By Tony Attwood
“The worst Cameroon team in living memory.”
I suspect there are people somewhere who are talking about this being worst Arsenal team in living memory. I only mention Cameroon because they have just won the Africa Cup and I have seen them so called. Mohamed Elneny scored to put Egypt ahead in the first half but Cameroon scored in the second to take the trophy. Elneny is available for us in five days, according to the rules as I understand them, although they might be changed at any time. Fifa is like that.
I have no idea if the insult against Cameroon is justified or not, but I know that the comment directed against Arsenal certainly isn’t. I’ve seen far, far, far worse teams playing for Arsenal. If you want to be reminded, you might care to have a look at the Arsenal story of July to December 1975.
That wasn’t a one off. There are loads of times like that in Arsenal’s history. The record number of consecutive defeats under Terry Neill. The record run of non-scoring games under George Graham. Coming 12th in the league as recently as 1995.
Indeed I suspect Leicester supporters might be thinking along these lines at the moment. What with Kasper Schmeichel warning of relegation after an ‘unacceptable’ defeat, and speaking about his embarrassment (apparently). They are now one point above the relegation zone.
It raises an interesting psychological question: would it be better to have secured a place in the Champions League year after year, with all the money that entails, and a couple of consecutive FA Cup victories of late, or to have one the league once and then suffer relegation?
It might happen to Leicester – it certainly has happened before when Manchester City had a final run to pip Arsenal to the league for the first time, but then subsequently were relegated in the following season.
I now read that Claudio Ranieri is under growing pressure, and it appears that the media is lapping this up. He might well be sacked it seems, and I wonder what the Leicester City fans make of it all. If they were to go down to the Championship, would that one triumph have been worth it?
And come to that will the fans blame Ranieri? If they do it seems to me to be very unfair, because as far back as last April I was pondering the issue of the strange activities relating to the marketing company behind Leicester’s rise to success. The club urgently needed a lot more money after winning the league in order to stay near to the top. But such are the oddities of the way the club is sold to marketing firms it seems this wasn’t forthcoming. Money was spent on upping player salaries and fending off supposed interest elsewhere, and as a result the club had little left to buy significant new players to develop the squad.
Whether Arsenal really wanted to buy anyone from Leicester last summer is a matter for debate of course – certainly there are enough inconsistencies in the tales of Vardy and Mahrez to suggest there was much more going on at the time than was revealed. As it was, it all turned out in Arsenal’s favour, Leicester spent the extra money and gained… well, nothing except a fight against relegation.
Certainly even before Leicester won the title a lot of people were expressing concern about Leicester. Consider some of these headlines
“9 reasons why Leicester winning the title would be the worst thing to football” was a bit strong but articles such as “Why is Leicester F.C playing so poorly this season” tell a similar tale.
And there have been many such articles
“What on earth has happened to Leicester City in the Premier League?” asked the Telegraph while the Spectator claimed that “Leicester City’s title win is the worst thing to have happened to football”
“Schmeichel: Leicester’s season has been terrible and embarrassing” in now doing the rounds, following on from “Jamie Vardy is finding this season horrible” in the Mirror. In fact even their fans find themselves part of the calamity as the Metro pronounced that “LCFC overtake Arsenal as having the most cringey fans with AWFUL song”. In their normal sneering approach the Metro decried ‘Gooners and we’re Gunning’ and the Mesut Ozil parody of Stormzy’s ‘Shut Up’ claiming that have Arsenal supporters widely celebrated as the most cringeworthy fans on the planet. But “We’re the blues anthem” is even seemingly even worse.
I’ve pondered this long and hard while sitting looking at the Pacific Ocean, and I’ve reached the conclusion that the Arsenal “supporters” who moan and claim that this is the worst Arsenal team, and indeed the worst football team in the history of football teams (which makes me think, have they actually seen Blackburn Rovers of late?) would probably not be happy with winning the league.
Just as winning the FA Cup two years running was not enough (the “years without a trophy” thing instantly became “years without winning the league” in the aftermath of the Cup wins), so I suspect the 14th league title will itself not be enough, and we will quickly be told that Arsenal will only be considered a semi-decent team if we then retain the title.
In short nothing satisfies these people. At the very very least what is wanted is a return to one of the two dominant periods of Arsenal’s 128 year history. Those being 1930 to 1939 (5 league wins, two FA Cups) and 1998 to 2005 (3 league titles, four FA Cups).
In fact I am actually wondering if such a sequence of trophies would be enough. Seven trophies in ten seasons in the 1930s, seven trophies in the eight seasons across the turn of the century are our best runs. But now that the FA Cup apparently doesn’t count any more, so such past triumphs would need to be exceeded.
Perhaps it would be three league titles in a row, as achieved by Huddersfield, Arsenal, Liverpool and Man U twice.
Or maybe more than that.
But the more I think on this, the more I conclude that there are quite a few people around who call themselves Arsenal supporters who actually wouldn’t be satisfied with anything short of absolute world domination.
And that leads me to the solution.
Sack Wenger, bring in Trump. That should do it.
Or failing that, Putin.