What’s more fun than watching Tottenham Hotspur defeat Arsenal in the North London Derby, causing Arsenal to drop to within two points of Everton in the battle for fifth place in the EPL? Lot’s of things, actually, and one of them is watching this happen in front of Arsenal fan Piers Morgan, the insufferable CNN talk show host.
I’ve seen Morgan on Fox pre-game shows before. On those occasions, he limited himself to incorrectly predicting the outcome of the match.
Today, though, Morgan decided to rant non-stop against Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager. Wenger is one of the great soccer minds of his generation. Taking over at Arsenal in 1996, he transformed the club into one of Europe’s best and a perennial contender, with Manchester United, for the EPL crown, which his Arsenal teams have won three times.
In recent years, Arsenal hasn’t sustained a strong title bid. However, the club has remained in the EPL’s top four, thus qualifying every season for the prestigious and ultra-lucrative Champions League.
Morgan wants Wenger out because he doesn’t think just finishing in the top four is good enough for Arsenal. But it isn’t Wegner’s fault that Manchester City and Chelsea have surpassed his club. These two teams are rolling in foreign money, and Arsenal lacks the resources to keep up. Blaming Wenger because Arsenal is on the fringe of the top four is like blaming David Moyes for Everton’s status on the fringe of the top six — in other words, ludicrous.
Morgan whined that Wenger keeps selling his top players. He cited Robin Van Persie and, especially, Cesc Fabregas. But Wenger didn’t sell Fabregas because he thinks Mikel Arteta (ex-Everton) approaches Fabregas in quality. Fabregas was determined to return to Spain to play for Barcelona, and Arteta was a decent, available replacement Arsenal could afford.
No manager could have kept Fabregas in North London. But Wenger, in a brilliant acquisition, has now brought in Santi Cazorla to fill the creativity void. Cazorla is arguably the best play-making midfielder in the EPL this season.
As for Van Persie, he succumbed, like so many others, to the lure of Manchester United. Morgan notes that United boss Sir Alex Ferguson also faces limitations on spending. But Fergie’s constraints aren’t as severe. Nonetheless, if Sir Alex will take the Arsenal job, then by all means, Wenger must go. Otherwise, Morgan should attempt a more nuanced analysis of his club’s managerial situation.
Morgan also opined that Wenger has opted for players who are too small. A more cogent complaint would be that the team’s defenders are too ponderous. But we should no more expect cogency from Morgan than from the guy who calls your local sports radio station at 3:00 a.m. to vent.
When not attacking Wenger, Morgan was offering helpful advice on how Arsenal should play Spurs. They need to stop Gareth Bale, he warned. As Bale is probably hottest footballer in Europe right now (with the possible exception of Barcelona’s Lionel Messi), Morgan’s counsel was akin to telling the Green Back Packers to watch out for Adrian Peterson.
Morgan also took pains to let us know how many season tickets he has. In addition, he disclosed that he knows Wenger personally. If he’s this close to the situation, why is his analysis so pedestrian?
By half time, deliciously, Spurs were ahead 2-0. Morgan looked as if Larry Pratt had replaced Warren Barton in the Fox studio. He attacked the Arsenal defense for “running away” from Bale when he scored the first goal. Actually, Arsenal had tried to pull the off-side trap. That device isn’t foolproof, but neither is standing next to a player like Bale hoping you can keep up with him when he elects to make his run. The real problem, as Barton noted, was the lack of pressure on the ball.
The match ended 2-1 to Spurs. By now Morgan looked as if Ben Shapiro had replaced him at CNN. With the veins in his neck bulging, the talk show host continued his Wenger must go rant.
But Morgan is a humane man. He wouldn’t like to see Arsenal sack its long-time gaffer. Instead, Morgan intoned, Wenger should look at himself in the mirror and admit he’s no longer the man for the Arsenal job.
Here’s a better idea. Morgan should look at himself in the mirror and admit he never was the man for Larry King’s job.
That won’t happen, of course. But we can at least hope that Fox Soccer Channel will conclude that this whining celeb doesn’t belong in its studio.