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October 2016
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Ten reasons why I remain sweet and serene in relation to Arsenal and don’t want Wenger to leave.

By Tony Attwood

OK sweet and serene might be a bit much, but even so, I am fairly calm, I smile quite a lot and enjoy my life, including Arsenal.  Here’s why.  And to some degree how.

1:  I didn’t come here to win things.

As you might have realised I’m old.  My dad took me to Highbury in 1956 or 7, not sure which, and so I’ve watched football under Swindin, Wright, Mee, Neill, Howe, Burtenshaw, Graham, Houston, Rioch, Rice and Wenger.   And nothing before Wenger has ever been this good.

Arsenal’s in my blood, as they say.  My father was taken to the Arsenal by his father in the 1930s and kept going.  My grandfather, living in Stoke Newington (the borderlands between East and North London) went to Arsenal in 1913 when the club moved to Highbury.  It is my heritage.

So I am a season ticket holder and a blogger because Arsenal is my birthright, my heritage, a significant but not all-consuming part of my life.  And I don’t go to Arsenal because I expect to win things.  In the 38 years of my supporting Arsenal before Wenger came along, including of course some years as a child, I “saw” (not that I was always there) Arsenal win ten trophies.  Three League titles, three FA Cups, one Fairs Cup, two League Cups and one Cup Winners Cup.

Ten in 38.  One every 3.8.  Or since these days only the League matters, three in 38.  One every 12.66 years.   Got that?  One every 12 years.

In the Wenger years I have watched 9 trophies gathered in 19 years.  One in every 2.1 years.  One league title every 6.3 years. A considerable improvement.  Double the previous rate in fact.  Plus instead of sitting in a scrunched up seat in a small out of date stadium where everything was a crush and the big screen was invisible unless I bent down, I sit in a totally modern comfortable new stadium.

2.  The football is sensational

In terms of performance Wenger is so much by far the best, I can’t find comparisons.  But let me say that I remember the season under Graham when we were the lowest scoring club in the first division.   And 1975 and 1976 when we came 16th and 17th in the league.  Under Wenger I have seen brilliant football played by brilliant players.

Of course I remember 1970 and winning the Fairs Cup, but mostly because I had been supporting Arsenal since 1956 and had never once in my life up to that point seen Arsenal win any trophy of any importance.  Not even the bloody league cup.   Fourteen years of support and not even a sniff of a trophy.

How does that go down with people who today expect and demand a trophy regularly?  I doubt that they could conceive of 14 years with no trophy at all.

And in those days we didn’t have any of your “fourth is not a trophy” stuff.  In six of those years we were tenth or lower.

3: We win more games than ever before.

Just look at the table of managers (to cut down on space this table only includes managers who have managed over 100 games for Arsenal but if you want the whole table including the shorter term managers that is on the Arsenal History Society web site)    Check the win percentage column – the number of league games won.  And don’t tell me it is easier to win games these days in the top league – you know the opposite is true.

Pos. Name From To P Win% Top 4 Honours
1. Arsène Wenger October 1996 1066 57.50 18 3 League
6 FA Cup
2. Harry Bradshaw August 1899 May 1904 189 50.79 3*
3. Herbert Chapman June 1925 Jan 1934 403 49.88 4 2 League
1 FA Cup
4 George Graham May 1986 Feb 1995 460 48.91 6 2 League
1 FA Cup
2 Lg Cup
5. Tom Whittaker June 1947 October  1956 429 47.09 3 2 League
1 FA Cup
6 George Allison May 1934 May 1947 279 46.24 3 2 League
1 FA Cup
7 Don Howe Dec 1983 Mar  1986 117 46.15
8 Terry Neill July 1976 Dec 1983 416 44.95 2 1 FA Cup
9 The Committee August 1893 May 1897 118 44.92
10 Bertie Mee June 1966 May 1976 539 44.71 3 1 League
1 FA Cup1 Fairs C.
11 Phil Kelso July 1904 Feb 1908 152 41.45
12 George Swindin June 1958 1 May 1962 179 39.11 1
13 Billy Wright May 1962 June 1966 182 38.46
14 George Morrell Feb  1908 April 1915 292 35.27 1*
15 Leslie Knighton April 1919 May 1925 268 34.33 .

People tell me Graham was better, I can tell you he wasn’t.  When he left we had played 28 games scored 31 goals and were 12th in the league, and it was awful.  The top team had scored twice as many as and the only place we were going was down.

So my point is that Arsene Wenger has given us triumphs in terms of nine trophies, without the downsides.  And by keeping us in the Champions League he earned the club the money to build the stadium and move forwards – and thus be able to buy Ozil and Alexis.

4:  I like football

I don’t just like watching my team winning, I actually enjoy football, and for this I think I am a dying breed.   I support Torquay, because after my parents retired they moved to the south west, and our last games together were at Plainmoor.  I support Poole Town because they were the team my dad and I went to see when, for a while, the family moved to Dorset.  Of course at my age my father is no longer with us, but it is part of my connect with the past.  Part of my honouring of where I come from.

When there’s no Arsenal match on and I’m not visiting the grandchildren I go and watch my local team Corby Town – indeed I’m hoping I might start taking the grandchildren to the occasional game in a year or two.

So I like football.  Yes I like to see Arsenal win, but that is not the stop and start of everything.  I like football.

5: I am not fixated on the league.

Yes I want us to win the league, but if I could be at Wembley for the third year running this May and watch Arsenal win again, that would be alongside my equal greatest memory.  Of course I was at the final match of the unbeaten season to see something that only 38,500 people could ever see.  And of course I have seen individual matches that won the league title.

But at the moment the Unbeaten Season is a unique experience – seeing Arsenal do something no one has done before, and that last game against Leicester stands in my memory and will do forever.   To add to that, to see something that has not happened since 1886, before Arsenal was formed – the winning of three FA Cups in a row, and to be there for all three games – that would be a dream and a half.  Two different “being there” events.  One unique in football, one that only happened in the earliest days when football was quite different.

6: The football of the Wenger years is so much better than anything before.

