Can Man United say they had a more successful season than Arsenal with their Cup win?

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?

Dan Smith

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  1. This is not even a debate
    A new manager
    2 cup finals, won one already
    Proberbly ending in 3Ed/4th
    How is that a debate?
    No sentiment, I see united mounting a better challenge for the title next season than us, they have the manager and experience

    1. Why didn’t they this season?

      Don’t we have a manager who has done way better in his inexperience than that experienced one?

      Whatever happened to loving and defending our own?

      Why bother? Why not switch allegiance to the Manchester clubs? Why are some comfortable praising United who haven’t been any better than us for a number of years than praising our own?

      Inferiority complex that is!

      1. This is funny
        I can praise us and apply sentiment that doesn’t help anyone, it’s not about defending our club its about saying things as they are…
        They finished below us last season too, had a bad start, new manager, even with the Ronaldo drama they still achieved what they did…
        Should I be singing praise for finishing above united or Newcastle who both finished below us last season
        We did well this season both looking at the whole contest united were just better, we are far into our project, and more stable. From where both clubs are coming from united had a better season

      2. This sounds ridiculous. I agree with Dan, ManU have had a finer end to the season with a cup. Its a simple question and many will agree that ManU have won some silverware. You cannot advise us to switch loyalties. Plus top 4 and FA finals, they have overcome their problems and credit should be given to Erik Tan Haq. And this this cup holds importance as even “the greatest manager in the universe” could not win it in 22 attempts!
        Our biggest success came when we binned the rotten apples and then only we move upward the ladder. We finish the season empty handed,
        but at least we tried and failed. We will return next season wiser and stronger under the able leadership of Mikel.

  2. I have been with you since we were struggling and you were right all those times in my opinion.

    But it seems to me you are in a hole of negativity that you can’t find a way out.

    This season has been a success even more so considering that the rebuilding is yet to complete.

    Will Arsenal winning everything without a loss a thing that will make you happy?

    Had I not read countless of your articles I would have said your capability as a writer is only in a negative way. But we all know that is not the case.

    Don’t make negativity your comfort as a writer. Push yourself to write in all ways. While we can count your positive articles in one hand, to count the negative ones will take days.

    I might have missed some but I see for the majority of the season where we were leading and doing very well you did not write as much as the past few weeks after things went South for us.

    1. ‘ we are Arsenal football club
      The demand should be there
      We should aim to win everything , we shouldn’t be satisfied with the situation if we want to move forward .
      Thank you for those who do not accept CL and want more because this squad wants more ‘

      That’s our manager
      Then asked does he settle for second he says ‘ no’

      1. You’re absolutely right Dan. WE ARE ARSENAL one of the greatest clubs in the history of football. We must want the very best for ourselves. I understand how you feel. I want us to dominate the Premier League and then achieve what we were not quite able to do previously in the CL. Win it. I really don’t think that’s too much to ask.

  3. In my opinion, the fourth place + Carabao Cup will be a s successful as finishing as a runner-up

    Because if that happens, Man United will have to go through UCL qualification phase, but they will also win a minor trophy

    1. With a cup in the kitty and possibility of FA cup their season without debate would be considera successful season than Arsenal. Taken a second place is not a trophy. Both 2nd and forth will play UCL

      1. But the runner-up won’t have to go through UCL qualification phase. Man United could still get relegated to EL if they lose in that phase

        1. How many EPL team have lost champions league qualification match? Against probably a sorry club not even in championship level

  4. If utd finish 5th and win the carabou cup, they will be have had a worse season than us. If they qualify for CL and win cup, they will have won a cup and had a better season. If they finish fourth win two cups, there is no argument, even if you are biased. We finished above them in the league and have had a better season in the league but trophies and CL qualification should be classed as success.

    1. I do have to say though (throwing it out there) even though i despise the owners. For what he has achieved, in a short space of time, basically two average priced signings and great organisation. Eddie Howe should beat Pep to Manager of the year. From where they have come to now is fantastic.

        1. A trophy which we won in Arteta’s opening season as Manager, so I’ll say there’s no debate, Man united have done well with an experienced coach, Arsenal also have done great with an inexperienced coach.

      1. He has done remarkably at Newcastle and unless City win everything available to them then Howe deserves great credit. I would temper that with Howe’s much longer managerial career. In part what it has also proved to me is that Steve Bruce was a bang average manager. There were already some decent players , some very good players added by Howe too, so he does deserve to be considered as having a very good campaign Reggie

        1. Bang average? Bit generous that Sue. His record with his last few clubs is absolutely dire. The Newcastle fans took a lot of stick for wanting him out, but when a few of them pointed out just how bad his record there was, well…

          It makes you laugh (cynically) doesn’t it? When Utd and Liverpool fans have demanded heads roll over the last decade, the press and pundits fell over themselves to tell us how ‘right’ they were to be angry. Newcastle fans protest over decades of mismanagement and they’re ‘entitled whiners’.

