The Ignorant vs The Arsenal



Part 3 of a guest post series by Red Henry. Feel free to take a look at Part 1 and Part 2 as well. 

Where do the outrageous demands arsenal fans have, come from?

What is it in the Wenger set up that makes them remember the past with such fondness?

I hear many say that Arsenal was a big club before Wenger’s appointment. I do not wish to argue that since my idea of stature is perhaps different to that of these fans.

Let us take a peek at the true reflection of a club’s status around the world, which is none other than the official UEFA ranking system. Whether we like it or not, European competitions and achievements in Europe is what separates the really big clubs from the occasional domestic dominance one club might experience in its domestic league. Looking at Arsenal’s past there is no other era where the club was dominant in its domestic league other than the 30’s. It is important to remember that this was 80 years ago. From there on till the late 80’s the club’s success was like that of a nomad. Some here, some there, totally inconsistent.

Between the 1953 League title, until the 1989 epic at Anfield ,the club really had only one serious feature to boast about, the 71 double. You could say that between ’53 and ’89, which is 36 years, the club won the title only once. Now that is quite a big gap for a club who’s fans want to boast about “greatness”.

Until Wenger arrived, Arsenal possessed 10 champion titles scattered across (1996-1886) 110 years. If we take it as an average it brings a title every 11 years, or one per decade to keep it simple. That is not the record of a big club. To give you an idea, Madrid has 32 champion titles, Barcelona 21, Bayern Munich 22, AC Milan 18, Juventus 28, Ajax 31, Liverpool 18, Manchester United 19. Yet here we are with our ten titles thinking we are comparable to these clubs, and as fans demand to be their equal.

The fact that Wenger added 3 in the space of 7 years and could have more should give an indication to our fans that it is only through Wenger that Arsenal was going to be able to catch those teams at some point.

But how do you do that when your venue is an old 38k seat stadium and your most famous ever world class player in the modern era was Brady?

This myth about Arsenal being a big club before Wenger might apply in the narrow-minded perception of the average English football fan, but trust me the Europeans didn’t really shake in their boots at the prospect of facing Arsenal.

That United has passed Arsenal in the title count shouldn’t be used as a stick to beat Wenger with,since United has also beaten Liverpool’s record and are a club who like it or not are very very serious with their marketing. Some even accuse them for milking their historical tragedy to attract worldwide sympathy. In the world of marketing and business everything is allowed apparently. Plus United started doing what we are doing now, a decade ( and more) sooner than Arsenal did and in an era where Blackburn could win the title with the likes of Sutton. A totally different situation to today’s environment where Arsenal had to face the influx of foreign owners pumping money of dubious origin into the system.

I studied the UEFA ranking systems to give me an idea of what stature Arsenal held in the eyes of the world and to my amazement i saw this “big club” occupying positions between 79 and 36 between late 70’s and late 90’s. I have allowed for the period where clubs weren’t allowed to participate in Europe (where English clubs were at position 209 and lower) and haven’t counted them. When Arsenal was winning the 71 double ..Ajax vs Panathinaikos were playing at the Wembley final for the European cup. Have you ever heard a lot talked about of Panthinaikos? Me neither…. yet until arsenal reached the final in 2006 clubs like them were higher in the UEFA ranking system than our “big club”. I found teams like As Roma, Eindhoven, Leverkusen, Atletico Madrid amongst others who were much much higher on the list than Arsenal.

Do you know what position Arsenal occupies today and for the last decade or so?

A fluctuation between pos 4 and 6. Considering Arsenal has never won it, I’d say their co-efficient is top top class.

UEFA Club Rankings

Who has contributed the most for that?

George Graham and his back four?


Is it not the consistency that Wenger has brought to this club at the highest level that has placed arsenal in the elite?

16 years of continuous top four finishes domestically and 12-13 years always in Europe’s last 16. That’s what counts. A consistency that cannot be denied. A consistency that allows Arsenal to look at the big boys eye to eye, even without ever winning the top European prize, yet.

It is utterly stupid of Arsenal fans to ignore these realities and live in the “bubble” of domestic achievements, which again are scattered across a century of mediocrity with the exception of an era in the 30’s.

