Why so pro-Wenger and why the blind support for project youth?

Thursday 10 December and everyone else is probably talking about last night’s brilliant performance by the under 10s in Greece.   So, what with this being UNTOLD ARSENAL and all, I thought I would attack the issue from another angle.

The headline above was a question raised by a writer in our correspondence column, and I thought it worth a proper full reply.

I also want to be 100% fair here.  The writer actually said,

1) Why are you so pro wenger and

2) Why the seemingly blind support for project youth.

I chopped that a bit for the headline, because headlines can get a bit out of control on some sites if they are too long.

So why am I so pro-Wenger (and by implication, why have a site that is totally pro-Wenger?)

I’ve watched Arsenal since my father took me to Highbury in 1957.  We lived in Tottenham and at that time (as possibly now) the streets of the area were mixed between Arsenal and Tottenham supporters.  Being an Arsenal family in Tottenham was not the slightest bit unusual.

Having watched the team over many years, and had a season ticket in the two George Graham championship years, I know that what I have witnessed in the past 500 games is not just better than anything before, it is light years ahead of everything we had before.

Two things arise from this introductory point.  First, my late father was watching Arsenal when Chapman was there, and he told me stories of the 1930s, the Golden Age before my generation.

All I got was to stand through all those years without a trophy (17 years was it – I can’t be bothered to look it up) and wondered what it was like to win something, or to be taken seriously by the media.

Second, when Wenger arrived he was utterly unknown, and not thought to be of any use.  We had had a terrible year under Rioch.  I know opinion is divided here but to me everything felt wrong with the club at the time.  The back four were solid, and Bergkamp was starting to shine, but there was no flair.   Ian Wright was playing on the wing and asked for a transfer, and we scraped into the UEFA Cup on the last day of the season.

After the success of the Graham era it was fairly awful.

When Wenger was announced Tony Adams said, “what does he know about English football?  He’s French,” and that was the attitude of the day.  English football is different from the rest of football, and you can only know it by being English.

This self-centred vision was central to English football at the time, and we still come across it today (“you won’t win the league without a spine of English players”).  England (the national team) use to bring in a big strong centre forward because the story was that funny foreigners couldn’t stand having a big Englishman running at them.

So I was there, in the North Bank with my dear mate Roger, (the guy to whom “Making the Arsenal” is dedicated), watching our most successful manager ever (Pat Rice, who took over while Wenger was still in Japan, and ended his tenure of four or five games unbeaten), and onto the pitch came Patrick Vieira.  My mouth fell open, and I said to Roger, “look at that Vieira – he’s just taken over the whole centre of the pitch.  He’s running the whole game…”

Now I should point out, as Roger often did, that my ability to pick good players at first sight is limited.    My comments about Henry not being any good as a centre forward during his second match for us came back to haunt me again, and again, and again, and again…

But the fact is that from the start Wenger was a revolution.  On the pitch it was utterly wonderful, and we began to see a totally different approach to football.   And then we started winning stuff.   Not just stuff we had won before, but impossible stuff too, like going a whole season unbeaten, like 49 unbeaten…

It is easy to forget but an unbeaten season was considered impossible.  All the history books commented on Preston’s achievement in the 1888/9 season but pointed out they only had 22 games to play, and only two competitions to play in.  Wenger gave us the impossible, and played the greatest ever football.

So emotionally I had, some years after my father’s demise, entered his world.  And football is about nothing if it is not about emotion.

But there was more to come, because Wenger was obviously instrumental in taking us to the Emirates, and at the same time he took world-wide scouting to another level.

We started seeing players that no one had ever heard of, and who two or three years later were players who had come on so far that had we wanted to buy them, we couldn’t have afforded them.   Patrick Vieira cost £3.5 million – and two years later was worth… well, make up a number.

Then along came Chelsea, and Manchester United were taken over, and I realised we had entered an insane world.   I remember writing several articles at the time (long before I started this blog) saying, there are three models for big clubs…

a) Chelsea’s approach – find a rich backer. The dangers are he might leave, he might turn out to be a crook (cf Manchester City’s first attempt) he might not have the money after all (Portsmouth) he might get bored, he might get arrested, he might get shot…

b) Manchester United’s approach. The danger here is that this only works if there is another buyer at the end of the tunnel.  If there isn’t the whole pack of cards comes tumbling down.  I expressed my doubts about there being enough people who wanted to buy into this game, for this sort of money.  The notion put forward that growth is based on growing marketing just doesn’t add up to me.

c) Arsenal’s approach based on world-wide scouting for the very best talent – both the relatively unknown mature player (Freddie to Vermaelen) and the youngster with possibilities (Ramsey, Cesc, Theo).  What I also hoped and what we eventually got was that young players could come together in our youngest teams and push their way up through – and that is what we have seen in the last two years.   The double winning youth team of last year mostly came together aged 11.

