Why are people so negative about Arsenal? The first answers.

By Tony Attwood

One of the many fascinating things about publishing Untold is that even after 6,400 articles (honest, that’s how many we have published) I can still be surprised at which ones get lots of comments and which don’t.  Do other clubs get the same level of constant sniping and negative reporting or is it just Arsenal? was one that got more than I expected.  Nothing like a record or anything like that, but just more than I thought.

My plea for a reader to undertake the mindblowingly awful task of finding out if other clubs suffer the same level of negativity and abuse as Arsenal has met with a positive response and that article will follow shortly.

But meanwhile reading through the comments I was struck by a number of them, but this one stood out…

But other big clubs do not stand by a manager that hasn’t won the league in 12 years. In fact Arsenal have never done this before. I suppose it depends if you perceive Arsenal as a big club.

It was an interesting negative response, and it made me think of alternative ways of putting this.

  • No club has had a manager who has had his transfer budget cut so much in order to fund a stadium rebuild.
  • No other club has ever had a manager who has kept them in the Champions League so long, despite having his budget cut so much.
  • No other club has had a manager who has taken the team through an Unbeaten Season.

And that’s really the point.  The 12 years of “standing by” Wenger is only an issue if you believe changing the manager would be certain to make a difference.  But as we saw in the various analyses undertaken earlier, changing the manager more often than not ends in a greater failure than you had in the first place.

Indeed if you want an example of what changing a manager does for a club, take a look at the Tottenham managers while Arsenal have had Wenger, and compare where they have got to in the league.

  • 1997 Chris Hughton
  • 1997 Christian Gross
  • 1998  David Pleat
  • 1998 George Graham
  • 2001  David Pleat
  • 2001 Glenn Hoddle
  • 2003  David Pleat
  • 2004 Jacques Santini
  • 2004 Martin Jol
  • 2007 Clive Allen
  • 2007 Juande Ramos
  • 2008 Harry Redknapp
  • 2012 Andre Villas Boas
  • 2013 Tim Sherwood
  • 2014 Maurico Pochettino

Now you would think that since our club sits next door to Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal supporters would remember that bringing in a new manager appears, at least in this context, more likely to bring humiliation than winning the league.   And yet they keep on asking us to act like Tottenham!!!

It is a bit like the issue of buying a new centre forward.  Arsenal were only a handful of goals off being higher scorers than the champions, and a few more off being the top scorers in the league, and yet we seem desperately (according to some) to need a new centre forward – as if in the modern game centre forwards are the only people who score.

All these points of view only work if everything is reduced to one particular issue at a time, with one solution only.  All the evidence shows that buying a new centre forward for a lot of money only works some of the time – mostly it doesn’t.  Just as mostly the champions don’t have the top scorer in the land playing for them.  All the evidence shows that changing managers works far, far less often than it fails.

Thus the correspondent is right:  other big clubs do not stand by a manager that hasn’t won the league in 12 years.   But their decision-making most of the time does not lead to winning the league – it leads to… changing the manager again and again.  While I know that you don’t get a trophy for being in the Champs League and winning the FA Cup twice running, and having the most successful FA Cup manager through the current and last century is not the same as winning the league, having the same manager and being constantly in the top four, while financing the stadium, is better than constantly changing managers in most cases.  There are exceptions, but stability wins through most of the time.

But even an observation about the stadium can of course be lifted out of the overall article’s context and paraded on its own.  Here is what one correspondent said in reply

Tony – so, the Premier League is about “building and paying for your own stadium”? This is a criterion fully comparable with what goes on in the field, with winning the league? Really?

This really said so much about Untold!

And of course the overall context was not about that at all – it was about moving out of Highbury to much better facilities, and allowing more people to come to the game.  As well as, for the years to come, upping the level of money the club has (from ticket revenue and sponsorship deals) to compete with those who raise their money through other means.  Means such as being given a stadium by the state (WHU, Man C), having a long term, well-established world-wide marketing facility and very large stadium (Man U), or being backed by seemingly unlimited finances (Chelsea, Man C).  It was about doing the same as Henry Norris did in 1913 by building Highbury – which provided the basis for a club that could go forwards.

Indeed it is fair to say that had Highbury not been built, Woolwich Arsenal FC would most likely have died on its feet rather than transmute into The Arsenal.  And I’d like to ponder this history for a moment because I think it offers some insights into the issues of progress.

In 1911/12 Arsenal had an average home attendance of 11,630, the 22nd lowest in the Football League.  The following season it dropped even lower as Arsenal prepared to move to Highbury – but I’ll leave that out of the equation since it was a very unusual season.  In fact a unique season since it was the season Arsenal got relegated.

We also have to be careful with the figures for the two following seasons, as the club was not only in the second division of course but by the 1914/15 season the country was at war.  

So let us move on to the postwar era.   After 1919/20 as the servicemen were brought home and the country started to re-cover there were two years of very high attendances before the first division average attendance settled down.  (A similar event happened after the second world war).

And over time, by having moved to Highbuty Arsenal gradually moved to the top of the attendance list.

Now this is important, because the only way the club could really finance itself was by gate money and transfers.  (There was no alcohol sold in the ground, as part of the lease arrangements, at this stage).

Here’s the chart of what happened.

