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Arsenal’s decline offers a real chance to see what’s going on

 

By Tony Attwood

My headline above is not meant to suggest that I think there is a conspiracy of some kind – I certainly don’t think that people are plotting in dark corners how to attack Arsenal, how to undermine the club, how to do damage to its manager or anything like that.  

No, the notion of conspiring together exists only in the minds of those that allege the conspiracy theory.  The people who on seeing a complex situation, or reading an article of more than 100 words respond with simple put down phrases which have no relationship with reality.

On the other hand, it is a fact that almost everyone who comments on Arsenal does so with an interest in numbers: the number of viewers on a TV screen, the number of viewers on a web page etc.  They do this because viewer numbers both justify the existence of the publisher or broadcaster, and exist as a guide to how much can be made from the advertisements on the website, TV station, radio station etc.  (The BBC is the prime exception to this but its income from government is partly judged by its political masters by the size of its audience).

As such (beyond the political leanings of the newspapers and a few blogs) in much of the media there is not a primary interest in what is being written or said, and certainly not a primary interest in the impact that what it says might have.  No, in most cases the emphasis is only whether the piece gets a large audience at this moment.  Tomorrow will sort itself out.

Everyone who has ever worked in the media, or studied it academically knows that there is no doubt that negative stories get bigger audiences than positive stories.  The 3D approach (death, disease, destruction) has long been the torch bearer of the news pages, and the equivalent in sport (the collapse of the once mighty football club, the sporting “drugs cheat” etc) gets the same level of attention.  Far more attention in fact that any success story.  Indeed as I write this, 11 of the 12 of the main stories on the homepage of the Guardian’s website are all about failure, mistakes, portents of doom and protest.  (The only exception is the coverage of the Italian elections, and we don’t have the results yet).

But alongside this, is the understanding that journalists and some bloggers have, that not all negative tales are equal when it comes to attracting readership, listeners or viewers..  Just as the media judges that events in some countries are automatically more interesting than events from other countries, so different football clubs are judged in different ways, no matter what the story, no matter how big or small their attendances, no matter where they are in the league.

Arsenal has always been seen in this way as newsworthy in this context, not least because of its foundation (a works team set up by the workers not by their elders and betters) and through its continuation, it  was that most unusual thing: a club that continued to be controlled by the workers.  Not the management, not a church, not the local aristocrats or worthies.  A club of the workers by the workers for the workers.  (Which is of course why it was the first southern club to go fully professional, in 1891).

Indeed the split in the club in its earliest days leading to two clubs playing on opposite sides of the same street in Plumstead was part of this tradition – the middle and upper classes seeing the workers as not being capable of running the club upped and left when they got kicked off the management committee (although it was the toffs breakaway faction that got into difficulty and folded first – the story is told in “Woolwich Arsenal: the club that changed football”.  You’ll find it on Kindle).

Woolwich Arsenal was also the first southern club to join the league, and during the Boer War became solidly identified as the club of the soldier.  For it was the Royal Arsenal that made the weapons that kept the fighting man alive.  So they were the soldiers’ team.

This distaste for working class Arsenal by the middle and upper classes who ran the rest of football was emphasised when  Henry Norris (who left school at 14 and started work immediately as a clerk) took over and rescued the club in 1910.   That he became a hero by raising and paying for the first large Footballers Battalion, and that he rose through the ranks in the army because of his genius for administration, generated dismay and disgust among the established families who ran football in the early 20th century.  

This can be seen by the refusal of Sir Samuel Hill-Wood (that other football club owning MP after the war) to support the anti-gambling bill introduced into Parliament by Sir Henry Norris at the behest of the FA and the League in 1920.  Sir Samuel represented the aristocratic tradition of club ownership (even though his venture at Glossop North End had gone bust) while Sir Henry, was considered a mere “house builder”, a brash outsider, most certainly “not one of us”.

Thus looking down upon the Arsenal and finding ways to criticise the club has always been the essence of the media’s coverage.  Attempts by Tottenham to stop Arsenal moving to north London (which resulted in much higher crowds for both Tottenham and Arsenal), the censure of Norris by the League for revealing the match fixing activities of Liverpool in 1913, the much later attempts to suggest that there was something amiss with Arsenal’s election to the first division in 1919… knocking the Arsenal has always been part of the fabric of football.

Even the occasional ex-manager such as Leslie Knighton joined in, with a fabricated tale of Henry Norris’ alleged lunatic approach to club ownership which appeared 24 years after the events and 14 years after Henry Norris’ death.  Lots of people like to kick corpses knowing they generally can’t kick back – only this time round did the club’s new owners (the Hill-Wood dynasty) go further by conspiring to back up the re-writing of history by promoting a completely new history that rewrote events in a manner more akin to the style of those running North Korea, rather than one that befits a football club with a valid working class heritage in North London.

Indeed, moving forward, just consider the 1930s phrase, “the bank of England club” which was used to denigrate Arsenal, not least because Sir Henry Norris’ vision had paid off.  Arsenal’s money had not come from wealthy backers – Sir Henry had guaranteed the lease on Highbury, the club’s overdraft and loaned the money for the new stand but had, like those who had backed the club before him, ultimately got his money back.  He did not bankroll the club – he took it from administration and made it self-sufficient.

At first the debts were massive but he knew that building a ground at that precise location would result in the club generating money through gate receipts, rather than the financial support of the wealthy.   As a result Arsenal became, in 1935, the first club to earn over £100,000 a year from gate receipts – virtually the only source of income (other than donations from the board) for a club in those days.   Hence the envy; hence the “Bank of England club”.

