It’s the end of the year, and a good time for looking back at who has down well, and who not. Here’s the first part of the Untold List of Winners and Losers in 2015.
1: Man U – LOSER
Man U have had two approaches of late – changing managers (three managers in three years) and spending money on players (£324,300,000 in three years). In theory that should be giving them the League title, FA Cup and European Cup. Year after year.
At the moment they are sixth in the PL, nine points off Arsenal. Not an insurmountable deficit, but bigger than they would like.
Their last win was on 21 November. Since then they have played eight games without a victory, drawing four losing four. That’s relegation form.
No one is saying that Man U is going to be relegated but then no one said it in 1973/4 which was, I believe, six years after they won the European Cup. And they were relegated.
Sir F Word was always going to be a tough nut to follow, but even so, they could have done a better job of it than this.
2: Jose Mourinho – LOSER
It’s not so much that Chelsea started to slide down the table that cost him his job, but Mourinho’s inability to handle the situation which marked him out as a loser.
The affair with Dr Caneiro should never have happened, should have been settled at once, having happened, and yet is still dragging on through the employment tribunals.
Mourinho could have stopped the fiasco at any time, just as he could have sorted out player problems, and admitted his errors, but he didn’t.
Because many club owners are deeply in love with him and his publicity machine, he will walk into another job any time, but one more cock-up and his reputation will be cut to shreds and that will be that.
And there are already mumblings about his transfer policy. The Fabrigas fiasco is just one that will make owners question of whether he is a safe person to be running their transfer policy.
3. The Anti-Arsenal-Arsenal – LOSER
The group of hobgoblins circling around a couple of so-called “supporters associations” which are no such thing, have been dying for Arsenal to fail, and attempting to re-write the past, present and future of the club for years. Indeed Untold did a little piece exploring their murky world a couple of years back.
And for a while they had the media eating out of their hands as they spouted their nonsense about lowering ticket prices (without any analysis contemplating the effect on Arsenal, if player salaries were not stopped from escalating), needing to buy new players, needing to relay the pitch, needing to change training methods because we got more injuries than anyone else, needing to dump Giroud and sell Ozil at a cut price and above all needing to get rid of Mr Wenger because of some imagined worse start to the league in 30 years etc etc.
But slowly even the wild and whacky world of the sporting media in England has turned away from them, and given their ideas up as too insane to foist on the British public. The aaa will be there for many years to come, but the fact of Arsenal being the top team in 2015, the top team in the league at the end of the year, the only top league club that has paid for its own new stadium without getting relegated, and become the FA Cup winners two years running has rather dented the reality of their position.
4. Arsene Wenger – WINNER
It’s not just the Cup double, being Arsenal’s most successful manager, being the most successful FA Cup manager of the 20th and 21st century, making Arsenal the most successful FA Cup team in history, being the only manager to take his side through an Unbeaten Season etc etc. It’s the fact that the “fourth is not a trophy” issue was finally shown up to be a load of old cock.
Fourth and third for Arsenal were financial trophies that helped pay of the stadium debt more quickly, and continue to attract quality players. Without that Champions League slot every season, many players attracted to Arsenal would not have come but would have gone to Tottenham, or whoever took the top four place from us. Mr Wenger did that.
And it’s the delivery of Alexis and Ozil – supreme masters. It is the finding of Koscielny for a fee of around £10m and turning him into a brilliant reliable centre half. It is the finding of Coquelin and bringing him up through the ranks until he was ready to become one of the top players in Europe. It’s the finding of Bellerin. It was the finding of Fabregas and then selling him back at a mega profit just as his ability was starting to fade. It was the persuading of Ramsey to come to Arsenal not go to Man U. It was the perseverance with Joel Campbell, so this year he could play for us when needed.
And yes, at the moment it is Ozil. Real Madrid didn’t really want to sell, their stars did not want him to go, but through long term developing of a relationship with Ozil, waiting his time, and then helping Ozil to settle into the Premier League, that we have indeed got a player who can be spoken of for years to come alongside the names of Bergkamp and Henry.
5. The Premier League – WINNER
The news that the Premier League is pushing for video referees shows that at long last it has thrown off the shackles of the autonomous PGMO which employs and monitors referees and is willing to face up to the impossible body.
Everything about PGMO is wrong – it is secretive, it is self-judging, there is no outside control whatsoever, it is never called to account, it pushes and prods media outlets not to discuss it.
But week after week Untold has put it in the news, and gradually the embarrassment level within the League has risen and risen, until they know they are in danger of becoming a laughing stock if the current situation gets any worse.
When your official referee organising body claims that 98% or more of all referee decisions are accurate, and a group of referees analyses games week after week after week over a five year period and shows that the figure is more like 65%, you know you have a PR problem.
Very, very slowly, the Premier League has put its worries to PGMO, and each time been rebuffed with platitudes. So the League has found an answer. It is hoping to get video refs.
Of course the FAs of Wales, N Ireland and Scotland could vote against, and the FA of England could still turn it down, and the whole thing needs Fifa’s ok, but we are inching there. Full marks to the Premier League for opening the box.
Untold Arsenal: you know it makes sense (sometimes).
From the History Society… The 13th instalment of Arsenal in the 70s is now published… July to Dec74. Flirting with relegation