The Nearly Men Part Four: The Rot Sets In
By Robert Exley
Another in our series of almost, but not quite seasons
In 1971, Arsenal won the double by beating a Liverpool side who at this point had spent five years trophy-less. Their barren spell was to extend for another season when, in their final fixture at Highbury in May, 1972, they had failed to secure the two points required to take the league title back to Anfield. The Arsenal side of ’71 were seen as a well-drilled machine that would grind out results, along with having players such as Charlie George, Ray Kennedy, Pat Rice, Eddie Kelly and John Radford, who were all under the age of 25. Many assumed in 1971 that this Arsenal side would have the whole of the 1970s at their feet. However, by the end of the decade it was, Liverpool that were to be the red machine that dominated English football. The year that was to see the two sides start to veer in different directions was to be the 1972/73 season.
It was a season that was to start well for the Arsenal, who remained unbeaten in their first seven matches, until losing their first game at Newcastle 1-2 in early September. Two defeats were to follow in October, followed by the signing of Jeff Blockley for £200,000 from Coventry, intended as a long-term replacement for Frank McLintock. Although Blockley had at this point had gained an England call-up, he would later be referred to by Bertie Mee as his greatest mistake in football management. In his autobiography, Peter Storey said of Blockley that ‘he was supposed to be a good player, although I never saw any startling evidence’. By the end of October, Arsenal were still within one point of Liverpool at the top of the table. However, there followed a 0-2 home defeat against Coventry.
According to Phil Soar and Martin Tyler’s official history, in 1972/73 the Arsenal had also attempted a tactical change of style from what the football world had become accustomed to with North London’s finest. Known up until this point for their ‘no frills’ approach to football with a great deal of criticism from the neutrals, as well as reflecting on their elimination from the European Cup at the hands of Ajax a season earlier, ‘Mee’s answer was to attempt to turn Arsenal into the total footballers of Holland…but Arsenal’s flirtation with a style alien to their successful long-ball game, and equally unsuited to the consistently tough demands of English football was brief’. Mee’s u-turn came as a result of exiting the League Cup through a 0-3 home defeat to Norwich. The following Saturday, this was followed by a 0-5 trouncing at the Baseball Ground at the hands of reigning Champions, Derby County..
Arsenal however reverted to type for Leeds Utd’s visit to Highbury the following week with positive results, as Arsenal ran out 2-1 winners. The following week Arsenal also beat Tottenham 2-1 at White Hart Lane and there followed a run of fifteen games unbeaten in all competitions. The main highlight within this unbeaten run had been a 2-0 victory over title-rivals Liverpool at Anfield in early February, which saw Arsenal take the top spot from the Merseysiders.. However, pole-position was to be lost two weeks later at the hands of Don Howe’s West Brom, who were fighting a relegation battle at the bottom end of the table. Arsenal, however, had managed to keep the pressure on Liverpool with four straight wins, which included a 2-1 away win over Man City, followed by a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace 48 hours later. On the day of the 1973 Grand National (which the Racing historians among you will know was won by Red Rum), Liverpool had kicked off early against Tottenham at Anfield, drawing 1-1, giving Arsenal advantage in the title race, but a 0-1 defeat by Derby at home put Liverpool back in control of their destiny again with a game in hand.
Arsenal, however, were also putting together a good FA Cup run, sensing a part of history to be achieved in either another double and/or becoming the first side of the twentieth century to reach three successive finals. Drawn against Chelsea in the Quarter Final, an epic tie ensued with a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge. The replay at Highbury four days later, in front of an attendance of 62,746, saw Chelsea take the lead through Peter Houseman before a controversial penalty decision, where George Armstrong had been brought down by Alan Hudson.
Initially, the referee, Norman Burtenshaw, who also took charge of the 1971 FA Cup Final, had deemed the foul to be outside of the box and awarded a free kick. The Arsenal players in response had so vehemently protested that the foul took place inside the eighteen-yard box that they had convinced the referee to consult with his linesman. The man on line, as video footage would subsequently prove, rightly called for a penalty which was duly awarded. Alan Ball had coolly converted to equalise, followed then by a second-half winner from Ray Kennedy heading superbly past reserve keeper John Phillips in the Chelsea goal from a Bob McNab cross in front of the North Bank, putting Arsenal through to their third successive semi-final.