Thus through Sir Henry’s foresight Arsenal had become the dominant club and adding the Art Deco stands and Marbled Halls didn’t do anything to reduce the envy of other clubs and the desire of the media at large to knock the Arsenal.

The fact that so many people still know about the defeat of Arsenal by Walsall in 1933 shows how history is written.  Every first division club suffered unexpected upsets in the cup – that is what gave the cup its excitement, but few if any were highlighted as much and remembered as long as this one.  It was a perfect chance to knock the Arsenal.

As the years passed, knocking Arsenal, more than knocking any other club always got the biggest audience.  Even as the feeling of the club being working class upstarts vanished, and no one really could remember why the club was disliked so much, it was apparent to all in the media that knocking Arsenal always got the readership.

An Arsenal player being sent off was seen as the betrayal of the principles of honour on which football was built.  Some minor scuffles on the terraces in the 1970s were riots.  A punch up between the players of Lazio and Arsenal outside a restaurant following a match became as big a story as 39 dying in the Heysel Stadium disaster, which was portrayed as not really Liverpool fans’ fault, as the stadium was in a bad state.

So it has continued to today.  Arsenal are the biggest news because knocking Arsenal is always good news.  Liverpool’s one trophy (a cup) in 10 years is not a story; football reality is re-written to exclude Arsenal’s cup wins so one might think we had not won anything since the Unbeaten season.  You could be excused for finding it hard to remember that Liverpool had finished 6th, 7th or 8th six times in the last eight seasons, if you just took your information from media articles.

As for Tottenham, one would think that their 25 years making it into the top four just twice (a run that ended only in 2016) might as well never have happened.  All that matters now is that Tottenham is a great club with an honourable history while Arsenal are a bunch of cheats and the FA Cup is not a trophy.

As a result, although all clubs have fantasy transfer rumours published about them in the press and blogs, none get as many readers as Arsenal.  Except for now, when there is a different story to rubbish Arsenal with, and so the transfer rumours have stopped.

Which makes it quite clear that the transfer rumours were never true – if they were they would not have suddenly vanished – but vanished they have.  When Untold has tracked the rumours for the last couple of summers and got over 110 different players said to be coming to the club, we’ve also kept a less accurate (it is time consuming to do it) but still indicative analysis of transfer rumours for other clubs.   The summer totals of Tottenham, Liverpool, Chelsea etc  are generally around half the numbers for Arsenal.  We are always the news.

Despite the obvious fantasy in transfer rumours, it has been an astonishingly successful approach for the blogs and for the newspapers.  It is cost free, since the tales are made up, and it gets readers and viewers in big numbers.  What more could any publisher or TV station want?  Fantasy stories without any worry about what is, and what is not, true.  And the chance always to knock Arsenal further for not getting in the players that were apparently all ready and willing to come to Arsenal, if only the club would get its finger out.

Thus the transfer rumours that Arsenal dominate ultimately yield the perfect hyper-negative fantasy tales; the ultimate way of knocking the club, whose stories get more readers than any other.  “Arsenal fail to sign”, “Arsenal players leaving”, and ultimately “Arsenal descend into chaos.”

Of course social scientists would ask “why?” at this point and explore the history of clubs and the way they are reported as I have just done in brief above, but publishers are for the most part not social scientists.  They live by numbers, and through the years from the 1890s onwards it is clear that negative tales about Arsenal (either real or fantasy) get more readers.

And why do people love the negative?  For the same reason that until its collapse through going too far in its law breaking daily activities, the best selling newspaper in the UK was News of the World, which did nothing but print negative stories about celebrities and politicians.  

So now we have a new crisis – Arsenal are losing games and will quite probably finish way outside the top four – just as Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham, Manchester United and Manchester City have done.   (And it is a measure of just how clever the misrepresentation of history has become that I suspect most people who are not Man U supporters wouldn’t realise that Man U’s last four league finishes were 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th).

And now people who proclaim themselves to be Arsenal fans join in the attack, because that is what they are encouraged to do by the media, and anyway because there isn’t much else to do .  The ownership is remote, the players are remote, let’s knock the club.

But let us never be mislead into thinking this is new or just related to Wenger.   If you are a reader of the AISA Arsenal History Society blog you will know that attacks on Arsenal and Arsenal players are not new.   What is different is that today, the club refuses to answer back.

I won’t bore you with a long history of when the club has responded, but the way Tom Whittaker and the club took on the mass media over the rumours about Jimmy Logie should be a lesson to everyone at the club on how to behave against the lies that the media pedals.

Indeed you might find it hard to believe but there was a time when Arsenal actually took on the FA and would not let the matter rest when an Arsenal man had his career ended through getting injured playing for England.

And in case you think this is just me suggesting that there is something amiss with Arsenal supporters Jon Spurling recounts the story that Peter Goring was abused after the Sunderland defeat in 1953 by a fan who said that he’d seen the Arsenal team of the 1930s and the current team wasn’t fit to lick their boots.  Peter commented on this as saying, “I wasn’t the only player to be confronted in such a way.  Some of the other boys also got hassle from fans which wasn’t nice,… some of those fans were very hard to please…”

Spurling also says that on one occasion, “One of Goring’s team mates snapped and told the Daily Mail journalist… that he was “ashamed of the crowd [at Arsenal] and considered them to most unsporting collection in the country.”

In short, the media led the way and got the weak willed and the fellow travellers to adopt their style, their approach and their message.

