Joey Barton, the veteran QPR midfielder, has spoken out about Arsene Wenger and Arsenal during a recent interview. The 32 year old, a one-time England international, has never been afraid to speak his mind, and he was highly critical of Wenger’s tenure in charge.
He particularly talked about Arsenal’s inability to win a major trophy over the past few seasons. Barton said the fact Arsene Wenger hasn’t brought in any steel to replace the likes of Patrick Vieira, Tony Adams and Martin Keown may explain the Londoners’ limited impact in the Premier League title races recently.
A disappointing record away to the best sides in the country has seen the Gunners fail to win the title since 2004. In the last 20 games against top five clubs, Wenger and his side have won just once and lost 16 times. This is a sobering statistic for a club that harbours ambitions of winning the Premier League.
That record [Wenger’s 18 years in charge] is probably the reason they haven’t won a title for years.
Nobody can criticise Wenger on the job he has done to build the infrastructure at that club to a fantastic level. But it’s probably been sacrificed at the cost of trophies and challenging at that level.
You think of his teams of [Emmanuel] Petit, [Patrick] Vieira, [Tony] Adams, [Martin] Keown and all those kind of warriors.
You look around the Arsenal dressing room now, the people who would win you those kind of games against the top four clubs – they don’t really have an abundance of them.
At the latter stages of a season they come unstuck because of that lack of – I hate to say it – a real lack of character or spine within the team.
Barton said that the lack of a strong leader in the Arsenal dressing room is one of the reasons they are unable to win; a leader who can issue commands and take charge, even when things are going badly. He also mentioned that Wenger doesn’t believe in raising his voice and that could be costing the team.
One of the things that comes out of the Arsenal dressing rooms is the change in culture from his first sides to now, where he’s developing from within.
One player told me that Arsene doesn’t like anybody raising their voice at half-time if it’s not going well. He almost frowns upon it.
Sometimes you need someone to galvanise and that might be a shouter and bawler. It may not be Arsene’s way, but I think they lack that.
Psychologically, the managers of these big clubs are usually top managers and I think they’ve had Wenger on toast. Sir Alex Ferguson had him on toast in the end and Mourinho’s got him on toast now. That’s what costs them [Arsenal].
Even though Arsenal have only just recently ended their trophy drought, there can be no denying that they have remained one of the most successful teams in the country under Wenger. However, Barton may have a point when he says that Arsenal could have done even better had they found the right replacements for outgoing players.
What do you think Gooners? Does Joey Barton have a point?