This team will have its day

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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

  • 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.

Recent stories

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.

41 Replies to “This team will have its day”

  1. Ian, thanks to your article I remember something from Fever Pitch from N. Hornby.

    In the film the main characters tells something like this (dont shoot me if it is not 100 % correct):
    The worst part of being an Arsenal fan is the expectation. Each year we think: this will be the year. We have a good start and just when you start to build up hope… comes February or March and we just blew it. Every year again. It’s not the losing that hurts, it is the building up hope and then fail.

    And his book and the film is based upon the history before ’89, so this were the years that Ian is talking about.

    Good article Ian.

  2. Unfortunately there is a massive disconnect between what Arsenal are and always have been – a very well run football club that consistently finishes in the top third of the highest level in England, an occasional champion, and a thorn in the side of the media and the traditional football powers – and what some fans WANT Arsenal to be – a dominant super club winning every trophy every season, or at least every other season.

    There is also a massive disconnect between the real reasons why Arsenal built their new stadium – in order to continue to be able to retain their place in the top third of English Football and be able to compete with the bigger clubs in Europe for wages and transfer fees for the forseeable future- and what people WANT TO BELIEVE the reasons were for Arsenal building the stadium – to be able spend as much as Manchester United, Real Madrid, Barcelona etc., i.e. an eventuality that just isnt going to happen.

    Unfortunately that disconnect leads to many having quite extreme views and causing themselves huge emotional pain. Once you get rid of the disconnect and reacquaint oneself with reality then the current situation our great club finds itself in becomes far more palatable.

    Do we want trophies? Of course we do. I certainly do. Who doesnt? Do we see disgrace, disaster, and doom when looking at the current squad and our run this season? I certainly don’t.

  3. we should be proud of this team most people have discounted us many times this season and we were still in it at the end.

    Great article all the others aren’t even worth reading.

  4. we should be proud of this team most people have discounted us many times this season and we were still in it at the end.

    Great article all the others aren’t even worth reading.

    Sorry all the other blogs aren’t worth reading not other articles I wake up every morning and search for yours.

  5. WHy cannot more supporters be normal like this page? Before the league we were tipped as no 6. Now we are no 3 and we have been in the title race all the way to the end. How can that be bad? We have been the closes for 5 years to winning the league. How can that be bad? Ok yesterday was a disaster and a catastrophe. but still. Compared to last year this team has done so so well.

    If you see the season as a whole it has not been that bad, if you see the preformance of yesterday by itself yes it was a disaster.

    How people can judge our entire season on one match is beyond me. How they think we can buy 8 new 1 team players for 40M is beyond me. Sometimes i wonder what kind of people really are Arsenal fans. it seems they are so detached from the real world. when Hill-Wood talks about the club having “plenty of money” that for arsenal is about 40M. however “plenty of money” for a club like City is 140M. I think people does not realize that. I dont understand how they can hate City and Chelsea and at the same time wanting Arsenal to do the same. Buy buy buy.. Do they all want to become what they hate? That to me is a mystery…

    PS. I also find it weird to read how Eduardo and Denilson for some are the reason we lost yesterday. they were not even on the pitch!!!

  6. That was a really an enjoyable read.And I agree with u fully…arsene is a great manager,and we must not lose faith in his abilities.I know things are really bad right now for all arsenal supporters,but this is a gr8 club that we all love,and should never give up on!

  7. this is a very good article and i fully agree with you. i come from Cyprus at the age of 43 born and raised near highbury. let me tell you something. yes that wigan game was a disaster. Arsene is a great manager and is among the top 5 around the world. he has his own philosophy which i really support and i share the same policy as an x football player. money dont make good teams. yes to a point. look at real madrid. they think that buying 3-4 players of 200m value they will win everything!! well, i guess they won everything this year. oh well what iam trying to say, real supporters of ARSENAL should stand next to the team no matter what. dont worry i have this feeling that we will be much better next year with a few signinings.for ever arsenal. one of the best teams around EUROPE AND I MEAN IT. dont forget with only 10m again this year we were there until the end.

