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Let’s turn Arsenal into Charlton

The “Wenger must go” chant is rising and rising.  Fortunately not in the stadium, where most supporters seem to have a longer term perspective, but on the internet it is everywhere.

I’ve just been reading the post on Arsenal Action called “Sorry Arsene its time to go”, where the writer gives his reason for this view of the world.

What’s interesting is that the writer has admitted that  he had no interest in football, and then 9 years ago started to support Arsenal.

Nothing wrong with that of course – we need new supporters coming through all the time.   But it is worthy of consideration because I think a lot of commentators on Arsenal (many of whom will not be silver or gold members and so not attend that many matches, with all that that entails) might also have joined during the post-Rioch era.

There’s two key facts here: one is that between the 1950s and the end of the 80s Arsenal were a run of the mill 1st Division club with a great past and occasional moments.   We were nowhere near Liverpool during their endless league winning period, and it was the start of the decline of Liverpool that gave us the chance to come up and start winning under Graham.

The other is that for the early years of Wenger’s reign we had one rival club rather than three, and obviously since then the world has changed.  (I’d also add that those three consecutive years when we came second were years in which some people were getting itchy – but the memory of what it was like under Rioch kept them in the fold).

My point is that we don’t have an automatic right to be Euro Champions nor to be top of the league. But it we want to be there, we have only three ways of doing it: one is to buy the best player in every position, one is to bring in the best manager in the universe, and one is to bring through some of the greatest young players available.

Given that Arsenal look very unlikely to risk everything by going into unrepayable debt, fighting on the financial front is not an option.   Which leaves the manager change, or continue as now.

What is interesting about the manager change option is that few if any of the articles on manager change tell us who to bring in.  All the great managers are in work, and few are looking for a new job.  Real Madrid who are not afraid to scout the world for a new man searched high and low and then brought in the manager of…

Tottenham Hotspur.

Is that our way forward – to take on the Tiny Totts cast off?  If not, then who?  Even KGB Fulham with their infinite finance and the Special One (who to be fair, is a stunningly brilliant manager where ever he goes – just look what he did at Porto) could not guarantee winning everything each year.   They seem to have found another great manager (at least temporarily) but he too can’t put the KGB in the Euro Final, and his team is fighting it out with us for 4th or 3rd.

So, if we can’t find a proven brilliant manager, let’s just say, Arsene has taken us as far as he can go, and let’s shunt him out and go searching.  In short let’s do a Charlton, throw out a terrific manager (I know the club didn’t do that, but many of the fans were reacting just as our fans are reacting now) and gradually sink back to our 1960s level.

There is another way however.  The whole point about Liverpool Insolvents, Man Bankrupt and KGB Fulham is that their position is not sustainable, and collapse will come soon.   West Iceland have already gone – their owner now has personal debts of over £300m and the club is being taken over by a bank.   84 clubs have gone into liquidation in the last 10 years – some several times over.   And don’t think that just means Stockport County.   Remember Leeds?  Of course if you have started following football recently you won’t know about the 1970s – Leeds and Arsenal were top dogs for a few years.

Great clubs can and do fall.  Nottingham Forest anyone?   Remember Bolton, Portsmouth and Wolverhampton Wanderers in the fourth division?  Not tip top clubs, but clubs that expect to be lurking around the top league – and I watched them play against Torquay United (where my parents lived at the time).

Yes, we can sack Wenger, or (more likely) make such a noise that he will leave, but then what?  There is no more guarantee of success without him, and there is every chance of failure.

One last point on players.  It is now once again flavour of the month to attack Denilson and Diaby.  Song, who was in the position of “he should never play for Arsenal again” is now in favour.   Denilson who was “light weight” went on to become indispensible, the player who touched the ball more than any other player in the league, the player who made more intercepts… and is now in disgrace again.   Diaby, after being the ultimate genius of the club in Turkey, should be sold at once.

