From the ridiculous results to the somewhat acrimonious AGM, the last month has pretty much summed up what it is to be an Arsenal supporter. The baffling inconsistency of the whole playing staff, not just the first team culminated in the hilarious 7-5 scoreline midweek. I say hilarious, but had we not won it, there would have been little to laugh about.
And that really illustrates where the irrational love of one club overtakes any common sense. It’s something those who don’t support a team don’t understand, and disappointingly that appears to include the Arsenal board. Had the last seven years been filled with silverware then the AGM would probably have passed by almost un-noticed. It’s not why you support a team, but it is how the team is measured when the season is over.
Which is why it’s a massive mistake to try and spin another trophy-less season as being a success. For fans the balance sheet is totally unimportant other than how it dictates what the club can spend on the players. All we see is our best players leaving year after year and a team which flip-flops from one bizarre result to the next. Up to this point I have been broadly OK with the board, but after some of the snide comments from Hill-Wood and the smooth talking of Gazidis I really think I have had enough.
Unlike some I don’t blame Arsène for where we are. You can’t believe Gazidis one moment when he says the Arsène is running the club, yet dismiss other things he says because you don’t agree with him. Yes I think Arsène is massively important for the club as no other manager could have got us to into the Champions League so regularly, but it seems to me that he is consistently having to make excuses for the inability of the board to realize that things have changed. His ability has covered over the limitations of the board up to this point but now the cracks are showing through. Either way we have only been to one Champions League final in the history of the club. Consistent maybe, but not at a high enough level.
We can’t just rely on Financial Fair Play to level the playing field. Even if the clubs with money don’t find ways to get around it, they already have the playing staff who have won stuff. Experience counts, expectation counts, and hoping that the obscenely rich clubs somehow sink back to our level is no kind of strategy. If as a player you are faced with choosing to go to a club without trophies for seven years or a team which has one the English Premier League in that time, which would you choose. And at some point we won’t have Arsène to be a magnet for players either. What worries me most is that we don’t seem to really have any strategy at all should FFP not deliver what the board is hoping.
Of course it doesn’t mean I will stop being a Gooner, that’s inconceivable. It is also unlikely that the board or the owner will ever be genuine Gooners, but right now it also seems to be too much to ask for the board to allow for the fact that disappointment is real for true supporters. And not try and tell us it’s been a good year. Especially when we will be facing one of the products of that good year this weekend.