By Tony Attwood
My little dig against the Evening Standard for its headline “Arsenal did not build the Emirates to play Vorskla on a Thursday night” may not have been the cause, but that headline has been changed between then and now, for now it reads… “Arsenal v Vorskla shows it takes more than bricks, mortar and executive kitchens to dine at the top table.”
This second onslaught is such a weird article I can’t even start to summarise it, because to do a summary one needs to hold on to a certain consistency of argument, or some sort of logical basis which one can then debate, and here I can find none.
But it all raises one question: why is the Standard taking such a strong anti-Arsenal position at this time? They were grossly anti-Wenger, but one might have thought they could give the new regime a chance to get going. But no, apparently not.
Of course, they have a problem because their chosen London club at the other end of Seven Sisters are not exactly setting the world alight what with stadium delays and losing the occasional game, and I suppose what the paper is up to can be seen as something to set up smoke screens when they cannot be in favour of the wonderful Tottenham. But even so.
Not that the rest of the media has anything particular to say about the game – presumably because the media is written by journalists who find going to the ground to be paid to watch a match so boring, while those of us who actually go, find it good fun. I’ll be setting off from the midlands around 2.30pm, not because it takes five hours to get to the ground, but because the match is part of the whole occasion – meeting with friends, a drink and a spot to eat in the pub, and so on.
So what we mostly have in the run up to the game is negativity, and a few transfer ideas. There is chatter about Éver Banega, who played for Mr Emery at Valencia and Sevilla plus Cristian Pavón from Boca Juniors. Not to mention Nicolas Pépé. But last summer only one in every 24 transfer stories turned out to be true in regards to Arsenal, so three ideas is nowhere near enough to spot a winner.
At the moment Mr Emery has been in charge of five games and won three – a win ratio of 60%. At PSG his win ratio overall was 76.32% of the matches PSG played under him – he won the league once, the Cup twice and the League cup twice.
And on that basis Mr Emery lost his job. Which since his ultimate employer was one of the more repulsive of human rights deniers maybe didn’t upset him too much. Under new management they will go on and win the league again. And so what?
Well the current view is that PSG’s dominance of the French league stops them winning in Europe. And in one piece among the chitter chatter today there is the notion that PSG is a somewhat mistaken marketing outlet for Nike. I doubt that, although “a laundromat for Qatar’s international reputation” might be closer to the truth.
Although the lack of investment at Arsenal in the club and the team by the owner will make it hard if not impossible for Arsenal to compete with teams where the owner does put in the millions as a matter of course, where we do have success it will be entirely down to the work of the management and the team, not of foreign investors looking to reduce the negative feeling their human rights stance delivers. Those of us who buy tickets for the games will have done a tiny amount to keep the show on the road.
The Arsenal Stadium that we’ll be in tonight was built to increase the amount of money that the club could generate of its own volition, to allow Arsenal to compete with Manchester United, who have for 50 years been the top earners in England due to their foresight at a time when Arsenal were financially going backwards. But what was not fully understood when the plans to develop the new ground were introduced was just how much money the Chelsea owner would give the club. Nor that Uefa and the Premier League would allow it to happen. Nor that Manchester City would take what Chelsea was doing and treat it not as the antithesis of what football should be, but the blueprint which could be multiplied again and again.
But, no matter what, I know those of us going to the game will all have a jolly time. We pay hard earned money to do this, and we enjoy it. It’s just a shame that most journalists never have a clue what support is about.
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