Why do Arsenal fans think we are ENTITLED to win trophies?

Are Arsenal fans entitled to success? by JS

The good and the wise will tell us that FA Cups no longer count as a barometer for success. They are mere trinkets. Arsenal can only be measured by reference to league titles and this is what a club of our stature deserves. At least that is what the “real fans” tell us. But where does this entitlement come from because we are, after all, just one of 92 clubs playing in the professional football league in England. We are not the richest, nor the oldest, nor the most famous, nor the most decorated even though we rank high on all those metrics. Are we more deserving of the rest? Is this sense of entitlement intrinsically linked to an ignorance of Arsenal FC’s history in particular and football in general? Or is it merely because we “pay the highest ticket prices in Europe” that AFC should buy the players the fans want, have the new manager they deem necessary every few years and collect silverware every season. Or, as I will suggest, is it Wenger’s “fault” that this entitlement exists in the first place?

Even before our entry in to the top division and the move to Highbury in 1913 the Woolwich Arsenal were one of the most famous football teams in the world – being the adopted team of the British armed forces stationed around the world. Arsenal between 1930 and 1953 were one of the most famous and feared club teams in the world as well as being incredibly dominant and successful. However, like with most sports, success and failure can swap places very quickly because between 1953 and 1970, Arsenal won nothing. During this period they lost two League Cup finals, never got past the FA Cup quarter-finals, and finished on average around eighth in the league. 1971 offered some hope for a better future with the heroic double but it didn’t happen. 1974-79 saw league finishes of 10th, 16th, 17th, 8th, 5th and 7th. 1977 saw us break a club record – 7 consecutive league defeats (imagine that now!!!).

It would be another 18 years before the next league title. And when it came at Anfield in 1989 it was in possibly the most dramatic circumstances imaginable. 1991 was the season of the “Nearly Invincibles” losing just 1 league game, but was marred with a points deduction following the Manchester United brawl and our club captain getting a prison sentence for drink-driving. On the field this season was the pinnacle for George Graham as “boring, boring Arsenal” rang out in grounds all around the country. 1992-96 saw league finishes of 4th, 10th, 4th, 12th and 5th. So a “smash and grab” in 1989 and a relative stroll in the park in 1991 at a time that coincided with the demise of Liverpool and before the re-emergence of Manchester United saw two very welcome league titles come our way. We were happy for a short while but anyone who was around at the time will tell you that something was not right soon after 1991, and that 1992-1996 was not a great time to be a Gooner. We were on the slide and our recent triumphs were fading fast. Enter Mr Wenger.

If any of you have been tagged with the fantastic “4th place junkie” moniker or are of the “delusional” persuasion you would have had a hard time of it pre-Wenger, with Arsenal achieving just 16 top 4 finishes in the 51 post-war seasons before he arrived. Who knows, maybe we could have been “8th placed junkies” instead! With that in mind, it would do well to reflect on the 19 consecutive top 4 finishes in 19 seasons achieved by Wenger. It is worth also noting that only 8 teams have ever achieved a PL top 4 place (Manchester United (18), Chelsea (13), Liverpool (11), Manchester City (5), Leeds United (3), Newcastle (3), Tottenham (2), Everton (1)). Without doubt it is not a trophy, but it is equally without doubt that our present position and recent history would be very different if we had been outside the top 4 on a regular basis.

And back to Wenger’s 6 FA Cups. The same total as that won by 23 Arsenal managers over a 100 year period prior to him. It is fashionable to deride the cup and I have seen comments to the effect “well if Wigan or Portsmouth can win it then so what – no big deal”. Selective memory syndrome at its finest. They do not mention the only other winners in Wenger’s time; Chelsea (5), Manchester United (2), Liverpool (2), Manchester City (1).

Bottom line is, if you get any proper football fan from any club with an IQ of more than 100 (away from their tribal environment and from the anonymity and key-board bravado of the internet) face-to-face for some proper football banter, they will freely confide that these are impressive achievements and many other clubs are undoubtedly jealous. So, Wenger has won the league the same number of times as all the Arsenal managers achieved in the 43 years prior to his arrival, won the FA cup the same number of times as all his predecessors in history and has set the record for PL consistency and UCL qualification, on a budget and playing some decent stuff along the way. So what are we entitled to expect? And how hard is it to win the PL title now?