As we have seen in recent postings in Untold, many people find it very difficult to ask themselves why they are criticising the Arsenal as they do, while proclaiming themselves to be supporters.   Reading the comments following the articles that dealt with that topic is rather depressing: it is not that many people seek to give any sort of logical reason as to why they do it, rather they just suggest that it is not a valid question to ask.

It’s been shown time and again on this site that criticising players and management does little good and rarely delivers improvement on the pitch; instead it does harm.  It makes it harder to bring in players, and makes it harder to motivate the players who are with the club.  So based on history, getting Wenger out is more likely to lead to a further decline in the performances on the pitch rather than an improvement.

But that is what many people cry out for.  Wenger out – and … well we could be stuck in the same sort of run as Liverpool, Tottenham, Chelsea, Man C, and Man U have all had in recent years.   

And maybe that’s it.  Maybe these guys think it is now our turn.

If you have been, thank you for reading.

 

33 comments to Arsenal’s decline offers a real chance to see what’s going on

  • testo

    no point in writing deep articles like these..wenger has failed arsenal and he needs to go…yes, you’re right that we can turn into a post-fergie like utd but that’s a risk you have to take because we aren’t really doing any better with him in charge either

  • Andy

    There is little comparison between Wenger’s demise and Ferguson’s last couple of years at United. Ferguson won the title in his last year and as a result, with the aura he had and legacy he left his retirement was always going to be a hard act to follow for any manager. They are only just recovering now. The difference with Wenger is that he and the team have been under performing for many years. We had a fortunate cup run last year, but the team is full of inconsistencies performance wise. Wenger will be easier to replace than Ferguson. We have to look back thirteen years to the last great Arsenal team. The club has set the foundations for the next manager to succeed with the demise of Wenger. What has the next manager to learn from his current approach. Very little in my view. A new, fresh approach was modern ideas is a breath of fresh air to the club. Let’s hope the winds of change will blow through the club and we will see exciting performances again!

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    QED

  • Henry Root

    Tony,
    Like all your articles it’s very authoritative and drips with your love for the club. You are also right that Arsenal antagonise the media in a way that few clubs do- but the recent Mourinho issue at Chelsea and the United problems in following Ferguson show we are not unique.
    The real problem now as the first poster says is that very sadly Arsene has run his race and there is no doubt at any other club in the Premier League he would be sacked. Arsenal’s ownership is not healthy and he is being kept in a job because of the balance sheet rather than the football, team.
    What is your position on Wenger Tony? Do you think he should continue into next season? No press conspiracy theories can obscure the fact that we are a shambles at the moment .

  • Henry Root I think the question is meaningless. Mr Wenger’s departure or continuation can only be seen in the context of what follows him. If he is followed most of the managers on the circuit looking for jobs I would say absolutely not. And leaving those aside if it were the manager of Everton for example I would mount a one man protest outside the ground.
    I am sorry that I have not made this clear in my many comments and articles but to me talking about the club being better off with Mr Wenger leaving is meaningless; the construct has to include who is wanted in replacement and whether that person would come.
    I have serious doubts as to whether any of the top names would come to a club with such a strongly antagonistic media (aided by some “fans) as Arsenal. That is the problem.

  • OK Andy that is your view, and I have presented my view, and they go in totally different directions. You choose to ignore that the media utterly adored Ferguson but utterly loathe Arsenal, and in terms of finding a new manager I think that will be a major issue. Who on earth would want to come to Arsenal with a support base like ours and the hostile media that we see confronting the club, as it has done for almost a century?

  • Josif

    @Tony

    Here are the facts:

    1.Manchester United have finished 7th (David Moyes was replaced by Ryan Giggs), 4th (Louis Van Gaal), 5th (Van Gaal again, with a joint-record winning 12th FA Cup for Man U) and 6th (Jose Mourinho, won Europa League and League Cup).

    2.Arsenal have been isolated on the sixth place with out-of-form Chelsea sitting on 5th with eight points more than us. We are closer to 7th place than we are to 5th place, never mind a Champions League zone (13 points behind Tottenham who have been playing their home games at Wembley and couldn’t rest their first team in Europe like we could).

    3.Arsenal have conceded 41 goals in 29 games. That’s 10th defensive record in the league. We have conceded at least three goals in nine games across all competitions. We are coming close to our defensive record from 2011-12 (49) when we had conceded 10 goals in three opening games before Per Mertesacker and Mikel Arteta shored things up.

    4.Arsenal have picked just 13 points away from home in 15 games (10th in the league) and scored just 16 goals on our travels. It’s not something that happens since yesterday – it’s been quite a trend (26 points out of possible 81).

    5.Arsenal record against Top 6 in the league: P9 W1 D3 L5. That’s beyond appalling.

    6.Arsenal have spent money last summer and in January. We have also broken the club record on the players’ registration in the summer 2016. Most of these signings haven’t worked or have wore off after initially looking well. The money we spend is no longer an excuse for underperforming. Same goes for the average age of our first team.

    7.Arsenal have lost twice as many games in 2018 (8) than they have won (4). That suggests we are not going through a mini-crisis but through a serious one where nothing works well.

    8.Our next game is against Milan, the in-form team in Italy. They have conceded just one goal in the last eight games and have lost none since 23rd December. They look like a well-disciplined team and it seems that our European journey is about to be over in Ro16 for the eighth year running.