Against second-tier Sunderland at Hillsborough, Arsenal were red-hot favourites to reach another Cup Final. However, a Jeff Blockley-induced nightmare was to follow, as Arsenal crashed to a 1-2 defeat. The fall-out from the semi-final defeat was an inability to put together a winning run for the remaining few games. Three consecutive draws saw a four-point deficit widen between Arsenal and Liverpool by the final Saturday, even though Arsenal had a game in hand. Arsenal kept the pressure on with a 2-1 away win over West Ham, but Liverpool’s 0-0 draw with Leicester that day saw the title finally head back to Anfield after a seven-year wait.
It was a close-run season for the Arsenal. However, rather than a springboard for better things for Bertie Mee’s side, it was the start of an irreversible decline for his tenure. Despite coming second in the league, they were denied a place in Europe to League Cup winners Tottenham Hotspur in the UEFA Cup as only one club per English City was permitted entry. This rule had previously been enforced by UEFA with regard to the days when the competition was referred to as the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup. UEFA ditched the rule when rebranding the trophy as the UEFA Cup in 1971; however, the Football League still retained the criteria of one club per city for qualification for the 1973/74 season.
In the close season of 1973, Bertie Mee had also sold Frank McLintock to QPR, which turned out to be a gross error on Mee’s part, as Frank carried on playing for another four years in the top flight. On the subject of Frank’s departure to South West London, according to Soar and Tyler’s official history, ‘the news hit a nervous dressing room like a bombshell. Not only did McLintock feel his days at the top were far from over, but his team mates still regarded the inspirational Scot as the best skipper in the league, and capable of doing a first-rate job in defence’. Indeed, Frank nearly lead the Rs to a title victory in 1975/76, but again had to make do with finishing as runners-up to a Liverpool side winning the title again in their final fixture of the season.
Post-1971, there had also been an issue surrounding Arsenal’s wage structure. Peter Storey in his autobiography stated that when Alan Ball transferred to Arsenal ‘the size of his wage packet was a source of jealousy in the dressing room and none of us was impressed when his dad, Alan Ball senior, remarked that: ‘Alan didn’t want to move South but Arsenal guaranteed him £12,500 a year’. Also, both Charlie George and Eddie Kelly ended up on the transfer list as both felt that they were inadequately rewarded in comparison to senior players who benefitted from the club’s loyalty payments. Consequently, both had left Arsenal by the middle of the decade.
Bertie Mee also proved to be less than astute in the transfer market. He took issue with Ray Kennedy being a little overweight, as well as his loss of form since the double year, and decided to move him on, becoming Bill Shankly’s leaving present to Liverpool in 1974. His successor, Bob Paisley, converted him into a midfielder and there followed another three Championship medals for Ray by the close of the decade, as well as two European Cup-winners medals. In contrast, Bertie Mee’s Arsenal went into free-fall over the next few seasons. Kennedy’s replacement had been Brian Kidd, signed from a recently-relegated Manchester United in 1974. He spent two seasons at Highbury; his first was a successful one, but, as Peter Storey stated in his autobiography, ‘I got the impression that Kiddo never wanted to be at Arsenal; in his mind he was still a United player…I wasn’t surprised in the least when Kiddo jumped at the chance to return to Manchester, albeit with City rather than United’.
The relegation-form virus also seemed to have followed Kidd from Old Trafford to Highbury, as Arsenal finished 16th in 1974/75 and 17th in 1975/76, in both years entangled in a relegation survival battle along with Terry Neill’s Tottenham Hotspur, who eventually did go down in 1976/77 under his successor Keith Burkinshaw. These were Arsenal’s lowest finishes since Chapman’s arrival in 1925. However, the club’s direction was to change for the better when Bertie Mee announced he was to retire in 1976. His successor, fresh from resigning as Tottenham’s manager nine days earlier, was former player Terry Neil, who made the short journey down Seven Sisters Road to Highbury.
In Neill’s first season, Arsenal finished in eighth position. However, it was Don Howe’s return to Arsenal a year later that saw the club challenge for trophies once again. Arsenal were to become the most formidable domestic cup side of the late 1970s; however. a sustained title challenge was to remain elusive for another decade. And, as we’re all aware, as with the 1972/73 season, this title run-in also involved Liverpool, went down to the last day and was also to be settled at Anfield. The result however, was a very different one indeed.
*Follow me on Twitter@robert_exley
12th February 2013
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.