I wish I had videos of complete games from the Billy Wright days when ending up in 7th was the highest achievement, and twice in the final season crowds sank below 10,000 at Highbury. Or videos of 1975 with crowds in the low 20 thousands.

I don’t have such films of course, I only have tiny highlights; but I have memories.  And I do have films of the Rioch year.  Just go and watch that.  Not the last game or two but the mid season.  Or maybe that run in 1987 of ten games when we drew three and lost seven, and scored, wait for it, two goals.  Two goals in ten games.  Under George Graham.   I adore the football of Wenger because although he can’t protect us from bad runs (no one can, so don’t fool yourself) we never, ever get that bad.

7:  Life’s too short to be upset by football.

Of course I am deflated by football when we lose, although in reality my biggest concern sometimes is how to make an interesting article out of a poor performance for Untold.  But that’s my fault – I chose to start Untold, and I choose to run it at a level of three articles a day.  If none of my friends who run this site with me wants to cough up a few words, I fill in the gap.

I have been upset in my life – desperately upset in ways that I am not going to go into here, so I really do know what the bad times are like.   And maybe that is one reason why I can love my football but not get so angry about it.  I do know what the really dark days of misery can be like, and football never takes me near that.

When we score I jump up and cheer and wave my arms around a lot.   When we let a bad goal in I am deflated.  But unlike the man behind me in the East I don’t leap up and hurl foul abuse at Wenger or a player for a cock-up.  Maybe that is because I can remember some of my cock-ups either as a writer or in my work as a company director or as a guy just going about my life.  Maybe I just know that whatever Arsenal do it is never going to be as bad as the day that…

8: I have a way out

I’m lucky.  I have in my life four things that I really like doing.  One is going to football matches with my friend Blacksheep and meeting up occasionally with Andrew and Walter and other guys I know who come to matches.

But there is more.  If for some reason that currently escapes me you are an avid reader of my ramblings you might have noticed me mentioning dancing – Blacksheep usually throws in a few jibes about it in his articles too.  The dance form is “modern jive” – it is skillful, (not one of those where you just do your own thing) in that your partner has to get what you are doing by hand movements alone.  Throw the lady the wrong way and fail to catch her and you don’t get many more dances and possibly face a lawsuit.

The point is that dance is one of those things that clears the mind.  When I go to a dance as I do several times a week, there is no football in my head.  There is nothing in my head except the dance.  And I suspect that might be a difference between me and many of the people who get so worked up they feel the need to scream abuse at Wenger or print up a whole banner saying time to go, or stand alone wearing a t-shirt saying “enough is enough”.   I don’t get like that because I have another life, besides work and family.

Also I have the fact that I love writing.  I love writing Untold – and the Arsenal History Society blog, and (for yes, there is a third) Untold Dylan, which like Untold Arsenal, has quite a dedicated following, although perhaps not as excitable.  And the books too. I do enjoy doing it and the sense of achievement when I can put a book I’ve written on my shelf.

9.  I love exposing newspaper fantasies like the injuries tale, the transfer makebelieve, the referee nonsense, the corruption in football…

Untold has always been a place where we try to be different (hence the name) and work towards evidence based football reporting rather than a place where people just mouth off an opinion.  It is the one thing a lot of anti-Wengerians don’t get, and one of the things I’m rather pleased with here.

I honestly get a lot of pleasure out of revealing the real reason why England do so badly in internationals, or just how often transfers don’t produce improvement, or that the “Arsenal get more injuries than others and it’s all Wenger’s fault” story is untrue not because of the “Wenger’s fault” bit but because Arsenal don’t get more injuries than others.

And I have been honoured to be the guy who has published Walter’s articles that have clearly put PGMO into the dock.   The expose of what PGMO is and how it works is down to Walter, and I get a little reflected glory by being the publisher.

10.  I don’t believe that a new manager will automatically be better

That is what lies underneath everything about wanting change.  That the new man might be better.  But it is not a given.  Perhaps there are three or four managers around who are better than Wenger, but the notion that a) they are available b) they want to come to Arsenal c) Arsenal could afford them and the transfer money they require and d) that then they would be a success here, is not automatic.

Men who have won great things in the past don’t automatically do it again.  Why do you think Real Madrid changed managers mid-stream?  Why did Chelsea?  Why is Chelsea, the club with obscene amounts of money at its disposal still unable to appoint a full time manager, or announce who it will be in the summer, as Man C has done?  Why has Man C been having as hard a time of it of late as us.  Why can’t Man U, who have all that wealth through their worldwide marketing, rise rapidly back to the place they were under Ferguson?

No, I am not at all sure that whoever follows Mr Wenger, whenever he leaves, will be as good as he has been.   And if I do have a worry at all, among all my serenity, my dancing, my relaxation techniques, the fun I get from writing, the enjoyment I have of being with my family and friends – it is that the next guy might not be that good.

Not because the board is stupid and make the wrong appointment, but because he simply isn’t out there, or doesn’t want to leave his current club or doesn’t want to come to Arsenal.  That’s my one worry.


10 March 1906: Manchester United 2 Woolwich Arsenal 3.  Arsenal’s first ever appearance in fourth round (quarter final) of FA Cup

10 March 1919: At a Special General meeting of the Football League Arsenal were elected to the first division, where they have stayed ever since. Although there have been allegations of irregularity a review of press coverage of the election show that everything was not only above board but also not at all unusual.  See here and also here   The History Society offered a £100 reward for anyone who could produce any evidence of anything underhand about the affair – it has never been claimed.

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The latest Untold book is Arsenal: The Long Sleep 1953-1970 with a Foreword by Bob Wilson, available both as a paperback and as a Kindle book from Amazon.   Details of this and our previous and forthcoming titles can be found at Arsenal Books on this site.



58 comments to Ten reasons why I remain sweet and serene in relation to Arsenal and don’t want Wenger to leave.