  Arsenal AFC Best attended Top club avg 1st division
Season avg crowd Pos club attendance avg attendance
1919/20 34,485 10 Chelsea 42,615 24,036
1920/1 35,540 9 Newcastle Utd 41,625 29,252
1921/2 29,179 17 Chelsea 37.545 27.003
1922/3 30,245 11 Liverpool 33.495 23.213
1923/4 29,950 19 Chelsea 30.895 22.654
1924/5 29,485 20 Arsenal 29.485 21.609
1925/6 31,471 2 Chelsea 32.355 22.597
1926/7 30,054 11 Newcastle Utd 36.510 22.881
1927/8 27,434 10 Manchester City 37.468 22.885
1928/9 26,690 9 Manchester City 31.715 22.712
1929/30 35,537 14 Arsenal 35.537 22.647

As you can see, the average 1st division crowd (in the final column) went down from 29,252 to 22,647.

But Arsenal bucked this trend, held steady most of the time, and then went up.  Indeed from this point on until 1938 Arsenal had the biggest crowds, every single season, and this funded the great success of the 1930s (starting with winning the league in 1931).

Had Norris not built the new stadium, there would have been no Arsenal FC.  But we still had to play 12 seasons at Highbury before winning a trophy and 13 before winning the League.

Now 12 is rather a familiar number – the 12 years of “standing by” Wenger.  In the face of which we can ask what the most likely scenarios would have been if we had not built Highbury, and then not built the Emirates, as well as the most likely scenario if we had not stood by Wenger.  In terms of the Emirates era, quite possibly dropping out of the Champions League, being abused for boring play, and then changing manager again and basically “doing at Tottenham”.

So part of the reason why people are critical of Arsenal is this habit of focusing on one single point of one issue – and even then, when reducing everything to simplicity, ignoring important historical points relating to the issue.  12 years at Highbury without a trophy.  12 years at the Emirates.  A coincidence?  Maybe.

But building a new stadium was essential if Arsenal was going to cope with the future – which is why Tottenham, Chelsea, West Ham, Everton, Liverpool and Man City to name but a few have been so keen to upgrade.   But it costs money, and if the money doesn’t come from the state (as per Man C and WHU) or from the owner (Man C again, Liverpool and Chelsea) it has to come from revenue.

If we had still been at Highbury now, we’d be mid-table, at best, simply because the money to buy and pay for the likes of Alexis, Ozil and so forth would not be there.

Now in dealing with this point about the stadium I’ve diverted from the main thrust of the issue: why are people so antagonistic towards Arsenal – but I think it answers part of the question.  By defining the issue as simply “winning the league now”, failure is also easy to define.  But it is hardly informative, and it doesn’t lead to any ideas as to why people do get so angry.

In the next few days we’ll continue looking at this from time to time, hopefully building up a bigger picture of what makes people so angry about their club, and what makes so many so angry about Arsenal.   What these forthcoming pieces will show, is, I think, something of a revelation.


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54 Replies to “Why are people so negative about Arsenal? The first answers.”

  1. The era of instant gratification via the internet has seemingly led to any era where everything has to be both instant and gratifying.

    In addition to this, the lack of patience and/or analytical insight means that people can take a single, simplistic argument and with the support of other monochrome thinkers pretend they are an expert……………and lest we forget, in order to sell online games, the developers design them so everyone can win without much effort.

    It seems to be that some people have lost their ability to identify between reality and fantasy. Simple is easy, complex is to be avoided since it requires insight, intelligence and the ability to discern fact from fiction.

  2. Excellent article. But as long as so called media experts e.. Piers Morgan, are allowed a stage to spout their vitriolic rubbish, the lemmings will follow. It is, unfortunately, a part of the English disease of “BUILDING UP OUR CHAMPIUONS TO KNOCK THEM DOWN AGAIN”. I appreciate that it is a minority who spout the rubbish, but, as always, the bully boys shout loudest.
    We are blessed to have Arsene Wenger and blessed to have the one club that exudes class and long may it continue.

  3. People are negative because the club have failed to effectively bolster a team which habitually (HABITUALLY) suffers as a result of injuries and does little to prepare for them. A club which despite its glaring tactical defensive issues manages each season to scramble into the top 4 only to predictably crash out of the champions league after the group stages. So imagine the possibilities given a manager who actually knew what he was doing tactically, given the mammoth resources at his disposal, and given the kind of team spirit nurtured by a journeyman like Ranieri in his first season, as opposed to his 20th. Leicester City exploded any myths about winning the league having to do with just having pots of money. And it’s got nothing to do with far distant history either.

  4. Tony,
    A very sobering post.
    I hope the comments you receive will be numerous and helpful.
    One of the most disturbing epithets directed at we who follow Arsenal is that we are fickle in our support.
    The younger element are certainly impatient for success.
    Since the glory days of the late 1930s, despite our successes we have never retained a championship.
    While we of a certain age continue to support Arsenal FC and its manager of the day, with undiminished loyalty, the same cannot be said of those of lesser years.
    It will therefore be incumbent on these late followers to explain why their support is so introspective.
    Tony, you have opened a fresh tin of worms! 😉

  5. Thank you for a very interesting article. There seems to be a correlation with the current zeitgeist that echos throughout all corners of our society, not just within the realms of football. I dare say, that what is happening in the UK as a whole really highlights the mentality that we are facing when we discuss this ‘anger’ and ‘frustration’. Being able to vent it out on something is sometimes necessary, but i feel sorry for all the people that do such good work within the club. They are constantly confronted with such ‘simplicity’ when fans draw their assumptions and decisions. It really is an interesting topic and i hope you continue to explore this further as this mentality is something that has been developing for many years now and shows no signs of slowing down.

