By Tony Attwood
As we await the big game on Thursday and all serious transfer talk is on hold until we know who the new manager is going to be we are dealing with scraps from the table. Important scraps but nonetheless not the main news about a) who the manager will be and b) who that man will sign.
What we do know, or at least I think we might know, is that Holding has signed a new contract. If that is right I think that is great news. He has been terrific for his age in a position in which most players need a few more years to establish themselves. What’s more he was an absolute bargain.
Elsewhere we are being told that there is a thought that the West Stand will become the Arsene Wenger stand. Not a bad idea because from there you can see our banner. Here’s the video, just in case you are not tired of seeing it yet.
Meanwhile the Guardian’s resident cartoonist has a piece titled, “What is football, if not for dreaming?” Well, actually, if you go to the games, it is by and large abuse. Lots of it. It used to be abuse of the other team’s players, but now (at least at Arsenal and at least in one or two parts of the ground and certainly in the press and on the blogs) it is abuse of our manager and some of our players.
As the recent review of the comments of Sky Sports commentators and pundits showed, the abuse is at such a level that the logical extension of it must be that if Arsenal are as bad as these people say, then so must all the clubs below them be. 75% of the Premier League is therefore utterly clueless and awful.
I pondered on this point once more on seeing another headline today: “Fans demand entertainment and unambitious managers are paying the price.” But I wonder if that the case? Arsene Wenger was dedicated to entertainment and yet he paid the price for not winning enough games. George Graham was never a great one for entertainment and yet a part of the Arsenal fanbase revere him for his trophies.
- Under George Graham we scored 711 goals in 460 games. 1.54 per game.
- Under Arsene Wenger we scored 2142 goals in 1227 games thus far. 1.74 goals per game.
- In terms of defence with Graham we let in 403 in those 460 games: 0.87 goals a game.
- In terms of the Wengerian defence we let in 1137 in 1227 games thus far: 0.92 goals a game – slightly worse.
So who was the entertainer? Graham or Wenger? I’d argue Wenger. Not just that he had a win rate of 57.38% against Graham’s 48.91%. But Graham still wins many people’s plaudits as the greater of the two managers because of the trophies. Two league titles, one FA Cup, two league cups and a Cup Winners Cup. Six trophies in nine seasons. As opposed to 10 trophies in 22 seasons.
That’s the point. Many people don’t care too much about entertainment – they want trophies. Coming second isn’t a trophy. Indeed it isn’t even worthy of a mention as we found last time Arsenal did it.
But what of ambition. Who has the ambition now? Presumably the managers of the top six clubs in the Premier League, although probably not to win the league next season. That, as we already know, will be won by Manchester City.