Stewart Robson, from decent player to bitter anti-Wengerian

By Tony Attwood

There is a long history of ex-Arsenal players who come back as media commentators who are highly critical of their former employers.  However there can surely be none who has taken this criticism of the hand that formally fed, as Stewart Robson.

Stewart Robson was born 6 November 1964 and played 150 league games for Arsenal scoring 16 goals.  He also played 126 games for West Ham and Coventry, and managed Southend for three matches, winning one and losing two of his games.

Robson was born in Essex, educated in minor public schools and joined Arsenal as a schoolboy.  He made his début on 5 December 1981 aged 17, against West Ham.  He was named Player of the Year in 1984 by Arsenal supporters but following a series of injuries and the change of management to George Graham he was moved on and left in January 1987 after a grand total of 186 games and 21 goals.

His anti-Arsenal comments were not seen at first – and indeed it is fair to say that his wild rants were and continue to be utterly focussed on Mr Wenger.   These anti-Wenger complaints reached a wild and outrageous peak in 2012 and in August of that year Untold Arsenal reported that Robson had been sacked by Arsenal from his then current job of co-commentating on Arsenal TV.

So Untold had done its bit, but much more importantly, so had Bob Wilson who on 26 February 2013 was quoted on as calling Stewart Robson “bitter” over his criticism of Mr Wenger after Robson was quoted that week as saying on the BBC, “I hope it [Wenger’s exit] is sooner rather than later because I certainly won’t miss him because Arsenal have been going down the wrong road for quite some while.”

With Robson then saying that Mr Wenger didn’t have “an actual game plan” Bob Wilson set out in the wider public domain what the more hard core support already knew.  Bob said,  “This is a guy who worked for this club up to a few weeks ago, doing the pre-match stuff on the opposition, who then went to a newspaper, without naming anybody who had given him the so-called facts about him [Arsene Wenger] being a dictator,” Wilson told the BBC.   “Today, he’s been on every half hour on Radio Five Live, and this is a guy who obviously is a bitter guy because he’s no longer got a role or any employment here.”

But although Bob was right about him being bitter over getting the sack, Robson had been using Arsenal TV to promote his wild theories.  Talk about stupidity – being anti-Wenger on Arsenal TV!  Yes there is such a thing as journalistic integrity and honesty to your views, but that normally implies resigning from an institution that supports the man you think is an idiot, not being paid by it.  Robson promoting Anti-Wenger propaganda at Arsenal TV was rather like me working for the right wing anti-EU Daily Mail and putting forward my socialist and pro-EU views.

But of course Robson didn’t only use Arsenal TV to put forward his views.  On Sky Sports News on December 13 2012 he had described Arsene Wenger as “a dictator” whose “time at Arsenal should have ended years ago.”   He said that Mr Wenger “has a lack of tactical nous which is costing points every year.”

Robson, citing no evidence at all through his rant, told Sky Sports News that the manager had a reluctance to listen to his backroom staff.  Referring to the defeat on penalties by Bradford, Robson added, “It was a poor performance, but one I’m not surprised about. Time and time again Arsenal don’t earn the right to play, and tactically (Bradford boss) Phil Parkinson showed he’s a better coach than Arsene Wenger.”

“I’m more embarrassed with the way Arsene Wenger conducts himself these days. He doesn’t do any tactical stuff on the side of the field, they tell me he doesn’t do too much work on the defensive side in training, yet he’ll have a rant at everybody else.

“There’s backroom staff that will challenge his decisions – Steve Bould, Neil Banfield, Terry Burton – but they can’t challenge him because he’s a dictator in many ways.

“Why isn’t Steve Bould doing more coaching? Because – time and time again – I don’t think Arsene Wenger sees the danger. When the team are making mistakes he doesn’t rectify them, and the reason he doesn’t rectify them is he doesn’t know what the mistakes are.

“In my view it was time up three or four years ago. The fans have stuck by him, they always say ‘in Arsene we trust’, that can’t be the case any more.  Tactically Arsenal are all over the place at times, they’re under-prepared defensively, and if you have that you’re always going to lose several football games in a season and not win trophies.”

Now such a wild rant would probably be enough for most people, but Robson, knowing he would get wall to wall coverage by the Anti-Arsenal Arsenal sites continued into the summer of 2013.    The Independent, for example, on  Friday 07 June 2013 reported that Robson was now suggesting that, “Manager Arsene Wenger should not be trusted to spend Arsenal’s summer transfer budget.”

