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Arsenal in the future: it is just a sense of perspective

By Tony Attwood

“Ain’t it just like the night to play tricks when you’re trying to be so quiet?”

That opening line from one of Bob Dylan’s most famous songs (Visions of Johanna) seems in a way to sum up where things are with Arsenal at the moment.   Dylan’s song is in many ways about the different ways we can see the world, and how single issues can come to dominate our perspective, and of course that difference is manifest when we look at the attitude of some Arsenal supporters.

Oh if only the club could be like the other big teams, like, for example… oh, Manchester United.  They have Ibrahimovic, with 22 goals this season.   They have José Mourinho that old pro who wins the league everywhere he goes.  They are in the EFL Cup final next weekend.   The good old days are almost here.

Except the EFL Cup is even less worthwhile than the FA and besides at the moment I write this (in Australia where time passes slowly) Man U are sixth in the league.  And they have scored 38 goals in the league to our 54.

Stranger, the effect of how Man U handled the transition from Sir F Word to David Moyes has not been seen as a warning, but almost as a blueprint.  Just do it, just get it over with, don’t worry about the future, it will be all right (or in Arsenal’s case nothing can be worse than it is now, so there is nothing to worry about.   But oh I keep thinking about the tricks that the night can play.)

Indeed as a piece in the Guardian recently put it, “Wenger’s more ardent critics have dismissed the careful-what-you-wish-for argument on the basis it can hardly be any worse than a team that finish in the top four of the Premier League, but never the top one, and have flatlined in the first knockout round of the Champions League for seven consecutive seasons.

As even the Guardian admits, “there is only one of the last four seasons, 2014-15, when United have spent any time whatsoever above Arsenal since the turn of the year – and never from March onwards. In total, Arsenal will have spent 77.7% of the post-Ferguson years – 803 days against 230 – looking down on United, rather than the other way around, by the time they next play in the league. Or 424 against 52 in what Ferguson used to call the business part of the season, from New Year’s Day onwards. Those figures could easily be turned on their head if Wenger goes and it turns out Arsenal, like United, were even more dependent on one man than people realised.”

Of course I was unhappy with the Bayern performance but I guess the difference between me and some people who claim to support Arsenal is that I live (by and large) a happier life than they do, and I have a greater sense of history.   Getting rid of Mr Wenger could be the start of our problems, not the end.

That Man United are now recovering somewhat under Mourinho is undeniable, but so is the fact that as much as he can at times be an asset to any club he manages he can also be a liability, not just in his taking Chelsea to the lower parts of the league after spending money that even with the Emirates Stadium is beyond the club’s power to muster, but also with his failed attempt to humiliate the club doctor.   Can you imagine what Talk Sport would make of that if it happened at Arsenal?

Of course we might find a manager who is better than Mr Wenger in the past ten years.   Or we might find one who is more in tune with earlier parts of our history.  We could so easily end up pining for a top four finish and a chance to play in the group stages.

Or more a return to the year in which we won the league cup and the FA Cup but also had just about the lowest scoring rate in the league.

It may all be fine.  But there is no guarantee, not least because most managerial replacements are worse than the manager they replace.

Arsenal History Books on Kindle

The novel “Making the Arsenal” by Tony Attwood which describes the events of 1910, which created the modern Arsenal FC, is now available for the first time on Kindle.  Full details are here.

Also available on Kindle, “Woolwich Arsenal: the club that changed football” the only comprehensive history of the rise of Arsenal as a league club, and the attempts to destroy the club, from within and without.   For full details please see here.

 

30 comments to Arsenal in the future: it is just a sense of perspective

  • colario

    Good news, bad news for Leicester.
    Bad news first.

    Leicester have only won 1 point in 2017 and are 1 point above the drop.

    They are out of both cups.

    They are 2- 1 down in the Champions league.

    The good news.

    According to the spoofers sometimes – always known as experts or pundits Leicester are not a club in crisis.

    Arsenal and Arsene are.

  • Mad Matt

    Great article!
    Makes perfect sense, yet somehow there will be aaa comments to follow

  • Mad Matt

    ps: Where in Australia? I’m in Perth

  • Norman14

    colario

    and Leicester haven’t scored a league goal this calendar year I believe.

  • Goonermikey

    @ Colario

    And as I understand it, Millwall have beaten more Premier League teams this year than Liverpool!…..

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I’m sure that if Arsenal are still interested in Vardy , he could come on the cheap , and probably without too much publicity !