Now my point was, and remains, that these are the only three models that can possibly work to generate a successful club at the moment.   The problem with a) is it is all dependent on one person’s fantasy world.  The problem with b) is that it is a huge gamble on finding another buyer at the right time.  The problem with c) is that you might not get victories all the time.

But c) gives us other benefits – a club that will survive no matter what.  If Wenger left tomorrow, and we got a manager only half as good, we would survive, because our debt is manageable.

This stability is what I admire, and it is not there in the other models.

Liverpool have severe troubles because they have tried model b) and run out of money.  Manchester City are proving that model a) does not automatically work.

And – and this is my biggest point – I don’t know anyone else who is “doing an Arsenal”.  I have heard of several chairmen say that this is what they will do, but they haven’t, because they haven’t understood the nuances.

Doing an Arsenal, means having the scouts in place.  It means having Gilles Grimandi touring France every day, until he finds Clichy.  It means having someone in Spain who can find Merida and Fabregas.  It means having a man in Mexico to watch Vela who is not only on the spot but who also knows what he is looking at – spotting talent before others.

So our model of bringing through youngsters might not bring us trophies each year, but I am certain that within five years Manchester United and Liverpool will have slipped down the rankings.  Not as far as Leeds perhaps, but down out of the top four on a regular basis.  Liverpool’s demise could well have started.

I think that we are on the edge of a new golden age – because of our financial model and our youth policy, and that is all down to Wenger.

In short we get glorious football, some league wins, a club with managed finances, and a sustainable future with a new stadium, and no worries that the owners might run out of cash or bugger off.  Not a bad deal.

(c) Tony Attwood 2009

55 Replies to “Why so pro-Wenger and why the blind support for project youth?”

  1. Excellent article, Tony. All the reasons you mentioned applies to me as well..

    The reason I started following Arsenal was DB10. He was everything I ever wanted in a football: creativity, link-up, strikes and movement. I especially loved his performances for Holland in the WC’98. Back then in India, we only got the odd replays of the world cup and nothing of the Premier League. The following year when we got the cable tv, they started showing highlights of Premier League and as I was a big follower of football since my school days(football was my first love!!), I used to watch them and saw that Bergkamp played for Arsenal. I started ‘following’ Arsenal and Arsenal became my favorite team. I didnt know much about the manager then but Arsenal showed why I love my Arsenal. Watching Arsenal play(even now not just the victories but even the draws and defeats) brought the ’emotions’ I’d when I used to play myself. I used to jump around the TV room when we used to score and win, feel sad (and sometimes cry ) when we lost. Arsenal made me feel like I was a player myself.

    Slowly I started to read about the club, the history, Arsene Wenger and the players. The oddest thing I noticed back then was how our club and our manager’s first name had the same letters!! Back then I had the feeling that this was a match made in Heaven and I can now say that I was RIGHT!! The Double in 2001-02 and the unbeaten season along with 49 matches unbeaten made me over ‘Cloud 11′(If there was one). Every single player who wore the red and white of Arsenal became my hero.

    During that time, Chelsea started their new life under Roman and my like for Chelsea went down the drain. I liked the way Chelsea played under Ranieri with Zola. I was always against giving lot of importance to money in Sports. This is the main reason why I lost interest in Cricket. But the declaration for Arsene and the board of Arsenal about not going for that model and the move to Emirates along with ‘Project Youth’ made me full member of AKB or a pro-wenger follower. Even though we havent won any trophy for the last few seasons, this “Project Youth” brings my childhood back in me and I still feel like a school kid when I watch Arsenal play. I’m sure this team will win a trophy soon. That day will be one of the best day of my life..

    Sorry for the long comment. The article made me write this. It brought all the emotions on why I follow Arsenal.. Thanks Tony..

  2. I can find myself in most of the article Tony wrote. Not everything because Tony has followed the Arsenal much longer and much closer then I did and could.
    But with the things he said about the way we follow, The Arsenal way, he is spot on and gives my thoughts also.
    So in fact it was a good thing that the person asked the question and it was a good thing that Tony pointed out what he, and many other regulars over here, think about Arsenal and Wenger and project youth and the financial situation.