Bob 9:05am 12th Feb 2013
Bertie Mee had built a hugely successful Arsenal team, winning the European Fairs Cup in 1970 and the League and Cup double in 1971. An FA Cup Final in 1972 was followed by a highly respectable season (as described here) the following year. Due to a quirk in the rules, and with only one place available to a London team, Tottenham's League Cup victory trumped our runners-up spot. How times have changed, when a manager steering his team to 4th spot is able to spin this as a real achievement, because it provides a pathway into the sorely misnamed "Champions' League". Never has the saying "two wrongs don't make a right" seemed so apt..... - Post No. 34382
GaryFootscrayAustralia 9:53am 12th Feb 2013
Interesting to note Mee's attempt to turn the team from winning grinders into total football merchants proved an error. We could draw a parallel with George Graham's tactical shift after the home defeat to Benfica in the European Cup first round of 1991, that saw his hard - edged, swashbuckling team drop the swashbuckling bit in favour of a defensive wall that featured up to four centre halves on the pitch, plus a couple of Jensens, Selleys, Hilliers and / or Morrows in front of that. The forward plan seemed to consist of punting it long for Smudge to flick on to Wrighty, or if Smudge wasn't playing, just punt it long to Wrighty. Maybe an occasional "give the ball to Merse and keep your fingers crossed that last night's session has worn off". I remember a Daily Mirror back page headline not long after the 1991 league triumph, which stated something along the lines of "Graham's Arsenal Can Dominate Europe", accompanied by a picture of a grinning Gadaffi with his '87,'89 and '91 trophies. Yes, I know we won cups after that, and Copenhagen was the best defensive performance in a European final since Steaua blocked their way to the European Cup, but the tactical revision Graham employed wasn't ever likely to deliver a league title. It may be that in years to come, we'll look back at the Wenger years since 2004 in a similar manner, the irony being that Graham's "concede one less" policy being the opposite of Wenger's "score one more". - Post No. 34383
Paul 10:28am 12th Feb 2013
Within two years we went from 2nd to 16th and 17th and that was all down to awful management.The sale of McLintock was a disaster as he proved at QPR.Not only replaced by Blockley but later that clown Henry Mancini.Ray Kennedy and Charlie George both sold Charlie was an hour away from signing for the Spuds!!.The only reason we stayed up in 75 and 76 was keeper Jimmy Rimmer.From 76 to 86 they were the dead years in the league never once challeging for the title and we became a cup team but our record in finals was just 1 win out of 4.Its alright getting to finals but you have to win them and both the Ipswich and West Ham finals we didnt turn up.We had some great players in Brady Jennings O'Leary and Stapleton but the team was too inconsistent.And when Brady and Stapleton left they were not replaced.Sound familiar - Post No. 34385
JAMIE 11:42am 12th Feb 2013
Whenener I watch Arsenal on tv or through old clips whether it be today,sixties,seventies,eighties,nineties or noughties they always seem to be the side taking the initiative and playing the majority of the football.Yes there are times when their standards have dropped and they have gone long or defensive,but the opposition whether it is Man Utd,Chelsea,Spurs or Liverpool seem to just hoof it or defend deep whenever they play Arsenal or not and no one ever questions these other teams.Arsenal always seem to get slated for minor things while the rest of the rabble seem to get praised for producing turged football.I challenge anyone to find any other team in England prior to the last five years who play anything like the sort of football Arsenal have produced.Yes Man Utd and Liverpool have both dominated but they have only done this through playing anti-football. - Post No. 34386
Paul Heaton 13:16pm 12th Feb 2013
@ JAMIE 11.42, I don't mind a bit of bias - this is an Arsenal site after all - but your comment is so one eyed that I hardly know where to start! Did you never see the John Barnes & Peter Beardsley inspired Liverpool side of, especially, 1987-88? Or Manchester United with Beckham, Keane, Scholes, Cole & Sheringham in their pomp? To call those 2 sides exponents of "anti-football" is an insult that cannot go unanswered. - Post No. 34388
Vidal Sassoon 13:20pm 12th Feb 2013
I blame the hiar do´s for that season. They were using relaxant to make the curls look more wavy than tight. I don´t think they looked comfortable with that form maybe a tighter curl was what was needed but then hindsight is easy. - Post No. 34390
Ron 14:40pm 12th Feb 2013
inconsistent or not, i enjoyed those years of 1978-82. Yes, we screwed up at Wembley twice, but that win over Man U in 79 was simply stupendous. Loved it. I feel for those who werent/couldn't be there. On the 70s, we keep whinging on about Elvis at the Emirates. They should play The Ra band - 'The Crunch' as the teams signature. Thet might get them going! - Post No. 34391