  • insideright

    The debt that Arsenal took on to originally develop Highbury proved to be a much bigger burden than was first anticipated due to the outbreak of war and its significant duration. The consequence on the pitch (after a brief post war flurry) was the famous ‘long sleep’ which lasted 17 years during which we not only failed to win a trophy but never came anywhere near winning one.
    This time round Emirates Stadium related debts have been dealt with far more effectively and thanks to the strategy of reaching a position of zero net debt in double quick time they need not have a significant impact on the allocation of future revenues. On the pitch any ‘slippage’ is far more to do with the financial doping at other clubs than it is to do with bad decision making at Arsenal.
    Increased revenues from sponsorship and TV have been invested across the board in transfer fees, salaries and further significant infrastructure improvements which will all bear fruit as time passes.
    If that sounds like a glass-half-full view of things it’s not. It’s much fuller than that.

  • Norman14

    Well, I just saw Kane on Sky say “there’s no pressure on us (Spuds) to win a trophy”

    FFS – why do they even exist?

  • colario

    Goonermikey
    23/02/2017 at 10:51 am

    That is why they have had a name change. They are now known as ‘looserpool’

  • ossasa

    Leicester did quite well away last night and certainly were far away from a drubbing. They may even progress which would be incredible. Cannot quite see Arsenal progressing now after the second half cave-in. News that Santi is out for the season is not good but did anyone expect to see him again? Not being negative just realistic and constantly slagging off one’s peers shows a disturbing level of insecurity. Nobody cared a hoot about the Totts or Mancs when things were being won. Again with Pep getting a amazing result against Monaco who are flying shows a new coach can do more than just freshen up things. Never listen to Talksport ever because of the ads but 5 live is fine by me and takes a balanced enough approach though any punditry is erratic by nature as is the game of football at it’s best. Peace.

  • para

    Realistically, there is only one way Arsenal has to go, and that is higher.
    The club will take it’s time to prepare such an important change and only if forced to apply it before they are ready that is, found the perfect replacement, would we be getting a quick fix coach/manager, probably internal until then.

    //
    Two hard games coming up and i wish Arsenal to be ready now, no more messing. Liverpool and Bayern 3 days later. What a week!

  • Josif

    Arsenal will have to go through that change some day. I suppose every Arsenal supporter should hope that day will come later than sooner because it would mean our results are good enough to keep the manager in our dugout.

    That being said, I think that the whole David Moyes fiasco was a really good lesson for all big clubs in the world including Arsenal. If, however, we go down the Eddie Howe route and pick him or some other overhyped manager with no experience in winning titles, we are likely to become a laughing stock in a way Manchester United had been during Moyes’ days. We can’t afford ourselves to throw away 100-200 million pounds in a single transfer window without making a significant progress as Manchester United have done a few times after Ferguson had retired. With all due respect to Steve Bould, I think that, if Mr Wenger had thought Bould was ready to take over as a full-time manager, he would have resigned by now.

    Just to make things clear: Arsenal shouldn’t be happy with the crumbs falling off the rich boys’ table. We have every right to fight for the top prize. We have a modern stadium, 13 league titles to our name, 12 FA Cups, 19 consecutive participations in Champions League and number of players who 1) have already won the biggest trophies in their career and 2) should feel hungry enough to win the biggest trophies with Arsenal. If, say, Mr Wenger decides not to accept a new contract with Arsenal, his heir would find Arsenal in a much better position than Mr Wenger had found back in 1996. Back then, we were fifth club in the league, behind Manchester United, Newcastle United, Liverpool and Aston Villa, with The Back Five looking destined for a free fall.

    The thing is, we need to understand that – regardless who is our manager next season – Arsenal won’t be able to fight against Manchester United in the financial arena. If Man U set their eyes on Griezmann or any other player I would love to see at Arsenal, they are likely to win the race against us. Same goes for Manchester City and, to the lesser extent, Chelsea. Liverpool and, especially, Tottenham are behind us. That’s why we need top scouting network so that players such as Dembele, Kante, Mbappe or, indeed, Martial end up at Arsenal. (Of course, we are yet to see how Brexit will affect our club’s ability to sign foreign talents.)

  • Gord

    1994/95

    One of the problems with using data form Wikipedia, is that you are never sure if it is correct. Because any Tom, Dick or Harry can come along and change it.

    If we take the final table of standings, we have team name, rank, games played, wins, draws, losses, goals for, goals against, goal difference and points.

    Every team should play each other team twice. For 1994/95 this is 42 games per team. Wins plus draws plus losses should equal 42 for each team. Over the entire league, the sum of wins should equal the sum of losses. Over the entire league, the sum of goal difference should be 0. Over the entire league, the sum of goals for should equal the sum of goals against.

