Picture (c) Daily Telegraph
The slogan however does show what Alistair Tweedale, the author of the piece, or perhaps his editor, thinks of the intellectual level of his audience. Even with a graphic like that, they seem to feel that dumbo Arsenal fans might not get that this is irony, and so reckon it needs explaining to the Arsenal fan base who might take it to be for real.
The point is therefore laboriously made that “Arsenal fandom is a craze. It’s an internet sensation that has created Robbie Lyle a business [Arsenal fan TV] and with it a livelihood. That is in a large part thanks to supporters the world over being keen to listen to the opinions of other fans, but ArsenalFanTV’s popularity has undoubtedly been swelled by the caricatures it has moulded of Arsenal fans as serial complainers.”
And that’s a good point. ArsenalFanTV makes fun of the people who think they are on there making a serious statement and being film stars. The joke Lyle plays is of making the complainants look stupid, while they think they are being serious.
But even so this is a bit rich coming from the Telegraph whose anti-Arsenal output could fill all 6000+ pages of this website, but from which archive we might pick gems; headlines for example such as “Arsenal’s 11 big problems” and “Why are Arsenal always so bad in November?” Several times a month, that’s what we get.
But then every now and then they go in the opposite direction, as with the time they got the ex Evening Standard writer Charlie Eccleshare to write an apology to Arsène. They had just run a series of articles calling him every name under the sun since he arrived, blaming him for destroying the base of English players playing in England who would win the world cup for England every time it is played, blaming him to not buying players, blaming him for buying the wrong players, for not winning the league, for running a club that didn’t have any money and still having the audacity to get into the knock out stages of the champions league, and above all, for being foreign and having an accent in his name. And then they published the comment that
“There have been many charges levelled against Arsene Wenger over the past few years – most of them by Piers Morgan – but yesterday’s 3-0 win against Olympiakos vindicated many of the Frenchman’s decisions.”
You knock ’em down, pick em’ up and then knock ’em down again, then pick ’em up then… well, you get the idea.
Now, after a month of non-stop Wenger battering over the recent defeats having a poor defence and a useless attack [ok we’re the top goalscorers in the Premier League but it is still a useless attack] plus a non-existent midfield, and other perceived calamities, it is all change and time to call Arsenal great again.
But do note, this is not balance. This is a deliberate case of winding the aaa up with endless tales of gibberish, endlessly ignoring the fact that the past three seasons have been Arsenal’s fifth best run in the 124 years since Arsenal entered the league, and in fact endless Arsenal bashing. Suddenly it is not Arsenal (Eurasia) that is the enemy, but their crazed fans (Eastasia). Until the next change that is.
Making their point fast on the heels of Untold’s analysis of the most successful three year periods in our history they say point out (in case anyone has forgotten) that…
“Arsenal qualify for the Champions League every year; they won the FA Cup in 2014 and 2015; only Manchester United and Chelsea have won the Premier League as many times as them; they have finished above rivals Tottenham in every season since 1995; they can attract some of the world’s best footballers; and they are one of the richest clubs on the planet.
“And yet the fans always have something to moan about. An Arsenal-supporting friend of mine said after the recent, and admittedly extremely disappointing, defeat to Watford: ‘I just want something different to happen. I might start supporting Brentford’.”
Then after a bit more in the same vein they ask “But are things really that bad?”
And their conclusion (well not really a conclusion because that needs a weighing up of evidence which we never get here) is “Not at all, in the grand scheme of things. Most of those who want #WengerOut seem to just want some kind of change, when the stability their manager provided has made the club what they are.”
This of course brings us back to the issue of changing managers.
You might recall that the other day I considered the comment by a reader that he thought it was reasonable for Arsenal fans to expect the club to be champions, or challenging to be champions each year. He then defined “challenging” to mean, “with a chance of winning the league up to the last three games”. The resultant analysis of the implications of this view show how much better Arsenal are at achieving this lofty aim than most teams.
