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This team will have its day
by Ian Trevett
Today is a depressing day as the team effort at Wigan was as poor as we have seen for a long time. I didn’t think we paid them enough respect and it cost us big time.
But let’s nail this myth about it being a disaster that Arsenal have gone trophy-less for five years. It is disappointing as we all want the success, but people seem to be re-inventing history.
The only way you can judge Wenger is by comparing him with what went before.
How long should you go back? I’ll take my lifetime which is long enough (I’m feeling old today). I’m 43, born in 1966. Wenger took over in 1996.
In the first 30 years of my life we won:
- 3 League Titles
- 1 Cup-Winners Cup
- 1 Fairs Cup
- 3 FA Cups
- 2 League Cups
In 14 years of Wenger we have won
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- 3 League titles
- 4 FA Cups
In the third of my life where Wenger has been boss, he has won almost as much as we won in the other two thirds.
But this doesn’t tell the whole story. He has yet to win a European trophy, but the trophies we won in Europe in the past were always the lower prizes. He has only competed in one UEFA Cup (excluding his first game in charge) and he was just a penalty shoot-out away from winning the trophy. Every other year we have been fighting against the biggest clubs in the world – and only one can win.
He has won three league titles, which matches the tally from the previous thirty years. However, we have been up there fighting for the title in virtually every season, usually in the top two and never outside the top four.
When I was growing up we had no say in the title race. There was one magical season in 1971, four or five good years under Graham (until he sold Rocky) and that was that. For the other 25 years, we were an irrelevance. The closest we came to seeing Champions was when Liverpool visited Highbury.
I won’t try and downplay the League Cups as they were very important at the time – especially the memorable win in 1987. But the fact is that the status of the League Cup has fallen massively since.
You may argue that that Wenger has had his moments but has now lost it. Five years without a trophy means he has lost his magic touch. But again, this is a recurring theme in our history. We were once the greatest club in the land, but that was in the 1930s.
We have had longer barren spells in recent years. 1971-1979, 1979-1987 spring to mind. Our post war tradition has been to create a great team every 18 years: 1953 – 1971 – 1989. Wenger had already created two great teas and give him time he will create a third.
Oh and one more myth that is worth smashing. Wenger never spends any money. I won’t get into the argument about whether there is any money – that is only speculation. I will go back to my lifetime supporting Arsenal.
In the 30 years before Wenger, how many established, top-rate football stars did we buy with a proper big transfer fee?
I won’t include Alan Smith or Wrighty as they took big steps up to come to Arsenal. I can only think of seven in all that time:
- Alan Ball
- Malcolm MacDonald
- Kenny Sansom (albeit as a swap deal)
- Charlie Nicholas
- Tony Woodcock
- David Platt
- Dennis Bergkamp
Weren’t exactly Real Madrid were we?
Fellow Gooners, it is easy being a fan when you have won a big game. It is harder when you lose to Wigan. But never lose sight of the fact we have an incredible manager and he is worth supporting, especially when we all feel low.
Is football refereeing corrupt, or do strange decisions balance up between the clubs over a season?
Has Arsene Wenger’s great youth project finally failed?
And there’s more…
Untold Arsenal publishes two or three articles a day, every day. You can see the index of recent articles here
Making The Arsenal is a novel concerning the events 100 years ago when Arsenal FC went into administration, and was reborn as the modern club. Details about the book, reviews and extracts, plus how to order it here.
There is also a web site following the events of Arsenal 100 years ago, which includes features on specific aspects of our history. Click here for the site.