Today a guest post from Muppet (@MuppetGooner )
With possibly the tweet of 2014, Rob Ross (@gooner145) nails apparent media attitudes towards AFC
I read over the weekend that if the title race was down to media perception, then Arsenal would be 5th.
An alternative to this was if you list the top of the table, the club sitting in top place would be nameless [see above, ed].
Such is the contempt held of our title challenge in great swathes of the media.
I have lost count of the times I have heard the words “Awesome” and “Manchester City” in the same sentence. This is a team that has never, until this season, reached the 2nd stage of the Champions League, despite having a squad worth around €450 million. Whilst they are extolled, Arsenal are consigned to the dustbin.
On TalkSport at the weekend, Adrian Durham: “Everton outplayed Arsenal at the emirates and that was the moment everybody realised that they were not going to win the premiership”.
A co-presenter – “Newcastle outplayed Arsenal at St James Park.”
Then a Liverpool pundit, Houghton – “Everybody is waiting for Arsenal to fail”.
He then follows up with the idea that Liverpool will step into the void. Righto …
It gets worse.
A Chelsea fan on BBC 606 is asked about Chelsea’s title challenge. She says: “Well, City are looking so strong at the moment. I don’t think we’re going to get past them.”
Then Geoff Shreeves comes out with his “2 points off City now”, statement.
These people are not alone in doubting Arsenal. There are worst offenders out there. Shearer for one. Furiously backtracking on MOTD with his “Arsenal can’t win the premiership statement”, changing it to “won’t”, because he didn’t want to look like a massive twerp on national television. Then, squeaky voice Owen, who still maintains Arsenal will finish 5th.
Now, I have no trouble conceding that our opposition are pretty good. None at all, especially considering the levels of “investment” in their squad. Since 2008 we have:
Arsenal net spend: £11.1m. Chelsea net spend: £328.7m. Man City net spend: £509.6m.
Want to go back further ?
Net spend 03/04-13/14: In first place in the expenditure table is Chelsea with a net spend of £585m. Next up City net spend: £507m. Then Liverpool net spend: £198m. And Man Utd net spend: £169m. Then, in 17th place – Arsenal net spend: £17m.
Actually, looking at these figures, doesn’t it seem remarkable that we are top of the league? Will we get credit for that?
The media perception that we are also-rans still grates tremendously. More so because of the media love-in of 2 clubs (City and Chelsea) who don’t appear to be playing it by the rule-book. A 3rd major rival, Manchester United, also don’t really appear to be playing it by the rule-book, but in their case, they are becoming unstuck, as evidenced by the league table and their own fan protests at the weekend, holding banners claiming that they have a “£600 million debt to service“, before they spend anything on new players.
In defence of City and Chelsea, Martin Samuel claimed in an article within the last year that without the “investment” from them, Manchester United would be a monopoly, and how would other teams get a look in? This is where Samuel has got it completely wrong. Nobody has a problem with investment in a football club. The problem here is when the line is blurred between investment by people that would reasonably secure the future of a club, where risks have to be taken within economic constraints, and that of the kind made by Chelsea and Manchester City, where no economic rules apply in a standard business model.
Everybody knows what City and Chelsea do when they don’t win the title.
They simply go out in the transfer market in the summer and spend a minimum of £100 million, and change their manager. There is no risk attached to this. If they fail, they will go out and spend another £100 million. This was Abramovich’s response when Arsenal won the title in 2003-2004. This was Mansour’s response last year when City lost the title.
But hardly anybody in the media will speak out against this. Arsenal fans who quite rightly express outrage at this, are quizzed as to why we don’t join the party, which makes it doubly insulting. The witch hunt engaged against Arsenal on TalkSport, in certain quarters, should instead be turned on City and Chelsea, asking how is it fair that 2 clubs can get away with such abuses, at the expense of all other clubs in the premier league who are trying run a football club and living within their means. The media instead, embrace the situation, which of course they will, as they know which side of the bread is buttered. Speak out against it, and you will probably not have a job for very long, as Sky and others have massive vested interests. Just talk up the circus, and paint the like of Arsenal fans as sanctimonious, with sour grapes.
But this is not sanctimony. Samuel’s accusation of a monopoly, to me, should be turned on its head. Instead of a monopoly, what we have here is a cartel, 7 or 8 super-clubs in Europe, who will dominate the landscape, and others will have very little chance of winning league titles and the champions league. When I grew up, a lot of teams were in the mix. Here, and abroad. Villa and Nottingham Forest won the European cup. That brilliant Everton side in the mid 80s won the European cup winners cup. Even Spurs won the UEFA cup! European teams such as Hamburg, Red Star Belgrade and Dynamo Kiev added to the plurality.
The current situation? I don’t have to work very hard to predict the dominant forces – Bayern, Manchester United, Barcelona, Real Madrid, PSG, Manchester City and Chelsea.
It is not for the good of football.