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ASH WEDNESDAY: It's the Arsenal board who have questions to answer
Published : 20 May 2009 02:16:45
According to Peter Over-The-Hill-Wood, 'some of the questions' directed at Arsene Wenger during last Thursday's question and answer session at the Emirates were 'quite disgraceful'. Quite frankly, no-one ordinarily gives a fig what Arsenal's nominal chairman has to say (not even those Arsenal's board), but since he brought up the matter with the club's supporters, then this is the one occasion when it is worth giving his comments due consideration. It is not as if Over-The-Hill-Wood has only just been alerted to some of the hostile questions inside the Royal Oak Restaurant, where the club laid on a buffet for 150 shareholders (only 45 turned up) and four members of the executive. Over-The-Hill-Wood, chief executive Ivan Gazidis, director Ken Friar and secretary David Miles ambled over to the suite after a 'virtual' board meeting with majority shareholder 'Silent' Stan Kroenke, thousands of miles away in his office in Denver, Colorado. Apparently they wanted to show the manager their support for what everybody rightly anticipated would be a fairly lively gathering of the club's shareholders, all of them entitled to an opinion after once again paying the highest season ticket prices in the country to watch the country's fourth best team. They got that bit right, with supporters giving Wenger a bit of a going over in the hour-long session, questioning the wisdom of his youth policy (i.e. the one that saw 23-year-old Philippe Senderos loaned for a season to AC Milan and replaced by the 'geriatric' Mikel Silvestre, aged 31). Another supporter - Judge Laurence Brass - earned a hearty round of applause when he took issue with Wenger over Emmanuel Adebayor, who agitated for a move to Italy last summer, signed an £80,000 a week contract to stay and has done very little ever since. Wenger was irritated, especially as he is the only manager in the Barclays Premier League who attends meetings with shareholders when his time could be better served elsewhere (can you imagine Sir Alex Ferguson or Rafael Benitez holding a similar seminar?). Over-The-Hill-Wood was so disgusted with the tone of the supporters' questions that he was left speechless, unable to drag himself off his seat to defend the manager who has won three Premier League titles, four FA Cups and were beaten by Barcelona in the Champions League final playing with ten men for 72 minutes. The poor fella was unable to move, in a seizure as the fans questions became more and more animated, more and more hostile towards the manager who has been at Arsenal for 13 years. What utter tosh. He bottled it, just as Gazidis, Friar and Miles did, hanging their world-class manager out to dry in front of 45 shareholders, many of whom are fed up of false promises and false dawns.