By Mike Court
A pre-season slice of optimism
Ed’s note – International breaks are times when I dig deep in my email inbox to check for articles that have not been used. This one was submitted just before the beginning of the season, but rather than let it collect cyberdust, I am running it now. Treat it as a mid-August snapshot of one fan’s feelings about the season ahead, which will hopefully be proved correct.
As I sat at my computer, desperately trying to crowbar all of the players that I wanted into my fantasy football team, I was suddenly filled with a sense of tremendous pride at the prospect of our boys lining up again this season.
I have thought about it and believe that I understand why I feel this way. Despite the vastly improved inbound summer transfer business, we have still been somewhat up against it this summer. Van Persie’s ‘update for the fans’ and eventual messy departure to Manchester United, the unseemly behaviour from our major shareholders, the uncertainty of Theo Walcott’s protracted contract negotiations, and Alex Song’s flirtation with Barcelona, have all contributed to another unsettling pre-season. Notwithstanding all of that, one still feels that we have come out of this summer stronger in terms of squad depth and attitude.
Do fans of other clubs endure these same issues? I am heavily biased. However, one senses that the media (mainstream and social) have a subconscious desire to run with, fuel, and even fabricate ‘ARSENAL IN CRISIS’ stories. Why this is a more desirable journalistic agenda for the Arsenal than for other clubs one cannot be sure. However, it is probably a combination of our perceived fall from grace in terms of success (measured in trophies), and the fact that for many years (under George Graham) we were a very unpopular team. The people who now write for newspapers and decide upon the media’s themes were probably growing up or just starting their careers during that unpopular period and therefore still have the entrenched dislike of Arsenal that was characteristic of the late 1980s and pre-Wenger 1990s. One should, at this juncture, highlight the fact that there are a handful of fine pro-Arsenal journalists out there – hats off to all of them.
Against this backdrop of continual snide put-downs in the media, and despite our star players leaving virtually every summer since we moved into the new stadium, we defy our critics every season. It’s true, we have failed to win a trophy for years, and that hurts, but the Arsenal have the best stadium and training facilities in the country and throughout this strategic evolution of the club have maintained competitiveness to such a high level that we take Champions League football for granted. It is an astonishing achievement, particularly when one considers the efforts other clubs have expended trying and failing to reach our level. Tottenham and Liverpool have spent fantastic amounts to boost their squads to no avail, and even ludicrously cash-rich Chelsea dropped out of the Champions League positions in the League last season (before winning the final to break Tottenham hearts).
This summer, we have dictated the terms of our transfer business and consequently we enter the season stronger, more experienced and better balanced. When the Arsenal line up this season we will do so with a team full of players that are fully committed to the shirt and are led by a manager of staggering ability. I see that the majority of pundits have pencilled us in as finishing fourth. They are learning, but not quickly enough. I suspect that Mr Wenger has aimed his sights higher than that. Why was I suddenly filled with a tremendous sense of pride? Because we are The Arsenal.
9th October 2012
User Comment and Reaction
User comments on this article are now closed. If you want to continue the debate, why not do so on the Gooner Forum.
