No Trophy in 8 years – All down to the Oligarchs I am told – Boll..cks!!!!

Select the right teams to win or Likes of Jack will follow others through exit door
Select the right teams to win or likes of Jack will follow others through exit door

Apologies for not writing for a while. Depression and soul searching post Blackburn and a short family holiday are my excuses, but in reality even had I the time, I had no clue what I wanted to say. Well that also is untrue because as some of you know I sort of had in mind what I wanted to write and say but was unsure whether I should go ahead. Why? Because the subject matter is quite personal and I did not wish to write this blog whilst angry after my team’s pitiful exit from the oldest and best club competition in world football.

Nevertheless here we are, this is not for the faint-hearted and many ultra positive Wenger supporters may find the theme objectionable. However those who have followed my developing blog for a year of so will know two things about me. One is that I have always strived to keep my lager glass half full and secondly that I don’t tend to blast from the hip, but prefer the comfort of extensive research to reinforce my view is possible.

Before I get to the main thrust I should first set the background. It is clear that I am from a different generation to many, in fact the majority of my readers and many of those I interact with on twitter. The modern game has changed I accept and for many priorities have changed as well. Even it would seem for our club and our manager. I have to accept this but I do not have to endorse it, appreciate it or welcome it.

You see I am of a generation that grew up watching no league games live all season and dodging the results to watch all the highlights on MOTD. Or when the weather allowed I went to the woods with my mates on a Saturday afternoon in the 70s. (Joydens Wood Wrighty.) We had made a secret camp and we all sat eating sweets and listening to the live commentary on our portable transistor radio. If I was lucky it would be Arsenal but I was just grateful to be away from my family who just did not get my passion and listening to live football. However watching live club football was something else entirely, because you couldn’t. In fact barring the occasional England match or the Home Internationals there was only one live match to enjoy all season.

That match was of course the FA Cup Final. Always the last day of the domestic season, and always extra special. It took over the whole day and the programming started at about 10 am for a 5 hour build up to the big kick off at 3pm. The players of the 2 sides would have been filmed doing something silly during the build up. Players snooker, player Mastermind or even player’s interviewed with their families. All mangers and stars were accessible and all entered into the spirit of the biggest day in the football calendar.  We followed both teams from their hotels having watched them eat breakfast or lunch to Wembley and there was a camera on the coach. We followed them off the coach into the changing rooms and we saw their kits laid out. We then watched the highlights of each team’s progression to the final and chatted to them in their new Cup Final suits on the hallowed turf.

Young Dave ready for the Cup Final build up, pocket money well spent
Young Dave ready for the Cup Final build up, pocket money well spent

For me it was double pocket money day and Cup Final Saturday. Down to the sweet shop at 9am and back in time for the long and fabulous build up and trying, whilst almost certainly failing to make the huge while paper bad filled with shrimps, cola bottles, jelly snakes, foam mushrooms and the like to last until the big match. You need to understand that it was brilliant if your team was one of the 2 finalists but the whole country watched regardless. This was the biggest day of the season and the only club game live on television.

The first I recall well was Liverpool defeating Newcastle in 1974, when I was nearly 8. I was an Arsenal fan but had not been to Highbury and the FA Cup Final was a thrilling day for me who ever played. 75 West Ham Fulham, the Alan Taylor Final, 76 2nd Division Southampton stun the world beating the mighty Manchester United and in 77 United return and inflict their own shock on the all conquering Liverpool.  So two shocks in a row to be followed by a third. By now I had been taken to Arsenal twice in 1976/77 and Arsenal were resurgent under Terry Neill and I was obsessed with all things Arsenal. My walls were covered with posters and sticker, my Arsenal shirt was never off my back and we were in the 78 final and favourites to beat Ipswich.

For those who moan now feeling we the mighty Arsenal have a divine right should cast their eyes over 1974 to 76. Bertie Mee’s double winning side had gradually broken up. Although Mee still had some old glory campaigners in the team he had lost his mojo and 3 years after achieving the League and FA Cup Double we had 2 successive campaigns in the bottom 6 surviving relegation only just. In reality he had broken up the team too early, sound familiar?

But in 1978 we were back and glory beckoned. Neil’s combination of youth and experience whilst not threatening the Division 1 title certainly had what it took to be a cup side.  Macdonald, Jennings and Hudson combined with Stapleton, Brady and O’Leary should have had enough for Bobby Robson’s Ipswich but it proved not to be. Brady later revealed his immaturity in telling the management he was fit to play when he patently wasn’t cost us the match. We lost 1 Nil but I was hooked still further. This was the tournament and it was the grand finale of the season. At 12 years old I knew Arsenal would be back.

