By Tony Attwood
In essence, to work, revolutions have to be sold to the people. Either because as in Paris in 1789 the people topple a regime so unpopular it didn’t even like itself, or because a leader convinces everyone that change is needed and this is the way to do it. (One thinks perhaps of Thatcher or Boris).
Arsenal has had its French Revolution, although thankfully no one’s head got chopped off. Then AFTV rose up and told anyone who cared to listen how awful the team was, copycats with cardboard wrote “Wenger out” in crayon and waved the results about for the media to see, and those with more money than they knew what to do with, hired pilots to haul banners over the stadia for the benefit of ever compliant TV stations.
And all that was ok because it was part of the new objective of making sure that we all remained interested in the biggest soap opera of all time. Indeed we could also say from the media’s point of view, the most successful soap opera of all time, because their journalists get in for free, write scathing reports about how awful Arsenal are, publish them, and then are invited back next time for more of the same.
It doesn’t even matter if TV audiences decline, as they have now done dramatically. The pretence is still there. And so what if us fans lost our passion? Well, never mind because the media will whip it up again with the next transfer rumour.
If you follow Sir Hardly’s reporting you will know that 128 players have been tipped to be coming to Arsenal before the start of next season. So far one of them has been signed. Meanwhile over 50 scouts have left and now the boardroom revolution has started. And will we all be back there for the start of the next season? Of that we can be certain; the answer is “no”.
The government in Germany has now announced that it won’t even contemplate opening games to supporters in the Bundesliga at the start of next season – and possibly not at all next season. With a government as erratic as ours, with policies issued one day and cancelled the next, anything could happen. Dominic Cummings for President perhaps?
So what happens now is that the media is ever more important; football needs the media to build up all sorts of false hopes and expectations and interests and excitement, and if the only way to do it is by reporting a Celtic player who decided to hop on a plane to see his girlfriend in Spain, and then hop back well so be it. I hope they paid him well when they suggested the plan to him.
The good thing is that slowly, very very slowly, the clubs are starting to realise that they actually need us – the real supporters, the ones who go and watch their team when there is a match, and if not go and watch another club, just because they like seeing football.
And, at least Arsenal are using the time to have their own Palace Revolution. Not exactly 1789 but still Raul Sanllehi has been bid farewell, although many fans still believe the cause of the decline was Mr Wenger’s rather than the owners.
In Mr Wenger’s final season we had 63 points, scored 74 goals and had a goal difference of +23. We were sixth and there were protests at almost every game.
In the Unai Emery season we improved and had 70 points, scored 73 goals, and had a goal difference of +22. A step forward as we moved up to 5th.
This last season with two manager we had 56 points, scored 56 and had a goal difference of 8. That is to say 18 points fewer than in Mr Wenger’s final campaign which was marred by all the cardboard waving and booing. And a worse goal difference by 15.
So yes, having made the big move at the behest of the fans, something had to give and it has been to scouts and Mr Sanllehi, the man who apparently was a key player in bringing in Mr Emery.
Of course there is promise: that oft quoted list of youngsters looks amazing, and it is great news that Saka made 29 appearances and signed a new deal. Martinez made 22 appearances and was a revelation. Tireney looks to have been a brilliant buy. Martinelli’s injury is a blow but we saw him 15 times – enough to know what a stunning buy he was. The phrase “What are they smoking at Old Trafford?” comes to mind. And we won a trophy and got back into Europe.
But why the club want to sell Maitland-Niles (23 games) is beyond me – but then a lot of stuff is quite beyond me these days, and the lack of a psychologist to help Guendouzi is inexcusable.
Willock, a re-born injury free Rob Holding, Reiss Nelson, Eddie Nketiah… they all give us hope. And yet of course the media will focus on the “chaos” in the boardroom, and the transfers that they feel didn’t work because, well, that’s what they do.
There is a new Kroenke man on the board – Tim Lewis, a lawyer, who presumably is there to help push through the redundancies without a fuss. Vinai Venkatesham and Edu are still with us, backing up Mikel Arteta who amazingly ended up with a win percentage second only to Mr Wenger.
This means that the top three managers in terms of having managed over 25 games at the club, when we look at the win percentages, are
|Emery||23 May 2018||29 Nov 2019||78||43||16||19||152||100||55.13|
|Arteta||22 Dec 2019||Present||28||16||6||6||45||26||57.14|
|Wenger||1 Oct 1996||13 May 2018||1,235||707||280||248||2,156||1,147||57.25|
So maybe we are on the right track after all. Looking at those figures, at least none of the last three managers have been complete flops, even though the fans, ably backed up by know-it-all journalists, think that two of the three were useless.
- Attacking your paymasters is possible for journalists, but not in football
- Where do Arsenal Need to Strengthen Ahead of the 20/21 Season?
- Newspaper launches another fierce (and misleading) attack on Arsenal
- The home and away scandal: ignorance, or cover up?
- The reason why Liverpool and Man C are ahead of Arsenal.
- How which referee a club gets has a major impact on the result of each game
- The statistical evidence that shows PGMO are biased against Arsenal
- How European football has taken up the fight against clubs breaking FFP