Mark Arthur – Hero or Villain?

by , February 3, 2009

As I’ve written here before, I’m not one to be reactive or cynical when the chips are down, but after another dismal transfer deadline day the strain is taking hold, and my optimism is being tested.

Back in the day of my History A-Levels, one of the main focusses of the course was the prominent historical debate surrounding the controversial character of Oliver Cromwell, entitled ‘Oliver Cromwell, Hero or Villain’. Whilst the isolated figure of Mark Arthur is probably a rather less monarchy shattering, fundamentalist fellow, he has rather more of an effect on our beloved Mark Arthur. This article seeks to answer the question that one day A level students accross the country will be asked; Mark Arthur, Hero or Villain?

Certainly the most prominent piece of evidence suggesting the villainous nature of Arthur’s character comes from the clubs recent history inthe January transfer window, and clearly Arthur’s performance here is just not good enough. Or is it that clear? I actually think this viewpoint is too much of an assumption. The obvious reality is that we’ve not brought enough players of quality in over recent years, and that we really are crying out for talent and numbers right now, but whilst I’m sure mistakes have been made, I could never advocate buying for buyings sake. Prudence is required, and hopefully it is cautious prudence rather than simple incompetance.

Surely, the success in recent summer transfer windows is a sign that Arthur and his team have a level of competence. This summer we were huge spenders, and the signings were good. Whilst this certainly cannot be entirely attributed to our chief executive, he deserves his share of praise.

The clubs system of Public Relations is about as maligned as the credentials of Mark Arhthur, and whilst various employees’ job titles leave them responsible for this sphere, Arthur remains the boss of the area, and in many fans minds he has just not been good enough. However, my thoughts on this are that the fans will never be happy. As Cheif Executive and main liason with the media, Mr Arthur can never win. He’ll either be lambasted for being lax and revealing too many details of the clubs actions, or the same for not talking to the fans enough. Whilst I’m in no position tojudge everything about Arthur’s roles, I think that he isfighting a losing battle in this area, and will recieve no critique from me here.

Perhaps another of the most prominent anti Arthur messages comes from the area of manager selection. I’m sure Mark plays as large a part of Nigel Doughty when it actually comes down to manager selection, and the fans have often used his choice of manager as a stick with which to beat him. However, It’s all well and good criticising in hindsight, but in reality it just isn’t fair. Platt was an untried manager, a glorious player who a club gave a chance. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesent.  In our case, we know which way it went! Hart, not many wouldcriticise too much, and I think you can suggest that the hierachy got it right there. Kinnear, perhaps was a surprise, but did a job to start with, if not in the long time. Megson, many thought would be a revelation for us. Again, hindsight says differently, but that’s not Arthur’s fault. Calderwood, I’ve still alot of affection for, and essentially succeeded to a certain degree here. Arthur’s record need not be so lambasted.

All in all, I had no intention of writing an article defending Mr Arthur, but the evidence leaves me feeling that he has been harshly judged. I’m no particular fan of his, but reactionism has no place in my ideal world, and the man doesent deserve all of the criticism he gets. It seems that the populus want a scapegoat, but instead, lets get behind the boys and try and stay up!