  • Ola

    “I have serious doubts as to whether any of the top names would come to a club with such a strongly antagonistic media(aided by some “fans) as Arsenal.” Sir i think and i know immediately Wenger walks out the door the problem you stated will work out with him. The hatred some section of our fans have for our Manager is majorly responsible for such strongly antagonistic media.

  • TheBlaster

    Arsene has a place in the pantheon of managerial greats. his impact on football was like the impact of the Golf GTI on cars. A game changer, a mover of goalposts. What do you do five or ten years later when everyone has a hot hatch and some of them are now chucking out 300bhp? You have to adapt and grow. There have been other game changing things that have happened since Arsene came to town, notably detailed analysis. Managers and teams are now able to study in depth on opponents weaknesses and how to exploit them. Of course.. when it comes to match time, it is still down to the players to play their game. The difference is whether they feel they have been fully briefed and prepared, or whether they feel thrown in the deep end. The old school would say that a player should be able to cope with swimming at either end of the pool, but it’s irrelevant. Like asking a modern 20 year old a general knowledge question and not allowing them to use wikipedia, why would you send players out unprepared when their opponents are wearing the right armour. It’s a matter of how you give modern players confidence, and how ever you may bemoan it, this is 2018, not 2001, and you have to operate within the context you surround yourself, not an idealised one from a past era. It’s almost like those people who voted to leave the EU thinking we could wind the clock back a hundred and fifty years to when there was a British Empire. It’s not going to happen. Not ever again.

    Arsenal too often feel like a hoard of Celts faced with a legion of Romans. Times have changed, and so must we.

  • Richard st.Michaels

    Tony, have you wondered why the media loathes Wenger and adores Ferguson?
    I believe the Arsenal board is to blame for the current misfortune being experienced on the pitch.In as much as I love Wenger, he shouldn’t have been offered a new contract.I sense Gazidiz mention of catalyst for change could mean something else.It may sound conspiratorial but Iet’s look at recent events.Mislintat,Raul Sanllehi,Huss Fahmy coming to replace Wenger’s loyalists is a precursor to breaking of Wenger’s grip on the club.
    I might be wrong but all these “power play” is costing us as a club.We are divided from within.What happened to Victoria Concordia Crescit?

  • Josif

    Tony

    “Who on earth would want to come to Arsenal with a support base like ours and the hostile media that we see confronting the club, as it has done for almost a century?”

    Carlo Ancelotti had worked for Juventus for two-and-half years. Given his playing career at AC Milan, he was welcomed with a banner: “A pig cannot manage. Ancelotti, leave!” He didn’t win a single trophy there and lost two tight title races. The players were informed at the half-time of the last league game that Ancelotti had been sacked. One of the biggest flaws at the time? “Ancelotti is too nice with players.”

    He then went to Milan where he had stayed for seven years. He won CL twice and a league once, lost one close title race and one already-won CL Final.

    He was hired by Chelsea in 2009 and won the double in the first season playing exciting football. Next season he finished second after a strong start. He was sacked at the end of the season 2009-10. His Chelsea 2008-09 are still the most prolific side Premier League has ever seen.

    He was then hired by PSG in the middle of 2011-12 but couldn’t win the league in the early oil-rich days. His luck changed in 2012-13 when PSG led by Ibrahimović won the league but his failure to win CL sacked him.

    In 2013-14, he took over at Real Madrid, the sickest environment to be a manager. He won CL in his first season becoming the first manager to win CL three times (joint best record with Bob Paisley if ECC is taken into account). He lost to Juventus in CL semifinals 2014-15 and finished 2nd in La Liga behind Barcelona despite having 8-point lead at some time. He was sacked at the end of the season. If he had looked at what happened with successful managers like Mourinho, Heynckes, Capello, Del Bosque…he’d have never accepted the job.

    After a year of sabbatical, he took over at Bayern aka FC Hollywood in 2016. He won Bundesliga (naturally) but lost to Real Madrid in Champions League QF. He was sacked last November due to poor start in Bundesliga and a 3:0 defeat in Paris.

    So, Tony, yes, there are managers who go into a sick environment and work there knowing that they will be sacked even if they get fantastic results. If it was otherwise, nobody would have taken the hot seat from late Herbert Chapman because of the boo-boys.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    I think the only meaningful way Arsenal can respond back to the knockers who have been knocking them, is to come back to the winning ways which they’ve seemed to jettisoned for quite sometimes now. If Arsenal don’t come back to the winning ways which they are well known for and respected a lot by starting with an away win against AC Milan in the Europa League Cup match on Thursday night and thereafter continue in the winning ways by winning at least 8 out of their remaining 9 matches in the PL and play a draw game with Man U if they can’t beat them. And also win the Europa League Cup too this season. I am afraid if Arsenal continue not to win games as presently is the case with them, the knockers will continue to knock them. And may even knock them harder than they’ve been knocking now. Because, Arsene Wenger who with the past and present big and small success he has made Arsenal to achieved which makes Arsenal to look like the royal king living in the Palace. And we all know that any mis-doings that happens in the king’s Palace will be big news for the general public to consume. And among those consuming the news could be knockers who take delight in knocking and could knock the King.

  • Pat

    Josif

    Yes, but have you an analysis as to why this is happening at Arsenal? And does it include the negativity – with even Sir Peter Hill Wood (a man who probably made plenty of money out of Arsenal one way and another) coming out and knocking Arsene Wenger, the man who made it all for him?

    Frankly, there are so many things that stink in Britain today – this is just one more.