  6. Tony,
    I have supported Arsenal for over sixty years and that included the time that THFC did the double.
    When they achieved that double, they were seen as the pinnacle of what every other football club should try and emulate.
    There were no voices raised in contempt of the the club and, to be honest, they were the top club without question.
    Fast forward to 1971 and our first double. History shows we had to beat Liverpool at Wembley and THFC at White Hart Lane to win the league. We did both of these and what was the response?
    A dour team that failed to excite the fans and that is where I believe the negative feeling towards Arsenal really started.
    I can remember walking round Highbury in the fiftys when we played Blackpool and the ground was half empty.
    So called Supporters (aaa?) were lampooning the team and club even then.
    It’s my view that we have arotten minority core of supporters who actually follow our neighbours and delight in putting Arsenal down. Read Pat Jennings autobiography and how he saw both clubs and you will see that players through the years understand the club much more than this core of whingers.
    The media have joined the bandwagon as they know other club supporters would rather see another club pilloried than teir own.
    The classic example is TalkSport (that’s the biggest lie itself) and their so called sport correspondants. At 4.00 every day we get the school bully coming on and belittling our club. There is no rhyme or reason for his daily tirade against Arsene and the club except to get people phoning in to agree with his rubbish. Then Collymore states that Aexix and Ozil are not world class. After him comes Andy Jacobs the Chelsea season ticket holder who stated that all Chelsea fans wanted Arsene to stay…didn’t he realise we wanted Jose to stay at his club?
    I just loved it when the protest that the media predicted against Arsene and the club never happened. In fact the BBC and Sky cameras showed the complete opposite. Was that reported? Of course not as it didn’t follow the plan of discrimination against our great club.
    I now just baske in the glory of being an Arsenal and Arsene supporter and laugh at these so called experts who every year predict disaster and every year have eat humble pie.
    Thats my rant over with, thanks for the opportunity Untold.

  7. What would have happened ‘short term’ if we hadn’t built the new stadium is to some degree opinion, but Mid to Long term we’d slowly sink to mid-table or worse due to lack of funds, unless a sugar daddy came along.
    With a sugar daddy then we’d have the Chavski issue of looking for a site, which would probably have to be outside the M25 (although depending upon timing we may have had a chance of the Olympic stadium instead of state aid utd)so we’d then have the grief of moving all over again, which would have given our present Middlesex neighbours and their media pets a bigger stick to hit us with.
    Money does matter. That’s why RM, Barca, DisUtd, Bayern etc are the biggest teams. Because they’ve had more money than others for longer. $iteh are building a structure which will eventually give them a consistent big income.
    Liverpoo have a global following far beyond the level their recent history warrants and they do have a strong structure but it’s falling apart (age) so they’re desperate to shore it up with a bigger stadium and some success.
    Anyone that thinks we should have stayed at Highbury really doesn’t understand the mechanics of the top end of the football world.

    As for the short term, IMO if we’d stayed then we’d have had continued success for a few years (3-6) and then the finances would have caught up with us.

  8. Whilst you are entitled to compare Tottenham’s record on managers and lack of success, at least get your facts straight. Chris Hughton and Clive Allen were never ‘manager’ at Tottenham. Caretaker for a game or two, yes. Manager – no. Also, You have David Please in there 3 times when he should only be there once, and even then it was only an extender caretaker role after Hoddle was fired.

    I agree that Arsenal fans should be careful what they wish for though. What else is out there if they get rid of Wenger? It’s not exactly like they are lording it over Spurs at the moment. Scraping above them is probably nearer the mark and with Spurs constantly improving that won’t last forever, unless Levy presses the self-destruct button again.

  9. 13 is the magic number, if you do not realise that Football has become more about money than the beauty of the game, then I would expect nothing more than a projection of ones own disillusionment with the state of ones own affairs in the midst of witnessing a definition of the success you so crave for you and yours.

    I wept against Barca, I was an exponent of the cynicism that is Fergie time, only to be further enlightened to the crass nature of the game as the term is banded about by Murdoch and Co as United sweep to an infamous League victory without giving away a single penalty, a first might I add. Even as Vidic played his own game of volleyball at each defensive set piece.

    I am aghast at the hordes of Fake Gunners parading around in Puma as if they need not share in decades of anguish.

    As I stand on the precipice of my securing my own stadia, I know surely football is money as is life and investing heavily and prudently and making sacrifces over a significant period will always yield fruits. Not only will it do so, it will provide the sustence and means of producing a greater yield in harvests to come.

    This league is ours, Pep can’t learn fast enough, Conte wont last 4 and Pochettino might just get offered something insane.

    However since the first manager of 2004 a certain Spurs chairman has begun his own quiet revolution. Welcome to Champions League, my enemies enemy is my friend. I see two problems, Chelsea and United, City offer too much money to players, why not party on Fri, they can’t sack you. Hence the investment in Sabe, Sterling, Stones, Suadi thinking, they are some of the insanely richest and remain so.

    United do not have a squad and if Hazard leaves for Real as he should, then well, that teams energy comes from the uh-um Terry.

    Kante can emulate Makele all he likes, Willian can run the lenght of the pitch twenty times, but costa can’t play that game and is best ack in Spain and Matic should head to United. dismantled.

    I do not fear mine enemy, I see him wasted away as I look from atoo my fortress.

  10. Did you know, on NewsNow, if you register and sign in you can block any site from appearing on your screen. All you do is right click on their name and select ‘Hide publication’. I have hidden sites that annoy me like Le Grove, ANR, Squawka amoung others that also blocked my comments when it didn’t like my viewpoint. If more of us do this it might give them a new balance when penning their articles. Almost always a good and interesting read at Untold, keep up excellence.