Speaking to Talksport on the same day, Robson said, “I am not expecting any marquee signings at Arsenal. There is a lot of talk about it, but I don’t know if I would trust Arsene Wenger with that money.  Over the last few years some of the players that he has said were going to be world class haven’t ended up like that – people like Philippe Senderos, Denilson, Marouane Chamakh, Armand Traore, Sebastien Squillaci, Nicklas Bendtner, Carlos Vela, Emmanuel Eboue, Park Chu-young, Lukasz Fabianski, Gervinho and Andre Santos.”   [This is of course nonsense.  There is no record of Wenger calling these players ‘world class’.]

“Over the last two seasons they have spent some money on Olivier Giroud, Lukas Podolski, Mikel Arteta, Nacho Monreal, Per Mertesacker and Andre Santos. They haven’t been top-class players.

“Arsene Wenger doesn’t appear to want to sign the top-class players, or what other people would describe as top-class players.   He goes out and says: ‘I can buy you cheaper players for a better price who are going to be world-class players in the future’, but that hasn’t been the case in the last few years. Some of the players who he has bought have regressed under him like Andrey Arshavin and Thomas Vermaelen. Nacho Monreal hasn’t been a good signing and Andre Santos has been hopeless for them.

“Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski are past their best and Gervinho is another player who they spent a lot of money on and hasn’t really come to the fore.”

So bizarre and outrageous were these statements that it was probably only because of their rank stupidity that no one actually bothered to sue Robson for slander.

Of course by then Robson was yesterday’s goods.  I think we might also add by way of possible explanation the disappointment Robson had, not just by not quite making it as a top player at Arsenal because of his injuries, but also not really developing his management career after a brief sojourn at Wimbledon and even briefer time at Southend.  He was also technical director of Rushden and Diamonds before their financial collapse and from then on confined himself to “commentary”.

He has of late been heard working on other TV channels and doing some overseas commentaries, where his wild rants are perhaps a little less well known.  There appears to be an awareness that even those media outlets who are desperate for anti-Arsenal and anti-Wenger quotes realise that Robson is hardly a viable spokesman for the Wenger-Out lobby and thus his chance to rant in the UK has been diminished as most broadcasters and serious newspapers will have less and less to do with him.

Robson’s case is one of the saddest of all for an ex-player.  He could have worked for the club and done some other broadcasting too, but now it seems he is left with the unique selling point for his “talents” of having been “sacked by Wenger for speaking out”. 

But it wasn’t the speaking out that did him, it was the rubbish that he spoke without any supporting evidence.

In fact Arsenal showed enormous forbearance in putting up with him for as long as they did.  Had he been an employee of mine he would have gone the moment he said his first anti-Wenger comment on Arsenal TV.  But maybe that’s just me and my old fashioned values.  I don’t think you criticise your boss in public and keep your job.

Anyway Stewart – as I say, you were a thoroughly decent player in your day, and I’m sorry it turned out like this.  This piece is published on your birthday – I hope you have had time to reflect and see that your move into anti-Wengerianism was not the best thing to do, and that perhaps over time you might change your mind.

The books…

The sites from the same team…


31 Replies to “Stewart Robson, from decent player to bitter anti-Wengerian”

  1. Good article. A bitter man who had no foundation for his comments. When Arsenal are sucessful there is no one interested in him or his opinions. Long may it stay that way.

  2. Interesting read. Thank you.
    I have to mute the volume if this guy is commentating. I use the word “commentating’ very loosely, as stewart uses this as an opportunity to voice his obvious dislike for anything Arsenal. Not his fault, he is just a bitter and insidious person. The blame lies more with the idiots who actually pay him to do this.

  3. What a truly wanker. Not good enough to be someone, but dumb enough to be no one. He should use his anti- Wengerian skill to lick Daniel Levy ass, and get the job he really need of. Lot of Spudian will listen and pay for his bullshit meaningless speech. They are all wankers.

  4. To criticise AW on Arsenal TV was indeed stupid. Challenge AW and you are OUT. But much of what he said was true and has also been said by other ex players. Like ….

    > He doesn’t drill the defence ! (Gael Clichy)

    > He is not tactician ! (Martin Keown – he is a good manager but no coach) We could all see he only ever had Plan A.