Whatever happened, I wonder, to a sense of perspective, a sense of time, a sense that the urgency of the nursery is not always the best thing when running a football club?

Hey ho – so it goes.   One last point.   The Guardian is running a story about “anti-football”.   I love that, because I think I invented that phrase.  Of course someone may have got there before me, but I don’t think so.   Nice to see my influence spread.

(Head grows, unable to get through door, fire brigade called, building taken down, hospital alerted…)

(c) Tony Attwood, 2009.

22 comments to Let’s turn Arsenal into Charlton

  • keith

    Good write up
    I love the way we play football without buying overpriced superstars
    Chelsea also will win nothing this season and how much has there team cost?

  • Oracle

    Good article…apart from the end bit about u inventing ‘anti football’ that’s a little bit silly..lol

    As for Wenger he’s a fantastic manager and with the correct tools (players at his disposal) he IS the best. We still hold the record for most unbeaten games, neither Man u or Chelsea at their prime has beaten it.
    The problem Wenger has is he views himself first and foremost as an employee of the club. Often he has said this. What this means is he believes his job is not simply winning trophies he has a broader view. He wants to improve the youth system, play beautiful football, abide by certain principles and of course he wants to make the club and its board richer. He has often said that football is a business and clubs who spend outside their profit are in a way cheating. This outlook is not shared by Mourinho, Ferguson etc their primary concern is winning silverware and they don’t give a monkeys about how much money they spend to get it. In effect Wenger is handicapped by his own perspective. He wants to be the PERFECT manager. This is idealism taken to extremes and it manifests itself in him paying peanuts for young players building them up and then selling them on for millions. I think sometimes as great as he is the man has lost touch with reality, some of the tactical choices he makes in games and line ups for games come from his heart and not always his head. I hope he comes back down to earth because if he does and fixes up..he IS one hell of a good manager.

  • ROB

    Great article. I even read somewhere that Steve Bould should take over. There are few great managers out there yet we have one and we are all but opening the door and kicking him out.
    I do think he has made mistakes this year (Arshavin not playing in the semi final FA cup) but we got to two semi finals and finish in a CL spot again. Would Curbishly have done that?

  • ris

    excellent post but i think you take it for granted that the other big clubs spending is unsustainable. Big clubs will now simply attract various investors and so may not implode as many think (hope) they will. The key talking points for arsenals future do not lie in discussions over wenger who will stay at least a few more years even if we win nothing, but in the current and ongoing boardroom battle, the sooner it gets resolved the better then arsenal can start to have proper stability and vision of the future. This is what will decide arsenals future and is being completely overlooked. I wish i read blogs on this rather than the moaning about wenger who as u say is simply not replaceable at the moment

  • mansfield

    spot on post. being a new gunner, finishing my 5th season wenger is the only manager i know, however that does not excuse myself or any other supporter from learning about the history of our club. The majority of post i read on the net are so knee-jerk reactionary as to be almost laughable. you will read things like, ” sack wenger, sell everybody, buy megastars, and we don’t have enough depth” all in the same post. I agree with your post, sell wenger and bring in who exactly? while buying megastars does provide results, it does not really provide long term stability as every few years you are having to buy new megastars. selling some of our younger players does not help us build sustainability nor reach our quota of academy trained, much less English, contingent that I feel we will have to field sooner rather than later. I think that some variation of a 6+5 rule will come into effect in the next 5 years or so and Arsenal is preparing for that with our super successful academy program. anyway it is time for work but i wanted to end with my opinion that while no trophy will be added to the cabinet this year I still see this season as an overall success. 4th in the league, semi’s of the FAC and CL is a season that any team outside of the big four would kill to have. I do not believe that we should say this where we want to stay, but the potential is there in the team and we need to support our club and players. I believe that great things will come from this team. youth demands patience and support, lets give them both.
    vcc.

    p.s. I have come across the pond to see one game live. last season’s 2-1 north
    London derby at the grove where bendy came on and scored the fasted goal in epl history. i will always remember that and the pub i went to afterwards.