    May I add just a little bit more to one of the reasons why I am patient about ‘project youth’. It lies in our history. When Chapman came to Arsenal he didn’t win straight away. We won an Fa cup but then had to wait another few years before our first league title.
    So Chapman when he came he began to build on a new squad. He was also a man with vision, just like Wenger, and he worked for what he believed was the rigth way. So it took Arsenal 5 years before Chapman won his first title. Wenger had to build a new team, with little money and after the unbeaten season he had to start building again. Players left because of age or because of wanted more money then reasenable and so I knew we needed some patience.
    So Arsene has build a young team that can dominate football during some 10 seasons and it costed almost nothing. We will win and we will win by playing the best football in the EPL aswell.

  3. i too was brung up in tottenham.i was the only arsenal supporter in my class at junior school.i was 13 when the great spurs team(yes they were great) won the double.then it was george eastham and joe baker and even if we didn’t win much i loved watching them play especially george eastham.
    the double..charlie george
    the good george graham years
    and then wenger and football i never dreamed i’d see arsenal play
    i forgot to mention liam
    i couldn’t have hoped for more from my arsenal and wenger is the cream on top of the cake as far as i’m concerned
    and yes i do have the prettiest wife at home!

  4. On a less grandiose scale, and using mainly British talent, Sean O’Driscoll at Doncaster is doing exactly the same thing and has been doing so for the last 10 years (mostly at Bournemouth). Amazingly, they play liike Arsenal and teams have to counter them in exactly the same way as do Sunderland, Stoke and Hull– or they get passed to death. Sean sees potential (in Donny’s case very cheap potential) and nurtures it. They have to sell to survive but have no debts and a sustainable model. But the most gratifying thing of all is the beautiful football- proper football and fearless football that both teams play. How lucky are Arsenal and Donny supporters to see the the ‘beautiful game’ instead of the headless chicken, too much power, too little skill stuff or worse- the hoofball kick and rush of most of the other teams. So lucky. You can’t put a price on it.

  5. Donnyfan1, nice comment about Doncaster….
    …..but how will they cope against Northern teams in the depth of winter!

  6. I agree with lot of things you said. However, the new stadium has generated over one billion pounds ( 300 million + turnover every year and advance season tickets for this season )revenue. I do not want my club to go and spend like other rich clubs,because we don’t need to. We have got a very good team. However, with little bit more spending we could have won few trophies at the new stadium. Shay Given, Hagleland and Melo could have made us almost unbeatable. That is not asking too much. We are paying full prices to watch carling cup kids playing for us every week. If club wants to go down this road then I do not have a problem with it, however, charge us the carling cup prices then.

  7. as like indiangooner i too started watching football and supported arsenal due to dennis bergkamp

  8. Great article Tony and fitting on a day where there are mumblings of Portsmouth’s nearing administration and where Notts County’s “”””owner”””” Munto Finance have put the club on the market.

  9. Mingus last year arsenal have a bad spell at the start of the season and near the end.none at he winter.Or best run was in the middle of the “freezing winter” so please shut up.It s a myth that arsenal struggle north in the middle of winter.

  10. being in love with a football club does not only applied why it is winning.

    And how am I so grateful that even when we re not winning a trophy we are still winning as a club.

    Thanks Tony for putting it in perspectives for us…

    PS: coming from the “crook”‘s, of mancity, country, I can confirm that the guy is definitely the biggest crook and traitor to our country in the history….talking about how they accept that kind of thing at mancity, they must’ve been desperate.

  11. Tony – Beautiful comments. I have supported Arsenal since 1976 and my father and grandfather came before me. Anyone who asks “why are you so pro-Wenger?” is either a) under the age of 25 and therefore unable to remember what came before AW or b) an idiot.

    On other message boards I have seen Chelsea fans say things like “how can Arsenal fans expect success with their financial model?” as if Arsenal somehow run a strange model. That always makes me laugh. The Arsenal model is absolutely the best way to run a football club. Look at Chelsea’s constant comments of “we will break even in 2010, oops, maybe not, we will break even in 2014 now, definately, sure we will, really Mr Abramovich we really will, now can we have 50million more please because otherwise we are bankrupt and would fold as a football club”. How can anyone honestly feel that is the best way to run a business?

