The Trotskyist model fans and journalists desire for running football has failed

By Tony Attwood

The last time our position in the league was this bad after 33 games was in 1995 – 26 years ago.  George Graham had been sacked after 29 games on 21 February 1995 with Arsenal 10th the in the league, 25 points off the top with a goal difference of zero.

In recent years things have been rather better although it has always seemed to me that the drop in points in the final Wenger season was in part to do with the ceaseless and remorseless attack on the manager by some fans, most bloggers and every single journalist.

However two years ago – after 33 league games – things looked quite promising with the club in fourth, sitting one point fewer than in 2015.  A “Fourth is not a trophy” season would have been welcome at that moment.

Since then we’ve been on the slide however.  Here’s the position after 33 games…

Year Pos Manager W D L F A GD Pts Final position
1995 13 Houston 10 10 13 36 37 -1 40 12
2015 3 Wenger 20 7 6 63 32 31 67 3
2016 4 Wenger 17 9 7 56 34 22 60 2
2017 6 Wenger 18 6 9 64 42 22 60 5
2018 6 Wenger 16 6 11 62 45 17 54 6
2019 4 Emery 20 6 7 66 40 26 66 5
2020 7 Arteta 12 13 8 49 41 8 49 8
2021 9 Arteta 13 7 13 44 37 7 46


So we can see that through the years of revolution we did stabilise under Emery but have since slipped back.

The table also shows us that the position we have after 33 games is a pretty good indicator of where we will end up.  Only once, (in 2015/16) have we moved more than one place between that held after 33 games and the end.  That was under Mr Wenger in 2016 when we were fourth after 33 games but finished second.

So I think it is fair to say that given the gap to 8th is currently six points we are not going to make that up.  It is 9th or 10th or maybe even 11th this season for us (given that the four clubs immediately below us each have one or two games in hand.)

We are in the worst position for goals of any season since 1995.  Our defence is performing as well as 1995, but our goal difference and points are the worst since then.

Indeed the drop in scoring in the last two seasons of 22 goals fewer in 33 games is frightening.  Our defence however (which some pundits want to have torn up and thrown out) is better than it has been for a number of years.

Yet it is interesting just how well we were doing under Mr Emery at this moment in 2019 – we were back up to fourth and at this moment doing as well as in the year we came second.

During the days of the Wenger Out movement, and before that the “4th is not a trophy” slogan and the “Anti-Arsenal Arsenal” campaign, Untold constantly argued for support of the club, the manager and the team.

Which surely teaches us one thing: the moment Arsenal start listening to the media, Black Scarf and AFTV, we are in really deep trouble.

Constant revolution

In terms of win percentage things have declined too.  Mr Wenger’s win percentage of 1235 games was 57.25%  Mr Emery lasted 78 competitive games and took us to a decent 55.13% win percentage.  Under Mikel Arteta it is 51.95%.   Constant revolution always brings decline.

As I have noted so many times before, the figures simply prove what Untold has said since its inception, sacking the manager is not a recipe for success in terms of taking the club up the league.  It can work, but most times it doesn’t.

But constant revolution is what the media proclaim for the simple reason that it saves the journalists and bloggers from doing any work.  Odd though it sounds, in football terms we actually have a Trotskyist media that preaches a need for constant change, constant revolution.

Yet we know what success looks like: it looks like 1997 to 2005.  A stable club, a board kept under control, no protests from fans, a genius manager free to arrange things as he likes, an ability to ignore the wild ravings of the media and fan groups.

And yes, despite our successes in that era the media were still raving – as with the insane commentary in the unbeaten season after seven years of unparalleled success, when the Times told us fans were saying that this was the worst Arsenal team they’d ever seen.

Supporting the wild ravings of the media is not going to help, any more than attacking the board is going to help any more than flying planes and waving placards helped.

Exploring the role of the media in all this, and exposing their perfidious nature however might help turn people away from the media, and that is worth a try.  Supporters groups should not ape journalists, but should be a voice of reason.

