Arsenal: A Club Wrestling With Itself

August 25, 2008

If anyone doubts the importance of watching your tongue and sticking to approved messaging when talking to the press, then the below example should change those thoughts. The man in question is a man who has been in his job for over ten years, has unparalleled success in terms of his product and balancing the books. His peers and rivals are all in agreement that he is one of the best in the industry. However, after a series of poorly considered quotes, this man is in danger of losing his post. This man is the until recently untouchable Arsene Wenger.

I realise this topic is a little out of leftfield and more than a bit of it has been inspired by my personal rage, but there is a good Comms story behind it.

For those who are not football experts, Arsenal is one of the biggest clubs in the world and have moved to a new 60,000 stadium within the past 3 years. In preparation for the big move, Arsenal fans were given quotes like these from Wenger in the lead up to the move:  “The stadium will allow us to compete (in the transfer market) in time.”

Importantly Wenger caveated the quote with the words “in time.” Fine, the fans were well conditioned for a bumpy few years ahead and indeed they have not been a barrel of laughs!

This summer however, Wenger changed his messaging and came out with some pretty strong words which got me, half of North London and Arsenal fans everywhere very excited. Here are just a few of the gems Wenger has been saying this summer:

“We will bring in only super, super quality”

“I have come to Euro 2008 with my chequebook”

“We have money to compete for any player”

“I will sign a quality player by the return leg (in two days time)”

After a stumbling performance against a mediocre Fulham team, the messaging suddenly and very worryingly changed: “When you lose a game the solution is not always to buy.”

Now, this legend, this man who appeared to have a job for life at Arsenal, is suddenly very much under pressure.

Fans are fickle at the best of times, but after four years without a success and a summer where they feel they have been lied to, the pressure has been ratcheted up.

Had Wenger stuck to his normal messaging, stating he would only spend the club’s money at the right time for the club, he would be under a lot less scrutiny. By suddenly and very noticeably changing his position, only to change it back, it has left him a figure which looks confused, weak and destined to fail – much like his current team.

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One Response to “Arsenal: A Club Wrestling With Itself”

  1. James Gilheany Says:

    Just as a follow-up to this….Arsenal signed no one before the transfer window shut.

    So, to assure your long suffering fans, how would you go about communicating to them to reassure them that everything is alright?

    Well, the opening story on Arsenal’s official website is about how Wenger thinks Eboue (one of the most hated players at Arsenal) has been their best player this season…..

    Bizzare.

    It appears as if the Comms team at Arsenal are either being incredibly stupid, or the ego of a certain someone is determined to prove himself right – in spite of the evidence against his position.


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