Rix looks on as Alan Sunderland wins the Cup Final in 90th minute
Rix looks on as Alan Sunderland wins the Cup Final in 90th minute

On that glorious day, 12th May 1979 I watched one of the greatest ever FA Cup finals in my front room with my best friend. We scored after 12 minutes and we both ran out and did a lap of the garden screaming at my parents that Talbot had scored. We continued to dominate, Brady majestic this time and on 43 Stapleton makes it two. Another lap of the garden shouting with joy and back for the few sweets left in our bags at half time. (At 13 we had more restraint.) Of course United came back incredibly in the 86 and 88th minute. This was not in the script, we had dominated a class United team full of internationals only to be pegged back. I recall nearly walking out again to the garden to inform my parents of the disastrous events that had unfolded but thankfully we decided against it. A minute after the world had seemingly ended the might red and whites found some reserves of energy, Brady surged through the midfield, laid an inch perfect pass into the stride of Rixie who sent the most delightful cross from the left flank into the path of the on rushing Alan Sunderland to bury at the far post. Another mad dash of joy around the garden of course followed but this time one of victory. We returned to see the players climb the steps and for Pat Rice fittingly the only survivor of our last triumphs in 71 left the FA Cup aloft.

I was a Gunner but this was the day it truly sunk in
I was a Gunner but this was the day it truly sunk in

My love affair with the FA Cup was cemented on that day in 1979 and despite many highs and lows it has continued ever since. I apologise for the long scene setting but it is important that younger readers understand what the Cups mean to me. I was not fortunate enough to see Arsenal victorious in the great competition in the flesh until 1993. However before that pleasure I had been to 3 Wembley Finals with Arsenal all in the League Cup. In 1987, 1988 and also in 1993. My blog was named after the semi final and final of 1987 and April 5th when we beat Liverpool.  1987 for Arsenal, despite the surprise defeat to Luton in 88 was the spring board for a George Graham side to go on to bigger and better securing 2 league titles.

The league Cup was also the first trophy for Mourinho in time at Chelsea and that success in the spring 2005 saw his side march on topple Wenger’s Invincibles in the Premier league. Many present day Gooners laugh at Liverpool and mock them. I do not. I would have given anything for Wembley glory against Birmingham in 2011 and have tasted that winning sensation once more as they did in 2012. Will history remember that Liverpool failed to qualify for the Champions League for many seasons whilst Arsenal and Wenger qualified year on year? Or will history record one Champions League win, one FA Cup win and one League Cup win since Wenger’s Arsenal last lifted silverware?

Laughing at LFC? Not me. I want this again so badly it hurts
Laughing at LFC? Not me. I want this again so badly it hurts

Poor old Arsenal being forced to compete with Manchester United’s wealth and the oil tycoon’s money behind Chelsea and Manchester City. How can Wenger possibly have won silverware since 2005 when not being able to compete on a level playing field? Perhaps in the same way others have by being true to the traditions of English football and the long suffering fans of our great club. We may not be able to compete over 38 games with the squads and money of the big 3 although I still believe with a fair wind and the right tactics we can but there are 4 major trophies and 2 of them are domestic cups. They may not mean as much to Wenger but they certainly do to a 46 year old traditionalist who fell in love with the proud heritage of English cup football.

I have turned a blind eye to Wenger disrespecting the League Cup and to some degree the FA Cup for years but every year I find it harder to condone and 2013 has been the last straw for me. I know that for the majority of Gooners in the pub before last Saturday and in the Emirates if asked which game was the most important Blackburn or Bayern 99% would have answered Blackburn with no hesitation. The Champions League is beyond our capabilities this season but the FA Cup was not.

I was one of the 3000 on that freezing night in Bradford in December and that gutless display will live long in my memory. However poor we were that night Wenger at least played a full strength side. They did not play well and the rest is history however painful but to rest his 3 best players for Blackburn was unforgivable. Play your best 11 from the start get the game won and then rest players if you can. If not play hard for 90 minutes and win the game for the fans craved of success. Don’t tell me he fielded internationals or the referee was to blame as Wenger did because it does not wash with me. Blackburn also fielded internationals and respected the tournament.

At this juncture many of you are thinking that hindsight is a wonderful thing. Wenger put out a side that should have beaten Blackburn but the players did not perform. Well it is not hindsight with this writer and you will just have to take my word for that. Every year on from 2005 I wish Wenger would take the wishes of the fans that pay good money more seriously and play to win ties in the latter stages of the domestic cups. It was one thing fielding the kids to blood them in 2006 when we were a year on from our last FA Cup but now it is inexcusable. We have the loan system for that and we use it actively. Wenger has been disappointing me for years in this way and those who genuinely feel it is the riches of other clubs that have caused our barren run read on and have that ludicrous myth dispelled.

League Cup Semi Final 2006 v Wigan –  Well done our second string have played well to get us to the two-legged final. However this is our last year at Highbury and a final in Cardiff would have been a perfect end since the opponent would have been Manchester United.Wenger played only 3 first team regulars in Ljungberg, Pires and Gilberto in the first leg at the JD which we consequently lost 1-Nil. Lesson learned I am sure by Wenger but no in the return whilst bring back many stars such as Henry and Bergkamp he still rested Toure, Lehman, Fabregas, Flamini and more. We took a 2 nil lead but the make shift defence could not keep out Jason Roberts at the death and the away goals to Wigan into the final.

