How the Arsenal imagined by the media and the anti-Wenger fans compares to the club’s history

by Tony Attwood

There is a web site I rather like – The Sack Race – which provides details of managers and how often they are sacked. For example they show us that only 11 out of the 20 Premier League managers have been at their club for MORE THAN ONE YEAR.   Only eight have been there for two years or more.

It’s worse in the championship – only nine of the managers has been in post for over a year.

Trouble is, it does go off the rails sometimes as with “Scotland’s George Ramsay holds the record for the most amount of FA Cup wins with six, claiming all of them while in charge of Aston Villa.”  Well, actually no.  A certain Mr Wenger holds the record, and what’s more some of Ramsey’s wins were achieved when it was possible to win the cup by just playing three or four games.

I thought that might be a slip – just like the FA (who run the FA Cup) have utterly refused to acknowledge that Arsenal are the present FA Cup holders (until this year’s final) on their official web site.   But now I began to wonder, as I read this by Andy Dillon on the site:

“Wenger has produced teams which have won trophies from time to time and at occasionally had audiences on their feet. But he hasn’t been able to do both consistently.”

So, “from time to time”.   Of course the writer of that probably used his own site’s table on how many FA Cups various people have won to get that statement, but I wondered which clubs had won the most over the past 22 seasons from 1996/7 until this season.   If you look at the list you’ll see we’ve won fewer trophies than Chelsea and Manchester United, but more than Liverpool, Tottenham or Manchester City or indeed anyone else over this period.  So we’ve been the third best.

Of course I would love us to have had the same record as Man U and Chelsea in these years, but the fact is that we need to take the sentence above and rephrase it to the effect that, “Wenger has produced teams which have won more trophies than any club other than Man U and Chelsea during his time at the helm.  If his consistency is to be questioned then so is the consistency of all the other clubs in the Premier League, who have changed managers at the drop of a hat.  And we might also like to consider that he was very restricted in his transfers during this time because of the club’s debt.”

Mr Wenger has also equalled the 1930s era with the number of trophies.   In the 22 years from 1929/30 onwards Arsenal won the League seven times, and the FA Cup three times.   Which is a remarkable mirror image of the 22 years under Wenger when Arsenal won the League three times and the FA Cup seven times.

So yes, because these days we value the League about the Cup (whereas in the 30s, 40s and 50s it was the other way around) the pre- and post-war sides were better.  But the number of trophies turns out to be identical to Arsenal’s best ever period.

And also yes, George Graham won the league twice, the FA Cup once, the League Cup twice and the Cup Winners Cup once and he did that in nine seasons.  Who knows what would have happened if he had not been a naughty boy and had gone on longer.  His last three seasons saw us 10th, 4th and 12th in the league (we were 12th when he was dismissed and that is where we were at the end of the campaign.)  It wasn’t looking good but he had won those trophies.

So if we take these eras – the pre- and post-war eras, the Graham era, and the Wenger era, Wenger’s record stands up very well indeed.   The rest of the 80 years since the Chapman revolution, we haven’t actually done nearly so well.

Thus 80 years in which we have won 13 FA Cups, 13 League titles, 2 League Cups and 2 European trophies.   That is 30 trophies.  Slightly better than one every 3 years.   In Wenger’s time of 22 years it has been 10 trophies.  Better than the average for Arsenal, even when counting against the era before and after the war.

In short what some fans are demanding is not “Give me my Arsenal back” but “Give us an Arsenal we have never had before.  A totally different club.”  One that exceeds what happened in the Pre and post war era of Chapman, Shaw, Allison and Whittaker, and one that continues the Graham era but without the hand in the till and without the drop to 12th in the league, and one that exceeds the Wenger era.

Yes, the best Arsenal era ever.  Is that too much to ask for?  Well, maybe, and it would be good to know how the club is supposed to achieve it.




17 Replies to “How the Arsenal imagined by the media and the anti-Wenger fans compares to the club’s history”

  1. Or maybe they want the arsenal of the earlier Wenger years. Yes, you’d say Wenger gave them those years, true. But because you did well initially doesn’t mean you must be around forever, when you can no longer deliver the minimum standard you set, be honorable and allow someone else try

  2. Tippity toppity analysis Tony. It puts our record into perspective doesn’t it? And Mr Wenger’s. It is a level of achievement we can all feel proud about. As can Arsène of course. Following yesterday’s defeat and the disappointment he obviously feels, I hope one day he feels the pride he deserves to feel.

