by Tony Attwood
We are developing our own video channel. It’s still at the experimental stage but you can get a feel here…
We recently published research that showed that only 20% of clubs in the PL that have changed managers in the past 18 months are now better off than they were before the change.
The majority of clubs involved are struggling against the upheaval that a change of manager can bring within a club, along with the negative publicity that a downturn generates, plus disquiet among the fans.
Of course the amount of disquiet and negative publicity varies from club to club. Leicester’s slip from champions to 12th place the following season was not the subject of mega assaults on the club by the media and their return to being second in the league this season has been widely applauded. They are defined by the media as “plucky outsiders” and “very English” (despite being anything but in terms of ownership) and thus get a particular and positive treatment all round. Their previous breaches of the financial fair play rules and the very dubious dealings of their marketing department and other financial issues which we covered were mostly ignored by the media, although the Guardian did have a valiant try at doing some undercover investigation.
But although most other clubs don’t get such a positive run as Leicester, no one else gets such a negative coverage as Arsenal. True, Chelsea did pick up negative media coverage for the grotesque handling of the case of its doctor Eva Carneiro, but that was quickly cast aside, and Jose Mounriho was obviously very quickly re-habilitated as a man worthy of a managerial position. And they have now been found to be the innocent victims of a gross miscarriage of justice (according to some media and CAS) over their one year ban from transfer deals. Questions about their youth policy are swept aside, as has been the case with Liverpool and that club’s approach to children and their parents. All forgotten, nothing to see here.
As a result Arsenal is unique in having such negative media coverage, and a while ago we looked at the background to this in a whole series of articles, while also doing a snapshot survey of just how much negative coverage Arsenal got in relation to other clubs.
Watch Arsenal Live Streams With StreamFootball.tv
Thus while Liverpool might use the “change-the-manager” approach to get to the top of the league, they have had to wait 30 years to get near a title using that method, but generally without a ceaseless barrage of criticism from fans and media alike. Yes there has been some negativity along the way, but many of the club’s most vocal fan groups seem to me to have often stood above the criticism and focussed on supporting the club rather than bitching about the ownership and 30 years without a title.
But this is not the way at Arsenal, and the negativity against Arsenal from those in the stadium to journalists, bloggers and people who phone in to chat shows etc, is quite possibly likely to make the wait much longer. A better approach would be to have fans who support the team and ignore the media, but for the moment we don’t have that.
Since winning the League, Liverpool have won three FA Cups, and three European titles. Arsenal have not done so well, winning four FA Cups since the last league title, although that has made them the most successful FA Cup team in history. And of course, it is only 15 years since Arsenal won the League, not 30 years like Liverpool.
So what can be done?
Arsenal has RedAction, who were dedicated to bringing a better more positive atmosphere to Highbury, but their leaders then signed up to the notorious “We care do you” letter propagated by Arsenal Supporters Trust, and I suspect that must have damaged whatever sort of relationship RedAction had with the club by that time.
The RedAction Gooners blog hasn’t published anything since the Europa Cup Final, and the RedActionAFC Facebook page has only had three posts this whole year. Their Twitter account @RedActionGooners has however been more active and is debating the issue.
Arsenal Supporters Trust is of course still active, despite its two broadsides against the club recently, first telling us that the club had handed a £40m fund over to directors and/or shareholders for their own use, and second telling us that this last summer the club had just £40m to spend.
They are still at it, making a new statement at the end of November which lead with the headline “Arsenal need more change than just a new head coach” It read…
“The dismissal of Unai Emery was unfortunate but inevitable. Performances and results have been far below what is expected at Arsenal.
But Emery’s departure is the easy part. The more difficult challenge is to recruit a suitable successor. We are far from certain that Arsenal has the right personnel to lead this process.
The AST has long been advocating that the most important changes needed at Arsenal are in the Boardroom where Arsenal need better governance….
Arsenal’s Board currently has no one with football expertise. Its three ‘independent’ members are 85, 79 and 77 years old. None of them have football experience nor reflect the diversity of Arsenal’s playing squads nor supporter base….
Arsenal also need to build better relationships with their supporters especially at the ownership/boardroom level…
Unfortunately accusing the board of salting away money for their private use rarely brings about the sort of change we all want.
Instead we need to approach the problem of the decline in form, combined with the resourceless attacks by the media and some fans and fan groups, as one problem. Yes of course fans will respond as and when Arsenal start winning again, but as things stand that response will be probably only last as long as Arsenal are winning.
We need a unified response that brings club and fans back together – irrespective of anything that happens on the pitch, and any stories that the media and AST cook up. It is not going to be done by demanding new directors or anything else. It is going to be done by dialogue.
That is our shortcut. To talk with the team and seek dialogue with officials, not shout abuse at the players, officials and directors.