Exploring why some people want confrontation and change when there is not the slighted bit of evidence that this actually brings improvement, might help a little too.

The media and fan groups model of constant revolution, with the endless churn of players, managers and attacks on the owner has been the methodology of fans groups for years and we have no excuse for doing what has failed so dramatically in recent years, over and over again and again.

The model of constant revolution has led to the decline of the club.  The owners are at fault for adopting this process, the media are at fault for encouraging it and some fan groups are at fault for proposing more of it.

We need a new model.  A model based on the stability that Mr Wenger gave us before the “constant change” mob of Black Scarf, AFTV and the mass media encouraged everyone to think that change was the norm and fundamental of running a football club.

The rejection of yet constant revolution leading to fthe superleague is welcome.  We now need more stability in the club, and in football generally (although given the media’s daily propagation of constant revolution I suspect the latter is far too much to ask).

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11 Replies to “The Trotskyist model fans and journalists desire for running football has failed”

  1. Change seems to be working for Chelsea. Constant change and their trophy cabinet speaks for itself. Change has worked for Everton (Ancelotti), Westham (Moyes), Leicester (Rodgers).

    Klopp and Guardiola didn’t just happen, they were changes from managers their respective boards didn’t feel were delivering the desired results. Solskjaer ain’t doing badly with Man U after toxic Mourinho era.

    We can’t remain stuck with underperforming personalities on whimsical hope they’ll someday become good. Wenger did that a lot with his players. Diaby is a good example where the club wasted a lot of time and money waiting for him to overcome his injury problems which eventually he never did. It took ruthlessness from Emery to ditch Wlishere. There were countless players under Wenger who were clearly below Arsenal quality but remained on the books stealing a living from the club on hope that with time they’ll become better.

    Change is not the Problem, it’s getting the right people and currently Arsenal just can’t get the right people.

    Dissenters advocate for a change based on dissatisfaction with results. They don’t pick the next candidate. If the next pick turns out worse than the predecessor it’s down to the people who made the pick.

  2. Maybe NOT loaning out our only goalscoring midfielder – Joe Willock – and picking him, at least occasionally, would have allowed us, well … to score more goals.
    “Rumour” (for what it’s worth, I know …) has it Joe will be sold to the “Magpies” for £20m. To me, at least, that would be one more betrayal of what this club is supposed to stand for.
    Don’t tell me I’m the only one to be thinking of Joe, every time Partey’s long-distance shots make the poor lad look like a dazed rugby fly-half wandering about a football pitch (he has other qualities, I’m well aware of that – although I don’t see in his game, anything that Lucas Torreira couldn’t do, I liked our diminutive Uruguayan a lot, and am ashamed as well, of the way we’ve treated him).

  3. We could still win the Europa League…:)

    However, even if we don’t qualify for European football next year there will be a complete and full training camp and time off between games next year. Useless international games will still get in the way but in general the players will not need to be rotated so much and no one will be able to complain about not being on the same song sheet.

    Hopefully, MA will be given a full year and with a judicious addition or two (perhaps buying, perhaps bringing in some of our players out on loan) and some added maturity of our young guns up front, we can be optimistic.

    This dry patch, like the pandemic will end. We have to tough it out and keep our powder dry for when it is really needed; we don’t need to fire anybody today as there will be a new season starting in August. 🙂

  4. @ Jack

    I’ve heard the old, “Diaby is a good example where the club wasted a lot of time and money waiting for him to overcome his injury problems” argument from several fans. Those same fans were also the ones that complained when we let the perpetual injury prone RVP go to Man U.

    It’s very easy to criticise highly qualified, well paid professionals from afar as we all have opinions but we must accept that they are uninformed, amateur opinions. So although you’re totally correct when you say, “Dissenters advocate for a change based on dissatisfaction with results”, it really doesn’t mean they know what they are talking about or have any idea about the bigger picture or the long-term strategy.

    If I want an opinion on a medical problem, I’ll consult a doctor not somebody who’s been a patient and has no experience whatsoever as a qualified medic……and if everybody goes around criticising the medic publicly, don’t be surprised if he loses confidence which adversely affects his/her performance!

