it.”

The Sweeper appears daily. For more rambling and links throughout the day every day, follow your editor @pitchinvasion on Twitter.