Roberts and Jewell celebrate after semi win in 06
Roberts and Jewell celebrate after semi win in 06

As I left Highbury who was I blaming? An oil tycoon or Arsene Wenger? Oh well we were Invincibles 2 years earlier and FA Cup winners a year earlier so we took it on the chin. Lesson learned though right?

NO League Cup Final 2007 v Chelsea – This time we made it to a final and our Young Guns has performed admirably with only 3 or 4 first team regulars defeating the old enemy in the semis. However this was the final and we were playing one of the strongest teams in Europe. Surely knowing Chelsea would put a full side out Wenger would do the same and go for glory. Oh no Wenger knew best. Obvious that Hoyte, Traore and Senderos could deal with Drogba, Shevchenko, Lampard & co! NOT

Chelsea vs Arsenal 2007-02-25.svg

Have you ever seen such a mismatch? I am sure this knocked the youngsters back years rather than helped their progress. Yes these guys had beaten Liverpool and Spurs but come on Arsene. We were lucky to lose only 2-1. Walcott scored his first for Arsenal but Drogba score twice. His 27th and 28th of the season so who saw that coming????? So I ask again was this loss entirely down to Abramovich’s millions or do we think Hleb, Adebayor. Gliberto, Henry, Campbell etc might have given us a shot at a trophy? Sorry but for me it is down to wrong selection and priorities AGAIN.

Oh well we were Invincibles 3 year earlier and FA Cup winners 2 years earlier. Lessons learned and move on wiser and more understanding of the fans wishes?

 NO! League Cup Semi Final 2008 v Spurs – Now as we are playing the old enemy not only was a place at Wembley at stake but also North London pride and bragging rights. We have now not won for 3 years so the club and manager MUST go for this one surely? NO Remember this is our best side since 2004 with a dynamic 4 man midfield of Rosicky, Fabregas, Flamini and Hleb were tearing up the league? Yes well Mozart has just been injured and the other 3 weren’t selected for the home leg which we promptly drew 1-1. No matter we had the second leg to go. Wenger brought Hleb in, dropped van Persie, played Bendtner and Walcott up top and we lost 5-1. Well that was an all time low and Wenger threw away our best chance of silverware in 3 years.

Wenger allows Spurs to humiliate us. Forgiven?
Wenger allows Spurs to humiliate us. Forgiven?

Guess what to add salt into the gaping wound Spurs beat Chelsea to lift the trophy and oddly both sides played full strength teams!!!

Oh well we were Invincibles 4 years earlier and FA Cup 3 years earlier. Lessons must have by now been learned. The penny must have dropped with Wenger after 3 seasons of handing trophies to our nearest rivals?

Err NO!! FA Cup Semi Final at Wembley 2009 v Chelsea – Wenger has taken the side to this stage combining second string with regulars and it has worked but let’s be honest, a mushroom under soil in a darkened room might have suspected Chelsea at full strength a sterner test than Plymouth, Cardiff, Burnley and Hull. Apparently not our enigmatic leader once again knew better. The thing to do says Arsene is to rest our two biggest signings in Nasri and Arshavin for the FA Cup Semi Final against a full strength Chavs. Who on earth would we need our second and third most creative players? Far better to play Diaby on the left and Walcott on the right! The date was the 18th April 2009 and something happened quite unusual 3 days later after we had been knocked out of the Cup. A certain tiny fully fit bemused Russian stuck 4 past Liverpool at Anfield. Call me old fashioned and we have established that I am, but I would sooner has seen him on fire at Wembley shooting Arsenal into the final.  Obviously I don’t need to tell you that Chelsea went on to beat Everton and claim another trophy for the cabinet.

Dropped by Wenger  for Wembley showdown with Chavs. Nobody understood then or now Arsene.
Dropped by Wenger for Wembley showdown with Chavs. Nobody understood then or now Arsene.

Those dastardly oil tycoons have somehow forced Wenger to play reserve teams costing us 4 cracks at trophies in 4 years. How very dare they? Any way you will be relieved to hear Wenger after 4 years of disrespecting the fans, the domestic cups and the other teams finally decided to go for broke in 2009/10. Oh no sorry he didn’t my mistake 2009/10 was actually the lowest point in our French leaders disrespectful team selections 2009/10 An all time low

In December 2010 in our 3rd League Cup outing against a full strength Manchester City away Wenger selected this 11 that got thrashed 3 Nil: Fabianski, Eboue, Traore, Song, Silvestre, Ramsey, Wilshere, Eastmond, Rosicky, Merida. Vela A slightly different team from that that he fielded 3 days earlier in the Premier League: Almunia, Sagna, Traore, Gallas, Vermaelen, Fabregas, Denilson, Song, Eduardo, Arshavin, Nasri Just when I believed Wenger’s disrespect of the fans and the domestic cups could not get any lower he fielded this weakest of weak sides in January away at the Britannia v Stoke. Needless to say we got the spanking our selection deserved: Fabianski, Coquelin, Campbell (about 40 by now) Traore, Silvestre, Eastmond, Fabregas, Denilson, Vela, Walcott, Emmanuel-Thomas So having not won a trophy for 5 years Wenger fields the reserves v Premiership opposition away in the FA Cup 4th round and from memory vehemently defended his decision to do so.