People don’t remember Madrid because of their Copa Del Reys nor do people remember Liverpool for their FA cups. They remember them because of the 9 and 5 respectively and the memories they have given to football fans at a global level.

It is also utterly stupid to attack the club and the manager on the basis of 6 or 7 or 8 trophyless years as the club has clearly prioritized healthy accounts and repaying their stadium rather than going for any titles.

It is a period where the fans are completely WRONG to moan about the trophy statistic.

So why do they moan?

Could it be that the media are pulling the legs of weak-minded arsenal fans who don’t know their club’s history or what status it enjoyed in pre-Wenger times?

Could it be that the rivals taunting have managed to mess with the arsenal fan’s mind and make him consider that the trophies are more important than the stability and health of the football club?

Arsenal football club chose to expand and use Wenger’s early success to launch the club to a new era. It was always on the cards that the immediate period after the move the club would focus on financial matters rather than offering Kodak moments to glory seekers. Perhaps that’s too hard a concept for the not so clever fans to come to terms with, but not for those who know what we used to be and the places we have been with Wenger at the helm.

This era of continued competence and consistent placement at the top echelons of Europe is actually unfamiliar territory for Arsenal football club. We are practically virgins. Of course this does not diminish our past domestic achievements. But it does perhaps put them into perspective.

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55 comments on “The Ignorant vs The Arsenal

  1. Hey Positivistas!

    I initiated a similar discussion on ACLF (before PA) was conceived. It was based on the book Arsenal:the making of a modern super club by Alex Fynn and Kevin Whitcher. Much of what RH writes can be confirmed in that book. The operative word is “modern”. It caused quite a stir, interestingly, by and large from the more negative posters who have taken over on ACLF.


  2. @passennal
    You are probably correct, I seem to recall that Hughes persauded schwarzar to stay, giving up the chance of playing in Europe and then left himself. Maybe I am being a little harsh on Wenger.i truly am a big fan. I just felt that had he invested in an experienced keeper (i was hoping for Given) we would have won something that year


  3. Hunter, I know you too well. This piece of writing is yours and nobody can tell me otherwise.

    I agree with the main point of the article. Arsene has kicked this club onto another level, a level that we have never managed globally yet many fans do act as if we have always been alongside the big hitters. The graph spells out exactly what we have been and now finally we are making some large ambitious steps to stand toe to toe with the biggest. Given that we are self sufficient, we have had to take steps backwards on the pitch. Personally I can handle that, supporting Arsenal is for life so I hope to experience many more trophy filled years. The trouble is, some people cannot handle backwards steps before moving forward.


  4. georgaki…some interesting stuff on wright and merson too there, which would explain their behaviour lately…

    hi mean lean … yes, yes you do .. and thats your chart actually …george handles the fees hehe.. youare right those backwards steps on the pitch were inevitable…and still there and thereabouts 3rd..4th..till aprill, till may….in the middle of repaying stadiums..with kids…

    not coping with disappointing results is one thing but to undermine reputations and careers and achievements and disguise it as an entitlement to an opinion is absolute bollocks and shows arrogance in the sense that the opinion maker or commentator assumes a position much higher than his knowledge and experience status. There is a clear confusion in fans of what constitutes expressing an opinion and issuing final verdicts on subjects they aint got a clue about, while insulting people with real responsibilities and real hours behind the driving wheel.

    It is a bit absurd that fans of arsenal need to debate whether wenger is good at spending the clubs money or debate about whether he knows tactics. the man has the foresight to spot a myachi and organise the whole development of the player through loans and positions ( one year this, 2nd year that, lone here, loan there) while always having in mind the positions he will be placed in the tactical system he coaches at arsenal …..unbelievable planning…. years ahead, and people wonder if he knows tactics? as ive said before, him and his stuff are at level 96 when it comes to football and people accuse them of not knowing the basics of level 12? it is insulting to create such debates….this isnt a matter of democracy and rights, its about morals.


  5. Hi George & co, my first post here,and just like it began with ACLF, I have been reading this blog regularly. Keep up the good work!


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