Roy 15:06pm 12th Feb 2013
Jeff Blockley and Terry Mancini - what a pair of jokers those two were. No wonder we nearly got relegated. I was still at school at the time, but just the memory still makes me shudder. - Post No. 34392
Brigham 15:10pm 12th Feb 2013
A very enjoyable read and one which took this old Gooner back down memory lane. Some good points mad by GaryFootscray as well. @Jamie.1142 - As Paul Heaton has rightly pointed out, you obviously never actually saw Liverpool in their heydey of the 70's and 80's - formidable. Also WBA were some team in the late 70's with the likes of Cyrille Regis, Laurie Cunningham and Derek Statham in their team. - Post No. 34393
Bard 16:16pm 12th Feb 2013
Great post. What interested me was how quickly Bertie Mee messed it up. Selling or ditching your best players and a few bad buys in the transfer market and the side quickly spirraled into oblivion. Mee was a terrific manager but they all eventually lose their mojo. Whether we're currently 4th/5th/6th to be 20+ points behind the leaders is scandalous for a club with our resources. - Post No. 34395
CanadaGooner 17:03pm 12th Feb 2013
Good post Robert. In contrast, the 70s and 80s were largely characterised by players having more of a choice (as they werent sold like rabbits as they are today and/or moved just for money as majority of our decent players have in the past 5 years). An FA Cup win now and again (or even the Carling Cup) would have kept Fabregas on at Arsenal. The timing of the sale of gilberto, edu, pires and several other players we could have got 1 - 2 more seasons out of (while they share their vast experience and the culture of the club with the new players) has been Wenger's downfall. Man Utd hung on to Giggs, Scholes and a few of their other senior players to instill the club's winning culture in the new boys but Wenger felt his achievement of the 'invincible' season meant he's the guru and any project he comes up with will produce champions (well, Les Proffessuer; it doesnt always work that way sir!). - Post No. 34396
mark 18:14pm 12th Feb 2013
Arsenal have always been a club that had periods of success followed by periods where they really let their standards slip. lack of ruthlessness throughout the club. not enough desire to build a real dynasty over a real long period of domination like Liverpool and now Man U. i would still like someone to answer me this; why is tottenhams first 14 players stronger than our first 14 when we are a much bigger and well capitalised club than they are ? isnt mis management the ansa ? their wage bill is 70mpa and ours is 140mpa - Post No. 34397
Reg 19:10pm 12th Feb 2013
@ Paul Heaton. Couldn't agree more. But we forget football only started when Sky got involved! Liverpool played great football as did Man U and both would have walked the PL over the last few seasons. The successful Everton side in the 80's were a cracking side too. - Post No. 34400
James 19:11pm 12th Feb 2013
@Bard great post.Finishing 4th 20 pts behind the champions is nothing to be celebrated it is shameful.The problem with Bertie Mee as with Wenger is they broke up a winning side too early.I still have nightmares over how we threw away the title in 73 we finish 3 pts behind Liverpool(2 pts for a win)having picked up 5 pts out of 12 in our last 6 games.The 74-75 and 75-76 seasons were the worst ever in 75 we lost 18 games the following year we lost 19!!! @Jamie are you a WUM?.How any on can say the Liverpool teams of the 70's and 80's and Utd under Fergie were anti football while saying Arsenal of the 60's 70's and early 80's were playing great football you have to be the most blinkered fan ever - Post No. 34401
Les Crang 20:24pm 12th Feb 2013
Great article. To some degree Mancini was a joke, but at least his goal (only goal) against wolves kept us up. - Post No. 34402
JAMIE 20:54pm 12th Feb 2013
@PAUL.Yes I saw Liverpool dominate the Eighties but I never saw them really outclass Arsenal or see any football that took my breath away.Lots of passing back to the keeper and beating second rate European sides.(EUFA Cup in my opinion much harder to win back then.As for Man Utd probably the most over hyped team ever.All I ever saw them do was win balls in midfield get it to Beckham and Giggs and lump balls in the box,highly effective but limited.The European sides have always been years ahead of the British game and it's only really in the past 3 seasons that other English sides mainly Man City and Chelsea have even attempted to play like Arsenal or the Europeans. - Post No. 34403
GaryFootscrayAustralia 23:16pm 12th Feb 2013