    > He is a dictator who cannot be challenged even by his own coaching team !! (Tony Adams – go back to Arsenal ? No … Arsene would never let me make the essential changes ); (Manu Petit – go back to Arsenal ? No … Arsene does not like a shadow cast on him )

    > The need to buy better quality buys ? (lots of ex players said this for several years. Only for about 3 of those years did AW really have no money to spend))

    > Arsene has been going down the wrong road ? (lots of ex players ) These were the years when he broke up the 2nd great team too early. He backed youth and his dream of all out beautiful attacking football – and we won nothing !)

    > Wrong Road ? We went some 5 years without a genuine dmf ! and without a decent keeper !

    And don’t think AW kept us in 4th place last season. Steve Bould was instructed to resume his work on the defence and the shape of the team in play … last Winter after we lost to Spurs and looked right out of it … remember ?

    Since then ? He was openly pressurised by the Board to spend (!) He nearly failed to do so but pulled off a big last minute coup to buy Ozil. Plus he acquired Flamini for nothing. These are helping a lot.

    We are all over the moon at being top of EPL. Let’s pray it continues. But we can never have back those 6 – 8 years of managerial failure. And to repeat … Robson was stupid (and is vindictive) but he said a lot of things which are/were true.

  5. Thanks for an interesting article. I have always wondered when someone was going to write something on this miserable man. Its sad to note that a failed coach like Mr. Robinson thinks he can influence public opinion against Wenger who has won trophies not here in England only. You forgot to mention one bit his shocking attack on Theo just before he was sacked. I mean how can you abuse your own players like that if at all you are Arsenal at heart???

  6. You greatly underestimate how far reaching he’s level of stupidity is when you suggested he’s hatred is not popular overseas Infact he did the commentary for the Liverpool match and he consistently berated the Arsenal team until he was put shame and had to reluctantly eat his own word .An utterly complete moronic ignoramus.

  7. stewart has never been a good player,i dont think if he is a good cant convise us a bradford manager i betterv than wenger.the other thing,players when they are signed is their duty to perfom,once you are given chance.arshavin,gervinho,chamakh,they all given massive chances but they didnt impress,and still you criticise wenger.he always critices wenger fo ramsey selection,now ramsey on form,they praise ramsey,and not wenger.ha haha

  8. The less we hear from the obnoxious Robson the better, and you are right to say that we are not hearing a lot from him whilst our good run is ongoing. However I fear that as soon as we have the inevitable bad run he will be gleefully resurrected by Talk Sport making his usual vitriolic, insulting comments about Arsene and the club.
    Before he was sacked I emailed Arsenal on several occasions to register my objections to his continued employment by the club as did many other disgusted fans and I would like to think that this concerted action by loyal supporters was at least partially responsible for Robson’s subsequent dismissal.

  9. Stewart robson, as good a player he was he is a disgrace he should never be allowed to go anywhere at the emirates he is not worthy of this club, Arsene wenger is the most successful manager in arsenal history.

  10. Third Light

    These are interesting charges – but I wish you had given some sources for the information. In my piece I have cited a few sources but you have just repeated the charges. That was the trouble with Robson, he simply stated but gave no evidence. Please quote where Keown said what you claim he said. Please give evidence that the board forced Wenger to buy Ozil.

  11. All this talk from a player who was ok but sooo one footed. I recall he was about six yards out from goal at the northbank end and free to shoot but dragged it back to use his favoured foot and it was blocked. A good injury prone midfield player who sadly has become bitter.

  12. Tony, I would say the same for Chris’s comments.
    He is another anti-Wenger man (is he chris from cambridge?)and to continue to knock him at this moment in time is ridiculous.
    Arsene always said he would manage Arsenal in a correct and proper way.
    Now that we have the money that we can correctly spend, Arsene has gone and spent it.
    We have had players coming out and saying that Arsenal tried to sign them in the summer transfer window, but it didint happen.
    I remember Chris saying that Ramsey was rubbish and Giroud was another flop…maybe that’s why these anti-Wenger people are not managers of a premier club?
    Just listen to what Klopp has said about our manager.
    But yet again Chris’s mob know better…it just makes me smile!!!!

  13. Superb article! Robson looks a bit silly now, doesn’t he! A bitter man who as we now know got it very wrong and now has litle credibility anywhere. Some other ex players are also skating on thin ice – of course there is free speech but the rent a quote brigade have been used by others for their agenda in portraying Wenger in a negative light, they are starting to look very very stupid, it would be a shame to have legend diminished, but that is what some are risking.
    Have a strong feeling some Untold readers are amongst those who complained to the club about Robsons increasingly incoherant ramblings

  14. Chris,
    Can you back this up please:-
    “And don’t think AW kept us in 4th place last season. Steve Bould was instructed to resume his work on the defence and the shape of the team in play … last Winter after we lost to Spurs and looked right out of it … remember ?