Henry as good as admitted himself last week that winning the Premier League is way harder than in his day. Whilst the “10 year title drought” is being forced down our throats everywhere you turn, it is easy to overlook other equally striking examples that do not garner such attention. Of all the teams ever to have won the top-flight league we have the shortest “famine” period between titles. 10 years with no title has become the standard media mantra and is supposedly an unmitigated embarrassment, picked up on and re-hashed with glee by a section of unfulfilled supporters. I mean really, do people listen to themselves? We can spin these “droughts” and “underachievement” any way we want. For example, prior to last season Chelsea had won the PL just once in 8 seasons despite the continual spending and procession of managers. To use European examples – Real Madrid have one La Liga title in the last 7 seasons. AC Milan with one Serie A title in 11 seasons. Dortmund with 2 league titles in 13 years. Atletico Madrid with one title in 19 years. These are all clubs with greater comparable riches in their respective leagues than us.

And where is the media panning of Liverpool – greater spending than us but nothing in 25 years. Do the media rate us so highly that they make us a special case for attention? You would have to think so judging by the column inches devoted to the subject. And whilst everyone can see the effect the stadium construction had on spending (zero net spend for nearly 10 years) this too is airbrushed out of any conversation as to what Arsenal should have achieved in the “bleak” years between 2006-2013. The AOBs will tell you with certainty that Martinez/Rodgers/Klopp/Simeone/Koeman/ Mourinho/Guardiola/Pullis/Any Other Manager (*delete as appropriate) would not have needed money and would have had the trophies rolling in on a regular basis. Simple to say, but not convincing or provable.

So, back to the question – where does this rampant and sometimes belligerent entitlement we commonly hear/see from a significant group of Arsenal fans come from? If you want to know what “mediocrity” really is, study the history of Arsenal from 1955 -1995. We are presently the fourth richest club in the world’s second most competitive league (after the Championship) with a fairly patchy and underwhelming history for most of the 50 years prior to Wenger arriving. For the fans, Arsenal’s achievements from 1998 to 2004 set the bar high and were Wenger’s crowning glory. For Wenger himself he is recently quoted as saying that his greatest achievement will ultimately be seen as the period between 2007 and 2013.

So next time you talk about what we “deserve” be sure to know our history and understand that this 2015 discussion would in all probability be something very low-key and uninspirational if history had been different and Dein had not signed up a little known French manager in September 1996.


Tags George Graham Klopp Wenger


  1. Because we are The Mighty Arsenal. The biggest club in the biggest City in the United Kingdom. Never been relegated in History.. Its not pride, Its just who we are..

    1. My dear, some folks just want us to sit back and say to ourselves, “Arsenal is not really a big club, we should be happy with coming fourth in the league and wining the FA Cup whenever possible.”


      Please leave the ambitious fans alone, go support a club like Newcastle or Aston ViLla where every now and then they only play to stay in the league.

      1. Football nowadays is about money. The team spent most of the money having the highest chance to win titles
        No club entitle to win titles because of their history. It just happen that clubs with history of winning titles would normally have bigger fan base, bigger stadium, hence in general richer -> higher chance of continuing winning big titles
        The whole landscape change when oil money coming to the EPL, the teams that finished 1st and 2nd last season are not big clubs historically but surely richest clubs in the EPL.
        I agree with the article that when we are under huge stadium debt we are not entitled to win trophies – but now, we have one of the largest fan base, a modern stadium and charge a ridiculous high ticket price – we are entitled to at least challenge for biggest trophies. We owned to our manager to lift the standard of the club – but now it is time for him to deliver us the trophies. 2 FA cups are a good start, I am very happy, but it’s time to hunt for bigger one
        Let’s start with Benz and Samper in to complete the squad

        1. Good article nice read, I’m glad some people understand that without Wenger there would be no Henry or Vieira, nor best footballing side England ever saw. There would be no Invincible season and no Emirates stadium meaning no fourth richest team. No most FA cup wins. Wenger has given the Gooners the ammunition of expectancy such is his high standards.

          Wengers unique football brand has brought us our world wide appeal. Without Wenger we would be similar playing field to spurs, the man has done so much for his beloved Arsenal.