  11. Mr Frankatz what has the club not done about injuries? What about Shad that was hired? Or the Rugby physios brought in?

    The last 2 seasons where we got into 2 and 3 were not scrambles. Are you trying to apply for a manager’s role since you seem to know how to deal with the failings.

  12. Sorry, but Leicester are the ‘exception that proves the rule’, not explode any sort of myth, and if you don’t understand that you really don’t understand the Premier League.

    As for the media . . ? well, most of the media inspired vitriol toward Arsenal comes from a collective inferiority complex. . . Intellectually, football punditry is more often a case of ‘the one-eyed man in the land of The blind’. Stelling and Lineker and co. are the one-eyed men; great at dealing with yob culture and the intellectually challenged, and feeling equally secure and superior when dealing with managers like Allardyce and Mourinho and Moyes and Pardew, and especially the king of the bully-boys Alex Ferguson, but put them up against an intellect like Arsene Wenger and their inferiority complex comes racing to the surface.

    You see, it’s all about jealousy and inverted snobbery. Arsenal is the richest club, with the highest ticket prices, the best location, the cleverest Manager, and the best and most sound fiscal management in the PL. Now in the land of twenty-twenty vision they would be seen as a club to be admired and emulated, but in the land of moronic and infantile football punditry, with its one-eyed ringmasters, they are pilloried.

    Bit like the cleverest kid at school being picked on by the playground bullies, because underneath all that machismo and posturing and violent intimidation the media bullies actually suffer from a massive inferiority complex.

    Or that’s what my mum told me, when the kids at school used to beat the shit out of me.

  13. Brilliant as ever Tony. Instant gratification, it is only winning that matters etc are what drives the negativity towards the club. I am not saying 12 years is less, yes we should have won the league a couple of times atleast and we were close to doing so too. The problem is everything becomes stale for the moaners. Oh again just a top 4, oh again the same shit of not being able to get top top players etc. Arsenal cannot get into a bidding war with any of the sugar daddy clubs out there. What Arsene has done is sustained the club brilliantly in this inflated market. Is that enough? Well depends on how you look at it, half glass full or empty.

    The negativity is borderline jealousy. Every board out there would want a Wenger for their club. Every team would want an Arsene but ultimately it comes down to a simple question; winning is all that matters, one who cant is deemed a failure, sadly.

  14. To be fair to Spurs, they keep sacking their managers in the hope of acquiring their own Arsene Wenger.

    Before Wenger got here, Spurs were the bigger club financially, were considered to play the better football, and had more FA Cups than us. Ever since then, they’ve been in our shadow.

  15. A very interesting historical account. I feel that the disillusionment stems mainly from comments made by those who run the club along the lines of “now that we have built and pretty much paid off the stadium we can compete financially with any club in the world”. This has patently not been true, or we have the money and Wenger will not spend it. It doesn’t take a football expert to see that we need at least one new centre half, so we get a lad from Bolton who is a couple of years at least away from the first team. A new striker, so we get a Japanese lad who may be another Sanogo! And we strengthen the one area in which we are already well covered, midfield. Any wonder the fans get fed up.

  16. Interesting fact is Klopp’s Dortmund, Simeone’s Atleti and Raneiri’s Foxes have delivered something which other big clubs and Managers need to learn….Adapt!!
    Benching of Joel Campbell is mysterious….Sanchez’s position change to accomodate Iwobi…still expecting Theo and Giroud would deliver…Scouting wrong players. List is endless issue is not winning the league but absence of that winning mentality that a Manager should instill.

  17. Good post Tony and thumbs up @Goonermikey. I just wanted to add that there are a lot of unhappy people out there looking for who or what to blame for their misery.

    That is why even winning the league will not satisfy these desperate souls. I call them desperate because they are looking for solace outside when we can only find true happiness from within.

    It upsets me when Arsenal loses matches but the nonsense sprouted online keeps me away for a few days because I don’t like been upset but what I find amazing is that for some people, Arsenal and on goings at the club is their life and when things are not as they wish, they look for who to blame. In this case AW, Arsenal management or whichever player they dim fit.

    The world is already full of dangerous and hateful people that I don’t wish to join them. We don’t need hate, anger, abuse/insults, rather we need joy, peace, happiness and satisfaction.

    And like I like to say, if Arsenal FC upsets you so much, why continue to be a fan. There are another 19 clubs in the EPL and more further down or in Europe you can support. Why stay when you are not held at gun point. Find happiness or satisfaction elsewhere.

  18. What I particularly dislike are the ‘Arsenal fans react on Twatter’ stories five minutes after a deliberate negative story.

  19. Good article Tony. Very informative.

    I however believe you may be wrong as regards those of us who honestly believe that our beloved club can do better if we had a better striker to complement the efforts of Giroud.
    Oliver Giroud is a very good striker but we can do better if we added a better striker to our squad.

    I am not alone in asking for a better striker. I have people who are experts in football who also think we need a brilliant striker to complement our present attackers.

    Who are these experts who are with me?

    I will give just one example ……

    Arsene Wenger. Yes none other the great Le Prof.

    Le Prof has been trying to buy a brilliant striker for several transfer windows now. Remember he tried to sign Suarez. Unfortunately we were dealing with an dishonest Liverpool executive team. Also we foolishly offered £40m + £1 which made Arsenal look cheap and ridiculous.

    Le Prof also tried to sign Jamie Vardy.
    And today we hear that Le Prof tried to sign Laccazzete.