Jamie, not that I want to be the one to burst your bubble, but as I already mentioned in a previous response to this article, George Graham concocted the mother of all spoiling tactics to outwit and eventually blunt a very handy Parma side to win the ECWC. We were the ones who played anti - football that night and I loved it. We won the 2005 FA Cup Final with an even more tactically negative display with a far higher standard of players compared to the '94 team minus Ian Wright, so you've either got a perforated or selective memory, or both. Then again, you could be getting paid by Gazidis to appear on here and continue the current administration's alteration / manipulation of historical events and contemporary fact when it doesn't suit them (Manchester City are jealous of us, finishing in Something place is like a winning a Something etc.), because that's how your comments translate. Like those that run the top domestic league in England these days, your revisionism of British domestic football history isn't surprising, insightful or controversial, it's just wrong. - Post No. 34406
Robert Exley 23:37pm 12th Feb 2013
@Jamie - I take it you are aware that between 1980-88 Arsenal failed to even score a goal at Anfield? If that's not an Arsenal side outclassed by Liverpool I don't know what is! - Post No. 34408
Brigham 9:44am 13th Feb 2013
This Jamie character must be on the payroll at Arsenal, because to be honest mate, you have come out with some utter bilge in your posts so far. It is also very obvious that you know absolutely nothing about football at all do you? Get back to your FIFA on the PS3 mate, that is where idiots like you belong. - Post No. 34409
JAMIE 9:45am 13th Feb 2013
@Gary,Robert.You pair are the typical Arsenal followers I have been talking about.The media tells you something and you swallow it.I am not just talking about results I'm talking style and quality of play.The two games you mention are ones always brought up by those who want to justify an attack on Arsenal but they always forget to mention the dozens of times Arsenal completely gave these sides a lesson in football.A classic Arsenal Man U comparison is between George Grahams 1990/91 champions and Alex Fergusons 1992/93 champions.The Arsenal side were labelled boring defensive and reliant on set plays.The United side were known as free flowing high scoreing and exciting.But look at the facts and watch the seasons video's as I have done and you will see Arsenal not only outscored and out defended Man Utd.They also scored only 36% of their goals from set plays and crosses compared to United who scored 80%.Arsenal also completed 38% more passes.I can give you hundreds of other stats too but I don't want to bore you.Also United went 26 years without winning the league yet were still held up as the true beacons of light we all look up to by the media.Liverpool have gone 23 years without lifting the title but who would even know that compared to the media counting the days Years that Arsenal haven't won a trophy.(by the way they started it at 2).Also I have no interest in who is running Arsenal and whether Arsene Wenger is manager or not.I am only interested in Arsenal being truly represented for what they are,that means putting forth the positives and not just the negatives.If I haven't convinced you go on you tube and watch the old games for yourself.Here's a prediction for tonights game.Real Madrid will dominate and completely outfootball Man Utd.Now whether Madrid win or not is another Story.However the media will portray this as being uncharacter of Man Utd.Next week I predict Arsenal will dominate and outfootball Bayern the media will say this is also out of charachter of Arsenal who surprisingly put on a good show.This then always gives the media a larger stick to beat the team when results a bad because of preconditioned ideas.(Note I said results not footballing ability).Watch and see my friends. - Post No. 34410
JAMIE 10:03am 13th Feb 2013
@Robert Exley.So Arsenal never scored at Anfield between 1980 and 1988 so Talbots goal on 19/4/80 1-1 didn't really exist nor too Sunderlands goal 1-1 25/10/1980.Talbot's goal in the 1-3 3/1/1983.Rix's goal 1-2 11/2/1984.Adams goal 30/8/1986.Anybody else want to tell me more negative made up facts about Arsenal. - Post No. 34411
Brigham 10:16am 13th Feb 2013
@ Jamie - we do not need to look at videos or dvds from years past, some of us were at the games, you know, following our team in the 70's to current times. Jeez, you really are on the payroll for sure. Or are you Gazidis's lapdog? - Post No. 34412
James 10:44am 13th Feb 2013
@jamie take a look at the DVD of the 2005 FA cup final and tell me that wasnt anti -football.Wenger was ****-scared of United that day and we sent out a formation to spoilt the game.And it was great and i am not complaining but it doesnt hide the fact it was anti football and it was under Wenger.Dont try and kid yourself that we played attractive football all the time.And in the six games from the quarter final to the final in the 2006 CL we scored 4 goals.Carry on dreaming that Arsenal are just play attractive football - Post No. 34413
billthered 11:00am 13th Feb 2013
