by Tony Attwood
There is an article in the Telegraph that runs this headline
“Arsene Wenger won three FA Cups in twilight of his Arsenal reign, yet Spurs are lauded for a top-four finish.”
It is indeed an interesting perspective, especially if we compare the last five years
From 2012/13 to 2015/16 Tottenham entered the Europa League each year. They were knocked out in the Round of 32 once, the 16s twice and the quarter finals once. Arsenal have been in the competition once and are in the semi-finals. In the Champions League Tottenham went out in the Group Stages. Arsenal did not once go out in the group stages
Tottenham in the league from 2012/13 to 2016/17 have come 2nd once, 3rd once, 5th twice and sixth once. This year I suspect they will come fourth, so including that we get 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th (twice) and sixth. Making the same assumption for Arsenal we get 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 4th, 5th and presumably sixth this year.
In the FA Cup they’ve had two semi-finals in the six years including this year when they were able to play the semi-final at home. Arsenal have won it three times.
So when we compare Tottenham with Arsenal, we don’t have to go back across the 22 years of Mr Wenger’s reign to see a difference. Even in these last few years Arsenal have been superior.
And yet while the Telegraph manages to remain as balanced as a national newspaper can ever be, the Guardian continues its attack. For the Telegraph adds that with Mr Wenger “any semblance of perspective became frequently lost.” As others have said, the pinnacle was the unbeaten season, the depths at the end was winning the FA Cup three times in four years.
Even this year, in what is the worst season since the one immediately before Mr Wenger arrived, we have the Europa League semi-final and the League Cup final. True, no trophies, but still some challenges.
I suspect that having seen the behaviour of the yobs there are some potential candidates for the job of manager who are thinking, “no thanks – not with those fans”. Mr Wenger is, apparently (according to David Dein) already awash with job offers.
“I believe this club is respected all over the world, much more than in England, and our fans did not give the image of unity that I wanted. That was hurtful because I feel the club is respected over the world and, overall, the image we gave from our club is not what it is – and not what I like….
“If you travel with us – and I travel a lot – this club is respected all over the world and that is down to work, the way we play football, the way we behave and the way we treat people. I want that to go on, to be respected and to give the image I think is right. It is more than the money, more than the result. It is the way the club is received and the impression it leaves all over the world.”
“I’m happy when the fans are happy and I’m even ready to suffer to make them happy. If sometimes they make me happy as well [perhaps he meant the banner!], I will take it. Every single decision I made during my 22 years was for the good of Arsenal and every single decision was with the priority of doing well for the club. I tried to influence the club on structure, development of players and style of play. To combine the three is not always easy and I believe I leave a club that is in a very good position.
“My target was always to do that and give continuity to the guy who comes in after me so we can be better in the next 20 years. That’s my wish.”
But unable to let the backbiting go, the Guardian then commented of yesterday’s match, “it was noticeable that the home crowd sang his name on less than a handful of other occasions. None of the chants were sustained. It was a long way from being an appreciation of what Wenger has put into the club over nearly 22 years.”
The other side of that is that in any game over those 22 years you never get more than half a dozen songs for Wenger – you get them for players and against the opposition, and for the club. It is one of those viewpoints that the media love to use – a statement of fact “less that a handful”, put in a negative manner (they could equally have said the fans repeatedly sang his name which would also have been true), but it was a fact that was a false comparison with history, from which they extracted an opinion which itself was false, since the appreciation is normally delivered when a person leaves, not when he or she announces the leaving.
The Guardian also speaks of a “sense of drift”. This in a team that has recently signed Mkhitaryan and Aubamayang, to add to its forward line that already had Lacazette and Ozil. Or maybe it was the way Ramsey was still developing. Or maybe because we DIDN’T win the FA Cup this year. Or maybe it was that even though both our top goalscorers for the season left in January we still have three players who have scored in double figures this year (that favourite method of measuring success by the notorious Amy Lawrence).
Or maybe it is just habit. What shall we do today? I don’t know. OK let’s knock Arsenal.
Untold Arsenal’s Emirates banner featured on Match of the Day and record equalled.
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