Is Rio Right? by Dan Smith
Rio Ferdinand started a debate this week, by claiming if Arsenal finish runners up this season, a top 4 finish along with the Carabao Cup would mean that Man United had more of a successful campaign.
It could get better if they win the Manchester Derby in June.
It’s worth noting of course the pundit played at Old Trafford at a time when the Red Devils rivalry with the Gunners was intense.
So, there’s an element of an old rival kicking us when we are down.
I actually understand the point Rio is trying to make but not for the first time he goes over the top without adding context.
As a former world class defender, he knows deep down that his old club haven’t come close to the levels we have set, suffering numerous heavy beatings.
He will be aware that Gooners have enjoyed the journey and had a sense of pride that United Supporters haven’t had.
As a player and now a fan, he would much rather have the title in your hands with 6 matches to go instead of just being a cup team.
It’s worth remembering it was only this week that our destiny was no longer in our own hands.
Even though we failed to show up at the Etihad, Wednesday nights are the type of occasions you want to be involved in.
So of course, being top of the table for the majority of the time is more credible than going between 3rd and 4th.
As a professional though you want to be able to look back on medals, not how many times you simply qualified for the Champions League.
Lifting trophies at Wembley are iconic moments that live forever. 2nd in your domestic league isn’t remembered years after.
We don’t celebrate the Man United side who surrendered the title to Man City on goal difference, or Liverpool who were runners up despite point totals in the nineties.
We don’t give Spurs any credit for their title challenges or appearance in a Champions League Final.
When people discuss Sir Alex Ferguson’s 1999 Treble, they don’t mention how close it was to being our Double Double.
No one remembers the runners up.
2nd means the same as third and fourth in terms of what European competition you compete in, so if you had the direct choice, it’s just as well to choose a scenario where you end up with silverware.
Mikel Arteta led Arsenal to their worse league finish in a quarter of a century in his first year as a manager. We still celebrated his FA Cup success as the triumph it was.
The same when Mr Wenger failed to finish top 4 for the first time. It didn’t make his FA Cup win any less sweet.
His two Cup wins before that came with the Gunners not in the top two. I don’t remember celebrating a trophy but being envious of who finished 2nd that year.
Plus, I can’t be hypocritical.
When Spurs claims there’s been a shift in power in North London due to their League positions being higher than ours since 2017, I dismiss that stat has meaning nothing.
In fact, I’m amused that Tottenham’s greatest period in modern history saw Arsenal still end up with 4 trophies compared to their 0.
In decades, we won’t remember Spurs finishing 2nd but Arsenal’s FA Cups live forever.
If you asked me next season to choose between a title challenge and heartache, or still qualifying for the CL but with a cup to show for our efforts, I would take the second option.
Of course, we could have had that reality had we not arrogantly put our nose up to other competitions.
Remember when some convinced themselves that losing to Man City and Sporting Lisbon would be a blessing in disguise?
Suddenly a Europa League doesn’t seem too bad a worst-case scenario?
Is Rio, right?
Watch Arteta after Etihad defeat – “Man City deserved to win” “They are an exceptional team…..”
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