  2. if we are not entitled then who are???…why should chelsea, man city, man utd win over and over again yet we cant even mount a considerable challenge???..the fact that we pay the highest ticket prices in the world should also be reflected on our achievements on-field..no one is entitled to think that they should win but the environment that you are put in makes a person weigh things better…this is the reason that a stoke fan wont even dream of winning the league but we are arsenal and we’ve been winning it and we feel that we are only inches away from winning it every season…change our stadium to britania, greatly reduce the ticket prices, sell the few wc players that we have, get a new amateur manager, reduce everything and no one will pressure you to win anything but because we are what we are we will continue craving for trophies

    1. The problem of talking sense to someone like ‘trophy hungry gooner’ and his ilk is that they will never listen to anything that doesn’t please their fancy! Hence to such people facts should never be mentioned because they are a waste of time. Arsenal should win all trophies all the time no matter the odds! Obviously this article wasn’t written for such people because they have made up their mind and, therefore, they shouldn’t be confused with facts! Unfortunately many of our fans fall in this category, the obtuse ones who will deliberately refuse to see sense even when it is glaringly clear. There is a world of difference between reality and idealism. Much as we may wish to win every game and every available trophy the reality does not agree with that because there are equally strong and deserving competitors who are also vying for the same. Hence the logic is that you try your best but can’t achieve everything. As the old saying goes you win some and lose some.

    1. Yeah, the “youths of today”. The unambitious and aged of yesterday like urself are dead and gone, what are u still doing in this generation of ambitious youths?

      1. How can we win trophies every year??? That’s not what we want (that’s unrealistic and not feasible). Tell u they truth, one of my greatest moments, though I’ve been a fan since 1998, was when we beat MUFC in their own backyard—Welbeck giving us the winner. Was their a trophy given that day? No, but it felt to me like we had just won the Champions League.

        We want the club to genuinely make efforts. Sometimes it’s not really about us not having worldclass players, it’s just Wenger using very poor and predictable tactics.

        We love Arsenal and we are not being paid to so do, hope you understand.

  3. I’ll be delighted If we win the league 2015/2016 season. Its never gonna be easy. Chelsea for mi are still favourite but I want Arsenal to give it a fight. Don’t want to be 10pts behind in December or January.

    I also hope we surpass the usual round of 16 in recent yrs in the champions league..

    Winning the FA cup will be sweet again but I don’t mind giving up the FA cup for the Premier league

    We should play our young players in the Capital One Cup.

  4. I dont know what others feel, So I speak for myself here.

    I started supporting Arsenal during 2007-08 season, and I live in India. So I dont have the sense of history or belongingness that many supporters of UK have. Also I consider myself a young supporter. However I fell in love with the club and I just want the club to win. When we won the FA cup a year ago, I was soooo happy. Couldnt hold back my happiness. I just want the club to compete for honors cause we can do better. thats all I expect.

    I dont think we SHOULD win every year. I just want the team to perform and WIN because honestly we are very much capable. I guess i sound confusing, but I dont know how else to express the notion.

    peace guys

    1. I think most people don’t think we SHOULD win trophies every year. The reason for frustration for a lot of fans is the sense of stagnation in many ways before say the FA cups. Even in the zero net spend days of stadium debt repayment, we had good players like Fabregas, Nasri, RVP. The squad was good enough to finish the top 4. This is one of Wenger’s strengths- building good team cohesion, developing good players into world class talents and playing some good attacking team football(probably the most watchable in Europe) without having to spend too much money.

      But what Wenger does not do well and has rarely done well is in getting the most of his team through football tactics. We had a team good enough to win the CL in the Henry days but never did. This is where a coach like Mourinho excels. He rarely develops any player(read buys World Class talents) but is extremely good at defensive organization and counter-attacking play. Its very easy to say they are boring and its easy to defend. It is NOT. Defense organization is also a beautiful part of the game but just not glorified as intricate and slick attacking moves. Its something we can learn from and improve instead of deriding it(which I we feel we are learning seeing our displays last season).

      So coming to the point, it is not being entitled to win trophies that makes us criticize the manager. It is simply wanting us to get better than we are. Its good to know where the club has come from but it is always more important to move forward than look back. I hear Wenger saying the same every time. He lifted the standards of the club. The next step is to go even higher because the competition caught up. And I believe we are headed in the right direction with the FA cup wins.

      1. Well you are obviously a reasonable man. The thing is though there are allot of entitled young people out there who abuse and patronise along one sentence or two, that is another of the problem that they come across without much any intelligence or thought going into it.

  5. we are the arsenal we win titles we don’t buy them like city and chelsea. we will need to be fighting for the title at least this season, not more excuses the money is there to spend and the stadium debt is comfortable,l as long as wenger get the players we need(big benz). and we can keep the squad fit and rotated, we have a strong shout of winning the league.
    come on wenger you owe us the faithful supporters, and yourself one more title before you retire or go.

