Wenger and Ranieri's last chance for glory, says Neil Humphreys

Haunted by failings, Wenger and Ranieri are fighting for final shot 
at title

I don’t know if we will feel the pressure over time. I know there are so many points to win. I hope we don’t feel this pressure. — Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri on the title race
Once you are top of the league, you can also think about losing what you have. That is where the nerves come in a little bit. — Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger on Leicester

ARSENAL v LEICESTER

(Sunday, 8.45pm, Singtel TV Ch 102 & 
StarHub TV Ch 227)

Claudio Ranieri plays the fool. He grins for the cameras and makes the most of his second language shortcomings.

The Leicester manager is the cute and cuddly uncle dancing in his white leather slippers. Everybody loves him.

Arsene Wenger, on the other hand, plays for no one.

Glaring through the lens, he looks every one of his 66 years. The Arsenal manager is neither cute nor cuddly, but increasingly perplexed. He carries the weight of the world on his shoulders.

In appearance, the two men are chalk and cheese.

In reality, they are kindred spirits. When they meet on the touchline tomorrow, they face a mirror - two old men haunted by their title failings.

They know that this is their last chance. There will not be another.

Of course, this fixture is not a title decider. If Leicester succumb, the gap is narrowed to just two points. Should Arsenal falter, they would trail the Foxes by eight points. But 12 games still remain afterwards.

Nevertheless, defeat would feel like a mortal blow. The long, slow death of one's professional pride begins with games like this.

Both managers know this. Ranieri, the jovial journeyman, messes around for the media, but the winks and giggles often resemble the "tears of a clown" routine.

No paid sportsman can fall short of victory so many times without it hurting. Ranieri has often lamented the Tinkerman stereotypes and his struggle to be taken seriously as a coach, but the only remedy to this has always eluded him.

Six different title expeditions at six different clubs all ended in failure.

Some were expected. Others felt like unnecessary implosions. But Fiorentina, Valencia, Chelsea, Juventus, Roma and Monaco all glimpsed or visited the summit under the 64-year-old, but never stayed there.

Those illustrious names have accumulated 85 league trophies between them. Ranieri got his hands on none.

He's not so much the Tinkerman as he is the Nearly Man. The Italian has shed his reputation for being a fussy meddler. Only a title will remove the "nearly, but not quite" asterisk that leaves an unsightly mark on his 30-year career.

But he is learning. He has said and done less at Leicester. He has taken a Darwinist approach to management- adapting, evolving and excelling. On this score, Ranieri is succeeding where Wenger appears to still be failing.

PRINCIPLES

Both men were once prisoners to their unshakable principles and practices, but the crafty Fox has relented. Wenger remains as stubborn as a mule.

With the Frenchman devoted to the Wenger Way, the exasperated Arsenal crowd finds itself stuck in another Gunners Groundhog Day.

A refusal to break the bank to buy a decisive defensive midfielder, an insistence on nifty mavericks rather than no-nonsense muscle men and an unwillingness to sign a genuinely intimidating leader yet again evokes a sense of deja vu.

Whereas Wenger's puritanical streak once fitted Arsenal's philosophy like a glove, it now constricts like a straitjacket.

Twelve years have passed since his last title, the end of a period of success that now belongs in another era. It was a time when Wenger's approach was sprinkled with pragmatism (he's never again signed aggressive, game-breaking leaders like Patrick Vieira, Emmanuel Petit or even Ray Parlour).

And what Wenger has lost, Ranieri appears to have gained during the most glorious of Indian summers.

Leicester play to a fixed, clearly defined system, utilising individual and collective strengths. It really is as simple as that. There's no magic bullet, no rabbit under the hand, just a concerted willingness to play for each other.

The Gunners do the same, sometimes, occasionally, before the mental strength wavers and the mavericks all drift away and Wenger's Arsenal do what Wenger's Arsenal always do.

So this campaign represents a breaking point. It's both the best and worst of times for Wenger. He'll never get a better chance to win the title. For that reason, he may not be granted another chance to win the title should he fail again.

And Ranieri knows he won't. It's now or never for the old guard. The ageing managers are running out of time.

When they shake hands at the Emirates, they'll recognise the desperate need for victory in the other man's eyes.

But, most of all, they'll hear a ticking clock.


OTHER FIXTURES

Today

  • Sunderland v Man United (8.45pm)
  • Bournemouth v Stoke (11pm)
  • Crystal Palace v Watford (11pm)
  • Everton v West Brom (11pm)
  • Norwich v West Ham (11pm)
  • Swansea v Southampton (11pm)

Tomorrow

  • Chelsea v Newcastle (1.30am)
  • Aston Villa v Liverpool (10.05pm)

Monday

  • Man City v Tottenham (12.15am)

BY THE NUMBERS

58%

The Premier League win percentage of Arsene Wenger during his stint at Arsenal. Since he took over in 1996, the Frenchman has won 428 of 739 league games. In contrast, Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri has 91 wins from 171 matches (53 per cent).

'Love & sex' drive crime rate up

Big jumps in Internet love scams and credit-for-sex cons contributed to a 46 per cent rise in commercial crimes, said the police yesterday. This in turn pushed overall crime figures up by 4 per cent last year, compared to 2014. SHAFFIQ ALKHATIB (ashaffiq@sph.com.sg) reports

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Spike in scam cases despite initiatives

The police have come up with several initiatives to help people guard against commercial crime.

l In November 2014, they worked with the National Crime Prevention Council to launch a nationwide Anti-Scam Public Education Campaign. To raise awareness of common scams, they made use of print and broadcast media, outdoor advertorials, and digital platforms such as YouTube and Twitter.

l They created a website - www.scamalert.sg - that highlights the latest scams and also allows netizens to share their experiences with others.

l They launched three television commercials, in May, July and November last year, that warned viewers of the top scams here.

l A series of scam prevention animation videos were rolled out on Facebook and YouTube. The police worked with Channel NewsAsia on a Get Real! show, which was aired last month. In the show, victims shared their experiences on why they fell prey to scammers.