    I think Tony you may need at some point to accept that Arsenal does need to add a quality attacker to our squad. Arsenal creates many, many great scoring chances which are not scored. There are too many games where Arsenal creates 7, 12 or 15 good scoring chances that just go begging and we end up drawing the game or losing 1-0 or losing 2-1 against a team that had only 3 or 4 scoring chances. Arsenal is an attacking team (not a defensive team). We should be able to kill off teams after we have created many scoring chances.

    Zuruvi, Wenger and many genuine Arsenal supporters do think our team needs a clinical striker to add punch to our attack.

    Regardless of the above, I think Tony has written a very good article.

  20. I love these people who dress up answers only to broadly agree with the fantasy football knee jerkers in the end

  21. Tony,
    Excellent article! It’s amazing how many “fans” get angry and hurl abuse at the manager/club whenever an article comes out saying Arsenal did not sign X,Y, or Z.

    The latest being Lacazette, where some “fans” were upset saying Arsenal/Wenger know nothing because the article says Arsenal “only bid €35 million”, but should have given Lyon whatever they wanted!

    An interesting fact they completely ignore: In the last 16 seasons, only twice has the PL Player of the Year or the PFA Players’ Player of the Year cost more than €35 million- Wayne Rooney and Eden Hazard.

    But sure, they know more than Wenger and the Arsenal Board!

  22. Clive, the series is about the fact that buying players does not win the League automatically, otherwise Chelsea, Man City and Man U would have ended up above LEicester and Arsenal who spent much less.

    If you want to argue your case you need evidence. No one is suggesting that the youngsters we have bought will all fit in at once, but there is historic evidence that some youngsters can make good. Why do you think people want to buy Bellerin – because Arsenal bought him through as a youngster.

  23. Do you ever wonder what would have happened if the club did the unthinkable (well, at least to an AKB!) and took the path hereto not taken ?

    Have you ever during your insomnious meanderings ever contemplate how our history would have been had the board heeded ‘them ‘ and went with a new manager like Sam Allardyce , Owen Coyle or Roberto Martinez ? Who would they have bought or brought along with them?

    Chris Samba ? Kevin Davies ? Kevin Nolan ? Jay Jay Okocha ? Or would they have attracted some other world class players with the power of their own personalty and management records ?

  24. Wow! we need a clinical finisher! Who doesn’t? The reality is sometimes even the simplest chance doesn’t go in. That is not because of any particular reason other than luck. I agree a player who belts the ball into the net always looks like Roy of the Rovers. The Wenger style is to pass the ball into the net. It is not the most gratifying but gets us results.

    I like the striker that belts the ball. It is more satisfying in a strange way.

    However, the football that Arsenal play is already the best entertainment value. This season we will cap it with the Premier League Trophy. Our squad is magnificent with the best football system. Tiki taka they call it because they cannot imagine how a macho bully can be passed & left on his arse. Wenger’s football has done it in England.

  25. Only site I read things that gladdens my heart! D negativity is so much thesedays I just stop reading most. Tony thumbs up! Even here in nigeria fans of other clubs especially chelshit’s r so negative abt Arsenal I simply don’t engage them in discussions anymore!

  26. your argument would have been a balanced one if you admitted that Giroud is not sufficient for Arsenal to win the league.. out of 10, i rate Giroud 6.5. Good striker but we need a poacher to complement him, only then can we have both hands on this title.. Nice write up to be honest

  27. My problem with the stance advanced in the article is that it itself lapses into the “false methodology” (=simplification) with which it charges those critical of the way in which Arsenal are presently managed.

    A couple of points:

    > To begin with, “why are people [AFC fans] so antagonistic towards Arsenal”?

    I wouldn’t say most critical fans are outright “antagonistic”, this is too black and white. Rather, we are taking a CRITICAL stance, weighing up what Arsenal reasonably should improve on and what is already of sufficient quality.

    (And clearly there are a number of positives, such as the great players bought/developed: Özil, Sanchez, Cech, Kos, Monreal, Cazorla, Coq, Xhaka, Wilshere, Bellerin, Iwobi, Ramsey (so-so). Yet for all this, it hasn’t been enough to seriously challenge for the league, nor to be competitive in the CL.)

    > “By defining the issue as simply ‘winning the league now’, failure is also easy to define.”

    For a club of Arsenal’s standing, with the considerable resources at its disposal, and with the most expensive match-day tickets in the country, winning SHOULD BE the ultimate benchmark, although none of us would ever presume Arsenal could win the title year after year.

    It’s nice that Arsenal have state-of-the-art training facilities, but that’s not why we attend matches.

    > “All the evidence shows that buying a new centre forward for a lot of money only works some of the time – mostly it doesn’t.”

    I’d like to think that most critics of present-day, Wenger-run AFC believe that a winning team is about the WHOLE: defenders, midfielders, strikers, goalkeeper. For a long time it was obvious that the defense wasn’t good enough (still isn’t, though has improved). It was also clear that we didn’t have a good enough goalkeeper; until (thankfully!) Cech.

    Today, we need a better striker. I think anyone who claims an Aguero, a Lewandowski or a Higuain would not be an upgrade on Giroud cannot be considered a very judicious person.

    But to underline the point – we’re not saying that to make Arsenal into a winning team again we ONLY need to find a better striker. It’s about the whole team, but right now a better striker is ONE piece that would offer necessary reinforcement.

    A point of critique one would like to advance is why it’s taking to manager so long to address ALL the weak spots of the team (more or less) at once. It was obvious for many years that we needed a better goalkeeper; similarly the defense. By the time we have gathered Özil, Xhaka and Sanchez, Kos and Mertesacker are getting old and, since neither Gabriel nor Chambers (not to mention Holding) are completely adequate substitutes, we need to buy these t op quality replacements. If Wenger does that quickly, that’s excellent. However, if he procrastinates, then by the time he’s acquired his top-class defenders, it’s time to replace Özil and Sanchez; and so on and so forth.