  5. I really don’t understand the article. It says “we know what success looks like, it looks like 1997-2005” yet that was in itself a product of change. However we will continue to suffer these types of articles because we know once Tony sets his mind on something that’s what we get, repetition. It doesn’t matter how much data nitram can dig up. And if the tune changes in the future we can be sure the media will get blamed for the previous doctrine. So let the back and forth continue. Tony says change is bad, we say it’s been good for Chelsea and co as well as arsenal when Wenger was appointed

  6. I think you saw the trunk but missed the elephant.

    Diaby is a case in many where the club lay trust in youth, or sub par players on hope they will eventually become good. Many didn’t, few who did left when they couldn’t see a clear vision towards sustained success and in that group lies RVP.

    On Dissenters, as fans we can argue but ultimately results vindicate any group. Results in the finals years under Wenger weren’t good. They may have been better than today but still they weren’t at the levels I would expect of Arsenal. If you were satisfied with them, then I don’t see need for holding this discussion. It simply means our expectations were different.

    On Emery and Arteta, again results. Arteta is still on the hot seat, perfoming dismally in the league. The fans have given him time, believed in the “process”. I hope you won’t expect us to still have belief when 2/3 seasons later we’ll still be having similar results.

    All fans support Arsenal and want it to succeed. There may be differences in opinion on how to get the team back to it’s former glory, but still, we all want a team we are proud to support.

    As long as results are below expectations fans will always advocate for change.

    Alternatively we can all say it’s over and go do other things with our life. Golf is a sport too.

    But who wants to give up? It seems you want us to settle for perennial groundhog day.

  7. It certainly does mean our expectations are different Jack. In Wenger’s latter years he was faced by three clubs who were enormously more wealthy. He had chased down Man U with considerably fewer resources and the Chelski and Man City came along with their limitless budgets.

    My expectation at that time was that, on finances alone, we could not compete with those three clubs. And so it proved to be, we finished fourth but the glory hunters who had only started supporting us because of Wenger’s success needed their egos massaging and started to protest and pushed out the best manager we had ever had without the appropriate amount of succession planning.

    Our expectations are different. Mine are realistic whilst yours are based on what we once had. I don’t want us to settle for anything better than we can achieve but if you think a club can be turned around in a few months or by recruiting endless new managers then your expectations are far from what I would see as reasonable.

    I want us to be better, of course I do but I don’t expect it. I have no right to. But then I’ve supported the team through much worse so maybe that’s why I’m more pragmatic about how change works and that it takes time. What we have now are fans who can’t accept defeat and instead perpetually spread negativity believing it will help. My view is that as supporters, we support. The clue is in the name!

  8. Arome, actually I disagree with you, but there is one point. If as you suggest all you get from me is repetition, then what is curious is that I have found a style of writing that repeats and repeats the same old nonsense, while at the same time, people such as yourself keep reading it over and over again.
    You are very welcome to do so of course, but I do find it interesting.
    Anyway to clarify: my view is that where something has been tried a couple of times and found to be wanting, doing it again and again seems a little curious. Clearly, with Arsenal languishing in the mid table for two seasons something needs to change: my argument is that simply implementing the changes that have been tried over the last few years, in the hope that this time they will work, is a little silly.

    Or very silly.

  9. It’s not constant revolution though, as they haven’t sacked Arteta (though this article implies that he’s more worthy of the sack than he who came before him, by which I mean being fired rather than getting lucky).
    Also, contrary to Trotsky’s purist sentiments, Arsenal have even gone so far as to collaborate with the enemy in lending their hard-earned reputation to the pathetic Super League notion.
    Also also, the idea of Arsenal as a global socialist venture kind of takes the focus away from football… especially as it’s a capitalist organization

  10. Cheers @ Tony. Who knows, maybe we enjoy your repetition as much as you enjoy the repetitive “attacks” on arsenal in the media, as you obviously always find a way to locate them. So, cheers to repetitive writing

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