Conclusion This has gone on for far too long I know. Wenger did appear to learn his lesson in 2010/11 fielding a stronger team making the final of the League Cup only to be out thought by Birmingham and Alex McLeish. This is far too personal and lengthy and for that I apologise but after the old Wenger returned last Saturday I have been so angry I need to get this off my chest.

Nobody to blame but yourself Arsene
Nobody to blame but yourself Arsene

In summary: –

Please don’t blame the big money spenders with bottomless pits for our lack of silverware these past 8 years when much of the blame lies closer to home

–          For me the domestic cups mean so much and for most of my generation and older the end of season finale is a huge day to rival any occasion.I want us to be there and Wenger for so long; this season included decided our priorities lie elsewhere. Well for this Gooner they don’t and I have no wish to have supporter’s priorities determined by one man.

–         I would never swap and FA Cup Final for 4th place and I firmly believe that whilst many may not have agreed 2, 3, 4 or even 5 years after the Invincibles they do now.

–          We may not compete for the very top players or pay the top wages but Cup competitions are not always won by those teams.

–          They other top sides in the main always play stronger sides at least in the latter stages and Wenger choosing not to do likewise has cost us trophies in the past 8 years. For me this is indisputable.

–          I will always back my team and I will back Wenger but I will not be told he can do no wrong and hear everyone but him blamed for our malaise.

–          To quote Peter Hillwood today “Whilst we have our sights set on a 16th straight season in the Champions League, our aims are higher; our ambition is to win trophies.” WELL SORRY PETER BUT FROM WHERE THIS BLOGGER IS SITTING, FORGETTING TRANSFER OR WAGE POLICY I SEE NO EVIDENCE THAT YOUR MANAGER SEES IT THE SAME WAY. FOURTH IS NOT A TROPHY ARSENE, NEVER WILL BE AND THIS GOONER WANTS TO WEAR A YELLOW RIBBON IN THE MERRY MONTH OF MAY BEFORE HIS 50TH BIRTHDAY

Like what you read? Agree/disagree? Leave a comment below or follow me or comment on this blog on Twitter – http://twitter.com/goonerdave66

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45 comments

  1. God that was depressing although very well worked all the same. In previous years (especially that 07 final) we should’ve played a better team. Totally agree with you on value of cup competitions Dave. I was only born in 91 but I cried when we lost the Cup final in 2010 & I was certainly gutted when Owen took the FA Cup away from us in 2001 I think it was. Will I feel either

  2. God that was depressing although very well worked all the same. In previous years (especially that 07 final) we should’ve played a better team. Totally agree with you on value of cup competitions Dave. I was only born in 91 but I cried when we lost the Cup final in 2010 & I was certainly gutted when Owen took the FA Cup away from us in 2001 I think it was. Will I feel either if we don’t get top 4? Not particularly. We haven’t looked like winning the comp since our Semi v united when we were well beaten by Ronaldo & co so apart from financially what is the point of top 4?

  3. A well written article, there are still ‘fans’ that still think that FFP will be Arsene’s savior..Deluded Board, Deluded Fans, Deluded Wenger.

    1. Deluded?
      FFP will not be Arsenals saviour…Le Prof will be though…then we will see deluded fans who think the grass is always greener realise that Arsene was always right.

  4. Dave,

    This is one of the best posts you’ve ever written.

    Sure it was difficult to compete in the league in last few years…but no one can convince me that Russians and Sheikhs are to blame for us being trophy less for 8 years!

    Our manager has been guilty of throwing away trophy winning chances, and some of the examples you’ve listed are totally ridiculous for him to have attempted.

    Also I’m sure some idiots are going to ask you ” would you rather finish 8th and win a cup like Liverpool or finish top 4 trophy less). This is utter bullshit…would we have finished 5th or 6th in the league if we beat Chelsea or Birmingham when we played at Wembley? OF COURSE NOT, WE ARE ARSENAL NOT TOTTNUM, A CUP RUN WONT JEOPARDISE TOP 4 FFS!!!!!!!

  5. I remember that semi-final against Chelsea. I went with my two sons and felt reasonably confident we’d win, as long as we played our best players. All the Arsenal supporters in the area I was sitting were totally puzzled when Arshavin wasn’t named in the team line-up. We all assumed he must have been injured. No, he was fit – but Wenger was resting him. Keeping him ready for the league match against Liverpool, a few days later. And we all know how well he played there! THAT was the point where I realised Wenger decided that a Champions League place was more important than an F.A. Cup final. Every team selection since then has convinced me how he regards the qualification for a Champions League place above the two domestic cup competitions. Don’t believe the rubbish about “players won’t join us if we’re not in the Champions League”. Look at the signings Newcastle, Liverpool etc. have made without the attraction of playing in the Champions League. Just look at our ugly neighbours up the Seven Sisters Road. Lloris, Vertonghen etc. have happily signed for them! Arsenal used to be a football club that tried to win trophies while doing this in an economically sensible manner. Now we’re a business that tries to make as much money as possible, regardless of whether we win trophies or not. That’s why a lot of Gooners are not going to renew their season tickets. We used to support a club that gave everything to win silverware. Now the club measures its success by its bank balance. So does Barclays, Lloyds etc. I thought we were a football club. Not any more.