    >In terms of the alleged pitfalls of changing the manager:

    Surely, sometimes changing the manager is a good thing – it has demonstratively led to teams winning the league many, many times. To use Tottenham as ONE example is inadequate. You could just as well have instanced Real Madrid, Bayern and Chelsea, all teams with frequent manager changes which have won considerable honors during these changes. Evidence, on which this site prides itself for deploying, must be more robust than singling out merely one team as the point of reference.

    (Also, the argument falsely attributes Tottenham’s lack of success to only one factor = changing the manager. I’m sure you would agree that a team’s factors of success are much more multi-layered and complex than that.)

    If a team has a long-serving manager who continues to win trophies, such as Man U under Ferguson, then continuity is a good thing. But in Wenger’s case, with no visible major improvements lately, I would agree with the many analysts who are saying that time is running out. Arsenal’s league record over the past 9 years does not reveal an upward trend:

    2016, 10 points off the winner
    2015, 12 points off the winner
    2014, 7 points off
    2013, 13 points off
    2012, 19 points off
    2011, 12 points off
    2010, 11 points off
    2009, 18 points off
    2008, 4 points off

    The club’s CL record is decidedly second-tier:

    2015/16 UEFA Champions League Round of 16
    2014/15 UEFA Champions League Round of 16
    2013/14 UEFA Champions League Round of 16
    2012/13 UEFA Champions League Round of 16
    2011/12 UEFA Champions League Round of 16
    2010/11 UEFA Champions League Round of 16
    2009/10 UEFA Champions League Quarter-finals
    2008/09 UEFA Champions League Semi-finals

  28. My reason is more or less the same as “mikeB” says. They are jealous of the Arsenal just like the bully boys or girls who prey on others who are “smarter” or are “nicer people” than them.

    On top of all of this, why does anyone think that Mou (deliberately?) disrupted his job(again) at Chel$ to be freed to take the Manu job? He wants to emulate AW’s tenure at Manu by having a secure job for 20 yrs. His jealous comments some time back about AW being kept for so long really says it all.

  29. Nice article that proves to naysayers that moving to the Emirates was required for the longevity of the club in competing for the next fifty years or more. An interesting line I read in the article and I am quoting here “and yet we seem desperately (according to some) to need a new centre forward – as if in the modern game centre forwards are the only people who score.”, for a team such as ours blessed with a majority of attacking mid fielders. They should be able to generate more goals amongst themselves and relieve pressure from the striker. And I also feel Giroud complements this attacking group of mid fielders by his brilliant link up play and his aerial skills.

  30. Rotimi – you raise the issue of balance and then give an opinion. This is where we differ. I think balance comes from reviewing evidence, you think balance comes from putting in different opinions. We have seen repeatedly on this site that the opinion orientated people simply don’t get the issue of evidence, which is where the whole attempt at debate breaks down.

  31. And bang on cue Merts is sidelined with a knee injury, missing the start of the season. Yes, a knee injury. The type of injury which accounted for 60% of our injury woes last season. So much for our vaunted new medical team. Arsenal have the worst record for injuries over a 10 year period and it’s no coincidence. Something is not right. When Walcott can be brought on to the field without being told to warm up ….something isn’t right. It doesn’t help that we have an almost pathological resistance to strengthening the squad in areas where needed, and consequently running players into the red zone over a long and intense season because we can’t or won’t rotate. Repeating the same mistakes season after season is what makes ‘people’ really angry with the club.

  32. @Frankantz,

    Actually Arsenal does not have the worst injury record in the last 10 years, which the site has shown many times. Many of our longer term injuries were caused by reckless fouls which were allowed by inept PGMO referees- Ramsey, Eduardo, Wilshere, Sagna, Debuchy, and Alexis just to name a few.

    Please do some research and think for yourself, instead of just listening to whatever the media tells you.

  33. I have inflicted much misery on myself the last couple of days by listening to a lot of Talksport, a station I have not listened to for a while.
    I can report that Arsenal talk has taken up a disproportionate amount of airtime compared to other clubs and ALL of it has been negative. I have heard not one single good sentence uttered about our club, and that includes contributions from two of our ex players McLintock and Parlour.
    The various presenters have picked on everything from ticket prices to our injury record, Wengers stubborness, how he dithers in the transfer market and will not pay the market rate despite having more money than almost anyone else, stupid to make Mert captain, won’t finish top four and so on and so on. You name it and they have criticized it, you would think we were the worst run, least successful club in the country. Some of it has been serious criticism but a lot of it has been downright sarcastic mickey taking.
    The sad thing is the number of gooners phoning in and endorsing the crap they are feeding the gullible idiots with.

  34. @Jerry, yes I have also read the Walter Broecke analysis of Arsenal injuries on this site which seems to lay the blame squarely at the door of incompetent refs who hate Arsenal, and other teams who also hate Arsenal kicking the players. Whether you believe this opinion or not the funny thing is it still supports the evidence that Arsenal have suffered a higher injury attrition rate than most other clubs. The question is what are the club doing about it? Together with the rest of the ‘world and his wife and other ‘people’ who hate Arsenal we should be grateful we even get into a top four spot I suppose.

  35. Mick, yes Talk sport is outrageous. How Durham behaves makes me wish someone would give him a slap. Don’t see Martin Keown invited on do you. I heard the way they carried on about Ivan’s statement. Like two schoolboy bullies. Pathetic. And like you say some of people ringing in must be screened for cringeworthyness.

