Insights Nigel Fairbrass

Gooner, going, gone

This week, does Arsene Wenger need to show more emotion as much as his team need to score more goals – Greggs revels in its clarity of purpose – trust in the medical profession

Arsène Wenger, the beleaguered manager of Arsenal football club, looks to be a man out of time.  Once the English Premier League’s fixed point and great survivor, calls for his head have now reached fever pitch after another lacklustre performance at the weekend.

For many, Wenger’s crime is simple.  Arsenal have not won the Premiership since 2003/4 and last year they lost their regular place in the Champions League.  With little prospect of European football returning to the Emirates next season, fans’ patience has worn thin.  But aside from the impossible expectations made of all football managers, Wenger is also victim to a more subtle societal shift.  One which now requires our leaders to emote.

Wenger’s professorial approach to management on the field has also been mirrored off it.  By turns guarded and enigmatic, his lugubrious style now sits at odds with an industry seduced by celebrity and the cult of personality.

Much like other technocrats in public life, compared with the open and engaging Klopp, with Conte’s touchline theatrics or Mourinho’s pantomime intrigues, Wenger now appears condemned for his lack of empathy as much as for his lack of goals.

Roll in life

In the league of companies able to revel in their own clarity of purpose, Greggs takes the biscuit.  One of their delivery drivers was handing out free pasties last night to fellow drivers stuck in the snow, and in year end results this week the company announced the creation of a ‘centre of doughnut excellence‘ in Newcastle. This follows in a fine tradition of recent, slightly tongue-in-cheek initiatives, such as serving their usual fare by candlelight to Valentine’s Day diners in select shops.

In contrast to other less confident purveyors of sugary drinks and snacks, Greggs is a good illustration that a clear purpose leavened with a little humorous self-deprecation, is a powerful antidote to the sanctimony of the health lobby. There is nothing that customers or the media find harder to swallow than a company which can’t be honest with itself about what it sells.

Getting your jabs

A reminder that fake news is nothing new, but that its impact can be enduring.  This week marks 20 years since Andrew Wakefield published his flawed research linking the measles, mumps and rubella, or MMR vaccine to autism.  While immunisation rates in the UK have just about regained their pre-scare levels, there have been 21,000 cases of measles reported across Europe in 2017 in what the World Health Organisation called “a tragedy we simply cannot accept”.  In networked societies, where the authority of traditional institutions continues to suffer, the health community needs to recognise that trust is now distributed rather than embodied in a white coat.