  • Polo

    Josif, I wouldn’t be surprised if the down turn in performance is due to the players wages, some players and their agents might want more money since Ozil, Miki, Laca, Aub, are getting paid highly and the Arsenal Board is refusing to pay and AW has lost significant influence on players wages hence lack in performance. Just my conspiracy theory. I think AW in the past did warn that breaking the club wage structure could cause dressing room problems.

  • blacksheep

    some much needed perspective Tony, thanks. It’s a shame people can only focus on a comparison with United and SAF. In many ways it is false comparison anyway. Fergie threw the kitchen sink at one last hurrah and it paid off, but left MUFC in a parlous state from which they are only just beginning to recover and after spending VAST amounts of money. Liverpool have not achieved the glories of the 70s and 80s and the Tinies are only now closing in on the glories of the 1960s. Their current win rate is their best since 1968. 1968. Did I mention it was 1968?

    I think we need to change direction and that change will be painful. But when every man and his dog is lining up to bash the Arsenal then it behoves our supporters to close ranks and offer a sense of unity to our enemies. Wenger is not the enemy, the players are not the enemy, even the ‘spineless’ board is not the enemy; it is the opposition teams, the media and the PGMOL who are our enemies.

  • Josif

    @Pat

    As Tony usually points out, there is not a simple answer to that.

    For start, our poor away form has been “helped” by the dirty hand of PGMO more than once (Stoke, City, Watford, WBA). Maybe the players don’t feel comfortable when they have to make a trip anymore. If you have to score two goals to get one (Stoke), if your opponents have carte blanche to dive (City, Watford), to score offside goals (City, Watford again), to foul in the box repeatedly (Stoke) or can just hit the player with the ball to get a penalty (WBA), you start every away game with one goal behind.

    That being said, our defending has been quite poor in the last 15 months. There was a moment when the back three new brush helped a bit but it seems it had worn off quite a while ago. Take a look at our defending against Liverpool, Bournemouth, Chelsea (league game at home) or Swansea. It’s like players turn their brains off. Also, Čech has been at fault more than any other player in the league this season (7 goals) but in a lot of games he spared us of a real disaster. That’s something I put down to poor coaching.

    We haven’t solved the midfield issue either and that’s Arsene’s fault, I’m afraid. Xhaka has decent stats but he is way, way, way, way behind quality of players like Petit. Rambo has been injured too many times this season and Wilshere, for all his fan-boys out there… Well, he is a Bournemouth level, I fear. The golden boy from that Barcelona game has never developed due to too many injuries by the butchers across England.

    @Polo

    Thanks for reply, I’ll answer to you later, I promise. 🙂

  • Zedsaunt

    The football hierarchy 2018 –

    1) Referees
    2) TV pundits
    3) Journalists

    Players are bought and sold, coaches are meals to be eaten. Fans are people who can be trampled to death, burnt to death, pushed and prodded into corrals. Fear and anxiety is the background soundtrack to be played upon, the figures of the hierarchy – the referees, the pundits, the journos – fancying themselves as multi-instrumentalists.

    Long and wasted years. I would have more sympathy for the lynch mob if they had done the business of actually translating their grievance against Mr Wenger into, first, a campaign, second, a movement, but that requires work – knocking on doors, writing leaflets, setting up meetings, finding speakers, holding meetings, agreeing an agenda, setting up public meetings, knocking on doors, covering streets and avenues with banners and posters – easier to be a lynch mob, jump when the voice says jump, howl for the noose.

    Nothing more disgusting than seeing a mob trying to get someone sacked.

    A good article Tony.

  • Nitram

    As much as this is a poor season, a season in which I have seen some of the worst performances of Wengers tenure, the derision it has invoked is vastly exaggerated because of the perceived failures of the last 4 years.

    If those years that produced Fa cup, Fa cup, PL runner up, Fa cup, had been given the credit they deserved, then taken in isolation this season would not be seen anything like as catastrophic as it is.

    As has been said many times it’s as if those 3 FA Cups never happened.

  • Minesy

    You know Tony, I read your articles and know there is sanity left in the World … then I read the comments below and realise, just not very much

  • Zedsaunt

    They didn’t happen. Erased. Mr Wenger is a difficult fish to eat because he wins, so get the fish eaten by poisoning the ocean waters – the FA Cup does not matter, Wembley does not matter, then get people parrotting the process and pointing their fingers.

    Somebody posted the other day, with that triumphant certainty that holds reality to be so evidently true, ”The fish is poisoned from the head down.”

    Debasing the Cup is debasing football. Do the hierarchy care – they care now only about their own validity.

  • Blacksheep, Zed, Mine, greeting!

    So let me wade in, because I cannot see a man run to the frontline alone; Tony,

    Carlo is a decent candidate, Martinez better, Henry best.

    Let s add substance to that suggestion, Henry knows exactly Wenger’s vision, he players it, with Pires and probably he could pull in Vieria as number 2, if we could get Bergkamp that would give us, one of the best strikers of all time, his fine artist 10, I watched that goal, its surely one of the best goals ever, I watched it over and over, he see’s the goal before it happens, its poetry.

    It would also give us that visionary, oh Ozil if only Pires can get it into you. Guess you need more from the engine room, to do that.

    It would also give us Captain my Captain, good cop, Henry, bad cop Patrick.

    With Kepwn and Dixonand hopefully Per and Cech. I think staffing would be second to none.

    Pep chose Arteta to pick Wengers brain, cleverness move. One of the best respects a Legend. If he’s so good and City are so wonderful, why does a rival show respect supposed fans cannot?

    A striker knows probably as well how to defend, because he thinks as an attacker.