    Like any other manager, AW has his faults. But until something happens that suggests he can no longer build and run a successful football club (and finishing behind Chelsea and Utd, two clubs who are close to insolvent due to their over-spending) is NOT evidence of that) I see absolutely no reason to find any reason to stop supporting him.

    Besides, seeing young players coming through the system is by far the most exciting thing for a fan to see, in some ways even more exciting then winning trophies, unless of course trophies are won by young players that have come through the system.

  12. Tony, you’ve done it again. I came too damn close to breaking the dam as I read this piece. Talking about Arsenal, especially under Wenger, is a very emotional subject for me. Three times in the very immediate past I tried to write an article on a similar topic “Why I love Arsene’s Arsenal!” Each time I never got past the first paragraph, never even finished the first paragraph in the first two attempts.

    I once became so emotional trying to explain to my son the positives in a game that we lost that we both had tears in our eyes. Not because Arsenal lost, but because they played football the way it was meant to be played, lost with glorius dignity and still managed a smile or 2. Both my wife and my son’s wife had to remind us that they support Arsenal too but are not in tears; Why should we be. That’s how emotional we get in my household about Arsenal.

    I remember my first attempt at blogosphere. When I was called an AKB on ‘Le Anti-Support Groove’, I felt honoured and promptly posted to name them ‘IKB (I Know Better) Armchair Wanabe-managers’.

    Your piece captures my thoughts as only you could. Though I have not followed Arsenal as long as you, I was there all through the “boring, boring Arsenal” and the “1 – 0 to the Arsenal” years.

    Thank you for eloquently mirroring your thoughts on this blog page.

  13. Tony, I stumbled on your site and totally endorse your views.

    I started watching Arsenal in 1977 the first game being Graham Rix’s debut, scoring with his first touch. Won 3 nil scoring them all in the first 8 mins and I was hooked!

    There are many young supporters who simply don’t understand the difficult times that there were during the Don Howe, Terry Neil era as well as the latter Graham years where the football on show was truly terrible.

    We are lucky to watch the flowing football we are served up at the Emirates and whilst I still think he needs to add steel to the midfield he knows that this is an issue given that he brought in Vieira/Petit/Edu/Gilberto as power players; he will I am sure get it right.

    The alternate of him going is unpalatable as we will surely turn into a mid table team without him.

  14. Like Paul C said I think a lot of the doom and gloom brigade are under 25 and have been spoilt by the succes from the Wenger era. I have known long periods without tropy so I know it is part of being a fan. But I must say that this period of waiting is the best period of waiting I have gone through.
    But I can see the opposite with one of my sons who just turned 18 and supports the Arsenal since the CL final year. He is desperate, or more desperate for succes then I as he has not won anything in the years that he supports Arsenal.
    So he sees the history line and is waiting for himself to celebrate a trophy. And if we can remember our younger days… impatience is a characteristic of youth…

  15. The problem at the Arsenal is that Wenger’s success allows room for people to moan and snipe.

    Judging by the amounts we’ve spent on the playing squad, and actually did have to spend, we should be very firmly mid-table.

    People forget that Arsenal’s rivals have spent close to £1B on players in the last 4 years since we last won a trophy.

    Yet, we’ve in 2 different seasons, almost won the Champions League and almost won the Premier League, the two hardest competitions to win.

    We have simply been behind in squad development in comparison to the competition.

    Look, criticism of Wenger is for not going the Chelsea route… and spending money Arsenal did not have.

    There’s this extremely stupid person at the Online Gooner, who wrote an Arsenal book and keeps declaring how Arsenal must “speculate to accumulate”. All while writing made up predictions of immense doom about Arsenal’s finances.

    It had stopped making sense. It had become lunacy. This guy was telling the world how skint Arsenal was, while charging the club to spend big.

    But that is the crazy world of football.

    Listen to every phone-in show in the country. There will be a fan lamenting the poor form of his team, there will be some self-appointed wise man (idiot pundit) saying how the club had to “spend some money” AND “bring in new players”. No matter how poor, or debt-laden the clubs are.

    We’ve become a country of retarded children (football fans) where football is concerned. People just can’t be sensible anymore.

    Criticisms of Arsene Wenger and Arsenal’s youth policy do not make sense. They try to make two completely irreconcilable claims at the same time.

    If a youth policy is such a fundamentally flawed approach, then you can not expect so much. You should be praising Wenger for overachieving with such a constraint.