nil21 9:16am 9th Oct 2012
way to erly to be singing the teams praises. We have already seen a glimpse of how the team still fails to defend set pieces and crosses. And we still have no real leaders in the team when the going gets tough. Lets see were we are at in december. top 4 again best. top 3 places going to chelsea and manchester teams. Highest ticket prices in europe that not enough. But enough for smug board and manager. - Post No. 29348
Ron 11:15am 9th Oct 2012
Youre years behind unfortunately. The Arsenal have always been resented, going back many decades and for sure back to the great 30 s sides. Its borne of one thing and one thing only - ENVY. Arsenal ooze class and always have. It runs through the Club like blood through veins. No other Club has it. In fairness its only tacky papers and garbage like SKY tele that have peddled the resentment, the better papers havent been nearly so bad. - Post No. 29350
TheFonz 12:31pm 9th Oct 2012
You are not allowed to be positive on this site! dont you read the sites rule book? Nil21 has already started the tiring and boring drone of the naysayers, the pub fans. good article but you will be lambasted by the angry minority! - Post No. 29353
Kev C 14:27pm 9th Oct 2012
Good to read some positivity from someone who understands the word support! - Post No. 29355
Bard 16:15pm 9th Oct 2012
I don't have any problem with loyalty and pride in the club but despite what some on the site imply criticsm isn't being disloyal; blind faith is just plain stupidity. The club have done well in many respects but that shouldn't blind us to the problems. This side is stronger in many repsects but there are weaknesses and history suggests Wenger will do nothing about them. I've written before that our need for a top class goalkeeper evident. The lack of one has cost us dear over the years and will do so again. The young pole should be number 2. We lack a nasty Dm although Artea is ok.To many on this site its the same old same old; potential but needing that little bit extra to take us that step further. This years league is for the taking. None of the other teams are much to write home about. But come Xmas Citeh and chelsea will invest and we ... Well same old same old sadly. - Post No. 29358
The truth hurts 6:41am 10th Oct 2012
Good start to the season.Right lets have a look at the facts.United have had a poor start to the season losing two games and just scrapping home against Fulham and Southampton.They are above us.City have had a poor start to the season only one clean sheet.They are above us.The Spuds in crisis after 3 games AKB's job at risk.They are above us.The Wenger PR machine has been in overdrive so far this season.We are playing for 4th place end of - Post No. 29360
billthered 7:15am 10th Oct 2012
I do sometimes wonder what goes through some of your heads when it comes to everything Arsenal.Each and every one of us that goes to matches knows the weak points of our team and before the spending power of the chavs and citeh came along we undoubtably would have been much closer to winning titles.I dont think there is a manager out there that would have done a better job under these circumstances than AW,and I am not one of those Arsene Knows Best fans he's got plenty of faults that we all know about,but please ask yourselves who would you have wanted to oversee our progression into the new stadium whilst trying to keep us competitive,one of the umpteen managers the chavs have had or maybe Mark Hughes perhaps or someone that for all his faults does have the future of the club at heart. - Post No. 29361
Orson Cart 7:35am 10th Oct 2012
How do we defy our critics every season?.By finishing ahead of a club whose wage bill is £50m behind ours and whose gates are 25,000 less than ours every game.Is finishing 4th defying our critics?Does Wenger earn his £7M a year for just getting us in the top 4?Time to wake up, this is AKB bull at its worse.Wenger Out - Post No. 29362
GG89 9:01am 10th Oct 2012
Good to read about someone's hopes and pride of being a Gooner.......... Just read a quote from the Athletico Madrids Owner who said...... We will have to sell Falcao to service the debt of the club (for 60m). Its impossible to maintain the expectations of the fans, we´re risking the existence of the club, it can´t continue.......I say: As soon as FFP is up and running or in the bin for bad ideas then we´ll know if the sugar daddy project (Usmanov) has legs.... I´m happy either way. - Post No. 29364
JJB 12:26pm 10th Oct 2012
@Orson Cart - Please go and leave our club, we dont need your sort here. Your silly comments serve to show you dont understand football, even the idiots who love to throw up the AKB/AMG rubbish have stopped using it as a petty dig. Why do you have to split the fan base? News for you champ, your in the minority and we are bored of you, so so bored - Post No. 29374
Any Old Iron 13:32pm 10th Oct 2012
@ the truth hurts-you forgot Chelsea. Some were gaining weird satisfaction that we finished above them last time. Erm..Champs of Europe, and flying this time around. A top class keeper is needed big-time! Yes we are doing well, and Wenger does do good things, without a doubt. His merits are many. Jenkinson another example? We are close to the others, but relent when it comes to megabucks. The evidence clearly shows that this keeps us out of proper contention. 4th, and a domestic cup can be achieved hopefully. - Post No. 29377
GaryFootscrayAustralia 15:43pm 10th Oct 2012
Orson Cart Out. - Post No. 29382
9th December 2013
Online Ed: Spoils shared at home to Everton