Written by redandwhiteviews
Unless you’ve been holidaying with Terry Waite’s old associates or staying with the Fritzls, you’ll know that Arsenal haven’t won anything for five years. You’ll know because every lazy football writer and commentator mentions it every five minutes.
My worry is that people believe the hype – because of his failure to bring ‘silverware’ to the Emirates in recent years, some ‘fans’ are even disappointed Wenger has signed a new deal. Time for a reality check:
No divine right to win the league
To begin with, and despite what the red scousers and the bare-chested idiots from Newcastle might tell you, no club has a divine right to win the league. It’s really hard to do and requires luck as well as momentum. The league invariably comes down to a few points (one point last year, none in ‘89), so a couple of bad games can put paid to your title hopes pretty quickly – in our case it used to be in November, but now seems to be March. So even if you’ve got the Chelsea open chequebook or the £60m-a-year the Mancs spend on players, you’re not guaranteed to win it anyway.
Shit cups are like chocolate teapots… pointless
Although Liverpool listed the Charity Shield among their ‘five cups’ and Spurs still boast of their success in the 1947 Norwich Hospital Charity Cup (click here if you don’t believe me), the Champions League is the only other trophy that really counts. But the Champions League is a cup competition. Any of the top sides can win it – which is why Porto did and we nearly did – and any side can lose it, which is why Chelsea, despite all their cash, never have. My point is that, however much you spend, there are no guarantees.
Building for the future…
To many, Wenger’s tighter than Beth Ditto’s waistband and needs to spend to win trophies. But the decision to build the Emirates has put massive constraints on Wenger. I honestly don’t think he’s got anywhere near the money people think. The board says there’s money to spend, but they would… otherwise clubs would target our players with even lower bids than they already do. That doesn’t mean the decision to build the Emirates was wrong. The 9,000 seats in the posh bit in the middle generate as much income as the whole of Highbury’s 38,000 seats used to. Once the stadium debt is paid for, we will have one of the world’s finest sporting arenas generating enough income to ensure our future for years to come. Around the same time, other clubs will hopefully be paying for the irrational management of their finances during the global financial crisis, and we will be in a position of most clubs’ envy – alive. Until then, the money is not available to take on the likes of Man U, Chelsea and, more notably, Man City in the transfer market. So the goalposts have moved.
The new goal
Our target during this period of paying for the stadium is to keep achieving Champions League football. Anything else will be a bonus. Wenger is spot on that 3rd or 4th in the league is better than winning the League Cup or the FA Cup. Anyone can get lucky and win a cup – Millwall made the final and Portsmouth won it – but a full season sets the men from the boys. The main thing, of course, is that the rewards are so much bigger. Would you really want Wenger fielding his best eleven in the Carling Cup on a Wednesday away at Wigan if there’s a six-pointer for a Champions League spot on the Saturday? Sack Wenger and you might just end up winning some shit… and missing out on the good stuff.
Show a little faith…
Wenger’s record speaks for itself but, if anyone thinks someone else could have done a better job on his watch, (including the idiots who have suggested Jumpy-up-and-down Martin O’Neill should be brought in to replace him), here are a few pointers.
For starters, what do Tottenham, Newcastle, ‘Boro, Sunderland, Villa, Everton, the Mancs, Liverpool, Chelsea and Man City all have in common? The answer is they all have a higher net spend than Arsenal since 2004. Where are their championships, FA Cups and Champions League finals? Newcastle, Boro and Sunderland have been relegated in that time. I don’t hear commentators banging on about their lack of silverware every two minutes.
Chelsea’s have spent £248m since 2004, recouping just £100m. Wenger’s net spend per season since 2004 has been £4m. He’s achieved Champions league football every year on that budget. Every year.
Before moving to the Emirates, we were no bigger than Leeds, Villa, Everton, Newcastle, Man City, Tottenham, West Ham, Liverpool and many others who had stadiums as big as ours and therefore the same income. Arsenal have been in the Champions League for 11 seasons running. Where have the others been? Newcastle have been to Bristol Rovers for league games. Leeds have been to Cheltenham, Hereford and Yeovil.
In summary, Arsenal made a decision some years ago that, rather than stand still with our peers, we would take a punt on building a big stadium to generate long-term higher income and the chance to compete at the very top.
What they saw in Wenger, a man who had already revolutionised British football with his views on fitness, training, diet and tactics, was a man who could not only steer us through the period in which we would have to pay for that plan, but who had the foresight to begin a youth policy which would also give the fans something enjoyable to watch and the chance of success every year without spending money – even if that success doesn’t always materialise. I’ll take security and hope over trips to Cheltenham, Hereford and Yeovil, Carling Cups and the Norwich Hospital Trophy any day. But the commentators aren’t interested in that, are they?
redandwhiteviews was previously known as heffer on this site. This article has been published on his site, but he has allowed us to reproduce it on here for our readers to enjoy.