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Arsenal legend Ian Wright says club is ‘rudderless with no accountability’

PUBLISHED: 13:12 11 November 2017

The Class of 89. Credit 89 The Fiilm

The Class of 89. Credit 89 The Fiilm

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Arsenal legend Ian Wright has slammed the club as being ‘rudderless with no accountability’.

Arsenal legends - Ian Wright and Mickey Thomas Arsenal legends - Ian Wright and Mickey Thomas

Speaking exclusively to the Islington Gazette newspaper the much-loved iconic striker pulled no punches in his analysis of the North London giants he played for with such distinction.

Wright, who broke 1930s star Cliff Bastin’s Arsenal goalscoring record in September 1997, eventually ending his Highbury career on 185 goals from 288 appearances was talking at the premier of 89 The Film.

The South-Londoner was featured in the stunning documentary chronicling the climax to the momentus 1988-89 season talking about his good friend and former team-mate, the late David ‘Rocky Rocastle in an emotional interview which will move every Arsenal fan.

Wright – who played for the club for seven years after being signed by then boss George Graham in September 1991 – recalled the spirit the class of 89 showed in winning against all odds and compared it to the current team.

Ian Wright at the premier of 89 The Film Ian Wright at the premier of 89 The Film

Speaking on the staircase of the art-deco Odeon Holloway good-natured Wright said: “What I want Arsenal fans to understand when they see this unbelievable film is to see what Arsenal epitomised. They way we played and the way that game went in 89 epitomised The Arsenal.

“From the start of the season to the end they never gave up. It was quality all the way through right to the end but they also fought all the way through.

“But we’ve lost that – we don’t have that anymore. That’s the Arsenal way. That’s what George Graham instilled in us. That should be our mantra now but it’s not.”

Wright has attracted criticism for his forthright views on the club but insists he just wants to see the club do well.

Ian Wright has said Arsenal is rudderless. PA Ian Wright has said Arsenal is rudderless. PA

He was hurt by the 4-0 humiliation Arsene Wenger’s team suffered at the hands of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool at Anfield in August accusing players like Mesut Ozil of not caring when they pull on the red and white of Arsenal compared to the class of 89.

He added: “That’s why a lot of former players are getting a lot of stick with people saying we’re not being positive about the club – but there’s not much to be positive about.

“It’s rudderless from top to bottom. There’s no accountability. What you see in the film about what happened in 1989 is what we haven’t seen from an Arsenal team for many, many years.

“It’s a bygone era of players that adored the club.”

89 The Film saw Wright join a large number of the 1989 side including former manager George Graham, his captain Tony Adams, Lee Dixon, Alan Smith, and Wenger’s assistant Steve Bould among many others.

The film details the events of the momentous 1988-89 season which culminated in Arsenal winning the league title against all-the-odds in a memorable climax now embedded in the club’s folklore.

Wright, speaking of his friend Rocastle, said: “The film was a really emotional thing to do. It’s brought back a lot of memories.

“He’s someone everybody loves and to know him from a very young age and to try and put his story over in my words is an honour.

“Dicko [Lee Dixon] and everyone has done a fantastic job on a fantastic story. If people tried to write this story they would say it’s too dramatic.

“For it to happen and then for Dicko to get it down – I’m so happy.”

Wright was delighted to meet-up with former Arsenal friends and colleagues on a joyous evening in North London. He was also pleased to see his old boss George Graham.

The revered Scot was known for being a hard taskmaster, driving his team onto two league titles, two League Cups, the FA Cup and the European Cup Winners Cup.

Wrighty added: “It’s great to see George Graham. People used to call me the son of George because me and him used to have a father and son kind of relationship – we argued all the time and he used to push me to get the very best out of myself every single time.

“So I’m just pleased that we’re honoured 89 with an amazing film and I’m really pleased I’m honouring my mate David Rocastle who played his part.

“Just to be at Arsenal for the time I was there makes me the luckiest man in the world. Once an Arsenal man always an Arsenal.”

89 tells the incredible story of one of football’s greatest triumphs when Arsenal snatched the Championship title from Liverpool at Anfield in the last minute of the last game of the 1988-89 season.

Mixing archive and previously unseen footage with revealing interviews, insights and memories from the original squad, game officials, fans and the people who were there on the night this is the definitive account of a watershed moment in football and a must-watch for any sports fan.

In OurScreen.com cinemas and on DVD and Digital Download from November 20.

At 8pm on Friday, November 17 the official Twitter account @89TheFilm will live tweet the match that made history. Follow the account and join in.

For more on where to watch the film visit www.ourscreen.com/film/89.

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