  36. I have just switched on Talk sport and guess what, the Drive Time show is all about Arsenals dithering in the transfer market.
    Do they not have any other teams they can rip to shreds.

  37. @Frankantz,

    There’s a difference between saying

    A) Arsenal has the worst injury record in the last 10 years (your original post)
    B) Arsenal suffer many long term injuries by reckless fouls due to inept PGMO refs (what I said)
    – I don’t know for sure if it’s more or less than other clubs, but it does occur pretty frequently.

    Last year alone, I remember Newcastle definitely had significantly more injuries than us.

    What are the club doing about the injuries? The have revamped the backroom medical, strength, and conditioning staff highlighted with the introduction of Shad Forsythe.

  38. I find it funny being asked to provide proof of our injury record when it’s easily available on this site. Saying Arsenal have a terrible injury record is a pretty unambiguous statement of fact you would think, and it is actually backed up by one of your own contributors! Whether you believe it’s a result of malicious refs, rabid fans or the orientation of the moon is irrevelant.

  39. Pardon me but u seem to pick what is favourable for u to critique. How about u pick any of the suggestions below and do a detailed analysis on them?
    Is Walcott better now than he was when he joined?

    Is it really true that winger couldn’t find any outfield player (in the world)better than what he had @ arsenal last season?

    Is there any reason for merteseker to be worried about the depth and strength of players we have going into the season? ( refer to his post injury remarks which was pretty simple to interprete)

    You may not as is your right….cause it’s your site but it would be interesting to see how you spin it.

  40. @Frankantz,

    Here’s an article from April which showed Arsenal had the 14th highest amount of injuries (7th FEWEST)


    Pretty late to jump in, but here’s my answers to your questions:
    1) No, Walcott has not developed as much as I thought due to various injuries. Last full season he had was 2012/13 when he had 14 goals and 10 assists in ~2300 mins in the league.
    Do I think he can improve and get back to at least those levels? I do, but that’s just my opinion, what about you?

    2) I don’t recall any realistic outfield player that actually moved last year, that was better than our starting OF players. If you can actually recall 1 name, I’m willing to change my position to this answer.

    3) Did you actually read Per’s comments or just the media headline. Here’s the key parts:

    “Of course, those big clubs will be stronger this time. That’s what I expect as they’ll start the season with a lot of new players.

    A lot of transfer business has already been done and it won’t be easy for us this time, especially with all the signings going to the other clubs.

    So we also need to be stronger and I am looking forward to seeing how well we compete for the title with not a lot of signings and a lot of young players.”

    “You cannot predict what will happen with the other teams. Even when you have bought three or four big players, you still need to complement each other,” he added.

    “So there are still a lot of questions to be answered.”

    He looked forward to competing against those clubs, and warned that even if you buy 3-4 big players, they need to complement each other so they’ll have a lot of questions also.

    Now, here’s 2 questions for you:
    1) why does Arsenal have to sign an expensive player? In the last 16 seasons, only twice has the PFA or the PL Player of the Years cost more than 35 million. Hell Mahrez

    2) Why criticize Arsenal for signing cheaper but potentially quality players before they even put on the shirt? Mahrez only cost 400,000, Vardy 2m, Kante 5.6m, Eric Dier 4m, Eriksen 11m etc..

  41. @Jerry. So I’m criticized for doing no research and just listening to the media and then you give me a link to a Sky article? I could just as well have given you this link from the same source (Physioroom) which shows that over several seasons Arsenal have averaged out top of the injury league:


    or Barney Ronay’s measured article in the Guardian (also based on stats from Physioroom):


    But don’t take my word for it. Or even Physioroom.com’s. Read Walter Broecke’s article on this very site. Hopefully things are getting better, but Mert’s injury is an inauspicious start to the season, especially considering he’s presumably rested for most of the summer.

  42. @Frank,

    The physio room article was from 2015, Shad Forsythe only joined the summer before I believe. Though Arsenal has been hit hard with injuries, not near the worst. The physio room article highlights the number of weeks missed. If you have players out with long term injuries, obviously that number will be higher. The sky article, I posted was based on the number of players injured throughout the season.

  43. Walcott has scored 80 goals in 10 years. That’s approx 8 goals every year.for his price,potential and wage,will u keep him on the payroll if arsenal was your company? (That’s the ruthlessness that arsene lacks imho)
    U don’t have a worldwide scouting network so I won’t query u on what u know on don’t know about quality players but nobody on earth can justify that statement that in the whole wide world,our extensive scouting network couldn’t identify any striker who could at least compete with giroud & Walcott? It’s either they are that peerless or our scouting network isn’t doing a good enough job or they did,but wenger decided,once again, that what he had was good enough.and we ended up 10 points behind a team who we had more shots on goal than.
    Also, isnt it quite funny that the most positive inference u could make from the whole paragraph u quoted was that “he looked forward to competing? But warned that blending might be a problem?
    To your questions (which r more or less the same)here’s what I say
    I have no issues with buying a lesser known player.hell I became an arsenal and a wenger fan primarily because he singlehandedly resurrected the career of one of Nigeria’s greatest talent, kanu nwankwo. My problem is “Just buy an extra body where we are deficit” even by wengers standards,we were short a striker last season.cos we normally have 3 senior team strikers. In fact technically 1 cause even when giroud was having a barren spell,he didn’t use theo. So before I am misconstrued, I am not a buy a celebrity advocate,I am a buy where we are numerically deficient advocate. We need a senior striker,we need a senior defender.that’s pretty obvious.we have the right to grumble when he tells us I have enough or I have the solution in house and they prove incapable during the business end of the season.