    Most wikipedia pages on the EPL, have a matrix of games with home teams listed long on the left side, and abbreviated as column headings acros sthe top for away games. If you total up the wins/draws/losses and goals for/against/difference from this table, you should get the same result as the main standings, except that you can also break things down into home and away.

    None of that tells you who the referee was. For that, you have to actually dig up game data. Teams that have been successful (such as liverpool!!! and Arsenal) tend to have more complete records than teams that weren’t. And Wimbledon was in the league then, and no longer exists. What fans will pick up the pieces? What fan wants to spend hours compiling, writing and correcting Wikipedia entries for a team which got relegated? So, there are reasons why the more successful teams have the better sets of pages.

    What I do for a game entry has the following all on one line, usually with a single space between different kinds of data:
    YYYY _ Four digit year
    MM _ Two digit month
    DD _ Two digit day
    XX _ EPL, FA, LC, UEFA, …
    HH:MM _ Game start time (seldom known for this year)
    ARS SOU _ 3 character abbreviations for teams
    N(…)-M(…) _ Home score (scorers and times), dash, Away score (scorers and times)
    :(N[…]-M[…]) _ used when penalties decide a result, scorers inside the square brackets
    _ The card information
    attendance
    referee

    I don’t think I seen a League Cup game with card information, and usually the FA Cup games also did not have card information.

    Penalties don’t show up in EPL games, but to track down scorers you often have to look in other places.

    Occassionally the results in EPL games will indicate that the penalty taken by a fouled player did not result in a goal (called a missed penalty). In more current years, I think this happens more often. I don’t know if it is accurate. Goals as a result of a penalty are usually indicated as such.

    Often, the time a yellow card is issued is not given. Usually if a second yellow card is issued to that player, the time of this happening is given. Usually the results have the required red card in this instance as well, I am not doing that. I just assume the referee always gets it right and ejects that player.

    I should have every EPL game twice in my data, and the data should be the same for both. Other games, I probably only have once if it involves non-EPL teams. The only preseason games I looked at was UEFA and the Community Shield.

    I came up with 3 points which (sort of) bound England and Wales. The red point is to the north, the green point is off Cornwall and the blue point is close to the France/Belgium border. From these points, I have calculated the colour (RGB) of each team and each referee. One referee I am unsure of, he could be from Sheffield or from Middlesex. I assumed Middlesex.

    So for each game, a comparison between the team location and the referee location can be shown by colour.

    The referee team can be shown by an average colour (average of all referees in the system, or average by appearance) as well as a “rainbow”.

    The same can be done for each team.

    There is more data I can dig up. I see that the Liverpool History group has the start time for each game. It wouldn’t surprise me if Arsenal also has this information. But, if people know where I can find this for other teams, please speak up.

    I have no idea about linespeople or 4th officials.

    I had hoped to find summary disciplinary data for teams, but currently only have 2 (of 22) teams.

    Lots of data just doesn’t seem to be available: offsides, throw ins, corner kicks, goal kicks, fouls shots on/off target, ….

  • Gord

    Arrgh.

    The information on cards (for each team) is inside angle brackets. Which have special information to HTML, and hence wordpress eats them.

  • Gord

    Who replaces him? ‘Arry?

  • Leon

    Shameful!. They’re still well placed to progress in the CL, albeit and to be relegated to The Championship.

  • Gord

    It seems that Fat Sam has gotten Crystal Palace a big 3 points (over 5 games). Maybe Leicester should buy Fat Sam of Crystal Palace? Then ‘Arry and his dog can manage Crystal Palace.

    Oh, Tottenspuds I think were leading, but game ended 2:2 in Spursday action. Oh wonderful! Kane scores an own goal at 20m and then Dele Alli is dismissed at 40 minutes!

    Supposedly they had sold out Wembley for this game. Apparently there were 80,465 people there to witness this wonderspud event!

  • Mandy Dodd

    Great read Tony.
    I suspect change is coming, only a gut feeling , but we shall see.
    Not a change I especially want to see for reasons you have articulated, still hoping we can finish the season with a flourish that will allow the great man to stay with a mandate, but I suspect decisions on one , or maybe both sides may have been made. I also suspect some players are spooked, and that there may be division in their ranks….again, just a gut feeling. But would really, really love to be proved wrong on these assumptions.
    If Mr Wenger goes, they will have to put a new structure, as well as a new manager in place to have any hope of continuing his work, that will not be easy.
    But, until,that day, can only back the manager and team, and hope they can improve on recent performances, there really is a lot at stake.
    As for Ranieri….quite incredible.
    And , just hope the media are as harsh on Spurs as on arsenal for their…..lesser….European exploits, but will not hold my breath. Good to see a ref finally apply the laws of the game to dele Alli…..just a shame refs from the pgmol, for whatever reason will not do the same

  • Menace

    Mandy – I hope your gut is wrong (but healthy) & well said about Alli. It was a leg breaker not dissimilar to Collins on Iwobi.