  • Richard morgan

    Love this piece and your right. I am younger than you but started attending matches in 1978 with my uncle who literally was a stones throw from Highbury. Similar to you I enjoy football any football, yes I get down when Arsenal lose but no angst I tend to watch recorded matches if the match was televised to analyse performance in match even if I was at match because I think in the moment emotions can blur reality and I like to form my opinion based on what actually happened not what I feel happened due to disappointment or elation at winning or losing a game. I also agree that we have never had such a better time of things. However, I think what we see on the terraces reflects society today that instant gratification or fulfilment of needs and if that doesn’t happen angry outbursts and vitriol aimed in the direction of the cause of our discontent. I think the biggest spoilt culprit of this is piers morgan and he feeds the believe that you spend 200 million you win the league mmm I don’t think so Chelsea city and Utd spent more than us this season are any of them likely to win league in fact two of them won’t even make top four so no spending money doesn’t guarantee success. My calm and reflective approach because I have been low on the streets freezing starving and to highs of gaining my university degree working having a family, so I don’t view Arsenal losing a football match as the end of the world.

  • rich

    Good stuff,Tony.

    Enjoyed that and ,as ever, needed at a time when it is common to hear people bang on about only 2 trophies in 11 years,etc. When, before, has it ever been done like that?

    Hard to find a comparison in football or life but I suppose it’d be like bournemouth fans being unhappy, now, with the years they spent in the lower divisions instead of weighting the present and recent past as the most important things, as is natural and sensible.

    I guess it is a consequence of the freakish phenomenon in modern football of a manager being in the job for so long, but that doesn’t make it any more rational. If a new man had stepped in two years ago and won the FA cup each year it would be viewed as much more of an achievement than it currently is, and that is plainly stupid.

  • para

    No one wants AW to leave Arsenal, at least not the sane ones.

    But we all can agree that some changes need to be made if Arsenal are going to continue to compete. Arsenal is/will be forced to spend more and increase salaries too as the money keeps coming to PL clubs.

    This usually means supporters costs increase, but wait, prices for away games now fixed at £30 and Arsenal are even knocking another £4 off. 🙂

    So, I found myself imagining Arsenal surprising Barca and going through in CL, and even end up winning it, alongside the PL and FA cup.

    Now wouldn’t that be something, a TREBLE?

    Then i woke up, but the dream keeps coming back again and again. 🙂

  • Polo

    Good article Tony, well done.

  • Fishpie

    “I didn’t come here to win things.” This reason is the key one isn’t it. There are lots of clubs Tony you could have chosen to support to satisfy that particular statement. But you chose Arsenal, a club that has a fine record of winning things. And winning things is I’m afraid part of the allure of supporting Arsenal. For many many fans I suspect. From the moment I looked at the club trophy achievements listed on the inside front cover of the Arsenal v Bradford City FA Cup programme of 1961 (or 2), even though they were by then decades old, I knew my club was capable of winning trophies and the League Trophy too. I still do believe they are capable. And when they don’t, or more precisely, when they get themselves into a position to do it but cave in instead, as they have caved in before again and again, I am more than “deflated”, I’m angry. I did come here to win things but as long as fans are just thought to be “deflated”, the club will carry on caving in because the expectations are too low and the expectance of failure is too high. Having said that, I do agree with your final point. Replacing Mr Wenger is fraught with risk.

  • ndayebo

    nice one Tony, you always make me feel good about arsenal

  • Josif

    An update is needed in the column “Top 4” as Arsene has finished 19 times in a row in the Top 4. 18 is the number of successive participations in CL. The confusing part is that the first Top 4 finish in 1996-97 didn’t merit CL spot. Arsenal ended third and missed out on a goal-difference because of the home defeat to Newcastle in the penultimate match of the season.

  • Kenneth Widmerpool

    My favourite article you’ve ever written Tony. Thank you.

  • virg

    Those are feelings only a true supporter could have, Tony. It’s like Bergkamp said, “I, like Arsenal. Do you like Arsenal, or just Arsenal with trophies?”

    Plus, time is a great thickener of things:

  • Greg Thomas

    Could not agree more.
    I was born in 67 in Cornwall where our local team of any significance was Plymouth Argyle (which we all supported by default – even if it is in cursed Devon) but like i suspect the rest of the country was in the early seventies all the boys who turned out once a week for school games wore either Man U or Liverpool shirts. That changed in 71 when we won the double and Graham Woolcock and me both declared that Arsenal was the team for us – the fantastic red and white shirts with a cannon on them and a team that was winning was enough. My father was a Baggie who had moved to Cornwall when he was 13 – he took me to the Hawthornes when I was 5 in the middle of the week and we just walked through the big barn doors and onto the pitch while the groundsmen were happily at work – but an empty stadium that wasn’t Arsenal had no meaning for me. A couple of years later and my brother declared he was supporting Spurs cos of their success. Ironically the first time I saw a top flight team play was when Steve Perryman led a Spurs team in an exhibition match against Truro City – which they won 10-1.
    My first experiences of First Division games came later when i was at Uni – Coventry v Liverpool, Coventry v Norwich, QPR v someone and Spurs v Cambridge United – the football was of limited interest cos I had no skin in the game but I went with friends who did and apart from the atmosphere of the stadiums my abiding memory was being continually on edge worried about bumping into the feared casuals.
    Then I went to work in London and my life changed – Highbury, Ian Wright and Kevin Campbell – Merson doing the 2 pints celebration – the chants the atmosphere and singing to the Clock End who replied in turn to us crammed in on the North Bank shuffling from foot to foot to keep warm and then surging forward into a mental celebration.
    Since then I have been to some very big Arsenal games – cupr Final replay in 93 against the Blades, Cup Winners Cup final in Copenhagen v Galatasary, Juventus away and the highlight of all the Italian job at the San Siro “Let’s go F***ing Mental” still rings in my ears.
    With the new stadium and although now I live in Geneva – me and my 3 sons 26, 13 and 9 are all season ticket holders and will all die as gooners.
    The huge droughts in form – the mid table results year after year – the boring boring Arsenal and 1-0 to the Arsenal years don’t have my fond memories – it is rather the beauty and excitement of Wenger’s football that I consider it an absolute privilege to watch – even when we lose.
    The passing game – the speed of transition – the impressive players – seeing us dominate possession – oh yeah and seeing Arshavin score the winner against the world’s best club team.
    I have zero sympathy with a younger generation of fans who admittedly live life at a faster pace than us, with a lower concentration span – instagram, twitter and uber communication demanding trophies as a badge of success.
    One might ask what they have achieved in their lives.
    Emirates stadium is the best in the country in terms of fan experience – i recently went with a friend who used to be on the board of Leicester City and his comment was – “it’s like a mini Wembley” – personally i think its better than Wembley. Itis also in the top 10 in Europe – certainly better than San Ciro or Turin or Lyon or Marseille or the old Bayern or Frankfurt or Cologne or Monaco Copenhagen or Ajax. Nou Camp is the only stadium I have been to which is better.
    Highbury and standing on the North Bank was better for atmosphere but I was recently at Anfield and was shocked how antiquated it all feels and was not impressed by the famous kop end and its atmosphere. As for the Lane …. nuff said
    Arsenal away support is awesome and I am proud to hear the 3000 boys belting out all our usual chants which you can always hear on the telly drowning out the home support.
    We are by far the greatest team and i will be forever in Arsene’s debt for the sheer entertainment and enjoyment – he can stay as long as he wants

