A tumultuous season, which could have been any of the last 7, threatens to end Arsenal’s run of finishing in the top four in the English Premier League. The season’s past have been so hard on the team that the manager, Mr. Arsene Wenger, has got many believing that there should ideally be a trophy for a top-four finish too. That being said, Wenger has been one of the best managers in football across the globe, and the best at the North London club. Reportedly in demand at Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, Wenger is undoubtedly the best Arsenal could have hoped for.
There is, of course, a different school of thought that has been in place for quite some time now, and even reared it’s not so pretty head at the Arsenal FA Cup tie against Brighton and Hove Albion. The banner which duly commended the Professor on his accomplishments, also asked him to pack his bags in the same breath. Around the 80th minute, this sparked off, what was termed a ‘fist-fight’, amongst the faithful. Maybe it is time for the ‘delusional’ fans to look at the other side of the argument.
1. Arsenal fans are optimists
When we say optimists, we mean the people who have seen George Graham and ‘Highbury the Library’. From taking over the reign from Graham to converting the squad into a team that played attractive and attacking football was certainly an uphill climb. Follow that up with the ‘Invinvibles’ season, and there is almost nothing that can stand the argument.
Going back to the original thought, the optimists are the fans who understand that there is trough, but by the law of averages, things will eventually get better. The remaining fans, or cynics, for lack of a better word, accept the point, but demand to know where the line should be drawn. After all, how many seasons without silverware, is one season too many?
The answers are anyone’s guess; no one said we had all the answers to begin with. Arsenal fans have turmoil to turn to in such times, and a divide is inevitable.
2. A feeder club?
The number of memes that have covered the internet with Arsenal jokes is tremendous. And all of them draw inspiration from either the average age of players or the fact that our best players, over the years, have chosen greener pastures. Robin van Persie, the latest and the most tragic of the lot, has proved that indeed, the grass is certainly greener in the United patch.
How does Wenger counter this? Can he force a player to stay back in spite of a transfer request? Can he simply introduce circumstances that players do not feel the need to move? The latter is easier said than done, and it leads to a vicious circle. How does he create those circumstances if the player decides his time at the club hasn’t been fruitful enough? Money is not being considered as a factor here given the tightest purse strings man has seen, unless you are Theo Walcott.
3. The proverbial ‘long term’
Tomorrow is the end of the January transfer window and Arsenal have bought zilch, as of now. The rumours surrounding David Villa look unsatisfactory, and Diame isn’t a solution for the long term. How Wenger adores the phrase ‘long term’! 7 seasons back, Arsenal were gunning for the long term. The youth academy is churning talent, which are continuously made a part of first-team affairs, which have produced at the maximum two real players. When the average age dipped to a shocking 23, with Cesc Fabregas as captain, commentators hailed the attitude of such youngsters who had found it in them to represent a club of such legacy. Eventually, the lack of experience showed, and Arsenal never truly recovered from the hangover of the ‘Invincibles’. Arsenal need to buy, and the earlier the better. Shell out money for a big name, and the small fry will hold their horses.
Gooners are currently facing a lack of awareness, a real divide, a sense of insecurity regarding where their beloved club is heading. Will season after season bring questions of a top four finish, let alone silverware? Share or no shares, every Gooner has a stake in this club and it is time someone answers the questions.Published 29 Jan 2013, 23:15 IST