  6. another excellent blog and no need to apologise to the younger gooners. They should understand and know the history to realise life before Mr Wenger, was not all rose tinted. We have been cheated for so long now and something needs to be said. I for one remember all the FA cups games back in the day and want to have those days back and cry with delight to see us win again! The parallels between me and The Arsenal hurts. 71 born. So right now life ain’t great!

  7. Brilliant again and on the money. Can not agree more on this subject. It’s just simple math and probability test to figure which basket to put our eggs in. Top 4 offers just money and a pseudo elitist status. Rather meaningless approach.

  8. Dave, we are of the same mind and maturing vintage. You have written exactly what i have been ranting to my mates for years (and they are bored listening to me). I am a huge fan and admirer of Arsene Wenger for all he has done for AFC but his decision to play weakened teams in cup games has been a huge frustration. His reputation as Arsenals best manager is without question but boy, it could have been so much more. Thanks also for the wonderful reminders of those great cup final days.

  9. Agree with Terry . Arsenal are becoming a bank like Barclays.Then Wenger shd become the ceo of Arsenal Bank ltd with the ciga r chewing Etonian as chairman.
    Seriously when I read reports linking Arsenal with African born players,I cringe.You never know. Wenger wants to win the epl on the cheap.Past evidence suggests he won’t resist such a bargainThe game against the Spuds takeson greater significance following Bale’s winner.Lose and the gap will be 7 points. Even if Arsenal qualify for the cl,I doubt thye can make msuch headway unless Wenger brings in wc players,look at his tactcis and make the defence hard to beat.If not ,believe me,it will another season to forget in 2014.

  10. Spot on Dave.

    My first reaction on hearing the team for Blackburn was “play our strongest team, control the game THEN rest players once we are 3/4 up”. However “we” (Arsene) rests players????

    I for one remember 78/79/80 cup finals and subsequent finals. Win a trophy and the desire to win more will spread through the whole squad. 4th place just ensures the additional revenue stream continues for the benefit of the balance sheet and the board…

    It’s time to take both cups serious next season, again or will “we” ?

  11. Spot on! I used to be a staunch defender of Wenger,but I can’t defend him anymore!

    Wenger Quotes:-6) “A company works best when everybody does the job he is paid to do.”

    Wenger quotes:-36) “Any man who concentrates his energies totally on one passion is, by definition, someone who hurts the people close to him.”

    Wenger quotes :-50) “For me, when you change more than three players in a team, you always take a technical risk because you change the deep structure of the team and the deep balance of the team, mentally and technically.”
    The man has forgotten what he was employed to do,win trophies and manage a football team. The man is more concerned about balancing the books! He’s a fraud!

  12. Bravo Davo Bravo,
    thats a brilliant piece of writing, just brilliant..
    Awww Cup Final Day – the best 8 or 9 hour you could spend on a sofa.. I thought it was only in Ireland that we saw only 1 game a year – there you go, learn something new everyday..
    I agree we need the cups, as you say,success grows from success..,winning breeds winning, a team learns first how to win a cup or 2,will then find it easier to attempt to take on the oil barons over a 38 game league, with a belief they can win…
    but i also believe that if we’re not winning leagues, it still is crucial to get that top 4 in so many ways, but thats another topic altogether BUT, if we used to be able to win doubles then surely we can win a cup AND get 3rd or 4th, if we used to be able to compete on 4 fronts til so late in the season, then surely we also could push for (picking the main 1) the FA cup and fight for 3rd/4th..
    Ironically this year, i think if he had stuck with his tried and tested method of sticking with the kids in the league cup, i believe we would’ve beaten Bradford, as i believe with the full team out, the players thought “right just show up, win,and get the fuck out of the cip” whereas the kids wouldve showed the hunger required to win the tie against a team sweating blood for the cause…
    For crying out loud, the copa del rey in Spain means nothing, nearly all Spainish players want to play, no dream of playing in an FA cup final, as they don’t take cup comps seriously over there, you only have to listen/see how much scoring in a league cup final in England meant to michu yesterday for proof, and the reason i mention this is, even though the copa means fuck all to them, i’ve tuned into a few of the televised copa matches this year to see none other than Lionel Messi playing – so they play the best footballer in the world on a tuesday night in a copa del rey match v’s a weakened Sevilla team, but we won’t play our main men on a Saturday cos we’re playing a Bayern team we were realistically never going to beat with our defence on a tuesday – “A total head-scratcher” – now i know if he’s layed the 3 main men and they’d got injured it wouldve been meltdown, but heh surely worth the risk – and its been totally compounded by the fact that the draw through up a tiw with Millwall for a place in the semis -AAAAAARRRRGGGHHHHHH is all i can say…
    anyhow, brilliant writing Dave – but keep the faith, don’t slip to the dark side #UTA

    1. After the Blackburn defeat When told that it is the first time Arsenal had gone out to a lower league team in 16 years,Wenger replied ” I’ve prepared the team exactly the same for 16 years” !
      There lies the problem,football moved on!
      The personel have changed and we have a manager employing methods that are 16 years old.
      One size does not fit all in the English league!
      Arsene assembled the perfect player type for the premier league. Six foot plus,athletic ,pace power and skill.
      He is now trying to emulate Barcelona with small technically gift players….it won’t work for one reason.
      In Spain,all clubs play a technical .
      In England there are too many variation in styles and most teams are based on strong physical players,who launch the ball long and put it in the mix! Small players no matter how technical gifted wont win those battles.