  • Zedsaunt

    Fishpie writes

    ””I didn’t come here to win things.” This reason is the key one isn’t it. There are lots of clubs Tony you could have chosen to support to satisfy that particular statements.”

    Indeed, about 98% of all other existing football clubs.

  • Zedsaunt

    Fishpie writes

    ”There are lots of clubs Tony you could have chosen to support to satisfy that particular statement. But you chose Arsenal, a club that has a fine record of winning things. And winning things is I’m afraid part of the allure of supporting Arsenal”

    Paragraph 2 of what Tony wrote – ”the football is sensational” paragraph 3 of what Tony wrote, ‘We win more games than ever before’ details exactly how Wenger has compared as a trophy winner, and a manager who wins games.

    Perhaps you haven’t read these paragraphs?

  • Pat

    Great article, Tony. Even brought a tear to my eye.

    Fishpie, that phrase ‘cave in’ is a problem. Has a team that has finished in the top four 19 times in a row, as Josif has usefully informed us, ever really ‘caved in’? What can possibly be your definition of caving in if so?

    Losing is part of football. A major aspect of the genius of Arsene Wenger is that in 19 years losing has never meant disaster. Examples of the opposite are all around us.

    No wonder consistency is a word ever on Arsene Wenger’s lips. But he doesn’t just talk, he delivers.

  • Philip (Iwasthere)

    Yes ….. but……
    I am also a supporter from the 50’s although started a little bit later – first match being down at the Cottage to see us thumped by a Jihnny Haynes led Fulham 0-3… Also it’s in the blood – from my grandparents when Arsenal moved to Highbury and I can truly say I didn’t make any conscious decision to be a Arsenal supporter – it just ‘happened’ as a natural event in the cycle of life. Not that there weren’t distractions – my father was a Rugby man and if you scratched the surface there was a Spurs follower just below the surface….

    I do remember very clearly in those early years how media was always spouting on about the number of years since Arsenal last won a trophy….being the 1953 League One Championship, and as the 50’s gave way to the 60’s and Spurs’s brief glory at its start, those years increased through the empty years of Billy Wright until Bertie Mee arrived and gave us a taste of the possible with successive League Cup finals vs. Swindon (still have nightmares) and Leeds (it was a foul!).

    Then that glorious night winning the Fairs Cup, and followed by the 2nd double of the 20th Century, first part of which secured at Spurs on a wild night in May.

    OK – enough reminiscing – but just laying out that having lived through the same as you, I can identify with many, many of the points you raise in a highly logical and well argued manner.

    Wenger’s acheivements are indeed remarkable and without doubt the best manager we’ve had……. Keeping us constantly in the top 4 through the disruption and restrictions of a self funded, “no sugar-daddy”, “no government subsidies” stadium move is vastly underrated by people who should know better. The football by and large has been great; and in the early years especially, the ‘highs’ many and stupendous.

    The “but” is that in more recent years, there is as much chance of a flat performance as there is of a sparkling one, a team capitulation when they think that the going is easy only partially balanced by a spirited display when the chips are down. It’s a pattern that has been repeated over a number of years now. Lost opportunities when they were there for the taking, or a philosophical ‘hand brake’ on mentality that comes from the board down through Wenger and permeates his teams. How many times in last 7-8 years have you not stopped and wondered “if only……”, be it a little more aggressive in transfer market, in running the team the team with a little more focus on what is good for the team rather than what is good for the individual player, in making more tactically astute substitutions, in not running certain players into the ground increasing the risk of injury and so on.
    I just get the feeling that Wenger is now a prisoner of his own ideas which while they were once inspiring and welcome are now rather insipid and out-dated.
    I am not scared of change; either Wenger changes his spots and adjusts (and he has shown that he CAN, but my goodness, how long did it take to come up with that tactical change to set up the team to produce performances and results like Man City away last year – notably the 1st after years of maulings by the other big boys)…. Or, as the banner says….”Thanks (and a BIG THANKS) for the memory, but it really is time for a change” –

  • Gooner S


    I chose Arsenal as a five year old because my Mothers family are from North London and I was taken to see a few games. I had no idea of how successful or not Arsenal were just that once you picked your team you stuck with it. My dad is a Spurs fan so there was pressure to go the other way as well,pressure my Brother succumbed to. Its only later I realised the history of the club.

