My Arsenal life – The Good, the Bad and the Vainglorious by Geoff Wood
The following is a potted history of my Arsenal supporting journey to date, and an honest summary of our current manager and what we are spoon fed.
I first began supporting Arsenal when I was 6, why? Simply because I liked the colours, not to mention it was also the nearest team to my birthplace, Bethnal Green in E2.
I first went to Highbury to watch Arsenal when Bertie Mee was the manager, my early years were spent in the schoolboy enclosure, which most would remember as East Lower.
When I started work I was lucky enough to have a friend who was given 2 tickets to every home game in the Directors box, by the then Chairman, Dennis Hill-Wood.
After that I rarely went to Highbury as I was living in Essex. So it was mostly the big games when I could get tickets.
During George Graham’s era I was lucky enough to be offered a share in a box, which at the time was positioned over the away fans. We later got moved to the other side, between the corner flag and the goal.
For the first 11 years, the lease on the box was £110,000 in total. During that time Arsene Wenger became our new manager.
When the lease came to an end, we were offered a 3 year extension as they had planned on building a new stadium. David Miles asked me for my opinion as to where we should build it, we had 3 options, Kings Cross, the Dome or Ashburton Grove. I suggested Kings Cross as it would have had a 100,000 seat capacity, every fan would get to go and it would have been easier for most people to get in and out.
At this point I had no idea Arsene Wenger was personally building it. As he has so often taken the credit for.
The 3 year extension was to cost £55k, a little steep as the previous deal was £110k for 11 years, nevertheless we took it.
When the three years finished, the new stadium still hadn’t been built, so we were offered another three year extension, only this time they wanted £84k, so we said no.
Shortly after Tony Adams elected to play his testimonial against Celtic, we assumed that as we had paid for that season we could have the box for that game, we were told hard luck. The early signs of Arsenal’s incredible greed.
I asked for and was given 5 season tickets, which of course I paid for, even though there was a waiting list. I also joined the waiting list for the then Executive Club.
5 tickets in West Upper, I let my cousins have 3 and I had two, shortly after I went into the Executive Club.
At this point I had bought tickets for the new stadium, 2 in Club level and 3 in the North bank.
So no one could ever say I hadn’t put my money into Arsenal football Club. I also became a shareholder, and to this day, still am.
The boxes at Highbury were where the players lounge and entertaining areas were, the whole block was a tribute to Arsenal teams throughout their history. Very balanced and fun to look at.
The new stadium however is a shrine to all things Arsene Wenger, even the player statues are people that played in his teams.
When I was a Club Level member, I called the Platinum hotline and the recorded message was his voice. My goodness, how very big brother.
After paying £5,400 for my 2 tickets and watching us achieve nothing, I finally had enough of paying towards Arsene Wenger’s pension fund, so I gave them up, vowing only to return when he had gone.
At that time I received a call from Club Level offering me additional tickets, I said how many? They said as many as you want, I said but I thought there was a waiting list, not for you they said. It was that day I stopped believing anything that Arsenal Football Club said.
The initial deals the club did to secure funds to build the stadium were dreadful, I wrote about it at the time. An 8 year old could have done better.
Arsene Wenger takes great delight in telling the world how clever he is, we had no money yet he got us Champions League football every year.
He omits to tell us that although we had no money, he still made sure he got paid handsomely, in fact we still don’t know if he received bonus payments for the club routinely making a profit. Which if true is a massive conflict of interest.
In his early days we were hugely successful, he is quick to take the credit, but he did inherit Seaman, Bould, Adams, Dixon, Winterburn, Keown, Platt, Wright, Bergkamp and Merson.
He often tells us that he converted Henry from a winger to a forward, but he fails to tell us he originally converted him from a centre forward to a winger in his Monaco days, so he was always a centre forward. Again, as I understand.
He puts huge emphasis on youth, yet how many players have emerged from the academy in his tenure? 2, Wilshere and Iwobi. Appalling eh? 20 years and 2 players.
Before you think Cesc, Bellerin, Gibbs etc, they were all bought. He has bought so many young prospects over the years and we all get excited and wait for them to grow up, but so few of them make it.
It’s said that Arsenal fans demand much, that is true, but we demand so much because we pay more to watch out team than any other club in world football.
All Arsenal fans really want is that he actually spends his budget, we aren’t asking the club to go into debt, just spend what we have been allocated. Like Leicester, Tottenham and West Ham did. Look at the lift the fans and players alike get.
He has no problem paying himself so much does he?
I often hear what he has done for our club, but what has this club has done for him? Who was he before he came to Arsenal?
When he arrived and we were so successful, he was doing that in conjunction with David Dein, since Dein was fired, we have won very little, coincidence?