    As Wenger said, basically Henry shut up!

    I often ave something in store for someone, something thoughtful and positive and don’t tell them, only a hint. That is how you see if they are worthy, when it appears you have overlooked them only to be waiting arms open.

    A surprise party, however of the person gets all doom and gloom and doesn’t speculate, everyone waits hours while they sit alone drinking, mulling over how unloved they are. But the best gifts are worth that risk.

    On conspiracies, I do sincerely see one. Yes negativity sells papers, but if you look at the trends, you see a pattern.

    Osbourne realised the FCA and Treasury and Bank Of England are under scrutiny and suddenly he isn’t by safe. He has changed allegiances, the news reflects it.

    Arsenal are central to the type 1,2 & 3 and removing the manager disgraced would undermine that investigation. I know it because I walk it myself.

    As for the fans, they are by and large not right in the head, wider society by and large is not right in the head.

    I try to help someone, or someone understands I try to help many or myself and they become sabouter.

    Patrick de was mentioned, it isn’t this, the fans are actually trying to destroy their own club.

    I spoke to a girl a night ago, she liked me, so sur talked herself putney of it. A girl offered to pay for my club entry, I didn’t go in, instead talking to her friend true first mentioned. But wen were outside long enough to see her return, more drunk than before when Shen got ejected. An acquaintance hotness her back in, along with a friend of hers. He only did it because she liked me, he aimed to ensure she didn’t talk longer, got drunk and the bond ceased. She ignored him at her exit, looked at me several times, kissed some guy. Entered a stupor and I looked at the friend of hers like, you left your other friend outside, when she came out because you hadn’t to leave and now young watch your other friend go too far.

    I began to sing, I decided to serenade the girl in a stupor, a gaggle Ogbomosho females erupted before me, she looked up and caught the sentiment. She had got everything’s wrong, her friend observed the lyrics and my tweaks to the case urgently situation. Called an Uber amd ot was done.

    One woman was astounded and said I was better than Xfactor, I agreed and she gave me the biggest hug.

    Several guys have me kudos a few tried to do other entertainments after watching the female response.

    Only I, my acquaintance, the friend and the girl knew what I had really done. The lady who hugged me the only person to simply appreciate the talent.

    The young lady in a stupor reminded me of a special young lady I wait for, that is whatnot I took from the interactions. Wait some more!

    The relevance to the fans isn’t that just 2 people of around 30, the security guard a Rasta, lest I omit him. Understood what I sang, they listened.

    The rest were just subject to their mental incapacities. The boy trying to take the near comotose girl home, the acquaintance who put her in danger because he was jealous of two people interaction.

    We are by and large lost, the media, are woven to the gambolling companies, the journalists, the government and the FA, local authority regeneration schemes, countries with resources and political affinities.

    The clamour to save themselves, because I kid young not I sparked something, and I know Wenger did something similar, he had a chat at the start of the season, nobody knows what about.

    I gave many basics to a certain non governmental investigatory department, the UN reached out to me.

    They won’t get rid of Wenger, because the club will he successful, and for that the transition must go smoothly.

    He knows what he lacks, he would give it up gladly, but to whom, the candidates are busy until after summer. So they try hard to harm us

    I stopped watching, because I am an true fan, we will he bludgened, but that is how we will find success.

    When all Ian said and done, ArsenalFanTV will be discredited, what viewership, the blogs and papers also. And the evidence all so clear to see.

    Trump changes tariffs, someone sold weeks before.

    Carrillo on collapse was known in advance, senior staff paid themselves off and left, the minister would have known.

    I said live, Brexit is economically non viable, what I said the theme now.

    Wenger didn’t say what he said lightly, he called him a disgrace, he meant it. He isn’t doing something, he putney the club first, knew he wouldn’t Ben let off, so ensured he gave no opportunity for a lengthening, taking the statutory charge. Because the next games after his ban were more important. They say him amongst the hacks at the bridge, but we won the key battle.

    Two officers say and doctored their statements, the station Ian monitored. How do I know, not think they didn’t this?

    Let the so called fans, shame themselves. They will be hiding soon enough.

    The defence is in need of an overhaul, but as I said, he had to choose.

    Aubameyang doesn’t come up everyday, Alexis needed replacing.

    He was held to randsome over key personnel, no we don’t negotiate with terrorists.

    Granit and Mustarfi need to have a long think, he’s protecting Mo. He protected Hector, because in summer we go shopping. Every one of our better players have been smashed up. Sagna twice RB best 11, break his legs, Jack is taking the piss in midfield, smash his ankle. Mr third man runner you can’t track him is on it, break his legs.

    I know this strategy, you take the hiding, trust yourself and know that it is for something bigger than you.

    We got money, we need will, fight, pace, height, discipline, you don’t but those things. They just exist.

    You pride these away, but ultimately those assets, they move on to bigger and better because their character demands it, it says I have given, unless you are Ryad. But he took the right stance, copied Pierre.

    Xhaka and Mustarfi can Ben benched, it will make them better, but for now he embarrasses them on the field. Same intention different interpretation. Hector, learns the hard way. Sead also.

    Cech has somebody soul searching, looks over to me, but you’d make a great coach.

    You know who I feel for, Koscielny, he gets it, like Wenger he just gives more. He needs a break, but Munich God that is a legend.

    IWIT

    COYG

    For the quad we build, time to go Supernova!

    They are terrified of us!

    Arsene, dust down, again, rip into them and praised the fight of those who show it.

    I see your vision!