  8. very well said. it’s been a hard month but we’ll be stronger for it in the end.

  9. paul… well said…..

    i can’t believe the posts and comments i have read in other blogs !!!

  10. Yes yesterday was disappointing to say the least and not acceptable for a team that promises so much. However, lets not get carried away. Sport is like this sometimes and its why we love it and become so wrapped up in it all. When you read blogs like Le Grove they have the typical reaction of people who like to play safe. Being negative is so much easier than being positive because in order to be positive you need to be able to think in terms of innovation and creativity, being negative on the other hand just involves knocking someone’s innovation down without offering up anything else.

  11. I’m that star up in the sky
    I’m that mountain peak up high
    Hey, I made it
    I’m the world’s greatest
    And I’m that little bit of hope
    When my back’s against the ropes
    I can feel it
    I’m the world’s greatest

  12. Thanks Ian! Hard to find anything worth reading today – this being one of the few exceptions. Keep the faith Gooners!

  13. the truth is AW has made bad decions this season. 1 he gave the FA cup tie 2 stoke by resting players n then we went on to draw the next game n lost the follow two games. 2, he kept vp on the bench when he should av started. 3, he should av signed a striker in jan coz we short n facing big games. 4, he has confidence in G. keepqs who has cost us more than 10 pts. surely we had a better chance of wining the league had he made the right decions

  14. Brilliant Ian. Couldn’t agree more really.
    There’s enough of the usual hot air and snide bullshit being spewed elsewhere…this makes a great contrast. A big thanks from one slightly weary Arsenal supporter who’s tired of having to “defend” his unwavering admiration and belief in the greatest manager we’ve ever had.

  15. I just want to know why does Arsene have to realize after the 35th game that both of our goalkeepers are not good enough and we should beef up the defence? Even fans knew that since last season.Its OK to show faith in one or two weak players but he does in the entire squad season after season. I am 36 and moved from Dubai to London for Arsenal and hope to see the trophy paraded in London in my lifetime.

  16. Hamad I believe that in 10 years time you will be saying: oh no yet another parade. Just keep the faith.

  17. Thanks for all the kind coments. Glad I’m not the only one who wants to throw away everything that Wenger has achieved (and wil achieve)
    Mogiretony – I would never claim that Wenger hasn’t made mistakes. He isn’t perfect. But he is the best manager I have ever known at the club.

  18. We have hypocrites among us. Ok, Wenger should av done this, should av done that, should even have done those. Point is Wenger is not perfect, and so are we. He is human 4 christ sake. If barca were that good, wat happened yesterday? Oh! guadiola should buy players too. Pleeease give me n lord Wenger a break

  19. Sorry I meant I don’t want to throw away everything Wenger has achieved…

  20. Barca are crap. They can’t even beat Espanol for goodness sake. Bloody Messi. He hasnt scored in 2 games now. The guy is unworthy of wearing Barca’s shirt.

  21. ah this blog is always a breath of fresh air.. all the other so called arsenal blogs written by so called arsenal fans are just simply annoying to say the least.this team will definitely have their day and i will support this team till that day ,on that day and after with the same way i have always done..

    thank you

  22. great article. i said much the same at the end of last season. i started watching arsenal in 1965 so in my lifetime i have witnessed many barren has long been my belief that arsene is the best around and in him i still do trust, he is human and we all know he has made a few mistakes. can someone please tell me how top three is a disaster, sure we all want to win something, it will happen. i have long since believed that the negative blogs i read are probably from people in the main under the age of 20 who were still shitting their nappies when arsene took over and dont really understand that football existed when players got 50 quid a week. i believe it should be compulsory to have your age next to comments so we can discount many of the glory hunters who infest these sites. gooner for life. goonerbart aged 56 and 2 months

  23. Wenger/board certainly have contributed to the ‘disconnect’ when they can’t agree on what to say regarding our financial condition “we have money”, “we don’t have money”.