    Great summary too: “In short what some fans are demanding is not “Give me my Arsenal back” but “Give us an Arsenal we have never had before. A totally different club.” And that is exactly right about me I think. You got me. How can I defend myself? Unrealistically (perhaps) and unreasonably (probably) I do want more than we’ve achieved. Not because what we’ve achieved wasn’t good enough or because I’m not grateful or feel very lucky to support such a great club but because the mountain is there. It says, “Climb me!”. I admit I dream of my club doing exactly what Liverpool are doing (again), and standing on top of that mountain with some other gladiatorial giant battling over the ultimate club accolade. I just want to believe my club has the same dream and will pursue the climb. It’s not so much a “totally different club” as much as the best my club can be. How, as you ask, is the club supposed to do it? Well, how has Liverpool done it? How has Athletico done it in the recent past? Not deepless pocketed clubs. There must be some lessons in their achievements? I’m encouraged by the changes Arsenal have made in the back-ground structure and I fully expect a long rebuild across a few seasons, with progress I hope, and probably no silver ware. Just as long as the Club is striving with relentless purpose and not settling for less than it has the potential to achieve. You’d like that too. What a ride it would be. Success or failure.

  3. “……..rephrase it to the effect that, “Wenger has produced teams which have won more trophies than any club other than Man U and Chelsea during his time at the helm”.

    I think that’s rather drogatory. It should be rephrased to read, “Wenger has produced teams which have won more trophies than any club other than Man U and Chelsea during his time at the helm, and done it with a mere fraction of the budget those clubs had, hence enabling Arsenal to build the best stadium in the country and remain financially stable.”

  4. Its also worth keeping in mind how often we were runners up or in finals we lost over AW time.Meaning there were years where not much was happening, but with great moments but now some people are now irritated at not playing CL football, yet some were calling for it last season “as a wake up”.Doesnt often work like that as often we adapt a mentally to our surroundings, and deal with the polarities therein.But now we start to see how incredible our run in the CL was, and that has to be taken into consideration.

    As things have gone on, Chapmans being more and more used to put down AW, as the ~authentic~ and greatest manager, and GG too, has become blown out of proportion. How many are left that saw Chapmans Arsenal? So the rest is a kind of potentially stato myth- making and wonder? One thing is for sure, its all relative, and cross judging epochs is an odd thing, due to the changes in the times and styles of football, and the way the game is played.

    Plus show me real or authentic and I will show you relativity and stream.But its normal, being a trick of the mind to think we are the one, or the most etc. Cultural codes are just false ideas of authority mostly if we really look?

    Im not sure how AW will be viewed in the future, four finals and one semi in five years will be forgotten,as will dealing with the stadium move-a massive cultural impact on the whole club and its history- and the period up to the CL final will be thought of as great,eclisping all? Of course two doubles is a magnificent record. But the bitterness that somehow AW has stopped some people from entering a personal emotive land of milk and honey will last a long time. Perhaps the Arsenal they wanted back was 97-2004, and for that to continue ( which might have become boring in the long run?. My own memories of the GG years was that it wasnt as great as many think. But that doesnt mean much perhaps until things become memes and then we have legends of lies being born. Thats my concern with the strange writings of journos and the words of pundits.

    A waste of time considering it, but what if the money bags hadn’t turned up, would AFC and MU have kept on battling it out? Talking of wasting time, what a lot of that AMadrid did last night, man that can get the blood pressure up.Its only a game, until all sorts of other cultural bits and peices start riding on the bloody thing!
    The irony (though unpleasant for me)is that the pre Wenger pain was back last night, the Arsenal I grew up with, starting in the 77/78 season.Is it in our DNA?
    On we go,who knows to where. Certianly miss St.Totteringham, wonder what hes up to..?

  5. Ive just read on a blog, that other teams have improved and surpassed us. Is that the whole picture?
    Man Ure picked up more last year( trophy wise) and so did Man City.
    Man Ure only have the FAC as do Chelsea.As we know only one of them can win, so whoever loses comes out with less than last year.
    Man Ure improved in the League. Chelsea didnt, form 1st down to 5th and only have a FAC to give them something.
    The Chickens record breaking bottled another semi ( a trophy for that?), even whilst playing in the adopted Coop. Of course they are happy because for the second year running they are above us. But still could only manage a semi. Is coming above us a new kind of trophy-in which case we are owed enough to fill ten new trophy cabinets? They dropped down from second to wherever it might be( 4th prob).
    Liverpool are in a final, and will have risen up the league, from 4th to 3rd.
    City went form 3rd to 1st and grabbed the League cup ( and see how relieved they were and what that tin pot cup meant to them by their celbrations in that game and afterwards).
    Dear old Arsenal 5th ( by 1 pt) last year drop down one place, but make the Lge Cup final and a semi in the EL ( in a very close run two games).So Arsenal are four finals and one semi in five years(three wins and two losses).
    Vardy said he didnt want to come to us as we were falling apart. But thats relative as we see.Yes falling apart cmapre to 97/98 perhpas or something like that?
    Think of all those years we came in the top four, and the negative comment is it doesnt mean anything, well the same rule is for every other team that is in the to four but doesnt win it. Does it mean anything except being glad to be in the CL? SO being fourth is what? Also something to be celebrating…many of the Arsenal fans are moaning already about EL and the Chickens are gloating.