  • Its hard to rationalize and explain why we aren’t winning trophies to most young fans because there is this wave of Obsession about bragging right after a trophy is won…i personally feel hurt when arsenal lose but to blame Wenger?…naaa, how many times does the man have to prove that he is good enough and mind you he is the best we have ever had…everyone was short of mentioning the banner which I feel is inappropriate, disrespectful and totally unnecessary…fans in the UK are lucky…you get to see games week in week out…here in Nigeria we watch all the matches live and when we lose,we are bashed till the next game and its understandable that this is where the bragging rights come in …but one thing other fans so is take aim at our players,disrespect our manager and its really really sad to hear arsenal fans do the exact same thing!its like there is no difference..where would the boys get the support they need to finish this season on a high?from fans who have forgotten about the men struggling in the pitch and have pitched themselves in “pro-Wenger and anti-Wenger” squabbles?….from people who hurl hate at the players…we should have a rethink…
    Beautiful article by the way…

  • Zedsaunt

    I walked around Huddersfield the other day thinking I might run into the ghost of Herbert Chapman if I peered hard enough and then it suddenly struck me that, should I indeed run into him, what would I say? which made me laugh, the nonsense of it, what could I say?, and then it hit me and I stood on the pavement and did the numbers – 94 years since Herbert Chapman won the FA Cup at Huddersfield. 92 years since Herbet Chapman first won the Division One title with Huddersfield.

    In six years years it will be a centenary. A centenary of football. 100 years.

    Some fans don’t have a clue how sturdy the shoulders are which support them. They must believe, judging by their comments, judging by how quick they throw their dummies out, football and football success is like toothpaste. Squeeze it out every morning. Buy it off a counter.

    How do you measure Wenger?

  • Each to his own Tony. I heartily accept that you arent overly bothered either way win or lose. Nice day out, good mates, good laugh and all that. For me top class sport is all about the winning. I expect Arsenal as a club to put all their energy and resources into try to win. If it doesnt come off I have no problem with that. But that’s hasnt happened for many a long year. Its a plc now, happy to fleece the fans and keep the accountants happy. Seriously trying to win anything is way down the priority list. How long we will have to stomach this remains to be seen although by all accounts the natives are getting restless

  • Mick

    Re ‘cave in’, you beat me to it.
    I hate this term but the reason the Fishpies and detractors in general use it is because it meets the necessary derogatory connotations required to support their Wenger bashing agenda. It just sounds so much more dramatic than ‘weren’t quite good enough’ or ‘just fell short’ for example.

  • Ogban

    Thank you for the first sane piece I have read on our team for a while. Yes life is too short to be destroyed by football, not even by Arsenal. So I have now learned to take the team’s loss calmly when it comes. It still racks quite alright, but it doesn’t keep me from my meals and sleep anymore. The victories, oh how still sweet! But I’ll love Arsenal for life.

  • proudkev

    Tony, a great write up.

    Afternoon Fishpie.

    I didn’t choose Arsenal, the club chose me. My Granddad, my Dad all Gooners living in London N1. We used to walk through Highbury Fields to the games and stand on a freezing cold concrete terrace. In fact, in my early years my ‘seat’ was sitting on one of the anti-crush bars in the North Bank as that was the only way I could see.

    In other words, I didn’t look at a long list of clubs and try to find the club that wins the most recent trophies. Arsenal was my local team.

    The club I support has given me so much pleasure over the years and it still does. Yes there are lows but that’s the game. However, the highs this club has given me live long in the memory and few things come close.

    It’s not about trophies. Winning trophies is a bonus.

    It’s about supporting a great club with which I identify. It’s like family.

    I don’t turn on my family and friends during tough times, I help them through it.

    The pleasure comes from the ‘whole experieince’ membership of a club provides. From attending stadium tours, buyng merchandise, attending games, watching on TV, debating with my friends, contributing to blogs etc. I have yet to walk into the Emirates and not get a chill down my spine.

    I am not in this for the trophies. I am not one of the new breed of glory fans who sing when we’re winning and boo when we lose. Trophies do not drive me, supporting the club I love does. Trophies for me are the bonus, the real reward – not the ‘must have’.

    Unfortunatley, modern demands and the money in the game has created a different type of supporter. A supporter who is unable to support equally; win, lose or draw………………

    ..and that is very sad because I know they will never experience the regular pleasure I have enjoyed for the last 45 odd years man and boy.

  • I really couldn’t say anything better, though I support Arsenal since 1998, I have discovered and liked football because I saw they played, that’s it. This club is my heart, like you, winning the league would be awesome but getting a third FA Cup in a row it’s another bit to ass at club’s history, football history, so something I really want to see in my life.
    Well said tony, bravo

  • Adetunji

    thanks Mr tony.we tend to respect a lot here in back to the topic.I am a very very young supporter of THE ARSENAL FOOTBALL CLUB.funny enough,I started supporting arsenal when we weren’t winning anything (2006).that memorable match against Madrid in d champions league endeared me to this beauty of a club.I love arsene to d extent dat am still thinking on how to continue supporting AFC evn after he leaves.if the next man can continue the legacy,the charisma,the humbleness, the sweet air of arrogance of coaching the great club,then I might not have to worry much.thanks for the post.I love arsenal cos I love those that upholds what AFC really means as a you PROFESSOR ARSENE WENGER!

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Well said , Tony . Hit the sweet spot just right . Thank you .

  • Bard, your comment is just a personal view – you make an assertion without any evidence and then generalise outwards to the final sentence. There is no logical validity in this a all.

  • Philip, thank you for your response. But I have one issue with it

    there is as much chance of a flat performance as there is of a sparkling one,

    How come then if that is the case, we keep remaining in the top four. Surely we should be as in most of Mee’s reign, and in Wright’s etc etc, we should be midtable. But we are not. How come?

  • WalterBroeckx

    A lovely article Tony. I also didn’t came to win things when I started supporting the Arsenal in 1979. If I would have chosen a team that won I now would be a Wolverhampton Wanderers supporter as they came to Highbury and won 0-1. Not to The Arsenal.
    When you start supporting a losing team, you can’t be described as one that only loves them when we win.

    I love Arsenal win, draw of lose. When we lose I feel down for a few moments as it can hurt and I have had sleepless nights after some losses (Birmingham League cup final….)but for me when the match is finished and we haven’t won I just look forward to the next match… and hope we will win that one and then I am already back from being or feeling down to being upbeat and looking forward to the next match.

