WILL THE REAL ARSENAL PLEASE STAND UP? by OO
The chorus ringing of ‘who are ya?’ ringing around a stadium is the stupidest football chant man could conceive but for the Arsenal this question becomes profound. In my short life I have known Arsenal as ‘the defensive team’, ‘the title winning team’, the greatest premier league team’, the 2nd best footballing team in the world, the selling team but… who are Arsenal Club today? Who are we? Well, its easier to answer who we are not.
We are not a big club… now before the historians jump out to accuse me of being Adam Kemps mule, let me define what I think is a big club. You can be a big club via heritage, by being a dominant institution for multiple years, that is your Liverpools, AC Milans, R. Madrids et al. Or you can be a big club by recent title accumulation; this is Chelsea, Barcelona, and maybe Dortmund. But for me what should constitute a big club is one simple question – Are you a club where elite or prospective elite players go to further their career? If you are Benzeema or Huntelaar, do you see Arsenal as the ultimate club to finish your career? If you are Hazard, do you see Arsenal as a destination or as a stepping-stone? And unfortunately the answer is Arsenal is not that club anymore, long are the days when I believed a rumour linking us with any elite players. If you are a 20 year old prospect you come to Arsenal to develop but if you are Van Persie, then Man Utd is a step up to finish your career. Arsenal is not that club that excites elite players.
We are not a football club but a business… which is ok… but we are a very badly run business. I am not only offended by their stinginess but incompetence. I have refused to pay for a ticket to the emirates or reconnect my sport package simple because they offend me as a football fan. I would pay £100 for a ticket if that transferred to the quality of football I was watching. But I will not pay the highest ticket prices in Europe to watch a team cobbled together from scrapheaps and prospects. There is a distinct lack of connection between the board and fans. But also as businessmen the are s**t, they claim that the next few years will see arsenal compete financially with the elite clubs but for seven years they have destroyed the Arsenal brand. Every year they have sold the most important components of their brand and it’s lost its draw. Rejections by Mirallas (Everton) and Huntelaar (Schalke) demonstrate the pool of clubs we now swim with. Peter Hill-Wood said that it would not be a disaster if Arsenal does qualify for the champion’s league. So now we have a bit more money, not enough to attract player simply with high wages like Chelsea, Man C but now we are also not in the elite competitions… what type of players do they believe will then attract. Surely as businessmen who believed that there was a guaranteed return would invest before their brand dies. For 6 season Arsenal have been 3 elite player away for a real championship contending team but each year they have sold the best player instead. I sit in hatred as I watch Daniel Levi steadily reinvest all proceeds from sales and keep his team at the same level… this brings the next point.
Arsenal are not a top 4 team… the truth is without the guidance of the manager and some luck, Arsenal should not have qualified for champion league the last 2 seasons. We are not the fourth best team in the country. Arsenal does not have an elite or world-class player today. To be an elite player means if a competition of 5 world teams were constructed then you would earn a position. A world-class player performs at an elite level for 5yrs plus. Carzola has shown flashes and Wilshere looks on route to take up that elite level previously occupied by RVP and Fabregas. Spurs (Bale, Lloris, Fredel, Defoe) and Everton (Fellaini, Baines, Pienaar) have players who are performing at an elite level in their positions their season, so but for experience there is no rational reason we should finish above them. To be that top 4 club and maybe contending we need an elite DM, better full backs and an elite striker. Walcott is smartly waiting to see if Arsenal bring in a striker before signing but he is not the level striker Arsenal need right now. If Arsenal had a team full of elite players then he would be ideal but because we are not we need a striker who is consistent over a season. Our full back – one can’t defend but is brilliant going forward (Gibbs), the other is great defending but is crap with the ball (Sagna). For a team who really so much on their full back joining the attack but defending we need Glen Johnson, Baines calibre full backs. And plaudit Arterta for his stats but Wenger has turned a once exciting signing to player looks like a novice by playing him in a position that don’t presently suit his attributes. With our style of attacking, we need an elite DM who is sure and loves the defending aspect.
We are not the other club after Barcelona anymore. I as a football fan have never cried about trophies when I weekly observed a playing style that should be reserved only for Barcelona and Fifa on PS3. So the last season I watched Swansea demolish us not via aggression like Stoke, or will to win like Man U, or tactically like Chelsea, or by just better calibre players but by being technically better than us. Since the sale of Fabregas… possession and amazing technicality which was once the Arsenal identity is no longer.
We are not a club in crisis. I think eventually we are reflecting our true position. We were carried by a 20-year-old midfielder in the past and last year bailed out by a special striker. We have a manager who has made gourmet omelettes out of okay eggs basically. Don’t get me wrong he has been complicit in the Arsenal demise but with the budget available and the emphasis on producing players maybe only one other manager (Jurgen Klopp) could succeed at as Wenger has. Developing talent and achieving a high position is so difficult, only Barcelona manage it. But even Barcelona buys Fabregas and Alexis to add to that talent. Its horrible, I am scared of Wenger leaving because then I fear we will witness our real league position. So in Wenger I have to trust. Different manager, same board spells calamity.
I could go on… but as I write the gloom thickens. The fact is I am an unhappy fan and Arsenal is my club. Arsenal is a team with an unhappy fan. This transfer window again presents the opportunity for Arsenal to stake a claim to who they are. If we are a mid-level club then the board should cut ticket prices in line with Everton’s and Spurs and stop trying to fool fans into seeing Arsenal as an elite club. Otherwise give us what we pay for, an elite team.
These are the desperate cries of a fan… Am I over exaggerating? Who do you see Arsenal as today?