    If the youth policy were so flawed, why is every single club expressing the desire to move towards that policy?

    People say Wenger let experienced players leave. Wenger recruited and kept those experienced players in the first place!

    In 2005, we finished well off the pace, many points behind Chelski. It was very clear, age-wise that that squad had reached it’s logical end (it’s the stage where Chelski is now).

    In a market inflated beyond reason, we found ourselves at a time when we’d just moved to a new stadium, and had to be very very careful about money. We didn’t have to money to just buy a new squad.

    We have been very lucky that our youth policy succeeded. if it hadn’t Tottenscum would have overtaken us.

  16. The blogosphere is indeed a strange place at times. This morning there is an Arsenal blog about Aaron Ramsey on one of the sites calling him Cesc’s eventual replacement (I tend to think that is actually wrong and that Cesc’s replacement will be Wilshire or Merida, Ramsey will actually be the “do everything Roy Keane/Patrick Vieira” midfield powerhouse) and talking about the fact that if Cesc “continues to send out mixed messages about his future, the question of who will replace the Spaniard will carry greater urgency”.

    What mixed messages????? How many different ways can Cesc say he is staying???? What would be a “clear” message for Cesc to send????

    Honestly, you have to wonder what would happen if Cesc came out and said “I want to go to Barca now”. I think most bloggers and media folk wouldnt know what to do. They would implode. They’d start printing stories about how Cesc had decided to stay in England.

  17. I disagree that people who asked the question with a sneer (not the one reader who actually asked the question) are either stupid or under 25. Many younger Arsenal supporters I happen to know support Wenger because he’s all they know and from what they know they think he’s a jolly fine manager (and even to an extreme degree that he *is* the Arsenal). As for stupidity, I don’t think they’re stupid especially not in the traditional sense of the word.

    I’d accuse them of being either disloyal, short-sighted, impatient, unable to appreciate certain quality or even the beauty of football, have no real understanding of the nature of youth development project/approach, simply feel the tickets are too expensive thus get upset easily, disloyal, ungrateful, fans of other teams who like to pretend as an Arsenal fan to provoke us. It looks more like disloyalty to me, though. Some people think that it’s enough for someone to do something really good for them (like saving their lives for example) ONCE to be grateful for eternity, while other people think the gratitude should last five minutes max, after that it’s time to move on.

    Or they’re just tired of being teased by their friends for not winning any trophies (as if when our club win something we’re suddenly actually better than other people), and want to win so much that they forget that if we get the trophy Chelsea way, it’s meaningless. And yes, sacking Wenger would definitely be a big step into Chelsea universe.

    But I think it won’t happen anyway so all in all the moaners better get used to Wenger (again) for their own peace of mind.

  18. Another angle to all this is the pretence that other approaches ALWAYS work.

    Chelski spent half a billion pounds on buying exactly the squad they wanted and they haven’t won the league in 3 years, or the CL after 6 attempts!

    But they’ve won 2 FA Cups and the Mickey Mouse Cup so they’ve “won trophies”.

    But what about Liverpool. They’ve spent big haven’t they? They haven’t had a youth policy have they? What have they won recently?

    What about Spurs who’ve spent outspent Juventus, AC Milan among other traditional European powerhouses in recent years?

    What about Villa who’ve spent big?

    Let’s go outside English shores…What about Real Madrid not winning the CL in 8 years despite spending the GDP of Gambia on experienced players?

    Why don’t those teams get ridiculed for their “experience policy” so to speak.

    Nothing is guaranteed in football.

    The question is can our strategy work? Do we have the means to make it work?

    The answer, if you’re applying any modicum of intelligence and fact to the analysis, is yes. Absolutely yes.

    4 points away from winning the league in 07/08 says ABSOLUTELY YES.

    The exquisite abundance of talent we’ve assembled says YES:

  19. Yes to many of us younger ones, Arsenal IS Arsene Wenger. That man is….uh,…God comes the closest.

  20. Great article Tony. Really loved that. I have been reading your blog since February 2008 and this is the most touching article I have ever read here. I think Arsenal is the ideal club and you are the ideal supporter.

  21. Hi Tony.

    Loved your piece. I would like to email you a reply if possible, let me know.

    Yours sincerely.


  22. Another great artical Tony, perhaps the best i’ve ever read about why I love Arsenal.

    Keep up the good work

  23. I wasn’t going to post this yet, but the topic is too apt.

    This needs some refining work yet – it’s sort of a first draft but you’ll get the picture.