Good column Robert but as a fan who rarely missed a game in that era I can tell you that Alan Ball god bless him was a very good player but did not fit into Arsenals team ethos.He repeatedly undermined our truly great captain Frank McClintock and also used to leave his payslips lying around so other players could see what he was earning,team spirit anyone.He upset so many players that the team was broken up far to early history as always seems to repeat itself Pires,Overmars,Paddy,Petit,Edu and the rest oh dear. - Post No. 34414
JAMIE 11:03am 13th Feb 2013
@Brigham,Why don't you go back to your dream bubble where you can imagine things as you want them them to be and not as they really were.And while you are there you can invite your friend Robert Exley who has the ability of a Shamen to change Arsenal results from the eighties.You can then smoke halucinating substances through a pipe with Jimi Hendrix and George Harrison and talk about the days when Highbury was a large pink marshmalow and the clockend was frequented by a race of Mongolian Pixies. - Post No. 34415
PaddyStoodUp 11:09am 13th Feb 2013
Jamie, your blinkered approach does you no favours. I’m not sure when you started going to games as all your comments suggest your view of games pre-90s are based on what you’ve seen on DVD or TV, but I’ve been going to games since the mid-60s and trust me, for the majority of that time, we could in no-way be considered a team who played “the beautiful game”. You probably recall our fans singing “boring, boring, Arsenal” as an ironic chant when we were running rings round our opponents in the first half of the Wenger era, but perhaps you are less familiar with the same chant being used by opposition fans taunting our negative tactics. Often, I enjoyed hearing it because it would generally mean we were winning and I certainly didn’t care how we did it. However, there were plenty of times when I watched us play out a series of turgid goalless draws or narrow 1-0 wins or defeats where the high point of excitement came when the “Make Money with Arsenal” girls paraded round the edge of the pitch at half-time. I also recall occasions when the knowledgable Highbury crowd would applaud opposition goals or moves because we appreciated good football and rarely saw it from our own team in the 60s and 70s. That never happens now of course as the hatred in football is far greater than ever before, but it did happen, so you shouldn’t try to pretend it didn’t. - Post No. 34416
Brigham 12:10pm 13th Feb 2013
@ Jamie - you have lost the plot old son, totally. You continue to post drivel, none of your posts make any sense and you talk of watching old videos in attempt to back up your pathetic claims of how Arsenal played the beautiful game all those years ago. It must be half-term I take it! Your take on Arsenal games of the past is making me laugh out loud, you really clueless. I can only assume that the highlights you have seen in your Arsenal Season collections, all purchased from Amazon have tainted your perception. Unfortunately for you, me and others like me, were actually there. Grow up. - Post No. 34417
Tony Evans 12:36pm 13th Feb 2013
I started supporting Arsenal in 1970 and could not have had a better first season, but because I had never experienced any bad times I could not really appreciate it as much as fans going back longer than me - who would have endured so many trophyless years up to 1970. The decline that followed so soon after my first season still frustrates me but at least set me nicely for the 1979 cup final win over Manure, which I really could celebrate properly. - Post No. 34419
JAMIE 12:58pm 13th Feb 2013
Ah PaddyStoodUp.The brilliant Oirish Lepracaun results changer from the 60's and 70's.Poor man having to sit through all the 35 nil nil draws Arsenal had at Highbury in the League in TWENTY YEARS between 1960 and 1980 thats an average of 1.75 games a season.(Far less than the average for that era).Never mind you Brigham and Robert were at the games so thats what really counts,the real results don't matter.There was me thinking I could base an argument on facts when all along the whole history of Arsenal Football Club is just based on superstition and tradition.Maybe all the times I saw Arsenal in the seventies,eighties and nineties I wasn't really watching them at all.Maybe you should get in Brigham's dream bubble last time he was seen hovering over a place called Anfield in 1989 cursing because boring Arsenal had just lost the title to Liverpool on goals scored. - Post No. 34420
PaddyStoodUp 13:35pm 13th Feb 2013