    Greasvie to Saint: ” Funny old game Saint”
    Saint to Greavsie: ” Aye Jimmy, but not as daft as the media spin”

  6. Multiple sources saying Amy Lawrence is to write the official Arsene Wenger story. Should be a cracking read! Keown lined up for the intro.

  7. All the better for you then menace, more shit for you to fill yourself with. Wenger will soon be gone, u won’t have ass to kiss, you might as well stock up on shit to last through the season

  8. Fishpie,

    The mountain analogy is great, because it leads to the immediate scenario: if the mountain says “climb me” and you run out of breath while going 4.25 out of the 5km required, don’t even think about returning home, or the people there will hang you to dry for being unable to climb the last 0.75km, although doing that would have implied investing in expensive equipment, or a helicopter, which you obviously don’t have money for.

    Hint: The distances are realistic terrestrial heights. Multiply them by 4 to get the measure of Arsenal’s challenges.

    Ok, now, about Liverpool: How do they do it?
    What did they do well: Gegenpressing and a flowing (counter)attacking game. Examples are countless, their matches against us included. Their full-backs had a good season, especially Andy Robertson, and we all know from Wenger no less how important their form is to the modern game. As a paranthesis, is it any wonder that our drop in form coincided with Bellerin getting injured and playing through pain, and with Nacho getting in his 30s and losing speed?
    What did they do not so well: Limited squad. They didn’t rotate their players as much as they should have, given the length of the campaign, and the results will show in the following seasons, when the injuries will take their toll, especially on their midfielders & front line. If history is any indication, that’s what Klopp’s German teams suffered of. That and the inability to patch the holes with youngsters good enough to withstand the rigors of the top tier. UCL qualification brought in additional money, which will be inevitably spent on players, but how much will that keep them up it’s anyone’s guess.

  9. Self-sustainable business model is why. I’m a supporter of clubs being self-sustain, it’s the only way to survive in the long term.

  10. I’m going to get a chant going: “What do we want? The Arsenal we have never had before. When do we want it? Now Mr Gazidis”

    should go down a storm

  11. Hi Florian. Yeah its true. If we get a good deal of the way but not all the way we tend to criticise for not completing the climb rather than praising for getting reasonably close. And I also agree we don’t factor in the difficulty of the climb for us compared to other climbers with extra gear and tents etc. So does that mean we shouldn’t try? Not worth it, we might get shouted at if we fail. No Point. All I can do is talk for myself. Two of my proudest times as an Arsenal fan were the 1980 season when we lost two Cup Finals and the the year we lost the Champion League Final to Barca.
    I was so proud of how we got to those finals, the difficulty of the challenge we faced with the teams we had to face to get us there. We ran out of oxygen (literally in 1980 -we were knackered) before being able to plant ourvivtory flag on the summit. The challenges were huge and stacked against us, (apart from the second Division’s West Ham). As for Liverpool this yea,well yep there were on-the-pitch factors which went their way but I was wondering from a financial and club culture perspective too. It just seems they brought a number of ingredients together which maximised their chances within a budget. We could do that, couldn’t we..maximise our chances? And even if we were to win the CL, I’ve no expectation that the team’s reign would last that long at all. Liverpool might not be able to sustain their intense style of play across 2/3 seasons. they might not even win the CL…but they are, for the moment, on the Summit , preparing for the top Club honour. Not easy, very tough, probably undoable but surely worth having a go, regardless of the moaners.

    blacksheep63…What do we want? A dream fulfilled. When do we want it? As long as it takes.

  12. Fishpie,

    Exactly. This kind of thought pattern of “not worth trying as if we fail we fall prey to public opprobrium” proves to only be destructive. To get a measure of it, imagine what happens when an entire nation embraces this mentality.

    Yet, shouting at the people that took the challenge and didn’t make it to the top of the climb despite their full desire and best efforts is exactly what wobs are doing.

    I am looking forward to Swiss Ramble’s next article about EPL, and especially us and Liverpool. Until then, I’m afraid I don’t have enough data to make a compelling financial argument. I wouldn’t be surprised if they got level with us in terms of income, while their wage bill has been mostly inferior, and certainly in the last few years.

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