    “D&G V WKB

    What is the meaning of a title
    when victory creates its own disciples?
    I hate your spleen and its stupid vent
    it’s holy grail is ‘money spent’
    before the kick you’ve lost the game
    and when that’s lost, your joy is blame.
    You fail to see the larger picture
    the result means more than the fixture!

    I want to win but I state this firmly
    the result is nothing without the journey
    If all you want is the final chapter
    why does the rest even matter?

    You took the reds and turned them blue
    they’re only here to service you.
    The bitter truth we must lament
    this culture of entitlement.

    I guess our victories lie in different places
    i drink more deeply from the chases
    you drink’em cheap like whores and booze
    when they don’t win, I cannot lose.
    When your liver’s shot and you’re on a gurney
    It’s not what you’ve got, it’s about the journey.
    When victory is their only duty
    what price the cost, if lost is beauty?

    There is much to love in try and fail
    much to love in dream but fall
    much to love in my team
    Who I support

    Arse and All.”

  24. What an excellent article, with some fine comments complete with Jonny’s marvelous poetry.

    “I want to win but I state this firmly
    the result is nothing without the journey
    If all you want is the final chapter
    why does the rest even matter?”

    That sums it all up really.

    My journey is very much the same time scale & experience as Tony’s. Believe me, this period is so far away from the humiliations of my early years that there really is no comparison.

    1956-70 a couple of top 4 finishes with around 7 or 8 defeats in the FA Cup by teams from lower leagues, including Northampton, Rotherham & Peterborough. A couple of losing league cup finals, beaten by 3rd division Swindon… etc etc…

    & yet we still enjoyed it but it was always ‘next season’ from February at the latest.

    We made big & smaller purchases- Mel Charles, George Eastham, Joe Baker etc but it never really worked.

    The lowest point was in 1966 & we had the lowest crowd of around 4k. Billy Wright was sacked. He had failed to bring success but he left the club with 9 of the squad that eventually won the Fairs Cup 1970 & the Double in 70/71. Only 1 of the 8 was a major signing, Frank McLintock, & 8 came through the youth system. Bob McNab & George Graham were bought, largish deals at the time but not huge, & 3 more youths came through.

    So that team was started way back from around 1962 onwards & proved that success could be built with perseverance through all the disappointments.

    Very similar story with the Brady era, & the GG years. Developing the team, not looking for instant success was the key.

    That is why I am so happy to see the way Arsenal are conducting themselves now. Arsene Wenger is following the tradition of development but at a much higher level & in much changed circumstances.

    To do what he has had to do since 2004 & still keep us in the top 4 & into the later stages of the CL is incredible.

    It is strange that the anti-support, including sadly many from my generation, are not able enjoy the game for what it is & appreciate that we are in very good hands indeed.

  25. All the anti – Arsene blogs remind me of the “Monty Python – What did the Romans ever do for us?” skit. You could say, apart from Total Football, 3 league titles, an unbeaten season, 2 doubles, Vieira, Petit, Overmars, Henry, Pires etc, world wide scouting, a youth team that is light years ahead of its rivals, financial security and a new state of art stadium what has Arsene Wenger ever done for us?

  26. Or as Eddie Murphy once nearly said –

    Janet Jackson got a hit record: “What Have You Done For Me Lately”.
    That’s what they thinking.
    “What have you done for me lately?”
    The record start off like that.
    “I know he used to do shit for you,
    but what has he done for you lately?”
    “Baby, I love you.”
    “What have you done for me lately!?”
    “You the only thing on my mind.”
    “What have you done for me LATELY!!?”
    “We make good love.”

    Got to have some money, to get some REAL supporters in the noughties.

  27. Thank you to everyone for your kind comments about my article. I have spent the day travelling to London, having meetings, and travelling back, and the journey back tonight was a horror – it looked like the whole of the city was gridlocked at about 5.30pm. So with relief I got back to my home in the East Midlands, and thought, oh I wonder if anyone was interested in that piece I posted just before I left.

    I’m glad it struck a chord, and I have to say, writing a piece like that was very interesting for me, as it helped me work out exactly what I feel, and give me some progress to understanding why I feel it.