  6. The 11 years
    from 2004 till 2015
    is the longest period
    under one manager that Arsenal have failed
    to win the title going back a hundred years.
    George Graham won 2 titles in 9 years = 1/4.5
    Wenger has won 3 in 18 =1/6
    So Grahams years per title record remains superior.
    And for a time in Graham’s era English teams
    were banned from Europe because of the Hysel disaster.
    Also remember ECL qualification used to be
    for just the winner but during Wenger’s era
    even teams who finish 4th qualify.
    A system deliberately created to favour rich clubs
    wanting more football so more TV rights money.
    Therefore the majority of Wenger’s
    ECL qualifications are majorly flawed.
    Should Arsenal have won more titles?
    Yes. But Ferguson and Mourinho were
    just smarter. Simple really.

  7. We don’t feel entitled to “win” trophies in any way , most of us have realised that in financial terms we CANNOT compete with our oil funded rivals and we therefore need to be smarter on how we spend our money but likewise many of us would like to see an end to the petty minded and skin flint mentality that has pervaded the club for many years . Yes we have a shrewd and clever manager yes we have built a team that is now coming together and who were brought in using a wise and financially aware transfer policy BUT this is the first time since the game changed in this country that we are as close as we have ever been to being able to compete with the elite clubs without spending WHAT THEY SPEND this does not mean however that we don’t need to spend at all!!!! Our season ticket prices are the highest in Europe yet we have not progressed in European competitions for five years!!! The board needs to realise that some of the money HAS to be invested back into the squad to give the fans what they crave and that is success. If we need a top quality striker now then buy one and pay the asking price. Same with a DM if we have 70 million to spend STOP trying to spend 20 . If we brought in the two remaining g parts of the puzzle we could garner greater financial reward, provide higher quality competitive football at the highest levels and perhaps win trophies. This enhances the brand globally wich in turn adds more financial clout to the club we would not need to spend big again for a number of years. However this financial petty mindedness has spread through the club like the plague and we get does nothing to stop it. If real Madrid want 45 million for Karim Benzema then pay it and recoup the money over the next few seasons instead Wenger operates an insulting and derisory method in his transfer dealing which alienate the club’s he’s looking to buy from, Liverpool and the farcical Suarez offer being a good case in point. No!!! Arsenal fans don’t feel entitled to win trophies but we do feel entitled to see our team compete for them at a much higher level than we are or gave been . If you walked into your local test’s and they attempted to charge you twice the price for a can of beer you would want to know the justification behind d the price hike and that’s what most arsenal fans are asking now. What exactly am I getting for me money? . It’s not entitlement but it is a demand for justification.

  8. dude, its all gud telling us all these but i have only one thing to say… every human’s dream is to progress in life and not regress..

  9. Excellent article dude. The progress under Wenger has been immense. Like those closest to Wenger and the fans who ‘get it’, I have tremendous respect, not anger or hatred for an ‘old deluded fool’ as some frequently say.

    On the point about expectations, I ‘expect’ AFC to mount a serious challenge on every level in all competitions. Thanks to Wenger we are now one of Europes elites and need to achieve at that level.

    Respecting Wenger AND seeking ultimate success, are NOT mutually exclusive.

  10. We are NOT one of Europe’s elite as you say , until we compete with a comprehensive ability to win with the likes of Barca and RM until the time comes and we ate giving these teams the Willis about playing us in the final of the CL we won’t be a European elite club
    This is the delusion I’ve been speaking of . Without a WC striker and a top DM we will stay as we are and that’s also ran of the European elite

  11. The old are rotting and they want us to rott with them. No thx you oldies out there. What was good for you is not good fos us. Leave the passion to us who have it and do start playing bingo or something. Its fits more the nature to the people who have forgot what true passion and kamfgeist means.

    If Arsenal would be pleased with only being part of the competition, then you guys should not be angry and mad at players for leaving this club bec of lack of willingles for glory.

    When Wenger started his career at Arsenal. We and manure had the same ammount of trophys. Wenger then Won 3 and Fergi 9 if i am not mistaken. We are not the best team in england but the 3rd best which is not that bad at all. And Arsenal do own fans around the globe which teams like Spurs and Everton do not. So stop making us some second rate club for f. Sake bec we are better then that and you of you should know.

    Arsenal fans are one of the most deluded and idiotic fans i have ever seen. No wonder why they used to call us the library. No hunger for glory no passion. The ones who have it have been priced out by the richer and older fat asses in london.

