By Tony Attwood
Arsenal by the end of last season was still operating at a level below that achieved by Mr Wenger in his final season – the season in which he was forced out of the club. We did for a short while under Mr Emery reach a higher level of achievement, but then like Mr Wenger before him, he was forced out of the club.
As a result we are now way below the level that was achieved by Mr Emery in his first season, and below Mr Wenger in his last season. And all because there is a delight in the media (taken up by some fans) in saying that if the club has a bad run of results, we should change the manager.
Indeed I think that the negativity surrounding Arsenal which has been around since before Mr Wenger left is so utterly ingrained in some fans and is just the natural backdrop of the mainstream media, that they have no idea that all three seasons since Mr Wenger left have actually been worse than Mr Wenger’s last season.
Instead, for the media, if they don’t have a big new story for the day, they will launch an attack at Arsenal, irrespective of its truth, because they know AFTV and other coat-tail hangers-on will seize upon it.
Does it matter? Yes I think so because it must be demoralising the team to have a fan base that is so hyper critical all the time and which sees changing the manager every 18 months not as the road to utter disaster, but the model of survival – when all the evidence shows otherwise.
So where is the evidence that changing the manager constantly until we happen to find one who wins the league (and remember it has to be the league because Arteta has won the FA Cup and that did not stand him in good stead), will work?
There doesn’t seem to be any. On the contrary there is evidence that changing managers all the time certainly doesn’t work.
I’ve published this table before but think it is worth publishing again…
|5||Emery first season||38||21||7||10||73||51||22||70||1.84|
|8||End of Emery/Arteta season||38||14||14||10||56||48||8||56||1.47|
|8||End of last season||38||18||7||13||55||39||16||61||1.60|
The highpoint of the last four years as Emery’s first season where he got a league average of 1.84 points per game. That would give us six points now, and have the club somewhere between 5th (Manchester City) and 8th (Leicester City).
But a run of three defeats has everyone, led by the media, delighted once more to have a story handed to them on a plate, screaming for another change of manager.
Let’s try looking at this another way. What happened in Mr Wenger’s last five seasons?
We won the FA Cup in 2014, 2015 and 2017. In the league we came 4th, 3rd, 2nd, 5th, 6th. The lowest number of league goals we scored in any of those seasons was 63. That was the lowest – and yet in the last three seasons we haven’t even reached the lowest of those previous Wenger years. In fact the last time we scored as few goals as the last three years was 25 years ago.
So we have spent all that money and shuffled the who club around, and spent a fortune on players, and we are nowhere near the standard that we were under Mr Wenger.
And what is the response to that? To do more of the one thing that has caused all this disruption and lowering of results: change the manager. Again.
The criticism of Mr Wenger from the ultimately victorious alliance of AFTV and the national media was that when something wasn’t working, you should change it – and yet (it was argued) Mr Wenger did the same thing over and over and over again.
Of course he didn’t – every season he was changing the squad, the structure, formation and approach during his years at the club. But there is certainly a danger in doing something that doesn’t work over and over again. And changing the manager every 18 months of so doesn’t work. (Of course it might work in the end, just as you might get a coin to come up heads 20 times in a row if you do it often enough, but you are going to have a lot of failures along the way before you get there).
If we, the fans, want to do something to help the club we could start by
a) Laying off attacks on the players
b) Instead, turn our attacks on the media and blogs that are leading the attack on Arsenal
c) Support the manager.
Last season we were close to getting back to the level of Mr Wenger’s final season – which tells us something about how far we have slipped with all these managerial changes in the last few years.
So let’s pause and remember this.
It has taken three years to get not quite back to the level we were at when Mr Wenger left!
We could push ahead and go further but instead the club is now under sustained attack from the media and the bloggers. The change, change, change approach promoted by the media has brought us disaster, and if we give in to demands for yet another change of manager. the chances are we will sink further.
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