  13. “Apologies for not writing for a while. Depression and soul searching post Blackburn and a short family holiday are my excuses, but in reality even had I the time, I had no clue what I wanted to say. Well that also is untrue because as some of you know I sort of had in mind what I wanted to write and say but was unsure whether I should go ahead. Why?”

    One of the worst intros I have ever read to an Arsenal blog.

    1. Clearly you might not have been following this blog for a while. But since I do and know how Dave thinks (a bit), it makes total sense.

  14. I don’t know which are tru, is it because of the debt or arsene doesn’t love this club anymore. One thing I know, is that CL participation pays more than winning Capital one Cup. Somehow THEY (board and mananger) feel have to qualify. The revenue is budgeted every year. Why they never think that by becoming a winning team, more and more people around the globe will support AFC, and revenue will come eventually. Just like united do. Winning team first, rich club after, not happening the other way around, never will be. Anyway, a marvelous read for a young gooner like me.

  15. Sorry to disagree. The English Cups are nice and the FA one certainly has tradition. So it’s disappointing to go out, but this is a global game now and the Champions League is a way more interesting competition. I’m afraid I share Arsene’s priorities on that one. Winning those cups (FA and League) proves nothing about how good you are.

    Arsenal supporter, mostly from a distance I’m afraid, since 1970.

  16. Money talks in the real world, and Arsenal FC have to realize this fact. They cannot be stubborn and say that their way of not spending on quality players is the right one. Ok,if they say we will bring in talents from our youth system, where will we look barring Wilshere? Gibbs is good but Wilshere is world class(arguably). If we do not spend on World Class players, why do we not produce world class players from our youth system? We are renowned for developing talented youngsters, they say, but we do not have a good enough youth system to bring out more players like Wilshere. We sell our best players each year and do not have good enough players in our youths to fill in their shoes. We bring in unproven talents,reluctant to spend big on world class talent. How can anyone expect us to win anything? Not until this trend continues.

  17. I really believe in Wenger, and allthough we have gone eight years without a trophy, I don’t think people understand what Arsenal have achieved in these eight years. Arsenal are one of the clubs in europe that ensures good financial health, and one of the rolemodels of todays game. We(nger) have created a team has as much income as a team winning both the domestic cup, league and the Champions League. We are no longer “Boring Arsenal”.

    Of course trophies are important, and I believe we have the right man for it. Probarly the most important individual of the clubs history. At this moment in time it’s crucial to be a “SUPPORTER” of the team and the boss and maybe a little less “fan”.

  18. Gosh,your description of 70,s finals bring back so many memories.I am of a similar age (42) and 78 was the first time i had seen a whole Arsenal game live on TV as opposed to just the highlights on MOTD .I had become an Arsenal fan a couple of years earlier for no other reason than a boy at my Playgroup that i had a crush on supported them (i was 6!). The build up added to my excitement, and for the first time i experienced the crushing disappointment that follows a cup final loss.The following year i remember it was really hot and my parents were outside doing some gardening,and like you i ran out screaming when Arsenal scored.They came in to watch the second half and when Alan Sunderland scored the winner, apparently i jumped so high off the sofa my head almost hit the ceiling.This was the first time i experienced THAT feeling,you know the one,when you win a final or a really important game,a kind of euphoria that is with you for days. After this my Dad realised that this football and Arsenal thing was not going away, and using some contacts from work,he got some tickets. and took me to my first match at Highbury the next season.against Derby County .It was January,freezing cold,Arsenal won 2.0, and it was the best day of my life.AHH,memories!! Anyway,seeing Wenger’s team selections that you have illustrated above has really shocked me.There is something about seeing it in black and white a few years later that makes one think,did he REALLY expect any of those teams to win?I am afraid Monsieur Wenger suffers from an extreme form of self deception with regards the ability of many of his players,and there is no excuse EVER for not playing our strongest team in a Cup final ala 2007.Of course he has routinely sent out weakened sides in final CLgroup games as well,resulting in us losing,finishing 2nd in the group and having to face sides like Barca and Bayern . You know, one could argue that Tottenhams recent resurgence has its foundations in their 2008 Cup win.They beat us for the first time in years in the SF,and beat a top side Chelsea in the final.One could see the ambition and momentum of the club soar after that. At Arsenal,money is king,and thus the club prioritises the CL at the expense of the domestic Cups. I do not expect any more Cup success under Wenger.