But I wondered, if the rule were applied what would have happened to other managers in recent years… Managers of clubs that think themselves capable of winning the league are forced to leave when they don’t win the league or come close. Managers who should leave under what we might call the “top 2 rule”.
|Season||Winners||Pts||Second||Pts||Managers who should be out under “top 2” rule|
|2011–12||Man C||89||Man U||89||Liverpool! Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal|
|2012–13||Man U||89||Man C||78||Liverpool! Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal, Man C|
|2013–14||Man C||86||Liverpool!||84||Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal, Man C, Man U|
|2014–15||Chelsea||87||Man City||79||Liverpool! Tottenham, Arsenal, Man C, Man U|
|2015–16||Leicester||81||Arsenal||71||Liverpool! Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal, Man C, Man U|
Of course Chelsea and Tottenham have over the years approached matters in this way. Here’s the Tiny Tott and Chelsea list of managers being kicked off the sinking ship
|2011/12||Harry Redknapp||André Villas-Boas|
|2012/13||André Villas-Boas||Roberto Di Matteo, Rafael Benítez|
|2013/14||Tim Sherwood||José Mourinho|
|2014/15||Mauricio Pochettino||José Mourinho; Guus Hiddink|
|2015/16||Mauricio Pochettino||Antonio Conte|
It’s another way of running football, but the point is, it no more guarantees success than any other approach.
Returning to the Telegraph they concluded their article with a series of commentaries from fans of Tottenham, Sunderland, Orient, Coventry City, Ipswich Town, Charlton Athletic asking them if they would like to swap places with Arsenal.
Now that might seem an odd list but these clubs have all seen what it is like to be near the top and then slip back down, sometimes right back down – something some Arsenal fans can’t remember. Older fans like me do remember the club struggling against relegation. Maybe that is why we appreciate the current day success more. If you’ve watched your club struggling at the foot of the table and being knocked out of the FA Cup by lower league teams year after year, you get a different perspective.
Indeed aside from Orient (who have indeed been in the top division with Arsenal) all those teams have been doing well in the top league and have beaten Arsenal while there. And surely it is not just me who remembers Charlton really rising up the league under Curbishly, and seriously entertaining thoughts of European football, and then fans then calling for Curbishly to leave so that someone else could take the club “to the next level”. What a bunch of loonies!
The Tottenham fan’s commentary in this section of the article is particularly interesting:
“Tottenham are enjoying another incredible season, but we know it will all go wrong at some point. We won’t catch Chelsea, Arsenal will overtake us on the last day of the season, all our best players will eventually leave (those contracts means nothing), and Pochettino will one day be poached by one of the bigger boys.
“Missing out on winning the title was gutting, but the embarrassment of throwing away second place to Arsenal was worse for many of the fans. St Totteringham’s Day, Lasagnegate, Michael Dawson celebrating a Newcastle goal against Arsenal that didn’t exist. It’s all just a bit much.”
At the end of the article the question is put to the fans of each club “Would you trade places with Arsenal?” Of course each is just one person’s view, and not representative of the fan base, but it is an interesting selection across the clubs. Here are the answers, with a reminder of where the club currently sits…
Tiny Totts (2nd, Premier League): In a heartbeat. And any Spurs fan that says otherwise is lying.
Sunderland (20th, Premier League): League position, finances, champions league football, trophies…what do you think?
Orient (23rd League Two): From a penalty kick away from the Championship to the brink of the National League in the space of three seasons and in danger of going out of business. Now that, Arsenal fans, is something to really moan about. [Which is, in one respect, why I wrote “Making the Arsenal” – the story of when Arsenal went bust, and were rescued by one man now considered barely worthy of a mention in Arsenal’s history].
Coventry (24th League One): I understand they are an ambitious club and they want to be winning trophies, but they need to get a bit of perspective. Our overall budget for a season is around £2-3m and that has to pay wages, run the academy etc. It’s a completely different world.
Ipswich Town (13th Championship) Finishing in the top four every year, watching high-quality fare from a cast of stars from across the world – who would really want that?
Charlton: (13th, League One) Yes, of course….but I don’t want them coming back to Woolwich, where they started. That was just up the road from the Valley!
Now contrast this with a comment from a supposed Arsenal fan:
It’s just boring being an Arsenal fan nowadays, knowing you’re about to witness the same season over and over. A new manager doesn’t guarantee success but equally it doesn’t guarantee the same mediocre league and Champions League failings we’ve become accustomed to.
And that’s it, isn’t it? Success is boring. Let’s have some failure for a while, just to make the successes feel good.