- Do Arsenal really let great players slip through their fingers to shine elsewhere?
- What football clubs often completely lack is any understanding of supporters
The return of the Anti-Arsenal Arsenal
By Tony Attwood
On 13 December 2020 the league table showed Arsenal in 15th. Below them two clubs had games in hand – Brighton and Burnley. If they won their games in hand Arsenal would sink to 17th – one place above relegation. The website CaughtOffisde ran the headline, “Arsenal manager now odds-on favourite to be next Prem boss axed.” And, “the inexperienced Spanish tactician 4/5 to be the next to get the chop.” And, “Arsenal’s big risk when they appointed Arteta has not paid off.”
Although maybe it should have read “Caught Offside’s inexperienced copywriter led up the path”.
But, as ever, when it comes to the next high-cost transfer “disaster” as it is portrayed everyone wants to join in.
Gary Neville for example said, “You think of the Arsene Wenger era at Arsenal and they had lots of creative players, At times, you almost said there were too many. But they haven’t got enough now, they haven’t got anyone on the ball who’s gonna find that pass.”
All those people knowing exactly what was wrong! And yet all the time it was them that was totally out of touch with reality! But as we know the media made much of sinking to 15th in the league, but nothing at all of Arsenal being the second-best team in the league in the remaining two-thirds of the season. Yet for those games the table read… How could everyone have got it so wrong????
|4||West Ham United||24||13||5||6||41||28||13||44|
But did they learn a lesson? No of course not. This is the media!!!
In fact what happened was Arteta realised that while Arsenal got an average of 1.24 cards per game in that season, four of the five referees who oversaw Arsenal games the most were referees who awarded above-average yellow cards against Arsenal.
So Arsenal’s management decided to stop having fouls given against them all the time, since it harmed the flow of their game, and did this by cutting the number of tackles. In the final two-thirds of the season, we saw tackles down by 22%, fouls down by 18% and yellow cards down by 45%.
Thierry Henry mocked by media
Now let’s try another view. In his early days at Arsenal Thierry Henry was mocked by the media and some fans: derided, laughed at was described by some “the French Perry Groves”. He didn’t score a goal in his first two months.
Or let’s try another.
Dennis Bergkamp, too, was criticised for not being able to score in his first seven games for the club. And here’s another twist in the tale: lots of websites and papers now take a high-minded position noting that other media started to call Dennis Bergkamp “Hartle-Fool” for not scoring against Hartlepool United in the League Cup.
Except if you go back and try and find the paper that did write that, it is very difficult. In fact, I’ve not been able to find it, and it is curious that not one of the reports that mention “Hartle-Fool” actually note the source of the comment. Surely it couldn’t be that no one ever wrote that, and in fact all these people writing retrospectives are just trying to make themselves look good but in fact are quoting something that doesn’t exist.
And now they are playing the same old media game. Lash out at a player who is taking his time to fit into his new role, and then suggest other media always do that, while making details up. Another story in the bag.
In fact Havertz is on exactly the right course – if exactly the right course is that which Henry and Bergkamp followed. He’s playing a lot, he’s trying out everything he can do in this new environment. He’s getting endless criticism from some fans and from the media.
All those of us with any historical context can do is let the alleged fans with zero information about either history or statistics suggest it is time for him to be dropped, make sure Havertz himself knows that the media and a fair chunk of the attendees at Arsenal matches always call for players to be dropped, and let him play through it.
The media love this of course. No research, no work, just stoke up the story the morons develop and then when it turns out the player is brilliant after all, just quietly forget the furore caused and go and pick on someone else. Meanwhile, knock Arsenal.
In fact the whole campaign has all the hallmarks of the return of that subdivision of the AAA – the Anti-Arsenal-Arsenal – and the RNJ – the Raging Negatvie Judgementalists. Aided by their media friends they all lack any real belief in themselves and so try to bolster their self-image by criticizing others.
They didn’t have an effect when Rioch signed Bergkamp, and when Wenger signed Henry, and there is every reason to think they will fail with Arteta signing Havertz. And maybe this one won’t last. Take a look at Kai Havertz faced claims that his performance against Crystal Palace in Arsenal’s 1-0 win in south London was ‘non-existent’ but rewatching the match these accusations are proven untrue.
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