  19. Dave take a bow mate!

    beautifully written piece, you know my background and how long ive supported this club etc, and yet at the same time i feel the exact same as you, i feel that Wenger has disrespected millions of Arsenal fans by choosing the UCL qualification over FA cup and League cups and i feel sorry for them all.

    i personally just want to know what winning a trophy tastes like and i genuinely thought the FA cup was the chance for me to do that and i’d have even tried to convince my parents to let me go to London this year if we made it! just so frustrating to see our club lose its standards we once held up so greatly in the past and i feel we have a long wrong ahead.

    another thing, i think some AKBs need to learn that once upon a time in the history of the EPL you werent given anythng for finishing 4th, 3rd or 2nd and that only 1st place got you UCL qualification.

    oh well, support the club in good times and in bad eh Dave? COYG

  20. Most gooners think things will get better if we spend money. No it won’t. Wenger is a huge part of the problem. The article lends a few reasons but prominently is his tactical ineptitude and arrogance. He’s got a tunnel vision of his failed ideas and wont entertain any other. That is not all his fault, we gooners have worshiped and glorified him through the failed years. Laughably enough, some of us even compare him to Alex Rednose. Its rather absurd because nothing, not even ego gets in the way of Fergie and winning. We have a great young talent who is also a gooner himself but if wenger sticks around, he will be forced to move on. They all will

  21. Just an opinion: Wenger should have been fired when he said this team is better than the invincibles. You can analize it 100 ways and that statement will still be mental

  22. I became a Gooner in 1965 when Billy Wright was manager and vividly remember a cold midweek winter evening on the terraces when only about 7,500 turned up. So I’ve seen good times and bad, and have to say you’ve summed up my feelings. Wenger has been great for the club but he’s become stale, lost his way, call it what you like. He should bow out gracefully while he is still held in high esteem by most fans. I’d like to see the board take a chance just like they did when they appointed Wenger, and go for Gus Poyet.

  23. If you remember arsenal from the 70’s then surely you appreciate this is not as bad as some make out? We have not won back to back titles since the 1930s.

    Get a grip. Glad I gave up reading this after 2 paragraphs.

    I am getting board of gooners moaning. The money at chelsea is reaponsible for our trophy drought.

    Yes we could have picked up one or two woth a bit more luck or better decsisons. However, without arsene we would not have been so close to make it ache so much.

    Come on the gunners

    1. Mate you obviously are not a regular on this blog. I am massively positive and renown for it but needed to get this off my chest. COYG

      1. Ok. My mistake. Love him or hate him. He has done wonders for our club. Someone will benefit from him like rikgard did from kruff at Barcelona.

        I really believe the fans can help us fight for 3rd or wimper into 5th. Our home form is shocking and I believe we could help improve it. Lets use the summer to complain.

        Come on the gunners

  24. Saw my first game in 1956, only 4 i dont really have much in the way of memories but i do know it was 1969 before i saw us win anything. With repeated periods of success followed by repeated too early break ups of squads we arrive at todays team. A combination of age no doubt, but also deep frustration at Wengers intransigence i find myself watching us lose but feeling no pain. Thats Wenger has done, and i await his departure to reignite my hopes

  25. Spot on Dave, I’ve always loved cup competitions. I believe winning one gives players the hunger to win more. They have to win as a team to move forward. I can sympathise with the opinion that CL does appeal to a wider audience, however, to get a domestic cup would help in the long run to win other things.

  26. There are many problems at the club right now, and Wenger is probably the least of those in my opinion – if anything, he is the one keeping the club going.

    The fan who wrote that blog is obviously very passionate, but maybe his views are fuelled by the modern media coverage that all clubs get nowadays. He said himself, in the 70s he was only able to watch one match per season!

    He said we once spent 2 seasons in the bottom six, but was still hooked after losing a cup final to Ipswich – It’s amazing what a few broken cannons on the back page of The Sun can do!

    We are currently finishing in the top 4 every season, and still have the ability to lose cup finals – what more does he want?!

    Apparently Wenger was “out-thought” by Mcleish in the league cup final against Birmingham – my main memory from that game was the mix up between Szczesny and Koscielny which led to the winning goal. Not sure what influence Wenger/Mcleish had on that incident!

    He said that big money spenders are not the reason we struggle to compete for top honours, yet he criticises Wenger for resting players and using other players from his squad in cup games. The fact is, billionaire owners can buy much stronger squads.

    The league is the most important thing in football, cups are just a bonus.
    League position brings more money, determines who will play in Europe, and is a fair comparison to the other teams as everyone has played each other home and away.

    To focus only on the cups would be to become Liverpool/Sp*rs.

    Would he rather we played our strongest team in the cups and rested them for the league games, ending up finishing 6th or 7th?

    Fans are so short sighted now. I hear people saying its the worst arsenal side for 50 years. Is it really?

    The effect that petro-cash has had on European football cannot be underestimated.

    If it wasn’t for Abromivich and Mansour, I’m fairly confident we would be dominating English football, Chelsea would be scrapping for a top half finish every season, and City would be in League 1!