    And certainly statements like “this team will dominate Europe all we have to do is keep it together”, has destroyed the credibility of club management. There is so much garbage and double talk because club management can get its act together.

    The club is being messed about and supporters who pay attention don’t appreciate it.

  24. Arsene Wenger’s contribution to English football should not be under estimated. I believe Arsene Wenger played a huge role in making the English League the best in the world, but sadly he doesn’t get enough recognition for this. I remember English football before Wenger, the diet, the drinking and the gambling culture, and look at it now. Arsene Wenger’s work should never be forgotten.

    Arsene Wenger is a winner, a legend, a truly great manager and we need to support him together. If Arsene Wenger finishes his career with us then the Emirates Stadium should be called The Arsene Wenger Stadium.

    In Arsene We Trust!!!

  25. Very interesting article. However, with the birth of the CL system, top teams were able to increase their money advantage. The league is really a competition between three or four teams. In that environment Arsenal should win the league more frequently than in the past. The changes in football since the early nineties mark a very decisive break with the past, so it doesn’t make sense to compare as the writer does.

    Finally, as the largest club in history and supporter base in the largest and wealthiest European capital city and ranked in the top five richest clubs in the world, we are right to have higher ambitions than the writer suggests. Arsene Wenger is the greatest coach Arsenal have had. That doesn’t mean he has achieved all he could. It has been six years without winning the league. I think we should win it on average once every four/five years. Given the constraints of the stadium financing, it is fair enough for it to take six years this time around. But much longer and it appears to be underperformance particularly since we do not compete for the FA cup and haven’t won the CL.

  26. Limestone much as I love my club we are not the “largest club in the world”. not by a long shot.We are one of the largest in the UK but that is about it.
    Where we do stand above all others in is terms of media hatred and preferential targetting for negative expression.
    We have punched above our weight for so long that some of our fans believe that we are heavyweight and we are not. We are a talented cruiser weight and no more.
    Very soon though that stadium debt will be far less consequential and our model of financial operation will sudddenly leave us out in front as a super-heavyweight as the real madrid’s and Man Utd’s go bust unser the unbearable mass of their incompetance and the hubris-fuelled demands for trophies of their financially retarded fans.

    We have a growing section of those type of fans but really they should be ridiculed at every turn and used for blogging target practice. They are easy to spot. Most of what they write would be more suitable in crayon.

  27. Brilliance to a T!revett. I once heard a Manager say Teams have cycles… And, fortunately this team is in a cycle that has risen above all expectations while other teams are dwindling.(paraphrase)

    My friends I won’t tell you who the team is who has risen to this world stage until after the WC competition is over… But have a guess who the team is anyway… In it you will find a coach who put together the right team because he had belief in them. And, above all he had belief in his philosophy…

    Ian you point out statistics which cannot be denied… And you also point out the complexities to which one man has conquered in just 14 years… I say Wenger has belief in himself and has transitioned this club from English level to World stage level in an even shorter period of time. He has taken Arsenal from no youth progress to complete youth domination. He has won many trophies while taming world economic pressures before we all even knew of them. Other big clubs are ending the cycles which they were “great in stretches” but will begin to hit “hard” times that they will pay desperately for in the future. Wenger warned that football is in danger of a vast downturn but is slightly behind the world but it will catch up…

    In my opinion his only fault in his tenure of Arsenal is not delivering trophies while mastering Arsenal economic world affairs..
    But, alas while the d&ger’s complain of a few signings that set this current team off the mark the past few seasons it wasn’t because of Arsene and his picking of the personell… Remember Flamini, Hleb, Reyes, and others who fled because of their own ambitions? They left for what? If they would have stayed the d&Gers would be dissolved because this would have led to what we would have seen as trophies.

    The current climate in Liverpool, ManU, & Chelsea is set for self-destruction… And, the cycle has ended for them and we have a lot to look forward to..