Despite these initiatives, the number of commercial crime cases has gone up, from 5,687 in 2014 to 8,329 last year. (See graphic, left.)

So why do Singaporeans continue to fall prey to scammers despite these initiatives?

Psychologist Daniel Koh said that people in general tend to assume that they will never be victims of a crime.

Mr Koh, who is from private practice Insights Mind Centre, said that they may be tempted by a perceived good deal, an opportunity for love or an offer of sex.

He said: "Victims tend to feel that the perceived benefits override the possible consequences. They are willing to take the risk if the perceived benefits prove to be too tempting."

While education is helpful, he said that some people will continue doing what they feel despite being warned not to do so.

He said: "Just like smoking and drugs, there are many campaigns to educate people on their dangers.

"Yet, we still have people who continue smoking and taking drugs despite the risks."

'KIASU' MENTALITY

Mr Koh said that some Singaporeans tend to be "kiasu" and do not want to lose out on what they think is a good deal.

"So they grab at the opportunity and do not think about the consequences," he said.

Commercial Affairs Department director David Chew told reporters yesterday that it is very difficult to address every form and shape that Internet scams can take.

This is especially since Singaporeans are constantly connected to the Internet at many places, including in the privacy of their homes.

Mr Chew said: "We are not saying, 'Don't transact on the Internet'. We are just saying, 'When you do transact, you have to be very careful who you are transacting with'."

Couple slap teacher, upload clip of incident

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'Kids could find them appealing'

Indonesia bans same-sex emoticons on instant messaging apps

CLEAN HOUSE OR ELSE: Indonesia has told all instant messaging apps to remove same-sex emoticons or ship out.
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New device to catch errant motorists to be used at Causeway

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'Cardboard auntie' death an unfortunate traffic misadventure: Coroner

Accident that killed 'cardboard auntie' an unfortunate traffic misadventure, says coroner

DRAGGED: The bus driven by Mr Oh Chin Chai at the scene of the accident at Marsiling Lane. The body tent was set up on the left side of the bus, but Madam Ching Guan Eng's body was extricated from the rear right tyre of the bus.

If she had been just a little slower or a little faster, the elderly cardboard collector might have avoided the accident that killed her that fateful day at Marsiling Lane.

Faced with a private bus that was parked by the side of the road ahead of her, Madam Ching Guan Eng, 86, pushed her trolley around it.

Unfortunately, she entered a blind spot at the front right side of the bus - just as the driver started it and drove off, after checking his mirrors.

The bus ran over Madam Ching and dragged her for a short distance.

She was pronounced dead at the scene.

THE NEW PAPER, NOV 13, 2014

These details emerged yesterday during the coroner's inquiry into Madam Ching's death.

State Coroner Marvin Bay ruled out foul play in his findings and said the incident on Nov 12, 2014, was "an unfortunate traffic misadventure".

At about 8am that day, Mr Oh Chin Chai, 59, who had been driving for the bus company for a year, had just finished two assignments, the inquiry heard.

He parked by the side of Marsiling Lane and went to the market near Block 18 to buy a rubber mat for the bus.

Madam Ching was then pushing her trolley loaded with cardboard and other recyclable materials along the extreme left lane of Marsiling Lane.

It is believed that she was walking past the right side of the bus when Mr Oh returned and sat in the driver's seat.

CHECKED MIRRORS

TNP GRAPHICS: TEOH YI CHIE

Mr Oh told the authorities that he checked the side mirrors as well as his blind-spot mirror before moving off.

But unknown to him, Madam Ching was in his blind spot at the front right side of the bus, when he drove off and ran over her.

Singapore Civil Defence Force officers later extricated her from the rear right tyre of the bus. They also found her trolley under the bus.

Mr Bay said the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) was engaged to conduct an examination of the bus to determine the fields of view and blind spots.

The HSA report said that if Madam Ching, who was travelling from the driver's right to his left, was between 44cm and 93cm from the front of the bus, it was unlikely that the driver would have been able to see her.

Mr Bay pointed out that Madam Ching stood at a mere 1.47m and would have been even more inconspicuous as she would have been bending over while pushing her trolley.

An eyewitness, Mr Ramlee Sahat, 61, was cycling on the pavement on the other side of the road when he heard a woman scream.

Mr Ramlee said he was shocked as the bus continued moving after colliding with Madam Ching.

He rushed over and saw that she was still breathing when she was underneath the bus, near the rear axle.

Mr Bay said Madam Ching suffered severe head injuries, fractures to her right leg, a dislocated knee and abrasions all over her body - injuries consistent with a road traffic accident.

Mr Oh was earlier charged with negligence causing death, and was granted a discharge not amounting to acquittal.

After the hearing, Mr Oh's counsel, Mr Kalidass Murugaiyan, told The New Paper that he would be applying for the charge to be dropped.

Did windscreen frame cause blind spot?

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They get money for monkeys

Two readers win cash in TNP Fortune Monkey contest

Ms Christina Heng (above )
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Two charged with armed robbery

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