By Tony Attwood
While there have been some comments about Arsenal’s decline of late, until recently the media in England has been content to avoid placing the blame anywhere, not least because in the last few years the club has followed their advice, changing all the players around, changing the managers and spending, spending, spending.
Of course the fact that Arsenal have been following media advice these last few years is not the only issue the media now ignores… but we’ll come back to that later. For now what does the Mail say about Arsenal’s decline?
The Mail is certainly back on the case and now chimes in with “Arsenal are shooting for the moon and crash-landing on the garden shed… Arteta’s players are NOT up to scratch and are a mish-mash of the time they were going to be Dortmund, others they can’t get off the books and Edu’s lot.”
One of the sub headings rubs this in…
- Arteta’s trying to forge a top-four team from a group of players not of that calibre
Which is a bit unfair given that in his first 40 competitive games in charge Arteta got 23 wins, 8 draws and 9 defeats, which is a win ratio of 57.5% – a very high number indeed. In fact higher than any other Arsenal manager with that number of games or more.
It would seem much more reasonable to say that the team that was performing well has lost its self-belief, but that probably is too close to psychology for the Mail.
The media have been gentle on Mr Arteta so far, perhaps guiltily remembered how they hounded Mr Emery and Mr Wenger out of the club, although now that reserve seems to be slipping. Time to get rid of yet another Arsenal manager as the Mail adds, “Paul Merson called Arsenal a mid-table team. He may have over-estimated a little.”
What is undeniable is that “Arsenal have made their poorest start since 1981-82.” But what is interesting is that when Mr Wenger achieved starts that were not nearly as bad as this, they were often described as “the worst start in living memory” and the knives were out. Fourth was not a trophy, and demands for a complete change of manager and squad were to be seen and heard on a daily basis.
In the end that is what we got, and it has been disastrous.
So the Mail calculate that at this rate we might end up around 10th, 10th being the average position of a club getting 49 points in a season which is what we are projected to get. As the table (which the Mail didn’t provide) shows that would be quite a slip from recent years. 49 points would really be a disaster….
So yes, having got rid of Mr Wenger and Mr Emery we are back to the days of Terry Neill in terms of bad starts to the season.
Of course inevitably the Mail goes off track after a while (it is the Mail after all) by starting to note who has won at Arsenal Stadium – forgetting that home advantage doesn’t exist any more and the Premier League now has more away wins than home wins, (largely because of the change in refereeing style – see The revelation that has scuppered PGMO once and for all).
But even so, the Mail ought to know that there are more away wins than home wins in the league this season. But no, they come back to players, and transfers – that old newspaper man’s favourite when there is nothing else to talk about. They say, “You can’t help but sympathise with Mikel Arteta for the players he has at his disposal.”
Yet Arsenal have spent the last two summers spending record amounts in the transfer windows!
Then they start attacking Aubameyang saying that after he signed his new contract, “Cynics suggested the motivation to impress an attractive suitor would no longer be there; and he is doing little to prove them wrong. Great teams are built from the back, yet there is no sign that Arteta is emulating George Graham in his defensive regime.”
And then we get the coup de grace. “Forget the Arsene Wenger years…. The board hid behind Wenger, rather than admitting the limit on his funds after the stadium had been built, and when that period ended, rivals who were more robust financially had taken Arsenal’s place.”
Wow! So it wasn’t Mr Wenger’s fault that we “declined” to endlessly coming third and fourth!!!!!
But there we are. For the first time. A national newspaper, one of the gang that helped hound Mr Wenger out of the club with their tales of him doing something that failed then doing it again, of having more injuries than everyone else and it was all his fault, of ceaseless failure… and now he is elevated to a miracle worker with those three league titles and seven FA Cups. A trophy average of around one in every two years. What a failure that was.
In the end the Mail don’t blame Arteta but say he “merits sympathy. He is trying to forge a Champions League team from a group of players who have demonstrated they are not of that calibre.”
So it is the transfer policy then. We’ve just spent record amounts but have got the wrong players. If only we’d listen to the media and… spend record amounts on players and buy the right players. It’s so simple! Why aren’t these pundits running the club?
- Why are Arsenal doing so poorly at the moment? The hidden truths.
- The emergence of brilliance, the idiocy of the media
- Arsenal v the team that will present a giant toothbrush to our captain
- Arsenal squad for Europa League game
- The abuse of female footballers is appalling, but there is a wider context
- Why Arsenal v Glimt might be tougher than the game against Tottenham
- Is the team that passes the most, the team that gets the best results?