    Cheers to everyone, and thank you

  28. And, it was said best by the article at hand. That’s why we love Wenger! Thanks Tony. All the things you have said I read and feel close to you and all who agree with you. I was born an Arsenal fan by way of my Uncle who apparently was on trial for Arsenal in the 30’s. He unfortunately never got to play because of the War. But, his love for Arsenal remained. Every year he would send me Arsenal cards, programmes, scarfs, etc. I grew up in America and could never be close to English football other than the special Arsenal items my Nana (GI Bride) would bring back to me from my uncle at least 1x per year. So I knew I loved Arsenal but I didn’t know why. In fact my closest fanatacism to English footbal was ironically by the defeat in the 50’s at Wembley by Hungary. That of course was my paternal side who emigrated to the US from Hungary in 56. My Grandfather had to counter my Arsenal uncle by showing me 9mm videos of the Hungarian Golden Team. The two he showed me at least 1x /wk was the 6-3 victory and the 7-1 victory. I still see the headlines 6-3 defeat at Wembley. First time England losses in 100 years. So, I have always been fascinated by beautiful footbal. Fast forward to and through my college experience where I became re-acquainted with English football. Mark Mettrick was my first reintroduction to English Football. Strong English lad who came to Hartwick College to play football. I saw him play and instantly new that’s where I was going to play…Hence the name Hartwick89. My school followed by the year I entered…When I played most of the lads on the team were from England (Liverpool actually). But, they all had passion for football like I had never seen other than my family. They would always wear the Everton or Liverpool Jerseys. Would always have English newspapers sent and would always talk feverishley about their teams. I will continue later I have to coach!

  29. excellent article, and i thoroughly enjoyed the comments.

    looking forward to more brilliant football and a trophy-laden future.

  30. Great article Tony and some lovely comments. Well said all. Having started off watching even earlier than Flint, I was a bit spoilt in the beginning…champions in my first bit of a season (though too young to really know what a championship was), then the Cup, then another championship in ’53. Then, oh dear. 18 years for another championship on the last day of the season; then another 18 for the next…again on the last day of the season. And did those two games made up for every tear shed in past years? Oh my, yes and how. And then the real glory years.
    How people can complain at what AW has achieved is simply beyond me.
    I wouldn’t swap the Wenger years for anything.

  31. g8 post…..it was funny to hear an ex liverpool manager(graeme sounness) saying that only hope for liverpool is a wealthy russian/arab fan who can bail them out….funny…

  32. You should publish this in the game programme.

    This is by far the best article I have read for a long time about Wenger and his work.

    I support Wenger in all he does, but I am very afraid that he is loosing the patiance from other supporters and the club because of the results lately.

    I can not see any other manager that Wenger in Arsenal. Wenger is the lord of Arsenal football and i will support him in all he does !

    Thank you for a great article !!

  33. Ole Gunner: Both of your comments up there, you could develop into full articles for this site. Do you know that? Just merge them, beef them up and submit to Tony. It will make a lovely read I am sure.

  34. that is wat everyone of us feel. arsenal and the-arsenal-brand-football have developed a soul that no other club can match. the likes of chelsea and man city and to much extents Manu and liverpool are now dependant on buying mostly. they have an approach that wont be appreciated by lots. AND THE ONLY PLACE WHERE THEY CAN NOW FIND HAPPINESS IN FOOTBALL IS IN WINNING GAMES AND TROPHY AND MAKING MONEY. THEY WONT KNOW THE ROMANCE OF WATCHING UR TEAM, WHOSE AVERAGE AGE IS 21, PLAY ON THE BIGGEST STAGE OF FOOTBALL AND PUTTING UP A SHOW THAT CAN FILL ANYONE WITH AWE……. way to go our leader….

  35. wow wow wow!! thats why i love this blog. fantastic piece, as usual, tony and some brilliant comments. this really is the best and most intelligent blog on the internet. kudos for jonny’s poem, bloddy brilliant. xx

  36. One of the great things about this blog is that even after a defeat like we suffered a few weeks back you now know that there are people like yourself who go through the same mixture of emotions.
    People who will not ask the managers head for a loss.
    People who will not demand the sell of a “ligthweight” player for one bad game.
    People who are hurt by the defeat, but people who when the first desillusion has been swallowed and digested still will stand with our coulours and tell to the players and manager: come on guys, next time better and we are there with you and for you.
    It makes defeat that little bit easier to get over.
    I always find comfort in these lines that I once wrote down as part of a larger text:

    And if defeat hurts us so bad
    on a rare and seldom day
    We will not desert you
    Our Gunners in arms

  37. Walter, Isnt that the meaning of a true ‘Supporter’?? This blog and its readers will be behind the club, the manager and the players…

  38. It is IndianGooner. And it is for me.
    Maybe the worst thing after defeat for me is to go on the internet and to see the doomers and gloomers telling: “I told you so” and then go and slaughter a few of our own players. Those things hurt make me more angry than the defeat itself. If you play football there is a chance that you lose a game so losing is part of the game. But “supporters” that try to kill off players or the manager are driving me crazy.

