Martin O'Neill Resignation a Warning To Heed for the Arsenal Boo Boys
So yesterday brought the somewhat surprising news that Martin O'Neill has resigned as Aston Villa manager, bringing to an end one of the most successful managerial tenures in that club's recent history.
The speculation is that O'Neill was frustrated with the club's transfer policy, with the suggestion being that he was told that not all the money from the expected sale of James Milner to Manchester City would be made available to him to reinforce his squad.
For a manager who has built the side up from what Villa were when he took over to a team that has challenged for Champions League football in successive seasons, along with coming very close to domestic cup wins, it must be incredibly frustrating to be denied the resources to progress the club even further.
To most people outside of Aston Villa Football Club, it looks absurd that the club wouldn't do everything they could to retain O'Neill. Villa are, to common public knowledge, not in a terrible financial position so it seems a strange decision not to allow O'Neill to raise money to reinforce the squad via the sale of players.
But it's clear that there was a bit of a difference of opinion between O'Neill and Villa's owner Randy Lerner, so perhaps it's not so surprising that he didn't get the full weight of the club's resources behind him.
You may wonder why I'm going on about Aston Villa in an Arsenal blog, but trust me I'm coming to the point. I think that there are things that Arsenal fans can learn from what has happened at Villa. The dispute between the owner and the manager aside, Martin O'Neill was also the subject of abuse from a very vocal minority of Aston Villa fans.
Now, from a neutral perspective that seems staggering to me. Look at Aston Villa before O'Neill took over—stadium half-full every week, football so bad it would make you go blind if you looked at it for too long, and most importantly for Villa fans, the club was slowly but steadily plodding along a path that seemed to be leading inevitably toward relegation.
Then O'Neill came in, and although it didn't happen overnight, the club was rejuvenated, and on an upward trajectory. Arsenal fans found out first-hand what O'Neill was accomplishing at Villa two seasons ago when Arsenal, with complacency and laziness running through the side, were nearly knocked off their perch by a hungry, energetic Aston Villa side who wanted Champions League football and nearly got it.
So looking at the change in Aston Villa that Martin O'Neill managed to bring about, it seems ridiculous that he should be the subject of abuse from the fans. But nether the less he was, and when he was having disagreements with the owner, getting frustrated at the lack of resources available to him, then abuse from the fans must make the thought "why do I even bother?" much more appealing.
So here we have the lesson for Arsenal fans. A lack of trophies for five seasons has bred impatience. I understand that, and I'm as hungry for the club to succeed as anyone.
But I do not understand the ridiculous abuse that a vocal minority direct at Arsene Wenger.
Those who want him sacked, those who want him to spend money for the sake of it, those who direct abuse at the best manager in the history of Arsenal Football Club that normally would be reserved for the worst of the worst of the opposition.
Arsene Wenger is working harder than anyone for the success of Arsenal Football Club. To suggest otherwise is ridiculous. He is a fantastic manager, there aren't many of his calibre in the world.
But he must sometimes wonder why he bothers when he sees the way some Arsenal fans behave. Things like the pathetic "Signings or Sign Off" banner that was displayed at the game at home to Fulham last season must make the manager question what he makes the effort for.
I would have viewed any Aston Villa fan that wanted to see Martin O'Neill leave their club as stark raving mad. What he has done for that club is an achievement to be proud of. Instead of a continuation of that success Aston Villa are now looking at a pretty uncertain future.
I am sure that a fan of any other club would view an Arsenal fan who wanted to see Arsene Wenger leave in the same way. Because it's plain to see that he is a fantastic manager. And if those Arsenal fans who do want him out think that he would be replaced by a recognised manager of similar calibre, I think there would be a nasty shock in store for them if Arsene Wenger did leave.
Perhaps those fans think they're not doing anything harmful, but managers are human beings. Martin O'Neill is a human being and Arsene Wenger is a human being and when people are constantly throwing your hard work for their benefit back in your face it is going to make you question why you bother. It is going to make you less willing to put yourself through the grind.
If Arsene Wenger leaves Arsenal, then that is to Arsenal's severe detriment and any Arsenal fan would be a fool to think otherwise. We havea fantastic club, which is enjoying one if it's longest spells at the very top of the game. Yes, we haven't won any trophies for five seasons but that's peanuts compared to how long the club has gone in the past without silverware.
And it's not like the club hasn't challenged in those five years. A Carling Cup Final, an FA Cup Semifinal, two very serious challenges for the League title, and the club's first ever European Cup final. Even without trophies we are still the envy of all but a few football clubs in England and beyond, and our manager is the man responsible, and lately some of our fans seem to have forgotten that.
Anyway, moving on to a bit of news. Samir Nasri, it's been plain to see this preseason, is a man on a mission. It's obvious he feels the need to put right the injustice of his exclusion from the France squad for World Cup and has by all accounts been applying himself with a new focus and energy to his football.
It's exactly the right response to a disappointment like the one Nasri had this summer, and I hope Theo Walcott is paying attention. To take a set back and turn it into motivation to succeed is a winner's mentality, something we need plenty of at Arsenal. I have the feeling that this is going to be a terrific season for Nasri. He's away with the France squad this week, let's hope he doesn't come back with any annoying injuries.
Despite the somewhat farcical nature of the rumour that Manchester City were going to give Arsenal Shay Given on loan, that rumour hasn't gone away with Given insisting that he doesn't want to a substitute anywhere.
It's quite remarkable that he's gone so public, I would have thought he had little to worry about. Joe Hart is a good goalkeeper but I've no doubt I'd play Given ahead of him. However things don't seem to work the way they do everywhere else at Manchester City. I still they'd have to be insane to sell or loan Shay Given to Arsenal, but I guess we'll wait and see if anything happens.
That'll just about do it for today, have a good one.
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