  44. @chibyke,
    I never stated what you said: “nobody on earth can justify that statement that in the whole wide world,our extensive scouting network couldn’t identify any striker who could at least compete with giroud & Walcott?”

    There is a lot that goes into a transfer, just because the scouting network identifies a good player, it does not mean Arsenal can just click a mouse and sign a player. Multiple aspects go into it for example:

    1) Is the club willing to sell the player?
    2) Does the player want to come to Arsenal?
    3) Will the player be able to blend in with the rest of the squad?

    I agree Walcott had a bad year last season, partly due to injuries. But did any striker move last year that would have been better than anyone else we had?

    Tell me if this is a forward you would sign:
    A player that scored or assisted a league goal every 88 mins in 2014/15 as well every 95.4 mins in 2013/14 and 2012/13 season, while just turning 26 years old?

    Guess who you would have signed? THEO WALCOTT!

    There is still 1 month left in the transfer window so there is no point in being negative about the club’s transfers yet. The club does not need fans, it needs supporters. The supporters should be welcoming and getting behind the players that are transferred in and anyone that wears the Arsenal shirt.

    Some of the negative fan responses to the transfers of Holding and Takuma Asano were truly unacceptable. These young kids and all the players of the club deserve better from their fans. With friends like these, who needs enemies.

    I’ll continue this conversation on more recent articles if you want.

  45. @ jerry, before I go further ,may I say that I respect you for how this discussion has been going.very clean and civil.thank you for that.
    Now,the atmosphere didn’t up and go poisonous all of a sudden, it built up over the years (no doubt fuelled by the anti-arsenal press.but if u r sincere to your self u will admit that there’s no smoke without fire.
    When wenger says “I have enough” I can’t get better players than I already have.and those players fail to deliver,year in,year out,it gets to fans.and we must admit,our performances for some years now have been underwhelming.
    Again,we need 2 extra senior players, a striker and a central defender going into this season.i don’t need to be a coach to see this…. if he gets the extra bodies in,he will neutralise a certain percentage of the negative fans and raise optimism (which may be temporary) but if he doesn’t? He will be once again saying “i have enough,none better out there” and since this formular has failed for sometime now,it then follows logically that more people won’t believe it. a nervous,nail biting,pessimistic crowd @ the Emirates against Liverpool will mutate into a mutinous crowd should results not go our way.

  46. MikeB, love the comment, concise and spot on, I couldn’t have done better myself.

    And in regards to positions, yes we need a stronger supporting cast and we need to decide whther we are cashing in on Nacho and Santi. Walcott, I have nothing to add, West Ham come in if the Kop don’t want him. He suits a counter attacking game solely. He doesn’t fit and has lost the impetuosity and tenacity of his youth, Maybe too long with Wenger adopting behaviours without understanding them.

    No man is perfect, but forgive a man his faith and willingness to trust, it created how many world Class players and footballing legends?

    You want a striker, OK where do you get one? From a lesser club, yes just sitting there with oodles of technique nobody noticed, or from the outcast of a top club with his wages and clearly indifferent approach to training, or you have a Cavani or a Morata who are likely better than the star man, but the star men aren’t really desirable, Zlatan (age) Benzema (sex blackamil).

    No you have to wait and develop a control over leaks, asking the future Manager to distance himself whilst he works for sky and fast tracks management experience. You tap up Vardy and alert other clubs to his contract, leading to Kante going and then you go in for the real deal.

    You scout Kostas, Junillo, Hewedes, William, Verana and the swoop fell on the ideal partner in Valencia. You pay 3m for a guy who makes half the unforced errors of £50 Stones. You cultivate playrs and put Alex right wing, to develop his understudy.

    You spare Alex Gibbs sending off and he repays you with composed 20 yard finishes. You probe the Home Office and sign a player in December and wait the whole window whilst they process a visa from Switzerland, I cannot imahine the swiss not having his whole ID on Micro Sd by December 18, makered dispatched, not unlike Finsbury Park council saying 3 extra concert dates would be a noise disturbance, have you been to the area?

    I’m waiting patiently on Mustarfi and Mahrez, because I cannot see anything else, being so ideal.

    We sell Debouch, assess Carl and listen to the wire regarding the Monreal, Santi and Giroud, we hope the unamed international waiting for a fee to be agreed is Theo and commend Bilic if it proves to be right, he needs some central/eastern European management, the boy is a p**sy.

    Then knowing the 19m clause for Rodriguez, we shop again, knowing the Swizz link is good. We hope Zidane isn’t so hot on the cut price, arguably better version of Pogba and we wait and see what is available on the market.

    I want to see the Japanman, I hope he got this one right, culture, lends to efficiency around bos, and he’s quick, scored two after he signed for us, committed.

    we need the class on right, and partner at CB. we win the league anyway.

    With a real classic no 9 and a improvement on Nacho, we have the best most cohesive squad in the league and if you saw us vs MLS, well you know what 12 years of hurt gets you.

    Akpom, Iwobi, Willock, Yje Jeff, Gedians distribution, where did I see that before, oh mr friendly red card, but this boys weighting of passs is insane. off the ball 17, anyone seen ther stats of some players in FM16. LOL meet the owners, one is a united fan, the other liverpool and the former has a public dislike of Arsenal.

    Knowledge is power.

    You guys rock, hope I can get the media section up soon, ypu guys have jobs! 😉

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