    Next time he plays Football Manager, he should turn on the ‘sugar daddy’ cheat, then try to convince people that it doesn’t make things easier with unlimited funds!

    @The_Arsenal_

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment. It is my site and I am the writer.Take some time to read again. I am not negative generally and if you read any previous blogs you will see that.

      This is purely addressing a policy in domestic cups and priorities. I acknowledge that competing with the wealth hard in EPL and have no wish for the Sugar Daddy to think I desire. On the contrary most of my readers get frustrated at the modest transfer targets I identify.

      Dave

  27. Blown away. Thoroughly enjoyed the *good* trips down memory lane. Thanks Dave.

    I think Arsenal should try to win everything that is put in front of them and not prioritise. I don’t buy in to resting players. For me, you have to earn your place at The Arsenal, where is the motivation knowing you’ll get a game in the League Cup or FA Cup because the primary players are being rested?

  28. You know what phrase I keep saying lately over and over and over again?

    There is not enough football in supporting a football club these days. In relation to this I’d rephrase myself to: There is not enough football in supporting AND RUNNING a football club these days.

    One of your best blog posts up to date Dave. Congratulations

  29. Although I am not of your generation (I’m only 27), I completely agree with you – cup competitions are MAGIC!! I was at Highbury when Jason Roberts scored the last gasp away goal for Wigan, I was at the Millennium Stadium when Drogba scored twice, I was at White Hart Lane when we were hammered 5-1 (just to name a few matches).

    I would love nothing more than to sit down with my fellow gooners at the end of the season to watch Arsenal walk out at Wembley and eventually lift the FA Cup but with current selection policy and Wenger’s priorities I think I may be waiting a while.

    Remember the Seaman save against Sheffield Utd? Remember the Freddie Ljungberg & Ray Parlour wonder strikes against Chelsea? – That’s what the FA Cup is all about!

    To a degree I stand by Wenger still being the right man to turn things around, but for how much longer, I’m not sure…

    Great blog Dave!

    1. Joe you have summed it up. The 3 Old Trafford Semis in a row were special and the Seaman save nothing short of miraculous. The FA Cup is the Cup of dreams

  30. What a brilliant article Dave, loved it all.
    I was always curious to know your background and how u started supporting Arsenal, got to know some of your story today, much to my delight.
    Why Arshavin wasnt played on the semi-final defeat to Chavs is still the most strangest mystery to me. Specially because he was ineligible to play in CL that season. And this and that and this and….shit!

    And yes Dave, bloody long blog can still be damm-bloody intresting!

  31. Wonderful post Dave. Thoroughly enjoyed reading it. The anger/frustration dropped at our club, Arsene Wenger and the player implies immense pain and common-sense. Of course, views/opinions differ. I acknowledge that the emotions of winning a cup (trophy) are irreplaceable. And we have come close to few occasions, only to fall apart in the final few hurdles.

    Top-4 finish or cup-wins? I will say, both. I’m sure we all do accept that under the current footballing circumstances, a top-4 finish is imperative in order to attract top quality (esp. Continental) players and of course there are the financial benefits as well. UCL qualification now is ‘Huge’ for a top club like ours.
    But will playing our first XI and winning a cup, affect our league position? No (exception – injuries to key players). Rather it could have been a major boost to the squad IMO. Losing has its adverse reactions on the squad. E.g. 2011 CC final – Lost, bottled in other competitions, & somehow managed a top-4 finish from a position of winning the league.

    The strength in depth of our squad comes into question here. Eg.2007 CC final, played a very young squad – Lost; 2011 CC final – Played a very strong team (bar Cesc/Theo – Injuried) – Lost. Injuries to key players like Cesc/Theo in 2011 showed how much we rely on our 1st XI to get results. In the last 8 years, we have always had a quality 1st XI but only decent/average squad players. Again, I could argue that injuries might happen even in a league game. But as I said top-4 finish being imperative and the very fact that it’s a long run-in of 38 games a season – requires our top players to be fit and thus they were saved from cup competitions IMO.

    And on a negative flavor, would the cup wins have had players like RvP, Cesc, Nasri, Clichy, Hleb, Song etc stay at our club for a little longer? More likely, yes (unless money was their priority). And a cup win would have taken the pressure off the club by now than going into every season with the very thought of “‘X’ trophy less years”. But as Poldi says – “Shit happens”.

    I admire Arsene Wenger. He is a genius. But he is no angel and has his share of mistakes. The man has given us some wonderful memories & few very rough times lately. I have a lot of respect for him and I still believe he is the right man to take us forward with a few changes to his traits.

    The scenarios of ifs/buts/maybes are quite a lot to argue. But it’s in the past; we have been through the pain and sufferings. Arguments won’t change anything. Let’s look forward.

    The right foundations are in place. Funds are available. AW has his targets. Get more quality in, and build on this very well-laid foundation. Trophies are not far away. ‘The Arsenal’ and Arsene Wenger deserve trophies for their contribution to football. Let’s maintain a cordial and warm relationship among us (supporters), cause ‘The Arsenal’ needs us more than ever before. Cheers!!

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