Having survived a brain tumour, Glenn Roeder has a clearer perspective than most in the game as to football's place in life. However, it is not just that harrowing ordeal which has enabled him to react with dignity to the personal criticism which has followed Newcastle United's slow start to this Premiership season.
Having experienced the drop, Roeder knows that for some, primarily the poorly paid backroom staff in club laundries, ticket offices and kitchens, relegation can mean unemployment and hardship. So the pressure is there. But, he said after his team won a brave and encouraging point at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, going down with West Ham taught him to divorce the personal from the professional.
"When I was so criticised I took it quite personally," he said. "Then I realised after I left that it wasn't about me, it was the job I was holding down when things weren't going well. It could have been anyone in that job.
"That has helped me to handle any criticism that comes my way. It's not a problem for me. The problem is that sometimes it affects the players. I asked the players to stand by me and they showed today they are. Together we will pull away from the situation."
Redemption was the theme of Newcastle's efforts with Kieron Dyer and Nicky Butt delivering two of the key performances. Dyer, whose promising career has stalled through a combination of injuries and off-field idiocy, reminded everyone of his talent with a busy display in his first start since April, illuminated by his first league goal since March 2005. Butt, who was farmed out to Birmingham City on loan last season and relegated, rolled back the years with an afternoon of fierce resistance.
"Kieron has proved that when he's fully fit he is England class," said Roeder, "but he wouldn't want to be talking about England yet. He would want to be talking about playing for Newcastle a dozen or more times without problems. He knows that the present England manager likes him a lot but that's in the future.
"Nicky's a great example to our young players," Roeder added. "There was a block by him which epitomised our performance. He's won so many medals, he's in his 30s, yet he always stays out after training to do extra."
Unfortunately for Roeder the "block" he raved about brought the early introduction of Thierry Henry as it left Robin van Persie with an injury which is likely to keep him out of Arsenal's Champions' League tie with Hamburg tomorrow.
Henry, having played 90 minutes for France against Greece in midweek, had been rested. He sat brooding through the first half as Arsenal endured another groundhog day. Newcastle followed the template established by Aston Villa, Middlesbrough and Everton; score first, then hang on. Part I was fulfilled when Dyer, duping Emmanuel Eboué as he ran on to Obafemi Martins' flick, scored. It was Newcastle's first goal in 461 minutes' play in the Premiership.
Achieving Part II owed much to Butt, Scott Parker, Craig Moore and even Titus Bramble (relatively solid for once) and Damien Duff (negligible in attack, but industrious in defence). But it owed most to Shay Given, back after that terrible stomach injury. With Arsenal having 19 shots to Newcastle's two, the 'keeper denied Van Persie, Emmanuel Adebayor, Henry and Cesc Fabregas before Henry finally beat him with a free-kick. Given twice more thwarted Henry, who also struck the post.
Henry admitted in The Independent on Saturday that his form was only "so so". Wenger agreed but noted that here, against Liverpool the week before, and for France, he looked on the way back.
Henry also said some supporters made him "ashamed for my sport" and there was further disgusting evidence of this when Roeder was abused as "tumour boy". When Newcastle scored, a junior member of the visitors' staff gestured in the general direction of the abuse. These suddenly sensitive Arsenal fans were so outraged they reported him to stewards. Pathetic.
Roeder was dismissive. "All managers get abuse. If a supporter is critical of a brain tumour I had three and a half years ago I wouldn't respect him anyway."
Goals: Dyer (30) 0-1; Henry (70) 1-1.
Arsenal (4-1-4-1): Lehmann; Eboué, Touré, Gallas, Clichy; Flamini; Hleb, Fabregas, Baptista (Walcott, 64), Van Persie (Henry, h-t); Adebayor. Substitutes not used: Almunia (gk), Senderos, Song.
Newcastle United (4-4-1-1): Given; Taylor, Bramble, Moore (Sibierski, 89), Ramage; Solano (Milner, 74), Butt, Parker, Duff (N'Zogbia, 87); Dyer; Martins. Substitutes not used: Harper (gk), Rossi.
Referee: M Atkinson (West Yorkshire).
Booked: Arsenal Fabregas, Gallas; Newcastle Duff, Taylor, Bramble, Given, N'Zogbia.
Man of the match: Given.
Attendance: 60,058.Reuse content