I don’t think that the former Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson is going to be invited to the Arsenal christmas party this year and he may well have been struck off Arsene Wenger’s christmas card list, if he was ever on it in the first place.
Because Merson was perhaps the most vocal and outspoken of the critics that slammed the Arsenal players and Wenger’s tactics, or lack of them, in the Champions League clash with Anderlecht on Tuesday night. Merson, who called the Gunners `clueless` for the way we let in three let goals to hand the Belgians a point, was far from being a lone voice though. Others attacked individual players, calling Aaron Ramsey selfish because he seemed to be trying to score a goal rather than work for the team.
And it seems to have got right under the skin of the manager, who has dcefended himself and his players in a very robust way, calling the critics a `joke` and a `farce` and suggesting that most of their expert advice about how to manage a club comes from people who have never actually done the job, another dig at Merson maybe.
ESPN report the Frenchman saying, “You have to defend well and attack well. Why should you stop playing one of the aspects of the game? These debates that I hear are absolutely a joke, a farce.
“People who have managed zero games but they teach everybody how we should behave, it is a farce and honestly I can’t be upset about it. It doesn’t matter to me. Talk what you want.
“No, I rectified their mistakes. It is not exactly the same.
“I don’t tell them: ‘You’re an absolute idiot.’ I ask him ‘What should you have done there?’ That is the difference.
“What is amazing is that when we concede goals two and three [against Anderlecht] we were never outnumbered. When we conceded the third goal we had nine players in our half, that is what is surprising to me.
“You feel people criticise without any proven fact, just because they like to criticise. It is more bitterness than real objective facts. If you have facts, for example in Dortmund we were caught on the counter-attack, that is naive. On Tuesday, not at all.
“The first goal turned the game and that is where you see that people just want to slaughter [you]. Nobody speaks about the fact that the goal was offside, not one person.
“Resist pressure and criticism and get on with your ideas. Make your ideas dominant, you have to believe in what you do [what he would say to Monk].
“The criticism? If I really cared would I have survived 18 years? The answer is there. What I care about is that the players are punished or criticised in an unjustified way.
“You cannot say you don’t care because everybody prefers to be told that he is great. Time tells you that you are never as great as people say and you’re never as stupid as they say.
“The one pressure is to play well and win the game. You would really think that I would tell them to go out there and do it again. It is not about criticising, it is to rectify.
“My job is to give a job to people and trust them to do it. If you cant do that you cannot be a manager. I can trust people I give a job to do and I will do it again on Sunday.”
I jujst hope that the Arsenal players are just as angry about the criticism, unfair or not, and go out today to ram those words back down people’s throats…