    The only match I really hate losing is the final match of the season. Then it can be a long summer… 🙂

  • finsbury

    sorry but I’m going t have to go off thread here, I’ve just been distracted by this side splitting story about the man who more then any other did the most to ensure that we all will be paying for Tottenham’s new stadium (probably the private housing built by the developer more then the stadium) if they manage to find the rest of the Wonga that they need:

    Oh my giddy gawd. It’s too funny.

  • finsbury

    back on thread:

    is it any surrise that the first minor slump since the 2014 FA Cup final victory has been used by the very people who whiipped themsleves up into a frothing feeding frenzy before that Victory over the pgMOB and their handlers in the Media Scrum (the Scrum is for pgMOB Rules Footy)

  • finsbury

    ‘scuse my typos, back to work!

  • finsbury

    can’t help but reflect on the difference between the two MPs for both N.London clubs.

    It’s a very telling contrast.

  • Josif


    Actually, Arsene has always been capable of making a tactical change. If you don’t believe me, watch our run-in 2012-13 starting with an away victory over one of the most dominant sides in the European football. It may have been a Pyrrhic one but it was a victory against the best Bayern side I have ever seen.

    And, take a look at the team that won the game. Fabianski-Jenko, Per, Kos, Gibbs-Arteta, Rosicky, Ramsey-Walcott, Giroud, Cazorla. If the linesman hadn’t stopped Theo at 0:1 due to non-existent offside… Who knows.

    My point is, Arsene had shown his tactical ability years before the victory at Etihad. Our 2012-13 run-in was at times painful to watch due to ugliness of our football but it worked.

  • Mick


    ‘Seriously trying to win anything is way down the priority list.’

    You cannot be serious!
    Have you forgotten the FA cup wins or don’t you count them.

  • Fishpie

    Look guys, I had no choice but to support Arsenal . I loved the shirt, the socks, the way George eastham’s shirt billowed as he ran. I loved the shout of the guys selling peanuts. I loved going with my Dad. I rejected Spurs who were winning everything. Don’t judge me as a glory hunter. Part of my pride in Arsenal is however is the fact that they win trophies. I don’t assume we have a right to win trophies or that we will always compete every season. But I do hope everyone who who owns, directs, manages or plays for the club tries to maximise our chances of winning trophies. Based on the ongoing nature of our league seasons since we had more money, we have struggled to make the hoped for progress in the league or Champions League.

  • Zedsaunt

    It’s the quality of the football I love, the sweet ease of it. Other times, when they labour, I look at their movement, how many are running into space, making themselves available, then I start looking at the PGMO rep on the pitch. How much has he already decided? How are his actions changing what I see? I follow him, try and get a sense of the tempo. What is being allowed? Who swaggers?

    I never look at Mr Wenger. How can he come into it? As a kid I watched a lot of sports, played a lot of sports. There’s always a line. On one side of the line the manager, on the other side of the line the player, the team.
    Watching Clough’s Derby County the first time, 1969, how the team played was like reading Clough’s mind, but it wasn’t Clough who was playing. He sat on the touchline. The team played. The team expressed his idea of football.
    Working with the maintenance fitters at Tuborg Brewery in Copenhagen in 73, 74, there were ex-players, youth team coaches, fans. There was one fitter who loved Cruyff’s Ajax. Every second week he drove down to Amsterdam to watch the team. We spoke for hours about the beauty of football.
    Brian Clough and Mr Wenger are the two managers who have given me great joy. In both cases – Mr Clough & Mr Wenger – it is their teams who play, on a pitch, expressing an idea about how to play football. In both cases the manager is on the touchline.
    Thinking about it, it seems to me the anti-Wenger position is a dialogue between fans which then extends down from the stands to the manager. It then, for some, extends out onto the pitch and pulls in the players as servants.
    The proprietorial sense of certain fans knows no bounds.
    It certainly doesn’t know the touchline separation between the players and the manager. It certainly doesn’t know the separation between the stand and the manager. Some fans appear pissed off because the team has not delivered. In not delivering they have broken the terms of agreement existing between themselves as fans and Mr Wenger.
    Mr Wenger, it appears, has already signed a contract with them as fans making himself beholden to them in the performance of the team. It says that on the ticket.
    Some are now saying that contract should not be renewed.
    Mr Wenger has so failed in what he signed up to deliver to them the team has ”caved in,” as it has ”caved in before again and again,” yet, unbelievably, the reality on the pitch, the pitch on the other side of the touchline, beyond the touchline and on the other side of the agreement the fans have with Mr Wenger, the team that has caved in ”again and again,” is the same team that has been in the top four eighteen times, won the FA cup twice in the last two seasons.

    If a team ”caves in” ”again and again,” and still qualifies for Europe because it finishes in the top four eighteen times, season afer season, and still wins the FA Cup, what is the language existing to describe the teams that finish between 5 and 20, season after season, the hundreds of teams that failed to win the FA Cup?

    Can these teams ever be described?

    Where is the language to describe the teams in the divisions beneath the Premiership? When Arsenal ”cave in again and again?”
    These teams, and their fans – when language such as ”caved in” is used – exist outside of language.

  • finsbury

    “we have struggled to make the hoped for progress in the league or Champions League.”

    This comment does not withstand further scrutiny.
    It is not an accurate reflection upon the last two and half seasons. You all remember what you have seen upon the pitch I hope, therefore there is no need for further comment.

    If AFC retain the FA cup how much should I put down at the bookies that own one or two PL teams that some will be writing that: “this feels like Groundhog Day”? 😉

  • A great article.
    Whether we love Arsene Wenger or not, we will surely hold our breadth when he does make way for a successor. If nothing else, the post Ferguson years shows that a great club, stability, a title winning squad, and all the resources a new manager could dream of, do not guarantee success. Change takes us into the unknown, and who knows what the unknown will bring.
    Let’s assume Arsene is succeeded by the ‘dream choice’. A ‘winner’ with a Champions League or two on his CV. Two things we can be certain of:

    1), to a large extent, everything will be the same for him as for Wenger: ownership,history, business model, culture, resources, expectations. He will have to work within the same framework, possibilities and constraints of his predecessor. In particular, he will have no control over the external world (including referees!), or other clubs and what they do. Most particular of all, he will have to compete with an financially elite group of funds with equally ‘dream managers’, but with enormously greater financial resources at their disposal. No new manager is going to be able to guarantee PL and CL success, and would be foolhardy to promise it.

