My lowest point in 45 years of supporting Arsenal – End of an era?

Rock bottom in 45 years of following Arsenal by AndersS

Since I was a 9 year old boy, 45 years ago, I have followed Arsenal as an ardent fan. I live in Denmark, and I have watched probably 80-90% of Arsenals matches on TV in all those years, I have been to both Highbury and Emirates to watch games and I have been in several European cities to watch Arsenal games. So I can tell you, I have experienced ups and downs with Arsenal, and I could write all day about them.

When Wenger came to Arsenal, I was a little bit skeptical, as he really didn’t have much of a record to show for himself, but he quickly won me around. It was a revelation to watch Arsenal become a team playing the most attractive football in England, in fact maybe in all of Europe at the time.

Before we had some years with decent results, but our brand of football was so boring, even some of us fans were embarrassed at times. With Wenger we both could get results and play beautiful football. It was fantastic, and we looked like potential champions every year.

Being a businessman myself, I could also understand the analysis, that if we were to compete in the long run with financially stronger clubs like Manchester United and Real Madrid, we had to strengthen commercially and draw more benefit from our growing appeal. A new larger stadium was obviously needed. It was a huge undertaking, and it was understandable it put a financial restraint on player wages and new acquisitions. In those years, we stayed fairly competitive, which I thought was a big achievement, not only because we had to be very careful financially, but also because a new competing factor came in. Rich billionaires buying teams and players as a hobby. Of course it was disappointing not winning big titles, but we were close at times, and there were signs that good times lay ahead. Eventually our stadium would be finished, our revenue would go up, and investments in the team could rise.

Another promising outlook also was in the cards. Football clubs were becoming global brands, and although Manchester United, Real Madrid and Barcelona were ahead of us in that area, we were actually catching up, and a very positive sign lay in the fact, that we were the biggest club globally on social media, indicating that in generations younger than me, Arsenal was potentially the biggest club or brand globally in the future. I think our attractive football was very much a reason for this. So it still looked rosy.

But looking back, I also think we overlooked some important signs. Most of the time, we lost to Manchester United. We seemed to play the better football and dominate possession, but they won, because they had the better tactics. They happily let us dominate possession, and then hit us on the counterattack. It worked nearly every time for them and still we kept playing the same way against them. I think Sir Alex must have had a lot of fun out of that.

But that wasn’t the only thing. Every season, we seemed to let in more goals than could be tolerated, if we were to become champions. Some years it was put down to bad defenders or bad goalkeepers and later to the lack of a good defensive midfielder. So the only focus and criticism there was, was that Wenger either didn’t want to or wasn’t allowed to spend money on the right player(s), and personally I agreed. But here were a few other critics claiming Wenger’s tactics were too naïve.

Over the last couple of years, I have come to realize, that maybe those early critics were actually right. Football has changed. Today, winning teams does not consist of an attacking force + a defensive force, where the attacking force can leave it only to the others to defend and to win the ball back. Today winning teams have 9 or even 10 players, who press and defend as soon as the ball is lost, and especially the midfielders and wingers are “2 way players”, who are nearly all are as good in defending as in attacking.

We have never made this transition, and it can’t be down to the players to adapt to this new winning formula. It must come from the manager. But I can’t see it happening with Wenger. It should have happened 2 or 3 years ago.The stats are so clear on this, and I think for many, it is also very clear to the eye, even when you watch us against lesser teams than Bayern. And for those who doesn’t believe the stats, or don’t think it can be seen against lesser teams, you would have thought it could be clear, when we as good as always come up short against the best teams in England or in Europe. But for some reason, we are still trying to play the way, it could be won 10-12 years ago.

Over the last few weeks, I have noticed a change. More and more neutrals and more and more fans, have become pessimistic about Wenger’s ability to change it. This isn’t exactly new, but it seems like it is a stronger feeling this time. But what is new is, that even the players seem to have lost faith. They can’t be without knowledge of the growing sentiment against Wenger, and although there are obvious rallying cries from the player, saying “we will keep on fighting” etc., I also think there is an obvious lack of vocal support for Wenger himself from the players. And last night, we saw something, which I honestly don’t think, I have seen before. Not only did several players argue with teammates, but several looked like giving up 10-15 min. into the second half. That attitude is sign, that maybe things are really unravelling. Given, that all chances of a major trophy more or less are gone, star players with unresolved contracts, motivation and confidence at a very low point and a manager in a very shaky position, the ingredients for more disasters are there.