  • NYmarcus

    um, sorry, Tony, been watching football for over 40 years (mostly in South America, only started watching European football regularly in the early 90s) and “anti-football” is a term I’ve heard at least since around 1991-93 in reference to catenaccio.

  • Terence McGovern

    I wouldn’t pay too much attention to the guy from Arsenal Action. Having visited his site a couple of times, you can only be struck by his constant negativity. His malaise is such that he is almost disappointed when we win and usually tries to find fault with the win.
    He has a certain inbred quality from the way he views things to the general structure of his site. It’s a sort of Tenemant slum to your Georgian Manor Tony.

    Still, he is light years ahead of that guy who has these really dodgy podcasts that last about 3 minutes and consist of him drunkenly crying into an Argos catalog microphone (672/2232 £4.99) interspersed with torrents of abuse at all concerned when we lose. He chooses not to broadcast when we win.

    I will never understand how anybody who doesn’t truly love their club (warts ‘n’ all) chooses to have a blog about them.

    Every club below us in the football league would love to have what we have.
    Liverpool would love our new Stadium and our Premiership trophies(presumably having a new ground where the seats don’t get stolen would be a big plus to Liverpool)

    Roman Abrahmovic would swap Chelsea and his left testicle to own Arsenal.

    Man Utd have all the trophies and are in the CL final but really
    Ebineezer Glazier must look at the Arsenal annual figures every year and sigh thinking …..if only.

    Hang in there folks. Our finest hour will come yet.

  • Oh wow. Georgian Manor. I’ve just told Anne, who handles IT for the company and who helped set up this blog, and she’s still grinning.

    And NYMarcus, ok if I can’t lay claim to anti-football, then I will claim to have invented the phrase “rotational fouling”

    Tony

  • Dave

    I’ve been an Arse fan for 42 years and this is the lowest because the propaganda spews like Nazis. We’re rubbish because we have made no finals and not come 2nd for years. Our players are hanging on but the top 3 are light years away. Blame the maanger coz he had the money to buy strong, tall, talented players and he’s bought a load of pansies.

  • lifelong arsenal fan

    Fans are just angry and as such need to blame someone – so they blame wenger or denilson or song or anyone who didn’t make an impression on them (besides the critique on denilson this season has been appalling). You are right. We need to keep Wenger at the helm for as long as possible. I am proud to support this great club and the football it plays. I also wonder how the game against manu would’ve gone had that lucky first goal not gone in.

    We need to keep supporting the club, the manager and the players in its highs AND its lows. I baffles me that certain ‘fans’ just dont see the quality that is evidently there. Anyway props to the article – i believe the time we have waited for success (besides the beautiful game of football we play) will pay itself out very very soon.

    I would rather we win things playing legendary attacking football on our own strengths rather than winning trophies playing defensive ‘effective’ football.

  • stuartlondon

    Good to have a balanced and realistic view, both of what Wenger has achieved and the future options for the club. I think we all felt incredible disappointment after Tuesday’s defeat, but it seems self evident that the manager and the players need the loyalty and support of the fans, to help them respond to our situation in a positive and determined manner. Patience, determination, and optimism are extremely useful qualities, both in players, managers, and in supporters. See you on Sunday at the Chelsea game.

  • ggs

    @Tony,

    “One last point on players. It is now once again flavour of the month to attack Denilson and Diaby. Song, who was in the position of “he should never play for Arsenal again” is now in favour. Denilson who was “light weight” went on to become indispensible, the player who touched the ball more than any other player in the league, the player who made more intercepts… and is now in disgrace again. Diaby, after being the ultimate genius of the club in Turkey, should be sold at once.”

