The simple truth is that being a football fan is more about emotion than it is about logic. We want what we want and for most it matters not that what we want is a fantasy. We have a romantic notion of how our club should perform. We all think our club should be “taken to the next level”. This is not an Arsenal thing, you hear fans from most clubs saying the same thing. And when they don’t get this “next level” they blame others for failing to achieve their dreams for them.
It’s the players to blame, or the board, or the hapless manager. It’s never their lack of acceptance of reality or their unrealistic expectations. Oh no, and, as many fans feel the same and think the same, they have a consensus.
People seem prepared to ignore any reality that means that their happiness is unlikely to be realised for them by their club.
Let’s look at some of the things Arsenal fans are happy to dismiss in order for them to justify their demands, and let us consider whether these demands are reasonable or not.
We use history (we are the 3rd most successful team in history) yet ignore the recent history of how the game has changed. History is no more what happened in the thirties than it is what happened yesterday. It’s all history. But there are turning points and we are affected by recent turning points more than we are of ancient ones. And let’s be honest here, if it happened pre-war then in football terms, that’s ancient history, almost prehistoric.
In 1992 the advent of the Premier League changed the landscape. If you don’t believe me, ask any Liverpool fan. Their history had them as default league winners, they haven’t won it even once since and are hurtling farther away with each year and new signing. But they still benefit from that history in that they have a huge domestic and overseas fan base that brings in money through commercial deals. However, as each year passes this fan base will likely grow at a slower rate than their rivals and their historical advantage will diminish, much like that of Villa or Forest. So we can see that the further back in history we look, the less relevant it becomes. That’s why George Graham is more relevant than Herbert Chapman.
In 2003 Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea. Another turning point. A total game changer for teams like Arsenal and Liverpool who were hoping to challenge for honours. Rather than me trying to explain it, here is an article written and researched by a Liverpool fan:
Read it and weep.
In 2008 Sheikh Mansour bought Manchester City and brought with him the £500 billion sovereign spending power of Abu Dhabi.
Now in simple terms if you accept Manchester United were top dog and in a class of their own on spending power, then these other two bought into the top table. So all the history that Arsenal and Liverpool had was bulldozed out the way by huge wads of cash writing its own history.
The next bit of history that we have to consider is Arsenal’s move to the new stadium, with all the restrictions on team building and maintenance that brought. This subject has been done to death and if someone does not accept that in this period we were miles behind then I am not about to address their stupidity today.
Then recent history works in our favour for a change. Financial Fair Play had some effect and the long term commercial deals we were tied to ran out and we were able to make big strides. The short term loans on the stadium were repaid and we found ourselves more able to compete for top players.
Please note how I said “more able” because no matter that we are better off, if the others are still richer we are still at a disadvantage. All be it less so.
People who say we now have enough money to compete, ignore the fact that, actually, we don’t.
For example, let’s say Real Madrid buy Aguero and that frees up Benzema. First off all there will be an absolute bun fight for his signature and some of those fighting for it will be able to offer more in fees and wages than Arsenal. Now remember that he was sold because he is not Aguero, not Messi or Ronaldo, not Suárez or Neymar, but the level below that. So even if Arsenal got him we have not caught up, not by a long way. And yet people insist we should be competing with the teams that have the real top drawer players. I simply ask “why is that then?”
This is the argument I like best: “We should be better with scouting, fitness and tactics”.
These people seem to have forgotten that all these avenues for improvement are open to every club, and more open to clubs with more money.
So again I ask: “Why should Arsenal be the club that excels above others in these fields?”
Well I will tell you why. It is because we are unreasonable and illogical.
Recent history has made it very hard to catch, let alone pass three clubs in England. In Europe it’s just the same. Almost every year the richest clubs win the ECL.
It’s not a coincidence you know?
So ask yourselves: Are Arsenal failing to achieve, or are they just failing to achieve your unrealistic expectations?
If your argument is “we should be doing better” I will counter that with the suggestion that perhaps we are where we should be, given the history.
Now, having said all that, I expect us to compete with the very best next year, both domestically and in Europe.
The thing is though, I won’t be squealing and stamping my feet if we don’t and blaming others for not achieving my own personal expectations.
Pedantic George ( aka @Blackburngeorge )