Clearly you're a bit of a WUM as you cherry pick facts to suit your argument. I was going from memory with my last comment and am again when I say there have been plenty of 0-0s since 1980 too. I'll leave you to check out exactly how many. I did however check up a particular run of games in September 1986 when I was at Spurs (H), Luton (A) and Oxford (H) which all finished 0-0 and then went to Forest to see us lose 1-0. Thankfully, I was rewarded in the next league game with a 1-0 win at Everton thanks to a goal from the fabulous Steve Williams. No doubt you'll point out that there was a 2-0 home win over Huddersfield in between, but as you decided to focus on league results only in your reply, perhaps you don't think this counts anyway. I'm certainly not seeking to change results as you claim. I have loved every minute of my time watching Arsenal (despite the frustration we all feel from time to time), but my point is the same that others have tried to make, that we were not the wonderful footballing team you seem to think throughout the last 50 years and there were certainly other sides who played better football than us at times during that era. If you can't accept that, then fair enough, that's your opinion and you're entitled to it, just like I'm entitled to think you're wrong. However, I do think it's quite sad that someone who is clearly as passionate about their team as you, is not a football fan who can accept that other teams have played some very decent stuff too. Your loss I'm afraid. - Post No. 34421
Brigham 13:44pm 13th Feb 2013
Nice racist remark towards Paddy, well done for showing your true colours. As I said earlier, grow up. - Post No. 34422
PaddyStoodUp 13:58pm 13th Feb 2013
P.S. Please also note how I replied without being condescending or using any racial stereotypes. Perhaps you should try it sometime. - Post No. 34423
Adrian Wagenaar 13:59pm 13th Feb 2013
Selling Frank Mclintock was the single biggest mistake Mee ever made - Frank drove Arsenal on to Fairs Cup and Double success, without him we would have won nothing! Our fall from winning the Double to nearly being relegated came in 4 short years. It seems a pattern with all our recent managers that after success we fail to build on the trophy haul. - Post No. 34424
Bude 14:02pm 13th Feb 2013
Jamie, Shame that others do not feel you are entitled to your view, even though I share some of the points of view that are oposed to yours. Equally, critism of your age and of when you started supporting/watching The Arsenal is just pathetic. You are an Arsenal fan and as far as I am concerned , that's what really counts. However, I was unfortunate enough to start my matchday treks to Highbury at the start of the 74/75 season, as written about in the article, and trust me, we were dogs**t. We were lucky to finish just above the relegation places that year and again in 75/76. Like all teams, over a period of decades we will have experienced the good, the bad and the ugly all of which are acceptable to me if you're playing (trophy)winning football, which we definately aint at present. Dont let the angry Gooners grind you down! - Post No. 34425
Ron 14:41pm 13th Feb 2013
I cant be bothered with intervening i the whos right and whos wrong aspect of this thread, but as its about who plays good stylish football cosistently, i feel that i have to put the proverbial fly well and truly in the ointment here and risk being verbally beheaded by other posters! I say (ive said it before) that over the years since 1967 (my first visit to Highbury)only one team in the top tier can honestly stand up and say that theyve played, always tried to play and still to this very day, can say they play attractive football and havent deviated from such an approach in my years as a Gunners fan ad thats that lot up the road -Tottenham. Bad side good or chronic, its credit due in my view. Always play the game the right way.To Jamie s credit, whilst i cant support his views, the best footballing teams in my time have been Everton 1969/70 and West Bromwich Albion of 1978/80 and Arsenal 2001/2004. Talk about great teams going flat as pancakes immediately after a title win, that Everton teams demise was even worse than ours post 1971. Atkisons Albion team of Regis, Cantello, Cunningham, Brown, Batson, Statham and Co were a joy to watch. Played off the cuff and with NIL fear. They didnt succeed like the great United sides or Liverpool teams, but the game played by them was pure and untainted. A truly excellent footballing side. PS My own personal view of Liverpool is that apart from the Barnes Beardsley peak years of 1987-89, theyve been about power and method more than footballing finess. Truly great sides though all the same. There you go guys. Hammer away!! - Post No. 34426
JAMIE 15:39pm 13th Feb 2013
@Ron,Is this the same Tottenham that Sol Campbell said he couldn't play for anymore because of their anti football and he wanted to play for the best footballing team with the best players.Is this the same Tottenham that from 1977 to 2009 barely ventured out of their own half whenever they visited Highbury and the Emirates.Is this the same Tottenham that Jose Mourinho called the scourge of the English game for always "Parking the bus".Yes that phrase was stareted by them.Is that the same Tottenham that under Redknapp used to continuosly lump balls up to Crouch.The same Tottenham even Fergy accused of playing hoof ball this very season.Oh I forget they did play push and run back in the days before colour tv in 1960-61.By the way I was born in Islington my father was Italian so if the Irish thought I was having a dig earlier your welcome to have a dig back.I won't take offence.By the way I did enjoy Juve giving Celtic a football lesson last night,It's great seeing the Italian sides stuffing the British teams except when they play my beloved Arsenal. - Post No. 34427