  5. Not even close. I would take seriously competing for the premier league and end up second then Micky mouse cup. Arsenal had the season United wished they had.

    1. Winning a cup, being in another final and top 4 same as us. They’ve had a better season

      1. Agree with you. I remember we finished 8th and won FA Cup, and mocked spuds for CL berth and no trophies.

        We also mocked them for losing CL final game, ending their season with no trophies.

        If we end up 2nd place with CL berth, and utd get CL and mickey mouse cup and FA Cup final, I’d say they had better season.

        I’ll take CL and any trophy over CL and no trophy every time.

        Don’t really understand how a team gets CL like us AND a trophy, yet are said to have a worse season.

        Don’t believe for a second that if we won the Mackey mouse cup some of us wouldn’t Celebrate that trophy.

        I would happily take a trophy, tangible success for a winner, it’s still a cup everyone competed for.

  6. At this stage we are four wins better off than ManU which is a fantastic feat.
    They have poured squillions into top players and hired well renowned coaches/managers since Ferguson left and haven’t fared particularly well.

    Winning a trophy is important for morale and the majority who have posted see this as preferable to coming second in the league.

    I have mixed feelings about that as I am trying to take the season as a whole. In the absence of competing for top spot then winning a trophy is a real bonus so ManU will be happy to have won the Carabao Cup. We have competed for the title from a position where we were very much in transition, so this year I’ll go for second place being better than the Carabao cup as this is all they have won so far.

    We could win the league and Utd could win the double so what is preferable then?

    1. The article said if arsenal finished second and united finishes in top 4 with a league cup or two, I think you are a little bitter about united and understandably so, but we finished above them last season, they had a bad start, had to deal with Ronaldo problem yet could still achieve what they did is very well remarkable, while us have enjoyed some stability with our club and manager, Arteta has been here since Dec, 2019 and has been building a squad since then, mind you he has spend some money too… If you flip the coin and arsenal is the ones in united position I don’t think there will be much argument but its part of the fun

      1. @Gun down
        Exactly what i’m saying.
        So many people criticize the manager for not using Ronaldo and even saying they will regret it if he allow Ronaldo to leave and yet Ronaldo left and they perform even better.

        Their problem is only finding consistency and been his first season, you can give him that.
        Pep G never kill it in his first season either.

        If Newcastle finish 3rd, they still have a better season than Arsenal for a team that fought tooth and nail to escape relegation to top 4?

        Though i still prefer my team but they still have a better season

      2. I will add, i dont think utds squad is any better than ours, in lots of ways i think it lacks depth. The players they do have seem to be able (when they desire to) step up a level. They just lacked consistency.

        1. Agreed. Utd don’t have a great squad, bar a few stars, and that horrible little cheat Fernades of course. Our first team is better than theres, but their mentality is better. They do also have two advantages: they ‘are’ Utd and teams roll over as a result, plus the establishment wants utd to succeed. Hence all the VAR decisions they shouldn’t get. The opposite is true of us.

      3. I am not bitter at all and it wasn’t in my thinking at all.
        Man U have, in the last few years apart from last year, have finished in a far healthier position than us having been financially able to buy, buy, buy. The credentials of their managers bar OGS were far superior to those of Arteta who has been busy revamping his squad from a groupthat was going down the pan towards the end of Emery’s tenure. Before he got the job, lots of JA posters were calling for Ten Hag and we got a newbie instead who until he got us to where we are now was frequently touted as nowhere near good enough. The stability you refer to has only existed this season
        Anyway, on the basis of what I have written above, I still think our achievements are really impressive

        1. You are delving into a more Broad discussion, the article was about this season it’s Bette if we stick to that

          1. Ok, that is fair enough Gun down, but it is extremely difficult to separate what makes a better season and for me, going from where we were, this season has been sensational.

            Ozil and his chums with much wringing of hands and waving of arms, to Auba flying to Barcelona to force a move, to where we are now is sensational. The mentality is still not quite there, but unless we collapse against Chelsea, then I see this season as being truly progressive with, hopefully, a better season to come, starting in August.

            If, by chance, we do collapse and ManU do well in the remaining fixtures and bag the FA Cup then they have had a terrific season. I remember the Carabao Cup being referred to as the Worthless Cup, but it appears that any trophy trumps a fantastic achievement in the league

        2. From where were to where we are now is massive. Unfortunately, you won’t get much traction on this site where there is an unhealthy focus on the negative.
          By the time Arteta joined, Arsenal were in real danger of becoming a mid table also-ran. Over the last few seasons mention has even been made of relegation battles.
          It has been a massive overhaul of the squad and the club’s ethos that has made us relevant again.
          Instead of looking at how well we have progressed and looking at the vision for the future we have these kind of articles which serve no purpose than to undermine what has been achieved.
          The e

          1. If you don’t like realistic assessment of what we’ve achieved, how far we’ve we got to go, and insist on calling everyone negative who refuses to accept your opinion, that’s your issue, nobody else’s.

