Arsenal AGM leaves fans underwhelmed
When Stan finally spoke at Arsenal's Annual General Meeting (AGM) it was worth the wait.
Forthright, honest and impassioned, it was exactly what you would expect from a man with a significant emotional and financial stake in the North London club.
"I've been coming for 30 years and that was probably the worst AGM I've ever attended. The club often talks about respect but there was a complete lack of respect shown today. It was awful."
That Stan was Stanley Salter, a long-term shareholder and Highbury veteran.
The other Stan, Stanley Kroenke, the majority shareholder and Emirates parvenu, also spoke at Thursday's meeting. It was...well, a bit underwhelming.
"I've been asked to say a few things," the 64-year-old American said coyly. "I'm not sure why but people seem to be interested."
What followed were about two minutes of polite small-talk - believe me, I had a lot of offers but this was the only club for me; Arsene Wenger and the board make great decisions; my family loves London, you better get used to us - but absolutely nothing an Arsenal fan could pin his or her hopes on for brighter days around the corner.
Stan Kroenke is a regular at his NBA team, the Denver Nuggets, but is rarely seen, or heard, at Arsenal PHOTO: Getty
It was, in Salter's words, a disrespectfully vague statement from a man who had made only one previous visit to the club in the six months since he more than doubled his holding in Arsenal to become the de facto owner. The fact that he had only just arrived from Denver, leaving no leeway for delays, was also noted.
"Of course, we are interested in what you have to say," was the general response from the audience. "But is that it?"
But by saying so little, mostly Silent Stan at least avoided antagonising anybody. If only club chairman Peter Hill-Wood had been so wise.
The 75-year-old businessman has been chairman for nearly 30 years. His father did it before him and his grandfather before that. The Hill-Woods and Arsenal share a long and proud history - and that is exactly where many at the meeting would like to leave it.
For the first time in anybody's memory, all questions from the floor had to be pre-submitted and there was no chance to ask follow-ups.
But there is a problem with doing things this way, the questions tend to be quite good: far better, it has to be said, than the scripted answers Hill-Wood read out in very unconvincing tones.
When are we going to start winning things again? Why won't you issue more shares to raise funds? How can you raise prices by 6.5% and then not adequately replace world-class players who leave? We lost 8-2 to Manchester United and Spurs have a better team, what's going on?!?
Twelve times Hill-Wood was asked to explain and/or justify club policy and 12 times he left the crowd wanting more. More energy, more hope, more passion.
The meeting's biggest round of applause came when one shareholder told Hill-Wood he was "so out-of-touch" that he must go, with former vice-chairman David Dein coming back to replace him. Ouch, even Sepp Blatter gets an easier ride than that.
Kroenke, to be fair, did get out of his seat at that point to defend his chairman, saying "we're fans too" and "we're going to a certain place, we are with you".
Nope, I'm not sure what that means either.
As so often with Arsenal, it was left to Kroenke's most important employee to pick up the standard, speak from the heart and rally the troops.
Arsene Wenger's star has dimmed somewhat in recent seasons but there is no denying his ability to speak to the wide-eyed optimist that resides in every football fan.
"I see fear and discontent amongst you and I understand it," started the infamously short-sighted manager, "but we fight against clubs with high resources".
He then detailed last season's disappointments - "the most difficult to accept" in his 15 years at the club - and admitted he sometimes blames himself for thinking his eternally young squad could win it all.
Having conceded some ground, the Frenchman then reclaimed it.
The club played 27 games in three months over the winter and it was those efforts that derailed us at the end, he explained.
Remember how close we were to beating Barca, our best ever performance.
"People always used to say I needed to buy a goalkeeper but look at us now, we have great goalkeepers," he continued.
Then we got to the heart of his message: Arsene still knows, trust me, stay united, we can finish fourth.
So that is the level of the club's aspirations: fourth, the league's third-best loser.
Arsenal's defeat by Birmingham in the Carling Cup final was the start of a dire run for the club PHOTO: Getty
A 15th straight season of Champions League football (a record only Manchester United and Real Madrid would be able to match) is very impressive.
But is it enough for a team that went unbeaten through an entire season only seven years ago, has the highest ticket prices in Europe and a beautiful new ground in one of the wealthiest cities in the world?
As goals go, it is certainly better than the one suggested earlier in the meeting by club chief executive Ivan Gazidis of reaching 10m followers on Facebook this season.
One wonders if that will be one of the key performance indicators Gazidis will be measured on next year, as he met all his targets this year, hence his £1.7m pay packet, which makes him the second best-paid CEO in the league.
It is often easy to overdo the gloom on occasions like these and there are clearly clubs in crisis and clubs who need to keep things in perspective (this observer couldn't help looking around Arsenal's well appointed home and thinking they have problems most clubs would love to have) but things aren't right at the Emirates.
There is, however, a potential solution. His name is Alisher Usmanov. He owns almost 30% of the club, actually goes to Arsenal games and is one of the richest men in the world. He even owns a slice of Facebook, which should delight Gazidis.
Sadly, he is about as welcome at the Emirates as Spurs mascot Chirpy.
Might that change? Not with this board. They make the Soviet Union's last Politburo look like a student union entertainments committee. But then, the Politburo did not see the end coming either.
In the meantime, the club is doomed to go forth in pursuit of fourth.