Stroud Green Road Boy 15:59pm 13th Feb 2013
I think Ron has a good point, Spurs and also West Ham (though not now under Fat Sam) have always been known as footballing sides. Not very successful ones, but footballing sides nonetheless. I'm a bit surprised at Jamie's viewpoint, I'd have thought even the most hardcore Gooner would accept that for most of our history we weren't a great side from an aesthetic perspective. Our reputation is founded on solid defence, difficult to beat. That all changed when Wenger came along and made us a great attacking side, though unfortunately as he's still in the hotseat instead of the history books where he belongs, it's all gone as sour as Jamie's 'Oirish Leprechaun' snipe has made this debate. Surprised the editor let that through. - Post No. 34428
Robert Exley 18:28pm 13th Feb 2013
@Jamie - hands up, my point wasn't 100% factually correct. The point is however that between 1980 and 1989 Arsenal walked away from Anfield with a whopping total of 0 points. And we hadn't won there since 1975 before we won the title there. Arsenal were outclassed by Liverpool on a regular basis in the 80s before GG turned up. Oh and by the way, whatever fan I'm typical of - if you don't like it piss off and read something else. It's you trolling on my article and not the other way around. - Post No. 34430
underacheiver 18:36pm 13th Feb 2013
Some great posts on here, even if a bit of sniping, but what it shows is that Arsenal supporters are a cut above the rest, as is our great club. We may be in the wrong hands at the moment, but we will rise again! Up the Arsenal! - Post No. 34431
Dan h 19:13pm 13th Feb 2013
Yes we have had periods where we have played some great easy on the eye football not just under AW early years.Up to when we lost to Benfica at home under GG we played some great stuff that does get forgotten.Seen plenty of dire periods in my early Arsenal match going days & dire football.Paddy S Up remember that run in 1986 was really painful to watch!I have seen other teams play more than their share of good attacking football United have done regularly the late 80's Liverpool.Newcastle potless under KK entertaining very much so.Forest under Clough always tried to play good football as well his quotes about that's why God put grass on the floor & not in the sky spring to mind!Them up the road at times decent football trying to play entertaining football all the time bit of a myth for me likewise West Ham.Leeds were dirty so older relatives tell me but they also said they could play football it comes down to being labelled & it sticking.We were labelled boring or lucky not always true.Tradition of our club you can't beat even older relatives/friends supporting different sides when talking about Arsenal still refer to us as 'The Arsenal'a club that is held in esteem by fans of many other club's! - Post No. 34433
PaddyStoodUp 19:18pm 13th Feb 2013
Jamie, your quip about being Irish didn't really bother me as I'm not Irish, but it was unnecessary and shows how easily you jump to conclusions. - Post No. 34434
JAMIE 22:02pm 13th Feb 2013
Great days debating even though I must say I have completely owned and outclassed everybody on here,bit like the Arsenal.Being half English and half Italian I always have considered myself to come from the greatest two nations on the planet.Being born in London I have always cheered for England when they meet Italy in a game.Even though I think that the Italians a far ahead at football and the English are mainly bottlers at the beutiful game,a bit like Spurs.Still I believe Jack W can become Englands greatest ever.Far better than the one eyed Stoke midget,The snail paced East End centre half,the bear quashing geordie boy or the leading goal scoring slap-head from Man U.See you all soon.xxx - Post No. 34436
Robert Exley 0:23am 14th Feb 2013
@Jamie If you really believe you've owned and outclassed everybody here maybe you should write your own article - if only to allow me the opportunity to write a load of cack and drivel followed by deluded self-praise in the comments section and return the favour - Post No. 34437
Ramgun 13:07pm 16th Feb 2013
Just caught up with this. Mee was mightily miffed when Don Howe was given more credit than he was for the Double and he was jealous of McLintock's unswerving support from the players. Mee's ego swamped his judgement after 1971. A similar thing happened to Wenger post-invincibles. The difference is that the then Chairman (the current Chairman's father) had not abrogated all responsibility to the manager and took action to remove Mee - ego and all! - Post No. 34477
14th July 2016
Online Ed: Might we see a change in formation next season?