    Since then ? He was openly pressurised by the Board to spend (!) He nearly failed to do so but pulled off a big last minute coup to buy Ozil. Plus he acquired Flamini for nothing. These are helping a lot.

    We are all over the moon at being top of EPL. Let’s pray it continues. But we can never have back those 6 – 8 years of managerial failure. And to repeat … Robson was stupid (and is vindictive) but he said a lot of things which are/were true.”

  15. Ken-lo,
    exactly what I thought, Chris from Cambridge who knew the goings on inside the club because he heard it all from his next door neighbours dog.

    It is unbelieveable that people would listen to Robson. The man is a failure so why would you take his opinion over that of someone who has had success?

  16. Well I think Robson’s views were spot on and are shared by many of us long term supporters who actually go.

  17. In some people’s mind, Arsene seems could not do anything right although he had success in the past and seem to be getting more recently. One can argue he had some not-so-good years for a while but one can also argue that he did OK.

    I think it is very fair to say he at least was above average in those 8 years. Look at the financial input from share holders and financial deals, he is certainly delivering. (In and ideal world, the team that got the most money to spend on players (not including a stadium) should get rank no.1. We see that’s not the case and every team that does not rank as high as their financial ranking is performing below average.

    Before Arsenal pay off the debt or reduce debt payment expense, its still behind in financial strength so its certainly not poor results in the long run.

    As for individual issues, Wenger is not perfect. In fact is there a “perfect manager” out there?

    There are very few candidates. The retired Sir A from the hated Man U and Mr. Special one might be two who can compete with Arsene in EPL. There are a few in other leagues like the lovely Klopp and the guy who just went from Barca to Bayern.

    For a while I quite hated the “special one” but I admit he is a capable tactician and given the money to find players he can manage the team very well (some manager’s can’t manager star players, he can) Still his time at Real was a mess and although he delivered the result he got kicked out of Inter Milan. Needless to say he also got kicked out of oilers once.

    Sir A from Man U bring success to another level. He is no doubt very good but everyone visiting this site, or even anyone other than Man U fans agrees that they get a “mysterious edge” in games. This edge grows in proportion with the esteem of Sir A. If you take away those matches, he would do much worse in recent years. His sides are quite weak and without that “mysterious edge” he would have a far worse time.

    Nice Mr. Klopp which many of us respect is another example. He is doing many things right but in the end, his club is also a “feeder club” and then he has been beaten by Bayern more often than we most of us like to see. The “fire Arsene band” would become the “fire Klopp band” if they happen to live in Germany.

    And then there is the case of Mr. G who left Barca after not winning a league with two teams.

    So who is the worth person who can take over from the crappy manager Arsene Wenger? I do not see the above as suitable.

    If those aren’t try AVB, Bernitiz, Di Matteo, Ancelotti, Hiddink, Pellegrini etc… And they are known to never fail to win the league and never lose a game and never made a poor substitution and never fail to sign a player and never…. etc

  18. Hi all, my physio worked at Wimbledon with Robson, he said he was totally despised at the club by all, and a really unplpeaseant character. He would slate players behind their back and lie when caught out, so much so it came to fisticuffs and was sacked. He was being opportunistic at the time, sadly some of the lies he told will stick, i do like the current situation now where we are succeding ‘despite’ AW, and has anyone seen anywhere the boss looking for any credit for our recent upsurge in form ? No, he ladels it all on the players. True Class.

  19. I remember Robson on ArsenalTV and wondered how he had that job!
    Criticisms that are genuine and objective should have been taken to Wenger(after all he worked there). But the guy spent his entire time there looking smug and self satisfied.
    But that is typical of failed managers and coaches.

    Recently he was a guest on FOX here in the US, and the other commentators were laughing at him.

  20. I’m a Rangers supporter living in the States and we get to hear Robson a lot…unfortunately. I don’t think he hates wenger so much–I think he hates Arsenal! His commentary is so absolutely bitter he is awful to listen to. How come his employers don’t hear it too?