  • andy1886

    Tony, it’s easy to come back with the old “who would you replace AW with then, and would they be available/willing?”

    First of all it’s not up to individual fans to do that, we have numerous highly paid employees at the club who’s task that might be. Don’t be surprised to see a related ‘consultancy fee’ levied by one of Stan’s businesses in relation to the search for a new manager.

    Let’s not forget that if asked following the departure of Rioch the same question almost no-one would have suggested Arsene Wenger, and even fewer would have predicted his success (including you I suspect). But it was an inspired choice. Who is to say that some other left-field appointment will not be unveiled and once again prove to be an inspired choice?

  • Max Kerr

    Tony, thank you for this article – one of the best of many bests that I have read on here. The context you provide for today’s anti-Arsenal frenzy gives a useful perspective to the club’s treatment by the media.

    What I cannot swallow, and continue to find incomprehensible, is the attitude of the so-called fans. The goading and sheep-prodding by the media can only go so far in justifying the unjustifiable. Surely a football supporter supports. There is a sense of allegiance and identity. There may be disappointments and criticism, but the balance of emotion must always be to back your club against the rabble-rousers.

    It seems easy enough if you support a team like Northampton Town, where I believe you occasionally go, or York City, where I stood on the terraces in the seventies – or Crystal Palace or Stoke City, where, whatever the score, their crowds seem to get behind the team and provide that elusive twelfth man. These are not meant to be prescriptive, but illustrative of the vast majority of clubs up and down the country. Dare I even mention our noisy neighbours, who have received exemplary support in all these fallow years that Blacksheep highlights?

    There is at Arsenal, a feeling of entitlement. We should win every game we play. We should always play well and attractively. If we get beaten by a team from lower down the league(s), no analysis is permitted of poor refereeing, or indeed the unlucky bounce of the ball – has not Gord repeatedly on here drawn attention to the statistical nuances of chance in a football game. Then there are the unlikely interventions, like Tiote’s screamer for Newcastle, or Martina’s for Southampton, or Kondogbia’s for Monaco, hit-and-hope goals that you can never legislate for, but that change the course of a match. Moreover, the bemoaning Arsenal’s current apparent lack of ……. (fill in as you see fit), is disrespectful of the respective opponents – most recently Brighton, who apparently played rather well.

    As long as this caucus of entitlement obtains, there will always be a lack of perspective or sober judgement. What a shame that your article, which provides both, is not available on any of the back pages of the national dailies, but only to those who elect to follow your writings.

  • yj

    Stan”s StatDna gave us Xhaka and MustafI,2 average players. Arsenal paid him for his services but did we get value for money?Wenger was well known for identifying talent;the recruitment of the few past seasons haven’t been encouraging.There is a need to go back to the drawing board and look at where our recruitment has failed.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    *What apt definitions!!*

    *Intelligence* is like underwear, you should have it but not show it.

    *Stupidity* is like a bra, even with attempts to hide it, it shows up.

    *Ego* is like the bum. You can’t see yours but others can, and you keep noticing only other people’s !!

    Funny but true!

  • jjgsol

    Thank you Tony for your article. It is a shame that what was intended to calm things down appears to have had the opposite effect on some of your correspondents.

    We know from past experience that the club carries out its business in private, so that we generally do not know what is happening until it has happened.

    How many fans had even heard of AW before he was appointed let alone knew that there was a possibility of his coming?

    We have seen that the club does the same the transfers so that we did not hear of many of the really good buys until they were already with us.

    It is for that reason I have a feeling that the purchase of Aub was forced upon AW much against his will, that transaction having been publicised considerably before it happened.

    He is not a player that I expect AW to buy or to fit into his style of play.

    I suspect that certain leading members of the club’s hierarchy decided that something needed to be done and if AW wouldn’t do it voluntarily, then he would be forced to do it.

    I also suspect that AW was unhappy at the departure of Giroud, and possibly even Walcott, but they had to go in order to release funds for the new players’ wages and Ozil’s increase.

    Giroud had consistently shown that he was an important player, even from the substitutes’ bench and we can see now how we are missing them already.

    As we have seen in recent months an internal revolution at the club, it seems to me that the chances are that the new manager has a ready been sought and has agreed to come at the end of the season.

    It has not been publicised so that the players of his current club should not be destabilised by the fact that he is leaving.

    For all we know, some of the players may be aware of this also, which might explain the dip in form of those who might possibly be on their way out.

    It may also be that the signing of Aub was at the behest of the new manager, which is something which we have seen before with the signing of Vierra before AW joined us.

    It could also be one of the reasons why Ozil decided to stay, albeit with a vastly increased salary.

    For AW to leave without his successor effectively in place would be suicide.

    The clamour from the media, the blogs and some of the fans can only have an adverse effect on the players.

    AW must be admired for continuing to shield the players as much as he can and for taking so much of the flak.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    How difficult is it to fathom that the team and the management would teally benefit by support and loyalty , rather than booing and banners?

    I’m just glad that I never will have to meet most of these sniveling morons.

    Keep the faith.
    Up the Gunners !

    And oh ., AW is going nowhere soon . Choke on that !

  • Jerry

    Thanks Tony for another great read, putting things into perspective.

    I also wanted to second Blacksheep’s 10:22 post.

  • Mustarfi started wonderfully well, I question his commitment and concentration.

    Some people thrive under pressure others crumble.

    Granit started atrociously but he was targeted by the media on behalf of the PGMO as justification ignored early cards, red in colour.

    Hi so response petulant. He became the character ascribed to him like a child constantly in trouble at school without just cause. He will grow, on the bench.

