By Tony Attwood
There is an article in the Daily Star which basically says that if Arsenal do not get off to a good start next season, supporters will be calling for the manager to be sacked.
I don’t know if that is true at any level. A terrific run this season, after the first two games, got people excited but as soon as the defeat to Southampton happened, then the worries started – and of course results since then have not been so good. Supporters can turn after just a couple of bad results, whenever they happen.
Also the issue with Ozil had nothing particularly to do with results, but it has caused a lot of concern among some supporters, showing that results are not everything.
But what both issues have done is given the rancid media a chance to run anti-Arsenal headlines, and that is always the great desire of the media, simply because Arsenal are historically the top London team.
I make that last point because a number of Tottenham supporters wrote in recently noting that we wrote about Tottenham while Tottenham blogs didn’t write about Arsenal. One might argue that this is because we have a broader perspective than they do and so write about lots of teams, but also because historically Arsenal is by far the most significant London club. Thus comparing Arsenal and Tottenham is never something Tottenham fans like to do.
Indeed this historical perspective is often completely lost on some supporters – but it is worth noting. Here are the winners of the First division and the Premier League.
|Preston North End|
Only three London clubs have ever won the Football League Division I or the Premier League, Arsenal with 13 titles, Chelsea with six and Tottenham with two. I guess that does make writing about football in a broader context, particularly a historical context, difficult for other London clubs. And of course it shows why the London based media love to bash Arsenal.
But the issue of the fans possibly turning on the current manager if things don’t get off to a great start next season, is one that could well tempt the people who like to hold up two word placards to dig them out again, cross out “Wenger” and write in “Emery”.
And that would mean that they have still not understood that simply changing the manager does not always work. It can do for a short or long while, but much of the time it makes no real difference at all.
Looking at the table above should also remind us all that whatever we thought about Ferguson and his tactics, he was a very successful manager. But we should also not forget the two stories that constantly circulate about his early career.
The former chair of Manchester United, Martin Edwards, said that having replaced Ron Atkinson in 1986, Ferguson would have been sacked in 1990 if he had not won the FA cup that year. Others have varied the story and said that if he had lost the game against Nottingham Forest that season he would have gone. But it is a similar point: managers not only need to bring success to big clubs, they need to bring it within a short amount of time. And that amount of time is getting shorter each year.
In that interview Edwards added, “When you think about it, he came in in late 1986 and we didn’t win the league until 1993, so we gave him six or seven seasons to win that league. It is important that you give managers time to build and look at how we have benefitted from that decision.”
But time of course is not what managers are given these days. But I think there is a second attribute that is lost – and that is historical perspective.
The Tottenham fans crowing that they don’t think about Arsenal, while Untold carried a piece that mentioned Tottenham, makes this very clear. Tottenham, can’t have a sense of perspective because history is with Arsenal. But in looking at our own history we have to realise that we have been in the first division since 1919, so we are coming up to 100 years (although not 100 seasons of course, since the league shut down for the second world war).
We have won the league 13 times in those 100 years. Or put another way we have won it once every seven years excluding the war years. Yes it is time to win it again, but we are not that much overdue.
(Incidentally if any supporters of other clubs want to seize on the issue of the promotion of 1919 and suggest it was fixed, they might care to have a brief look at the definitive history of the era rather than take the word of an embittered ex-manager.).
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