By Tony Attwood
How many ex-Arsenal men seem to have felt that knocking Arsenal in general and Arsène Wenger in particular is the best way to get attention, and perhaps a bit of cash on the way? 10? 20? 50? Probably many more for the list seems endless.
And yet there is one who has bucked the trend consistently: Tony Woodcock.
In April 2012 the BBC carried an interview with Tony in which he said that Robin van Persie should “reject a lucrative summer transfer to stay at Arsenal and win trophies.”
He added, “With somebody like Robin, it cannot be a financial thing at this stage in his career. Players want to win things and he is not far from winning things [at Arsenal]. He has to balance that up.
“A few years ago, Robin had quite a few injuries and the club stuck by the player. Now he has had an excellent season, there is all this speculation about whether he is staying or going.
“I imagine he is financially secure and he will be earning quite a lot of money if he stays with Arsenal. So, for the sake of earning a little bit more money somewhere else, that cannot be the motivation. The grass is not always greener somewhere else.
“Anybody who signs for Arsenal during this period is in a fantastic place. If Lukas Podolski comes, I have said to the German press that, for a 26-year-old coming to play for Arsenal and live in London, and all the things that go with it, it is a fantastic opportunity.
“I don’t like it when people add up how many years it is since Arsenal won a trophy, because they are close and not too far off it. This season, after a terrible start, they are in third place. If you had said in the early months, Arsenal would qualify for the Champions League, people might not have believed it.
“If they do get into the Champions League, that would be a success, but Arsenal fans do want to win something at some point.”
And just in case you might think that was a one off, here’s another piece. It is interesting not just because of what he said, but also because of where it appeared. It was on www.zapsportz.com which is billed as being the “HOME TO GLENN HODDLE’S ZAPSTARZ COMPETITION”
Now I don’t know if Tony Woodcock is directly associated with Glen Hoddle’s programme, but it is interesting that Zapstarz was the source of the story. Hoddle’s Zapstarz is an online project to search for upcoming players, and follows his work with an academy in Spain with professionals who were unable to find a club. Hoddle describes the new project as being, “about taking young kids from the ages of eight to 16 and improving their skills.”
Children and teenagers enrol on the Zapstarz website, undertake a series of five skills challenges such as ball juggling, control and passing, and send in video of the result. The most skilful progress through each stage.
At the end of 25 weeks, the top performers are invited to coaching sessions with Hoddle at his football academy in Bisham Abbey, where the goal is “promoting excellence to help players at all levels to achieve their goals”. Is Tony Woodcock involved? I’d love to know.
Anyway this article came out just after the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust started to demand that the board should not extend Arsène Wenger’s contract. Tony Woodcock said, “That’s some call, I looked on in some dismay after the opening day home defeat against Villa, and my verdict was a bad day at the office,”
“I believe everyone should keep calm and see what develops over the next few weeks. I can really understand the disappointment of the Arsenal fans, I am one myself – but it is not so easy to buy players in this day and age of player-power.”
His concluding words were perhaps his most telling, and something that both the AST and other ex-Arsenal men should consider:
“Arsenal should not just go out and buy new players for the sake of it – new players coming to the club have to be better than the ones already playing. To improve the current team, top players are needed – players that have won things. Let’s see what happens in the next week or two – but it is too early to start calling time on Arsene Wenger.”
So, to the man himself…
Tony Woodcock was born in Nottinghamshire, and started with Nottingham Forest in 1974, joining their first team in the 1976/7 season after a couple of loan spells. Working under Brian Clough he was a major force in the drive to win the League, League Cup and European Cup.
After Forest he went to 1. FC Köln and then signed for Arsenal for £500,000. However he was at Arsenal at a time when the club was uncertain of its way forward and after working under Neill and Howe, he was told by George Graham that he could leave Arsenal, not least because of the lasting effects of an injury suffered in March 1985.
After that he returned to 1. FC Köln before ending his playing career playing for Fortuna Köln whom he later managed.
|Lincoln City loan
|Doncaster Rovers loan
|1. FC Köln
|1. FC Köln
The latest info I have says that Tony Woodcock and his German business partner Sven Ehricht give talks, lectures and seminars to managers and young entrepreneurs teaching Inter-cultural Management, Motivation, Leadership and Teamwork. Tony discusses the parallels and differences between “England & Germany in Football & Business” and reflects on the factors that turned his Nottingham Forest from underdogs to European champions.
There is more about him in German at http://www.tony-woodcock.com/ but this site seems not to be unpdated and most of the links don’t work. If you have more up to date information on his current work, and perhaps links with Glen Hoddle, please do let me know.
- The Anniversary Files: January to June
- The Anniversary Files: July to September
- The Anniversary Files: October to December