    Lacazette lacks no finishing ability, but suddenly can’t finish.

    We haven’t signed badly in years, no you since the idiot who swapped shirts with RVP.

    We signed around key areas, and key players.

    He bought good bodies, who will masively inprove. But the chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Xhaka and Mustarfi have been just that, the pressure. Created by the media.

    The more teams beat us, the less putney confidence, the greater their own and were I applying a case I doubt it would Ben difficult to find scotes of sports psychologists to confirm as much.

    Our identity is paramount, but as Brick (doffs cap) says eat it. He sees out his contract at least.

    We are not done yet. It wasn’t time for Theo and Giroud to go, we could have kept both, buyback to suggest he didn’t accept they had to go isn’t to overlook his use of all the players who left in January, save for Sanchez.

    His advisors advised poorly. But I see Mikhi really hurting, I love it, he cares deeply.

    The play of the forwards isn’t dictated by the rear guard and engine room, jack can’t do it alone and is thinking, am I here next season? If he wanted to leave, he’d have signed a prexontract agreement like Can.

    We need a LB, CB, RB, DM, Creative CM the latter two with two feet and WF both feet preferably.

    I’m not going to say how much we can afford to spend on 6 players and a GK. but I gather some of you have been reading until financial breakdowns.

    I will say we liquidate another £50m, some people aren’t good enough, whether I like them or not.

    That is all downs to poor revenue release, something AW has no choice over.

    IWIT

    The harder the battle the sweeter the victory!

    I set aside ego, am done playing fool, and set myself for attack. Bring it, I’ll still win!

    I don’t run! I just shifted to fight another day, the day isn’t coming and we had no time to build fortifications and armour ourselves and reinforcements will he late.

    Before their was an emporer there was an emporer and he used some deadly tactics, relying on the adversaries interpretation of him and his ability with his men. He could lead them to defeat, they assured they would win and they did.

    You can’t buy this.

  • In other news, the incredibly questionable new format for CL matches will see Liverpool face Unotes with andays peas reat, only due to United for some inexplicable reason playing yet again on a Monday.

    Palace went two up, didn’t watch but my guy says something is fishy with the final result. Coming from 2nd phases of awarded set pieces.

    If Liverpool are held by united and Spurs win as expected, I do believe that they will sway places before the next two games.

    Whilst Chelsea continue to flatter to deceive with little media focus on last years champions incredible decline, let alone questionable player sales, let alone the non manager sanctioned acquisition of Giroud.

    Also anyone suggesting Aub was a panic buy, doesn’t understand for football amd aims to undermine me directly. Classy. I’m rarely wrong! So remember to apologise, humility is a great thing.

    Also, should we win the EL and one of the PL lot win the CL then should Liverpool drop to fourth, my CL qualifiers would be right. And should it happen but Spurs finish fourth then, haha!

    If Arsenal don’t win in Italy Wenger should go, reads the ES and the Metro something similar.

    Koscielny decided to speak, nice!

    Why would he need to go, as it would make no difference to the season close! Oh Wenger on a shopping spree, right! You don’t want that!

    I go on shopping sprees, wifey.gets brand new £1000 dresses I pay £30, £800 for £6 is it a bit worrying!

    Jealousy is such a weak emotion!

  • Also it seems the equally dodgey Haringeu council have approved an increase in Spuds new capacity, which seems a softening leak which translates as we won’t be ready on time!

    Why do Arsenal and the tiny tots have a game missing from their calendars.

    As it stands, Coty can win the league at Spurs and I expect this United and The Spuds may be in for a bit of a hoo ha!

    However seeing as Liverpool are all but qualified as are City. The Qtr final could Ben interesting, Chelsea have work to do, as do United, as do Spurs. But should any or all not qualify, they gain a significant advantage to the games either side of the Qtr final leg dates.

    City could arguably relax against United and Spurs in favour of that clash. Whilst Liverpool have a Derbyshire to consider of their own.

    Should all the teams progress, the advantage would favour Spurs and United still.

    It appears to be something like Leicester playing early for no reason and then being gifted th points which kept momentum which saw them first past the post.

    Anyone got a spare billion for the DUP?!?

    Concerted efforts, almost their Arsene, almost there!

  • Josif

    @Polo

    “Josif, I wouldn’t be surprised if the down turn in performance is due to the players wages, some players and their agents might want more money since Ozil, Miki, Laca, Aub, are getting paid highly and the Arsenal Board is refusing to pay and AW has lost significant influence on players wages hence lack in performance. Just my conspiracy theory. I think AW in the past did warn that breaking the club wage structure could cause dressing room problems.”

    It depends how you look at things. Arsene has proclaimed his socialist theory but as someone who grew up in the socialist theory, it’s true that it didn’t exactly stimulate workers. Why would someone work harder than his team-mate if he knows at the end of the day they will get the same wage? Arsene knows that unless Arsenal follow up the wage demands, we’ll be left way behind not just by money-bags Man United, Man City, Chelsea…but also by Liverpool and Tottenham who also have much younger important players (Salah, Mane, Firmino, Van Dijk; Kane, Alli, Eriksen, Son) than we do.

    IMHO, there is no player in the team that deserves the wage based on his performances.

  • Menace

    DK Law is your field. Lots of verbage spelt wrong. If you were a plant there would be lots of leaves but no fruit – at least when it comes to football.

    Support is the key to a good performance. We support our team & let the super intelligent fly their kites.

    Wenger knows best & Kronke invests better.