    1. Ks gunner, your clearly a little Chelsea troll I’ve been reading your comments for a while and you’ve never had one good word to say about anything that is Arsenal, why don’t you do us all a favour and take your “passion” back to the bridge and watch the boring team you really support or maybe old Trafford , either way this site would be better off without your negativity

      1. Ks u really made yourself sound like a muppet who are you to tell us older generation of goners to go and play bingo wen we were the fans who travelled the country to support our club through the bad times something you probably never seen before, your clueless wen it comes to arsenal you should go and play some tiddly winks mate COYG

    1. One commenter hated this article so much he swore three times! (deleted)

      No-one likes all of the articles all of the time – It’s a fact of life…..

  12. Wow! good analysis of history, but what story should we tell our children, we simply wants to tell a better story to our children. The reason why arsenal have this negative history is because some people never saw a better arsenal. I WANT ARSENAL TO BE NUMBER 1 IN THE WORLD. please sir, you are not suppose to have a problem with that because we are suppose to both love arsenal. you will love your children unconditionally, but you will also want them to be the best in the world that is love. I am sure some of the fans are passive through this terrible history. they will say it does not matter if arsenal fail, but to some it does. Are we now killing the hunger for success.

    1. Yes but it is misguided to abuse and spout nonsense because you believe Arsenal should win a title on a zero budget against arab wealth and other unrestricted clubs. Where is the sense? I cant imagine another fan base that would expect so much – that is probably Wengers biggest compliment.

  13. Dear JS, when next you are writing articles like this (long), please try and break into parts. You can finish your article but publish them in parts of 1,2,3….communication is meaningless if it looses it understanding before the end of reading.

  14. so what does the author of this article want us to do, say or be?! just chill out every end of season and say “oh it could be worse!” as we continue to languish in mediocrity?!

  15. it look like wenger might have identified flamini’s replacement in the shape of barca youngster sergi samper. it could be a canny long term signing for this position, but if we are going for Spanish d/m that can pass and defend and has a but more experience, why dont we just move for illramendi he would do just the same job off filling in for le coq and for only a fraction more of the cost at £14million and i think he is of the same standard if not maybe slightly better, so would instantly improve the competition in this area.

  16. If you give an Igbira man a glass of drink, he will say, give me another tumbler. The Gooners have tested victories in the past as the Boss’ Gunners have won us the title and even the double. Hence the Gooners are graving to have more title victories as the ones they ‘ve had that sweetened our throats have expired. Let us be prayerful for the Gunners to make that misson impossible possible for us this coming season to quench our insatiable thirst. The young shall grow to learn to be guided in their utterances as they too will be hopefull to grow up and become agged and yet continue to support Arsenal.

  17. Fantastic article, sums it up perfectly, and reading some of the replies the comment about above 100 IQ is so true , the titles are coming and all gooners need to do is back their team and their manager instead of whining like spoilt little brats .

  18. Wenger is the best coach maybe barring fergie (cos even he, had the backing of refs n press)…..bayern n barca wit all dia dominance in a shitty league could nt go unbeaten dat speaks vol……But I think we shld βε̲̣ allowed to aspire mur (competing every year n winnig the league atleast 1ce in 3yrs) cos wat den wld βε̲̣ the use of achievin financial stability all those hard years, we all wnt to grow…….no manager will do wat wenger did hence we (fans) owe him while the club owe us the fans………you wnt to knw wat it means playing against rich teams n stil stayin relevant for long? Ask valencia, deportivo, dortmund, tothm……so yes we deserve mur, bt all tnks to wenger

  19. i did a an official iq test(its mostly lateral thinking processes) once a few year back, and returned a score of 148 not to shabby in the world of mensa and just arsenal, i hope lol

  20. Please don’t compare Mourinho to Wenger EVER … Mou always inherited very strong teams, managed to get them playing with that “us against the world mentality” eventually leaving after 2-3 years to a trail of destruction … look at porto, inter, madrid after he left. He is strong tactically, but only defensively, and he’s also a c@#t.
    Wenger’s approach on the other hand, always positive, developmental and creating something from scratch in an almost artistic way, always in the face of crazy criticisms from all the losers out of jobs and those still in diapers. Always kept his class, never stooped down to their level, every year got his teams to perform to the maximum of their ability, at some point we had chamakh leading the line for us and we almost won the league, so be thankful for Giroud 🙂 Wenger is building something to win the league and champions league before he’s off, the wrinkles on his face proves his desire for winning, relax and lets watch this art unfold … don’t keep stressing in the meantime.

    An example of art unfolding:

  21. I’m 26 and have been a fan since around 5 (Ian wright days) and grew up in the invincible era….this is why I expect the BEST and nothing else is acceptable. But that’s just my 2 cents.

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