By Walter Broeckx
Some nine years ago Tony started Untold Arsenal. One of the main reasons then was that he was getting sick of all the abuse aimed at Wenger. We were 2008. Hardly 4 years after the Invincibles. Hardly two years after Arsenal being beaten in the CL final when they had to play for most of the match with 10 man and lost in a cruel way.
I even remember in the days of the Invincible season that some fans were foul mouthing Wenger when we didn’t win each and every match. Predicting we would lose the next match. For sure. How absurd this seems now.
So in 2008 there was abuse. And it never stopped. Saying things like: this was the worst team ever. And that Wenger was past it. In 2008 I also became a writer for Untold. And since then I have been accused of all and everything wrong. Each and every season I have been abused because I was happy with the way things were going.
I didn’t start supporting Arsenal because they were the best team in the world at that moment in time. (1979). And I never expected them to win anything. In fact I started supporting a losing team when I first went to Highbury now more than 38 years ago.
So from time to time we won things but most of the time we won nothing. But that wasn’t that important. I just enjoyed being an Arsenal supporter. In good days (a few) and in bad days (most of them).
It all changed when Wenger became manager. Since then I have been in footballing heaven. We play (or try to play) attacking football all the time and we have seen some amazing players and teams and had some amazing seasons.
I felt pride when we started the big stadium adventure. But I also feared it would be the end of a golden era. I was realistic enough to understand that for a football team to make such an investment it would bring bad times. I even feared that we might face a relegation battle…and who knows we might even get relegated after building the stadium. Looking at all other clubs that didn’t get a stadium gifted, this fear was not that far-fetched.
So I must say that now in 2017 looking back I still can hardly believe the fact that we have been in the top four all that time.
But each and every season since Untold started and I got involved (more and more) I have seen the same comments appearing each and every season: “This is the worst Arsenal team ever” or “This time we will certainly drop out of the top 4”. The last sentence mostly said by people who claimed at the same time that 4th place is not a trophy.
I will not repeat the abuse thrown at us regular writers or thrown at the manager. We want to keep it decent after all. But I can confirm that Arsenal has forgotten to pay us all those years. A very popular comment aimed at us writers.
Will we finish in the top 4 this season? Well I don’t know. It will depend on how the players will react to the situation. But as I have seen the same comments each and every season and each and every season Arsenal beat the odds and did finish in the top 4 I will wait to see how the season will unfold.
Now if it does happen (us not finishing in the top 4) I will be disappointed but as I have been told it is no trophy I will not consider it to be failure. Other big teams have faced the same in the past seasons. And it will not even stop them from winning the league the season after with almost the same squad. These things can happen.
When I see a lot of protesters on TV a lot of them are young. They have become Arsenal supporters because a certain person managed to build a strong team and give us the worldwide image of a big club. Without Wenger they probably might have ended up supporting Manchester United, Chelsea or the youngest ones Manchester City. Success attracts fans, but success never goes on for ever. At my age I know that nothing lasts forever. Certainly not in the sporting world.
Building the way Arsenal is working and will be working in the future is the hard and long way. It is going with little steps forward. Finishing 4-3-2 in a row….and then have a setback. Winning 2 FA cups and then face a shock exit against a team we should beat. A setback that even teams like Manchester United and Chelsea have faced, teams with enormous amounts of money spend and to spend. So why couldn’t it happen to Arsenal – a team that is always fighting with one arm behind our back against the money teams.
Like it or not but Arsenal is different from other teams. And that is why I love my club that much. We haven’t sold our soul to the (money) devil. Yet. And I hope it will never happen.
Is it painful to see the money teams outspend us and win things? Yes. Of course it is. But the main point is that I feel that I support a club which tries to win things in a fair way. We try to play the game in a proper way with respect for the paying fans. It doesn’t always work as it is played by human beings who make mistakes and can under-perform. We have to overcome money doped teams, referee bias (we have shown this for some 5-6 seasons now in the most various ways) and so we sometimes fail.
And in times of failure I love my club more than ever. I only wants what is best for the club. Unlike some who want us to lose matches so they can get rid of a person they dislike or even hate. Well I can never hate anyone who has done what Wenger has done for my club. Every abuse of the man makes me sad.
Losing a match is not the end of the world. It is sports and losing is part of the deal you get when you support someone or a team. But the way some react to a defeat or a few defeats is as if the world has stopped turning. Believe me, you will feel it when the world stops turning. And that will be a bit worse than Arsenal losing a match.
I don’t know the answer on how to turn things around. Wenger has turned things around a few times in the last 20 years. So I will wait for the end of the season to see if he managed to do it again or not. And if not… then I will look back and will admire him for having been able to do it so many years on the trot. If it would go wrong (and really wrong for me is getting relegated and that is impossible) and we finish outside of the top 4 for the first time I will ask myself: what on earth have those fans missed by being so angry in the past 10 years? Instead of enjoying what they got they moaned and moaned and moaned some more. Wouldn’t it have been wiser to just enjoy what you had instead of moaning all the way? Moan when things go really bad, but after all the moaning I have seen in the last years it looks so stupid.
Apart from a few disappointing moments I have enjoyed the last 20 years from start to finish. So I will give the man who gave me so much enjoyment all the time he needs to turn things around. I will not join the mob with torches and forks to drive Wenger out.