    I’m so sad that so many so-called Arsenal “fans” don’t see what Denilson has done for us this season, but always having a sharpest knife out on him as if all our “underachievement” is down to him. Hope he never wastes his time reading arsenal blogs, but this one, as I feel he’d feel encouraged to perform even better and get closer to realise his great potential next season once reading your posts that always support him 🙂

  • Eddy

    It was disheartening to watch that game. None of us expected a result like this. I am sure most if not all of the Arsenal supporters were shocked and didn’t know how to response to it. Nevertheless, I watched the entire game with the believe that we will fight again tomorrow even we were outplayed that night. It is true that MU were the better team in both legs but the first 8 mins of the second game we showed heart and determination to win it. If the ball deflected had gone in, or Gibbs didn’t slide, the game could have gone a different route. Of course, that’s all IFs …

    But a true Arsenal fan should stand behind the team on its highs and lows. Finger pointing is always easy.

    Honestly, I think this defeat will turn into a wake up call to Arsene as well to the board. Last year when we were winning things, no one was saying we weren’t good enough even when the team was very young until after the draw at Birmingham.

    Look at Chelsea, they have all the money, but they also failed to get to the final this year. What about AC Milan, Real Madrid, Inter, etc. etc.

    Come on, let’s be real! Chelsea was the better team last night and the game before, but Lady Luck chose Barca instead!

    Let’s be hopefully and if you are a true Arsenal fan, be supportive to your team and one can choose to walk away and support some other teams so as they wished!

  • Consolsbob

    Terence, your comments are consistently of an exceptional standard. Please accept this virtual award of ‘Great Arsenal Supporter’.

    Keep it up my fellow Gunner.

  • Ateeb

    Terence,

    “Roman Abrahmovic would swap Chelsea and his left testicle to own Arsenal.”

    And after last night he might put the right one on the table as well. haha. Good post.

  • wc

    Finally!!!! The wisdom of the ages comes to the forefront. I’ve been preaching all over the blogs and chewing out commentors who call for Arsene’s head. I boldly ask them to name a manager available who can do better than Wenger. Instead they spew random top managers, all who have mllion dollar contracts and tied down to a club or country. There is quite literally no one available who could replace Wenger and do what he has to do. The common names? Mourinho, Rikjaard, Van Basten, Moyes, O’ Neill, Hiddink. When those managers see that they don’t have some 50M pound transfer kitty to work with they’d cry at nights in the fetal position. Name me a squad that costs as much as Arsenal who can compete for top four positions every season and semi-finals of 2 of the best cup competitions in football. Perhaps the closest that is off the top of my head is Villareal but they’ve literally won nothing in their history and they may not even see CL football next season. I’m frustrated at the lack of trophies over the past 4 years and Wenger has made fundamental mistakes but what manager doesn’t? I respect his policy but am also critical that he’s a bit more stubborn than he needs to be. He’s shown with Arshavin that he can spend like anyone else for the right player so we have some money, just not as much as everyone thinks we do. Nevertheless, I have to trust Wenger to do what is necessary because with the stadium and apartments debts on our books we need to operate without going into administration.

  • Comicaevil

    Mr Attwood, reading your article has been a breath of fresh air to me,
    What With all the negatives i’ve read after our defeat.

    Arsenal, Arsenal! …
    Till Death Do Us Part! …

  • pig

    while i whole-heartedly agree with every point youve made, you have chosen a fairly soft target.

    its obvious the bloke’s an eejit.

    in his follow up post on arsenalaction he admits to watching his first ever fooball match 8 years ago and he has supported arsenal ever since.

    of course he is pissed off, he doesnt know any other way.

  • Terence McGovern

    I’d like to ‘virtually’ thank everybody who made this moment possible!

    Cheers BoB! 😉

  • steww

    Well said sirs. Rational, intelligent, non sensational blogging. Top drawer post and responses.

  • nno

    i invented anti football havin to watch chelsea on sky not u. im spaticus to

  • Delv

    Well said tony, wenger has done a lot for arsenal. We fans just need to have patience. If he’s not such a good manager, why is madrid and bayern looking for him? abramovich tried the arsenal scouting style which means he loves us. up arsenal! am an arsenal am an am an arsenal.