  21. Stewart Robson is the only person who is man enough to tell it as it is. Arsene Wenger should have left five years ago. Every year Arsenal challenge until March then they fall away this has been a pattern since they moved from Highbury. Fourth place is now the measure of success at the club which is an utter disgrace. I stopped supporting Arsenal a few years ago when I realized Arsene Wenger was not going to change. I just got sick and tired of seeing the same thing season after season. Robson is right “Arsenal don’t earn the right to play” against the big boys last season the gunners shipped 17 goals and scored four which is totally unexceptable. Mourinho was right. Champions league qualification has now become the standard of success at Arsenal. As a lad I used to go watch QPR, Spurs and Arsenal because they were all local to where I’m from in west London. These days I’m following QPR I simply can’t stand what I’ve seen at Arsenal. For all of their good football there’s no end result. Winning the league at Arsenal is no longer a priority. When you get the likes of Paul Scholes saying that Arsenal have no leaders you have to listen, Scholes is as quiet as a church mouse, but even he can see what’s wrong at the club.

  22. I have been an Arsenal supporter for 60 years. Wenger was the best manager in that time by some way. (Chapman was surely better). However, in the last 7/8 years everything that Robson says, irrespective of him as a character, appears true to me through my own perception. To see Bould, a passionate and aggressive player, sitting quietly and saying nothing when we have been torn apart by other teams speaks volumes. Not once have I seen him get off his bench to encourage/berate/instruct players. Can you remember him being so taciturn when he played? I heartily dislike the personalisation and abuse from Robson AND those who criticise Robson but don’t shoot the messenger because you don’t like the message. He is far from being the only one saying these things. Thank you enormously Arsene. A great man knows when it is time to go. That time has arrived.

  23. Terry Garratt – try the same argument you employ with Bould with Keown – contrast his TV persona with that of him on the pitch. Behaviour in one arena does not follow another.

    And if you are going to suggest that Chapman was a better manager than Wenger (2 championships and one cup in 9 seasons), you have to give details and make a case.

  24. Terry Garret – what a load of old chris waddle you are talking. Bould was a tough guy as a player – but if you think he was a screaming shouting defender you are basically admitting you never even saw him play. That was Tony’s job. Bould never said a word, he was a rock – but a silent one. Quite in keeping with his demeanour on the coaches bench these days.
    If you’re going to pretend to be all about Arsenal then at least make an effort eh?

  25. and yes – Robson is a failure. Working in broadcasting I’ve met the idiot. He’s hated by everyone who has to work with him or even near him. A total prat.

  26. I googled Stewart Robson after listening to his incredibly inaccurate and vitriolic ‘commentary’ on today’s game against Man City. City’s breakaway goal was predictably labelled characteristic of Arsenal with all the negative myths of the anti-Arsenal and anti-Wenger suddenly pouring out.

  27. Its 2017 and the guy is still jobless and ranting, most recently on ESPN calling Wenger a “dictator”.

  28. Funny I googled this site after watching him on ESPN today with the same bitter gibberish as he was giving10 years ago. If Wenger doesn’t change the feck me Robson is 10 times worse !

  29. This article was written in 2103. Close to 3 more full seasons have followed and everything Robson said has been proved to be true. Wenger inherited the best drilled back 4 in the league (thanks to George Graham – the scene in the Full Monty is just brilliant) and that formed the basis of his early title wins. He did put together the Campbell Toure combination and for that he should get credit. However, he should have left at least 5 years ago as Arsenal have actually gone backwards. To see him experimenting with a back 3 is laughable as he doesn’t believe in it – “I will show you lot that it doesn’t work” – nor does he have the right players. We need to start again with a new manager and we should get rid of Ozil (a passenger against the strong teams) and Sanchez (a petulant spoiled child who is upsetting the dressing room)- neither of them are worth 200K per week never mind 300K. There will be a couple of years downside but if they choose the right manager Arsenal will be back.

  30. Really David: “everything Robson said has been proved to be true.” No, of course not. You can argue against the point of view put on this site, but not like that. Take for example his eight year rant about Arsenal having more injuries than any other club at it is all Arsenal’s fault. He was saying that again through this season to anyone who would give him airtime, and as figures on Untold Arsenal show, it is utterly ludicrous and completely untrue. Not even nearly true. I won’t take up time with the many many other fantasies this man has come up with but really, you can’t get away with things like that.

  31. Wenger WAS a dictator in some aspects. There are one or two other things Robson said I would agree with.
    Yet Wenger is great, Wenger knows!
    I expect to see his statue outside the stadium (even name the thing after him one day).
    What he did with those youngsters and limitted resources all those trophyless years is up there with the best managerial achievments in football

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