Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Arsenal Fans- Don't forget what you have

I think sometimes we are all too busy thinking about what we don't have, to think about and appreciate what we do have.

I've just be reading an Arsenal fan's forum about the 2005/06 season, where Arsenal got to the Champions League Final, finished fourth on the last day ahead of Tottenham (who occupied it going into the last programme of fixtures) and got to the Carling Cup semi- finals. Patrick Vieira had just left and Bergkamp, Ljungberg, Pires and Campbell were all on the decline and didn't contribute as highly as they had done in previous seasons. Therefore there was more responsibility put on the shoulders of younger players such as Fabregas, Flamini, Toure, Senderos, Reyes and van Persie, as well as maybe one or two more. Ashley Cole's head had been turned by Chelsea's money but he was out injured for most of the season despite staying, as were Campbell, Lauren and Clichy, which resulted in Flamini spending a lot of time at left back as well as youngsters Eboue and Gilbert at right back.

It was a transitional season with younger players such as Fabregas and Senderos coming into positions of higher seniority, replacing those declining senior players. Being very inexperienced, they struggled with the physical demands of the Premier League and consequently finished fourth by the skin of their teeth, and also failed to get results and goals away from home.

Anyway, in their comments about this season the fans on the forum described this as a 'horrible horrible season' and one claimed to have 'erased it from his memory'. Basically they slagged the season off as a really bad one and the way they were talking you would have thought Arsenal had got demoted to League 2. I couldn't help but read their comments with disgust and wonder what someone who has supported a lower league side who had been in the lower leagues for a long time would have thought to their references of Arsenal's fourth place finish and Champions League runner up season as being 'horrible'. Or even a supporter of a Premier League club whose team finish near the bottom every season.

I once heard a philosophical statement on a very wise and thought provoking programme by a very intelligent character (Trigger on Only Fools and Horses),  and it is one I admire and agree with. 'You never know what you've got until it's gone' is what he said. And it applies here. I think these fans would look back on comments like that and regret them if Arsenal were to, one day, fall down the football league, or even just the Premier League. Fortunately, they probably won't. At least, not for a very long time thanks to the way the club is run and largely thanks to the way Arsene Wenger has managed the club for the long term, transfer- wise and financially- investing in a new stadium, buying quality young players for small amounts of money and not spending beyond his wage and transfer budgets. And this is the man they partly criticise for that 'horrible' season. The man who 2 years previous to that season guided Arsenal to the league title whilst achieving the great success of going the whole season unbeaten.

Don't get me wrong, I am an Arsenal fan who takes huge pride in being an Arsenal fan and I love the club. I also love the majority of fans, I think our away followers are some of the best in the UK at following and supporting the club, in terms of attendances and vocally. Some of our home fans are great too, the atmospheres at the Chelsea and Barcelona games last season were terrific, as it always is for the big games, especially the Tottenham games. In fact, I think the Emirates atmosphere on derby day is often better than the White Hart Lane atmosphere on derby day.

But, I think some Arsenal fans get carried away with all the hype about lack of trophies and have been used to their team winning a lot over the last 15 years, since 'that man' came to take charge of the club. Which is fair enough, after all they, we, are only human. I just think some get too carried away and I think a lot of this is down to the media witch hunt about Arsenal not winning trophies and not spending big money. Yet Liverpool have gone about the same time without a trophy and are never criticised for this. They are only praised for their history (which we should be as well). They also failed to finish in the top four in 04/05 and they are never criticised for that when Arsenal have managed to consistently maintain their top four status and constantly are criticised. Where's the logic in that? This is one of the great (in a sense of the word) mysteries of English football but it just seems like that is the way it is. But that's a debate for another day.

Back to the fans, I just think we should all appreciate what we have. We are near the top of the Premier League every year, in the Champions League every year (touch wood) and are battling for 4 separate trophies. We also look set to stay in contention for honours over the coming years with our crop of young players, our sound financial position and the fact that its a healthily run club. Okay, we aren't winning these honours at the moment, but we are close and we are in a position a lot, probably about 98%, of clubs and fans would love to be in. Remember what you have my fellow Gooners.

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