  • Chris

    Well we ought to take bets as to how long it will take the aaa, pundits, blogs to ask for AW’s ouster and hiring Claudio Ranieri, because after all he won the PL in the past 10 years and is the greatest and is on the market now….

    After all they seem to have had bets in place about a chap eating a pie

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Is winning the EPL a poisoned chalice for the manager ? Is it truly cursed ?
    Should Antonio Conte be worried ?

    Here is the list of the winning managers and how long they lasted before being sacked or leaving .

    -2016- Claudio Ranieri is the latest manager to fall to this strange ‘phenomenon ‘ ? He has not even lasted a season after winning the league last year.
    -2015- Jose Mourinho did not last six months of the new season as Chelsea decided to cut their losses , and prevent any more bad press .
    -2014- Manuel Pellegrini lasted a bit longer,but his time was known to be up.
    -2013- Alex Ferguson – Resigned soon after winning his 20th title.
    -2012- Roberto Mancini also did not last to the end of the following season.
    -2010 -Carlo Ancelotti – Was dismissed after the next season .
    -2006- Jose Mourinho – left in Sept 2007 by ‘mutual agreement ‘.
    -1995 – Kenny Dalglish – left the club after another season .

    Most of the managers did not last for even two season after winning the EPL.
    The exceptions were SAF , and of course Arsene Wenger who is still manager long after his last win in 2004 .

    Its probably just reward for going unbeaten an entire season . Karma just loves the just !

    Maybe he ‘ll leave Arsenal soon after winning it once more ?

  • Leon

    Menace
    Alli’s assault was identical to Collin’s up until the actual impact, and then he brought his trailing (grounded) leg round into a scissor. One of the worst type of fouls in the game

  • MickHazel

    Mandy
    Deafening silence on Spurs and Del Ali this morning. Mentioned on their news bulletins but that’s it from what I heard. All about Ranieri and a bit about Wenger possibly staying for another two years.
    Oh hang on. As I type Ali’s tackle gets a mention but only for a minute. Nothing about Spurs going out of Europe to a second rate Belgian team though. I can’t imagine Xhaka or Arsenal would have escaped so lightly.

  • WalterBroeckx

    That was a disgusting tackle from Ali. The player from Ghent is injured and as he was one of their main players I wonder if it was a deliberate attack to kick him off the field. He had to be replaced by a 17 year old in the second half.

    The question is: would a PGMO ref have given a red card? Let alone call it a foul? What you, Mike Dean?

  • Gord

    Can UEFA ban him? The (sweet) FA? will either, or both?

  • MickHazel

    Walter

    ‘The question is: would a PGMO ref have given a red card?’

    If a similar tackle were to be made in the Premier League and the perpetrator was Xhaka then a red card would be a certainty.
    Maybe not if it were an Ali or a Rooney or any of the other players from the favoured teams.

  • Gord

    Nothing at the disciplinary section of UEFA about them even considering charging Dele Alli.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Gord, Uefa works slower than the FA. But he will get a ban for next matches, sorry next season. Rest assured.

    The FA cannot ban him unless Uefa would ban him for all football for a long period. But that is not likely as it is not usual to do this.

    Now even English media report that he has escaped red cards before…. well well well…better late than never I would say. Untold has been saying this for a while. But well…we are only Untold of course. And biased…

  • Josif

    English players don’t dive. Only those pesky foreigners like Robert Pires dive. Those pesky foreigners had brought the diving culture in England if you ask real football legends like Danny Mills. I sh!t you not.

    English players don’t make dirty tackles that can injure someone. No, sir! None of them is “that type of lad” as the greatest student of Total Antifootball movement Sir Tony Pulis (yes, I know he is not actually knighted but if Alex Ferguson was given a knighthood…) would put it. But those pesky foreigners like Granit Xhaka are that type of lad and should get a red card every time the ref has a chance to flash one in front of their eyes. And if the same ref sees, say, Aaron Cresswell doing the same thing, he should opt for a yellow ‘cos Aaron is not that type of lad.

    Also, FA shouldn’t be worried when Joe Hart headbutts the ref or when Raheem Sterling grabs one’s chest. Or when Wayne Rooney swears at the ref. No, sir! That’s just passion! The real problem is that Arsene Wenger who dared to be the first French manager to win the league. He knows so many languages that he probably swears the refs on one of them so he should be given the longest ban ever to protect the refs.