So I think, not only does Wenger have to go, it may actually be a question whether he has to go instantly, so a new plan can be made, before it gets even worse. At the same time, I am grateful he has shown us glimpses of a possibility to become one of the leading clubs in the world. If clever business and clever football management again could come together in a new plan, we could start moving in the right direction again. But it can’t be with Wenger, and if he gracefully admits, that he now realizes, this is what is needed for Arsenal, he could still leave as a legend, and we could start looking to the future with renewed optimism.



  1. muffdiver says:

    found this today:
    sad stuff, tells you how big sanchez is and how much of a step down his career has taken

    Thousands of Chileans are set to march in a protest organised to convince Alexis Sanchez to leave Arsenal this summer.

    The march, which has been organised on Facebook, will take place in Santiago, Chile on March 1st and already has over 4,000 attendees.

    Sanchez has less than 18 months to run on his deal at the Emirates and the page – named ‘National March for Alexis Sanchez to leave Arsenal’ – has been organised to convince him to leave the Gunners.

    The page was set up in reaction to Arsenal’s humiliating 5-1 defeat to Bayern Munich on Wednesday, where Sanchez was seen crouching on the halfway line as the fifth goal went in in astonishment at his side’s display.

    1. NY_Gunner says:

      Just read about it. Quite sad, when you think about it…

    2. rahul says:

      Stop sucking up to Sanchez.. Agreed he’s good. But, not better/bigger than the club he’s playing for. His antics are doing us no good. He needs to play the way team has been intructed to.
      If he thinks he’s bigger than the club,he’s free to go wherever he wants.
      A team wins and loses together!!!!!

  2. hecmanx says:

    Arsenal fans will be United when wenger leaves and am desperate to see him leave, I just don’t understand how he ia still our manager till now after years of failure despite being the most experienced manager and other top clubs changing managers, sadly he still have fans dat are backing him to continue cuz they don’t see any 1 that can replace him, they waiting for arsenal to go an a 4 game run to call him a genius and say he knows best. Our fickle fans are part of our problem. Do the same thing and expecting a different result is what is called insanity- ALBERT EINSTEIN

    1. NY_Gunner says:

      Sayin the same thing over and over and expecting some result, but gettin none, is called an act of futility…

      1. Fatboy Gooney says:

        ? Mate, Try explaining that to Mr Wenger ?

  3. rkw says:

    green day get it about right

  4. Gworm says:

    Excellent, thoughtful article which pretty much hits all the nails on all the heads.
    And can we give up on the whole ‘Sanchez is god’ thing? He has become a better player at Arsenal, but he’s still only sometimes good. Mostly he’s patchy.

  5. Varun says:

    Great article, sums up the years under Wenger extremely well. We need more such articles of quality on this forum

    1. Admin says:

      Send one in yourself if you think you are up to it……

  6. Fatboy Gooney says:

    Nice Article By AndersS ?
    I like these old timer stories ?
    I could listen to them all day, but as soon as they start repeating themselves ??? ? I’m out of there ?

  7. N4NICOLAS says:

    Those days are long gone same should’ve been said about Wenger but I think we let him stay for too long now some fans don’t know what success is anymore.. are we saying no other coach can manage Arsenal anymore or are we scared of change…. I think some fans just love seeing Arsene as coach maybe because is name looks like Arsenal the football club but if you love Arsenal the club you would want it to be successful and wanting Arsenal to be successful means Arsene should be shown the door..

  8. Ian Ures Boots says:

    Intelligent article which comes to the conclusion that for the club to move forward and challenge for the Premiership title there must be change.
    Everyone should be aware though a new manager will take another 2-3 years to develop a world class side.
    Clear the sideboard, hoover up the dust, start with a new broom and dump the has-beens in the bin where they belong.

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