    2. many things will change. A new broom…new backroom staff, new players, new methods, new youth policy (or no youth policy). Let’s throw in that our ‘new broom’ has demanded and secured certain guarantees as part of the deal. (Apart from a huge parachute payment should things not work out…) Most notable guarantee – a big transfer budget with no requirement to balance the books. On the downside for the new broom we can be sure that once in situ, he will have less power and control within the club than his predecessor, less influence over the Board, and no track record of success at the Emirates, no guarantee that he is in for the long haul, no incentive to build for the long term. He will get his pot of gold and be told to deliver.

    Given the above two considerations, would a wise man wave goodbye to Wenger, warts and all, and leap into the unknown? It’s a hell of a roll of the dice. Just ask the fans at Old Trafford.

    Considering those

  • Rantetta

    Hear hear Tony. Thanks.

  • Jambug

    Great article Tony.

    proudkev @ 12.43pm

    You seem to have a knack of saying exactly what I want to say, just better.

    From a wonderful post this is my favourite line:

    “I don’t turn on my family and friends during tough times, I help them through it”.


    The way the aaa’s and there ilk behave is so alien to me I just cant get my head round where exactly they are coming from. There idea of supporting a club and mine are so far apart, as to be on different Planets.

  • bjtgooner

    Very well put Tony.

  • Finsbury, my thoughts exactly

  • Pete

    Two observations amongst many I could make:

    1. Lack of tactical flexibility? Are you serious? Numerous examples over the last 20 years. How about the 2005 FA Cup win when we had very few fit attackers but played for penalties – and won?

    2. New manager will have a transfer budget that will be significantly less than ManC/ManU/Chelsea. So, to “compete” he will have to at least match Wenger’s over-achievement with a similarly under-resourced squad. So either develop players or identify bargains in the transfer market. Hat tip to the Totts and, in particular, Leicester who have delivered more with less than us this season. But can they sustain for 10+ years?

  • Brilliant article

    When you first see your team playing you get the feeling in the pit of your stomach that tell’s you you are watching something special and I fell in love with Arsenal FC. Now we all would love to see them win every game but you know going in that is never going to happen because this is the nature of football. You take the good times and you take the not so good but one hing you never ever do is stop supporting those players and the manager. They know themselves and try their damness to put it right, shouting abuse is only going to result in those players going into a game nervous and uptight because of their own bloody supporters and that is what hurts me more than Arsenal losing a game. Yes I get down but when I started supporting my team I did so knowing all this and I have never regretted my decision to support Arsenal because if I’m honest it has been one of the best decision’s I have made in my life and I would have no other way win lose or draw. It’s a game a beautiful game and I consider myself lucky to support The Arsenal and I always will.

  • Al

    Well said, Tony. I don’t support Arsenal for bragging rights over my mates. It’s much deeper than that, some kind of identity thing. Some of us were born thousands of miles away from Highbury (though I have been to the Ems quite a few times now), and that does not make us glory hunters. In my case I chose this team for the type of football they play and the way they do things. I was watching Chelsea last night and I remember thinking there are some elements in this Chelsea side I would never want to see associated with Arsenal, like ivanovic for instance. I’m pretty sure when I chose to follow Arsenal, had they had players like ivanovic I most likely would not be on this thread today.

    I’m happy when we win, and if we lose fairly I’m quite calm. But I’m mad when we get robbed, even if we win despite the robbery, like when we beat Leicester at home. I don’t know what I can do to stay calm in those times.

  • Tony of course its a personal view. this is a site of opinions reading the posts on here. You can do anything you like with the facts that why there is are so many different opinions. If you wants facts we havent won a title for 12 years and havent got farther than the last 16 in the CL for quite a few years. We also have the highest ticket prices in the PL. We are now the 6th or 7th richest club in the world.Currently we are trailing Leicester by 8 points. There are your facts. How you interpret them is a matter of opinion

  • goonersince72

    Thanks for that, Tony.

  • The problem is not the presentation of facts, although We also have the highest ticket prices in the PL isnt a fact.

    The problem is taking an opinion and then interpreting it as if it were a fact.

  • Florian

    Ironically the first match I watched, Arsenal won a trophy:) The CWC in 1994. One year later, they lost to that infamous (albeit incredible) Nayim goal in the final against Zaragoza.

    I guess I was lucky to catch a bit of the pre-Wenger era, even if Arsenal weren’t heavily broadcasted in Romania at that time, I could still keep an eye on EPL. That perspective makes Arsene’s achievements to stand out even more than they normally would.

    But all these years of restraint and misfortune carry a deeper meaning. To me, it’s following your goals against all adversity. Once the priorities are clear, and the means to get there, the rest falls into background as of secondary importance. It doesn’t make one suddenly unbeatable, but it’s a source of strength most can only dream of.

    I don’t think this team is the finished article. There is so much more left to achieve. With all its downs, this season has been anything but disappointing – if anything it highlighted our consistency, and I can’t see how it turn worse than the previous one. The only way is up.

  • John L.

    I agree fully with your view, Tony and share your sentiments. I have supported since the late 50’s, through bad and good times.

    I would add that I do not think that there is a current manager in the world who can match Arsene for his record, ability and principles. He has never been a cheque-book manager, a three year success then move on type of manager. The only manager in EPL with a comparable record of longevity and success is Alex Ferguson, who, in my opinion, cannot live up to Arsene’s other qualities. (As shown by his sacrifice of his club’s longer term interests following his own retirement.)

  • Josif


    I have this theory that players are mirrors of their manager.

    Compare Tony Adams from George Graham’s era with the one from Arsene Wenger’s to understand my comparison.