My theory is this, when Dein was axed, Arsene was taken to one side and asked to stay, he was offered the crown with no interference, he was offered the same as Dein had and he accepted. That’s what I believe. I have asked Arsenal that question on numerous occasions, but they have never had the courtesy to answer.
Shameful really as had he had any loyalty, he would have stepped down in protest, that speaks volumes for his character, in my opinion. It’s only ever about him.
He brags about his record to enter a tournament that we regularly get humiliated in. Last season we were beaten by the best team in the world, this year we were also beaten by the best team in the world, so why aren’t we the best team in the world? He’s had 20 years at the helm to achieve that.
The mantra for the last few years has been we can’t compete with Chelsea, ManU or Man City as they have unlimited funds. Then we got, we need a new stadium to compete. Now we have and the debt has almost gone, Leicester come along and he changes his tune as to what creates success. And how he was right all along.
Some 5 years ago he said judge him in May. We flopped, but no one judged him. This season he said judge him at the end of the season, well that’s almost here and no one will again. Ever. No doubt he will soon agree an extended contract.
He is above criticism, he is not accountable and he earns £8.5million a year, that’s obscene!
We said for years he needs to buy a keeper, he refused, this season he buys Cech and says every successful team has a world class keeper, so why has he signed 16 of them in his 20 years, most of which have been rubbish? Lehmann was probably the only decent one, out of 16!
How is it, apart from the obvious Sol Campbell, has he only signed one decent centre back, why has he never had one that came through the academy? Graham had Keown, O’Leary and Adams.
We had one world class left back and he tried to sell him to Palace. (but failed)
What about the shocking players that never get mentioned, like Park (3 years and played 18 minutes) Gervinho, Stepanovs and many more. There’s never accountability.
Look at players we persevered with, taking up valuable space in our team that no one else wants now.
Chamakh, Eboue, Senderos, Djourou, Song, Ryo, Bendtner and Squillaci to name but a few. And the only reason we had trouble shifting them was because of the crazy salaries he paid. Don’t even get me on Kallstrom with a broken back.
Aside from managers that he loans players to on a regular basis, how many have a good word to say about him? He falls out with them all.
Now he has started giving his weird views on Brexit, all of which are just plain wrong.
To quote King Henry, ‘when will someone rid us of this meddlesome manager?’
He has OCD, only making substitutions between 67 and 73 minutes and not when we need them. He continually ignores our faults, he buys an Elneny when we are crying out for a Carvalho, he buys a Giroud, when the world can see we need a Suarez or a Higuain.
He claims he tried to buy Cahill, but he offered half of what they wanted, he thought that was funny, Cahill went to Chelsea, you know the rest.
He claims he tried to buy Suarez, well anyone that seriously wants to buy a player doesn’t make the point of adding a pound to a silly figure that was already rejected.
And if you say he thought there was a buyout clause, well he has 12 in-house solicitors to give him that information.
Every time a player does well in the world, he claims either he looked at him or he tried to buy him. He is shameless.
When the fan unfurled a banner saying time to go Arsene, David Beckham said it was disrespectful. This is coming from someone, that has in all probability never in his entire life paid to watch a game and had all three of his sons playing for Arsenal.
That to me is disrespectful, allowing 3 of his kids who were not good enough to be on Arsenal’s books taking the place of 3 kids that may have made it, for what, a bit of celebrity back scratching.
Wenger told us all that when we built our own stadium, we would compete with the big boys. No-one else would be able to afford their own stadium and feast at the top table because of the huge building costs.
So what about West Ham? Was he not aware that we had the Olympics coming in 2012? What about Spurs, 16 years on from when we agreed to build the stadium, they are building one for less money with a bigger capacity and probably better.
Then we decide to pay it off in record time, why?
When there’s a World Cup or a Euros he says the cost to buy goes up, when there’s a Copa America he says his players are tired, every 2 years there’s an African Cup of nations where we lose players for 2 months, yet he just bought an Egyptian, he always has an excuse as to why he screws up and it’s never his fault.
Yet he makes the same mistakes over and over again. I think Einstein called that the definition of insanity.
He is a fraud. He has no shame and he will never leave until he decides to, that is the sad state of affairs at our club.
I don’t believe any of the management team have ever run their own successful business. Anyone can operate one where money knocks on their door. Sadly I believe we are so bad but because we reward mediocrity with huge bonuses, we have a group of yes men that will never question the manager, who is not stubborn, he is obstinate.
He peddles the myth that he understands money because he got a degree in Economics, how ridiculous, I have many friends that took a degree in Theology, but none of them are Clergymen. It was just a qualification. Get over yourself Arsene.
I believe we will have to suffer this for a few more years yet, then when he finally goes, his legacy will be gone. The silly vainglorious man.