by Tony Attwood
Imagine you are paid to report football stories and likely rumours. Not weird made up tales but stuff that could well be true.
Now imagine that you were doing this job 18 months ago and your boss said, “I want you to write a piece about who will win the domestic trophies and which clubs would get rid of their manager.”
And now finally imagine you presented a list of three clubs (Leicester, Manchester United and Manchester City) back to your boss. Your boss might say at this point: “what’s this, a list of trophy winners or a list of clubs that will part company with their managers?”
And you say “both.” And you’d be right of course. They won trophies and the manager left largely because winning a trophy is not enough any more. As Mr Wenger said, “You have to accept that nothing is good enough. You have to live with that.”
So I guess those who want Mr Wenger out will have changed their minds about wanting Arsenal to be defeated in every game, but instead will want him to win, so he then goes. He will after all at that point be the manager with more FA Cup wins than any other in the history of the game, and it seems unlikely that anyone will ever come along to beat that – what with clubs getting rid of manager when they win something.
And of course Arsenal do have practice in winning with a different manager each time. If you know your Arsenal history you will know that we won the league in 1933, 1934 and 1935 with a different manager each time.
It is interesting though that this year the predictions of winning managers leaving are not being repeated; interesting because normally the same predictions are made each year. It doesn’t matter that they are wrong each year, they still come back each year.
So last summer and the summer before (for example) the media (big and little) predicted a mass exodus of Arsenal players. In fact by the end of the window there were stories of 20 Arsenal first team players leaving each summer.
In the end the numbers were a lot smaller. Last summer for example we let go (or lost depending on your point of view) Serge Gnabry, Wellington Silva, Tomás Rosicky, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini.
So not 20, and in fact at largely predictable list. In fact I think that the only player anyone wanted to keep from that list was Gnabry, and that was only after his work in the Olympics. He was offered a contract and turned it down.
The year before we had the same thing happen – everyone was predicted to be leaving and in the end we lost Lukas Podolski, Ryo Miyaichi Semi Ajayi Abou Diaby. (Of course some departure lists also include temporary loan exits, but loanees can return and sometimes do, so I leave them out – otherwise they get counted twice; once when they leave on loan and once when they leave permanently).
So, obviously, winning is not enough. Which means getting into the semi final again, and thus retaining our semi-final record is not important. Mind you it was when this picture was taken. It was Arsenal’s first semi-final in 1906, played at Stoke against Newcastle (in the zebra stripes).
We didn’t do any more semis until Chapman came along and we beat Southampton in the 1927 semi at Stamford Bridge. We still didn’t win the cup though until 1930.
Overall however we still have the record number of semi-final appearances, shared with Manchester United. Just as we share the record number of cup wins. In this table * shows teams already through to the semis this season and includes this season in the total, ** is for the two teams still to play the quarter final.
|West Bromwich Albion||20||10||10|
But let’s go back to the start: everyone is leaving. To the already extensive list we can add Lucas Perez who is “eager for a summer exit at the Emirates, despite only signing from Deportivo last summer.” That is in the Metro.
Also off according to earlier comments are Cech, Bellerin, Gibbs, Koscielny, Xhaka, Ospina, Debuchy, Monreal, Jenkinson, the Ox, Ozil, Ramsey, Alexis and Theo. Only 14 so far, but still plenty of time to add to the list. The window doesn’t open for another 110 days.
Arsenal History Books on Kindle
The novel “Making the Arsenal” by Tony Attwood which describes the events of 1910, which created the modern Arsenal FC, is now available for the first time on Kindle. Full details are here.
Also available on Kindle, “Woolwich Arsenal: the club that changed football” the only comprehensive history of the rise of Arsenal as a league club, and the attempts to destroy the club, from within and without. For full details please see here.
Both books are also available as paperbacks. Please see here.