    Then again, Arsene Wenger from 1996 and Arsene Wenger from 2016 are different so you could search further for a difference between, say, Sol Campbell and Per Mertesacker. Yes, Campbell was much better player than Per but if you have a son playing sports, which of those two would you pick as a role model for him? Henry or Alexis? Vieira or Ramsey? Wait for this one: Cole or Monreal? My point is, Arsene 1996-2006 was more ruthless and the beauty on the pitch was subordinated to our quest for points while Arsenal 2007-2016 are more of reflection of Arsene’s quest for beauty, for football as art where only desirable contact is the one with the ball, not with the opponents’ shin.

    Ivanović – it seemed to me that way – was Mourinho’s man in the locker room. No wonder he got the armband despite presenting one awful performance after another.

  • Bob Bayliss

    I respect your views, even though i don’t agree with your conclusions about the manager. I should explain that I am probably nearly (but not quite) as old as you, having seen my first game on 5 March 1966 – a 0-0 draw against Blackpool, when Don Howe broke his leg. So I’ve seen a few barren periods during my 50 years following Arsenal. But managers have not been allowed to rest on their laurels or dine out on former glories for anything like as long as this one.

    Mee broke up the double team too soon, and had the grace to leave with dignity as soon as standards started to slip. Neill (with Don Howe back on board) achieved a degree of success built on playing attractive football in the late 70s and early 80s. When that team started to under-perform, Neill was held accountable. After a brief spell of stewardship from Howe, George Graham took over and we enjoyed another great era of success, yet when league form dipped, despite continued cup success, he had to go. Wenger was exactly the right man for the club and deserves great credit for the achievements of the late 90s/early 00s. But the game has moved on, and the methods that served us so well in his early years have proved increasingly ineffective over the past decade. We do play some decent football at times, but not consistently and too often with little end product. In my view, he should have gone in 2008 or 2009. While history shows that the first couple of years after that might not have seen an immediate improvement, it also suggests that the right man might well have achieved a new era of success with fresh ideas and a more ambitious approach in the transfer market.

    Better late than never, but whether or not we win another FA Cup this year, like I believe the majority of Arsenal fans now, I am voting for WEXIT in May.

  • Jambug


    The problem is we cant breath on an opponent without getting a card.

    If Vieira was in the current side he would spend 90% of the time suspended.

    I think Wenger has had to accept this as a matter of fact.

  • Josif


    I agree to the certain extent. To put it this way: on-going xenophobia that Proud Kev has been dissecting excellently in a few previous occasions was partially motivated with Wenger’s decision to put the ball to the ground as much as possible, to opt for Fabregases ahead of Vieiras. It was taken as a proverbial finger in the English football gravediggers’ eye and Wenger is a culprit for them. No good deed goes unpunished.

  • The issue Bob B is not only that you think Wenger should go, but who should replace him. The fact that Chelsea can’t find their man, and Man U have had two shots and not done too well, plus the fact that Liverpool have been going through managers like a fork through … well, you know, suggests that this is the problem. Plus managers might well think, hell, they got rid of Wenger because of the fans,… can I do better?

    But I must pick you up on one bit

    Mee broke up the double team too soon, and had the grace to leave with dignity as soon as standards started to slip.

    Just remember we are comparing managers with Wenger whose record is endless 3rds and 4ths – that is the extent of his slippage. Here is the Mee record that you speak of as leaving with dignity.

    1973-4 10th out of 22; 4th round of the FA Cup; League cup knocked out by Tranmere
    1974-5 16th out of 22; 6th round of the FA Cup,
    1976 – 17th out of 22; 3rd round of the FA Cup

    That is three years of suffering, nothing else.

  • Jambug


    That is brilliant, and beautifully exposes the different criteria under which Wenger is judged.

    That Mee/Wenger comparison is the sort of argument that is endlessly used to bash Wenger, and it just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, and is frankly ridiculous.

  • Nigel

    Great article Tony. Sums up how I feel too. I love supporting Arsenal and their history but I have other interests as well. It puts things into perspective and although down when not doing so well its’s not the end of the world. There is always the next game, next competition and the next season to look forward to. I am sure a lot of the AAA should broaden their horizons a bit and get back to properly supporting Arsenal and not behave like spoiled children who can’t get their way. Criticism which is fairly offered is welcome but a lot of theirs is downright rude and unjustified. I would not swap the running of our club for Chelski, Man C, Barcelona, Real Madrid or PSG or any other bank rolled clubs at all and I suggest to them if thats what they want go and support them. I used to read the site which Bard posts on and stopped going to it as so disgusted by most of them. With support like that who needs rivals?!

  • @bard

    There is one thing I learned in all those years behind Arsenal. What it’s officially said about transfer kitty and what it’s actually in it are 2 big things since we don’t know exactly what are the budgets and how they are supposed to be used. Kroenke can come out loud and says that kitty is £50m heavy, yet, does this mean, £50m to get the player only or £50m to get a player and his contract which means also the agent fee and all fees that can occurs, at the end of the day, a £25m players cost £35m to the club. Is there a point then to blame wenger for that? Is Wenger backed up by russian millions or qatari’s millions? Now Wenger has to deal with someone who is really close to his money (too close when it comes to BPL nowadays IMO)
    ferguson aside, no one is BPL has done better than the french, so basically wanted his head would mean cutting Arsenal of it’s main asset (and more valuable in BPL) to get him replaced by what’s left. We are lucky that our managers doesn’t want to be an arse and make the wob pays and thus all Arsenal fan pay for idiocy said about him. We are lucky to have a manager who believe in his project, on the club project and on long term investment. As far as I am aware, the wrath on new managers (Man Utd, Chelsea, etc) from supporters is worse now than ever. Wenger will leave, pretty sure within the next 4 years, no point to replace him with a new guy on a project that is not finished.

  • Menace

    Great article Tony – the truth is always so simple.

    Greg Thomas – man after my heart. What a lovely comment.

    Bard – go down to a trophy shop & buy something to amuse you. You can’t use ‘sporting’ while the game is being run by current encumbents. Sporting is not about winning or losing it is how you play the game.