  28. To those who are blaming Wenger for making the wrong decision in bringing Merida and Eboue on….i think you are forgetting the fact that Wenger had decided to make the substitutions before the first goal went in.

    In hindsight it may be easier to say that he should have brought RVP on when the first goal went in…but think about it …if he had brought on RVP and Wigan scored a second a minute later…some people would have been shouting from the rooftops on how Wenger made a stupid mistake in bringing on an attacking sub when what was needed was holding out and closing the game.

    I may be mistaken but besides Merida and Eboue…was there any other defensive minded player on the bench. Possibly Traore..but i consider him more of an attacker rather than a defender.

  29. The whole existence of being a football fan is this:

    1. In the summer you gird your loins, dream of success and go, up for it, to the first game.
    2. During the season you hope, despair, wish, desire, get angry, frustrated, yell the odd obscenity from the terrace, cheer from the rafters, kiss the man next to you, call the opposition fans all kinds of naughty things, but get yourself up for the next match.
    3. If the season doesn’t go well, you mouth off to get your frustration out, think about whether to change the players, change the manager or fire the board, before going on your summer holidays, at which point you see something which restores your faith in hope. Depending on your age, your status and your temperament, that might be a girl in a bikini, your child learning to swim, your son scoring on his local club’s tour etc etc.

    That’s football. It’s society’s way of allowing outrageous dreams, disappointments, irrationalities, partisanship to be channeled without anyone dying because of it.

    Isn’t it??

  30. I’ve enjoyed several of the level headed responses in this thread.

    The fact remains that AW has made some glaring errors this year, both on and off the field, and it’s not unreasonable to question why those errors have occured. The errors, of course, being glaringly obvious to anyone with half a brain, and not one of those ‘easier with hindsight’ kneejerks.
    Has he lost it?
    Well, for me, signing nobody new will suggest that he has become too entrenched in his quest for success for his proteges, in that all others have to be excluded, rather than re-inforce and teach them along.
    AW appeared to be ruthless enough when Jens time was up so we’ll see.

  31. @Ian T. Good article. One (little green god) comment. Weren’t you lucky you were born in 1966? I went through 53-71-89. Oh we are so spoilt these days!

  32. Ian, it’s not a matter of what Wenger has done in the past, it’s what he’s got to offer in the future. Yes, past performance is usually a good indicator for future success, but only to a point. I see big problems in the way Wenger’s been preparing his teams. And I don’t see him addressing the problems. Therefore, I can’t see him improving the team sufficiently to challenge for the league.

    It comes down to what we define “success” as. If it’s to muddle around in 4th or 3rd, qualify for Europe and challenge for (but not win) the league every three or four years, then Wenger’s going to be an outstanding success in the future. If that’s all you want, then good luck with you. I just want something more. I think we’re a big enough club to strive for it.

  33. Hi. It’s my first comment here. Normally I just read this fantastic blog as it’s informative and factual concerning Arsenal. I put myself writing now as I want to point out what a blame society we are in. I wonder how people presume that Arsene didn’t do anything to strengthen the squad or that he lost the plot already due to some incorrect decision. Well, it’s easy to blame as we can see the result now. But what we don’t know as outsiders is the constraints and conditions at which the decisions were made. Arsene might try to sign a goalkeeper if there is one better than what we have and affordable. But apparently there was none.

    As mentioned several times here, I think we’re in the right direction to achieve our long-term goal. It’s a long and winding road to get there but the destination is within reach now. Fasten our seat-belt and enjoy the ride.

  34. Good article! But let’s be honest, it isn’t unreasonable to want (and even expect) success – fans have been promised it in recent times.

    Ticket prices are the highest in the league and every year we hear we’ll get new signings and be challenging in all competitions.

    The pressure is there because Wenger is a victim of his own success. He brought trophies in almost immediately upon arrival and continued to do so for another 7/8 years.

    I agree with the overall point though; Wenger has performed miracles at the club, we have had success. The infrastructure of the club, the youth academy and the stadium alone are amazing legacies for the great man with or without trophies.

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