  39. Walter I usually dont read a lot of articles after we lose. Only this blog and goonerholic if I wanted to read something… I stay away from the other blogs n sites for few days..

  40. Indian gooner, read a cultured left foot as well…. even after we lose, there is perspective

  41. And, it was said best by the article at hand. That’s why we love Wenger! Thanks Tony. All the things you have said I read and feel close to you and all who agree with you. I was born an Arsenal fan by way of my Uncle who apparently was on trial for Arsenal in the 30’s. He unfortunately never got to play because of the War. But, his love for Arsenal remained. Every year he would send me Arsenal cards, programmes, scarfs, etc. I grew up in America and could never be close to English football other than the special Arsenal items my Nana (GI Bride) would bring back to me from my uncle at least 1x per year. So I knew I loved Arsenal but I didn’t know why. In fact my closest fanatacism to English footbal was ironically by the defeat in the 50’s at Wembley by Hungary. That of course was my paternal side who emigrated to the US from Hungary in 56. My Grandfather had to counter my Arsenal uncle by showing me 9mm videos of the Hungarian Golden Team. The two he showed me at least 1x /wk was the 6-3 victory and the 7-1 victory. I still see the headlines 6-3 defeat at Wembley. First time England losses in 100 years. So, I have always been fascinated by beautiful footbal. Fast forward to and through my college experience where I became re-acquainted with English football. Mark Mettrick was my first reintroduction to English Football. Strong English lad who came to Hartwick College to play football. I saw him play and instantly new that’s where I was going to play…Hence the name Hartwick89. My school followed by the year I entered…When I played most of the lads on the team were from England (Liverpool actually). But, they all had passion for football like I had never seen other than my family. They would always wear the Everton or Liverpool Jerseys. Would always have English newspapers sent and would always talk feverishley about their teams. I will continue later I have to coach!…..Oh yeah where was I? Well I was never properly introduced to English Football until actually playing with the lads at my College…My first intro was with a striking 5’11 CM who had the work ethic of any English Lad. Blood, sweat, elbows and knees. He finished the season with honors and goals(he was actually a Londoner who loved MU. He wore his MU Jersey often and always. I remember the SHARP logo). My coach at the time thought it would be a great idea for me a natural CM or CF mark him for the first day of try-outs. Unfortunately for him I took on the honour. Shut him down frequently but had the bloody nose, shins, and tiredness to show for it. So again the introduction to the English way was important to my overall understanding of my heritage and my understanding of what my English Uncle was about. Day in and day out on the training pitch these lads never gave up. They always played even when it didn’t seem to matter? This was quite new to me in a way because my previous background was the Latin style; diving, dribbling, show off (if it looked good I was doing the right thing). But, inside I felt cheated if I continued with this lazy ineffective style of play. To this day my Hungarian father disagrees. But, he loves other sports now like basketball so in the end I think we know who won that debate. Anyway, so I tested my new learned English form back home. It was late summer on break from school. I was back home playing for the first time in our old Men’s league team. This leauge was full of all internationals from El-Salvador, Honduras, Brasil, Guatamala, Costa Rica, Paraguay, Bolivia, etc..There was me “Chile” or white boy or polite term for Gringo. Running up and down the pitch! Tackling, punching, scraping for any ball I could get my hands on. The one thing that stuck with me during that campaign was when we played the Honduran team. My friends I grew up with commented on my new style saying “Ju Lewk like Michael Jordan (my spanish accent). At that point I new I was on to something. Uh Oh the wifey is home from her spell at work…I’ll continue later.

  42. Constantly referring to the other odious top four clubs (Liverpool, Man.U., Chelsea) doesn’t mean that everything done at Arsenal is done with the best of intentions for the football community as a whole.

    The Arsenal youth team has provided far less talent than a far less monied organisation at West Ham.

    If I was an AFC fan, I’d get in Tony Carr from West Ham than have Liam Brady.

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