At the moment, the Arsenal fan base appears to be very excitable on Social Media, Sports Phone in Programs on Radio & TV and in the Sports Pages of newspapers & magazines. This ‘excitement’ happens round about the 1st quarter of the year / early spring weather in the UK. This ‘excitability’ has happened repeatedly for a few years now.
I genuinely wonder if it has always been like these especially in those years when George Graham’s squad mounted what appears to be a totally unbelievable title chase with that climaxed with that win at Anfield. I would love to sit down in a library and review archives of newspaper reports leading up to that title win to see what it was like back then.
My suspicion however is that the current version of Arsenal fans are cut from a different cloth. The social media variant appears to be a lot younger while the radio phone in program types are a mixture of the young and the old. This is based on a limited sample size so you must forgive my generalization.
In addition to the fan base, the media as ably represented by their paid pundits are also relevant to today’s topic – ‘the notion that Arsenal and Arsene in their current iteration are a failure’. The pundits have a remit and appears they have performed this remit very well. However, their paymasters are not charities. Their reward is part measurable in online and media traffic and the Arsenal / Arsene / Failure debate is God sent for that traffic they crave.
Without question, the media in modern society plays a huge part in influencing and moderating opinion. However as individuals and individual Arsenal fans for that matter, we have the God given right to exercise some of our brain muscles before we accept a narrative or agenda hook line or sinker. If the narrative or agenda fits with your world view, by all means accept it. After all, opinions are like arseholes, we all have one. But I take extra steps in ensuring my arsehole is perfumed i.e. I try to understand why I have a particular stance and try to understand the background. I try not to follow the crowd. I hope you can say the same for yourself.
So in order to look into this failure thing properly. I consulted Mr. & Mrs. Oxford Dictionary. And they defined failure in a number of ways. If you are still following me, please review the definitions here
After reviewing all of those definitions, I am still struggling to see which one applies to Arsenal or Arsene.
The inability to win the Premier League in the last 11 or 12 seasons or the Champions League is one that is universally leveled at Arsenal and Arsene as a sign of failure. The inability to progress past the round of 16 in the Champions League in the last 6 seasons is another badge of failure according to the narrative pushers. Finally some are very upset with the lack of consistency and the fact that our season sort of follow a particular pattern.
All validly held opinions in my view. However what are the foundations of these opinions? Is winning the league a success factor you have set for the club or for Arsene? Did they sign a contract with you to play in the Round of 8 and beyond of the Champions League? Or are these targets you have dreamed up and tried to impose on the club?
If these success factors are from fans / pundits only, are they legitimate targets? I don’t think so. Fans are not the only ones with a say. The board of the club, the manager, the players all have a say and if my memory serves me right, they did not promise that they will win the league or qualify for later stages of the Champions League.
As for the pundits, at the start of the season, you didn’t give Leicester or Tottenham a prayer of a chance. Neither did you expect Arsenal to win. You expected Chelsea or Manchester City to win the league. You have been WRONG on all scores. To me, these reeks more of failure but of course, it is Arsenal and Arsene’s failure that is relevant.
Personally, I have been an advocate of wanting the team to be competitive as I believe no team can guarantee winning the league. There are too many variables – player form, referees, injuries, state of mind / confidence, dodgy pasta, boardroom squabbles that can impact a title charge. By remaining competitive, you retain the ability to win if your fellow competitors falter.
Disappointingly, while we are still in the hunt, we have not been as competitive as I would hope. I however don’t buy into the failure narrative. Why?
ONLY ONE TEAM CAN WIN THE LEAGUE
Leicester have won 2.18 points per match before today’s West Ham game. Even if they get nothing from today, they will have an average of 2.12 points. If they maintain the 2.18, over the course of the season, they will have approximately 83 points, if the latter, they will have 81 points. Chelsea won the league with 87 (2.29 average) last season. City won it with 86 (2.26) & 89 (2.34) in the 2 seasons they won it and Manchester United 89 points the last time they won it (LAST EVER?). So Leicester’s performance is consistent with previous winner’s performance and that is why it looks like they will win the title.
Not winning the league is not failure.