        3. In all honesty Sue, our last few games will decide how we look back on the season. If we start winning again, confidence will return, and we can look forward with confidence to next season. Second place will be seen as good return after so many years of struggle.

          If however, we don’t recover, and struggle across the line, concerns about unresolved issues will continue. Let’s hope it doesn’t end that way.

      4. I don’t understand something here, Man utd won carabao, he he, how did they get to the final, most of their matches, they were at home, in fa cup, who did they play against, the only strong opponent was Brighton and ended up as penalty shutout, in which they were fortunate to win but we played city at etihad with their full squad and lost by 1-0, do you think utd would have done better against city at etihad?
        If not of the 3 straight draws that make us to be where we are now, we would still be talking about the league, still we are still 10 points ahead of 3 place and city is 1 point above us.
        I will take the challenge we gave city and other premiere league teams than utd carabao cup with their 4th position.

  7. A likely scenario is Utd qualified for the CL with a League Cup win, and FA Cup runners up, and Arsenal finishing 2nd.

    Although Utd would have had the better season, I’d rather be in our position as our squad as far more potential, and needs less work done to it.

  8. I’m not giving up on winning the Premier League yet. City won by 1 goal so it’s not impossible that they can drop points

    But even if they don’t, I will of course be very disappointed of are terrible 4 games in a row of draws and loss as the premier League was in our hands but regardless we have improved a lot and got back into Champions League and at the start of the season that was our goal

    1. That’s the only positive of the season.

      We have improved alot and i hope next season will be better.
      And we need to correct all this falling off at the tail end of the season if not, we will never progress

    2. Stephanie, unfortunately a close 2-1 win still brought them the three points they wanted. They did what they needed to do and no less. This is how champions do it. They rested De Bruyne possibly because they knew they had enough to beat Fulham without him. It’s frustrating for us of course and I admire your positivity and optimism, but methinks we’ve missed the boat I’m afraid.
      It really hurts because even with all the talk of being “very young”, “having improved from last year”, etc etc we had that title in our grasp at the point we went 2-0 up at Anfield. We were all in dreamland. At that moment I was conviced that we would be champions. Unfortunately it’s unlikely to happen now.

    3. Hey Steph
      I can see Brighton and Brentford being tough games for City but can we win at Newcastle ?

  9. Continue deceiving yourself if you think we’re more successful than Utd if we finish 2nd and Utd finish fourth. I saw an interviews during that cup final where all Newcastle fan prefer to win the Cup than qualifying for Top 4. That’s a success for them.
    Not for us but i’m sure if Man were in our position, many people here will claim we have a better season.
    I remember when Arteta won the FA Cup and Arsenal fans were teasing Utd and Spurs when last they win a trophy.
    Coming second in the league is nothing if you don’t get to Semi’s the following season.

    No matter what Utd will be called a defending champion, whereas we’re not defending anything and yet Utd we still participate in CL together with us next season. so how is that having a better season than them?
    They even suffer more injuries, Suspensions and played more game than us and yet they went far in all competition than us except the league.

    I’m sure if we put more fight like Utd for all competition, we may not even be in contention for the league cos i know people giving excuse that our players suffer from fatigue bcux of too many games as if Utd don’t play more games than us, and mind you we have more better players than Utd.

    Utd is just suffering from consistence.

    I love Arsenal squad more and i believe we have more potentials to be successful going forward ( Though Utd have more money to be successful under Ten Hag)

    Let continue pushing starting from tonight and show never say never attitude till the end.

  10. To early to say. If we hold on to second place and utd lose the cup final, you might argue we had the better season. Might. There are after all no prizes for second place. If Utd win the Cup however, two trophies, a CL place and some good buys will leave them looking a lot better.

    Moreover, if we don’t recover and start getting results, even second place is not yet assured.

  11. I think we should just leave that argument, we went again trophyless this season while manutd at least have something to show for this season, it hurts but its true 😭

  12. I think this squad needed to compete in the league as its been so long , we needed this more than a smaller cup win . If utd win the fa as well its undoubtably a better season than us but for our imediate future , we needed this season

    1. A good assessment there. Utd have a good record against City, and pulled off more than a few against the odds results, so writing them off is daft. Not to mention they rarely lose cup finals. As such Utd could well end up with a much better season than us. However, finishing top four was the stated aim, and hopefully the experience of challenging for the title will stand us in good stead next season.

  13. If someone said at the very beginning, you can challenge for the league this season or you can take a domestic cup along with a CL place right now. I would say give me the challenge.

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