GUNNERS FANS SO RIGHT TO HIT THE BOOS
CAN a football club be in crisis with just 90 minutes of the season on the clock? Seemingly so if you support Arsenal.
An opening-day draw is hardly the worst result in the world – ask Alex Ferguson and the other seven Premier League managers who tasted defeat in the opening round of fixtures.
Yet it was a draw that prompted boos to tumble down the stands from some of the 60,000 present at The Emirates Stadium on Saturday.
When only 90 of the 3,420 minutes that make up a club’s Premier League season have been played, and with 111 points still to play for...well it’s a bit early for all that shit isn’t it?
Ordinarily, I’d say yes. But imagine being an Arsenal fan right now.
The Gunners’ faithful pay up to £126 a game to watch a team that is routinely torn apart every summer.
The club seems to have lost sight of why it exists.
Year after year, Arsenal’s best players head for the exit door – then it’s all eyes on Arsene Wenger.
The Frenchman is tasked year after year with finding budget-priced replacements for his top stars while being expected to challenge for trophies on all fronts.
Arsenal haven’t won a pot since 2005 – and another season without silverware will be their worst trophy drought since the 60s. et the message from the club – or rather the bean counters at the club – is that it’s just fine so long as they’re milking the cash cow that is the Champions League.
Wenger’s work is to be admired, as is Arsenal’s record of missing out on the top four just three times in 20 years.
But that’s not what fans want. Where’s the joy in being a successful also-ran without the ambition to take the next step?
At some point the bubble will burst. Ticket prices are up, yet fun is down and glory has gone.
Football isn’t played on a balance sheet – profiteering from players doesn’t make for a great watch.
Robin van Persie was last season’s top scorer in the Premier League. He was Arsenal’s captain and the player of the season in the top flight.
It made ‘business sense’ to flog him, say the army of accountancy bores that have grabbed the leg of football like a dog on heat wielding its dirty lipstick.
Selling the skipper to Manchester
YUnited though – boosting a rival – made no football sense whatsoever.
To add to the frustrations, the Dutchman’s replacement, Olivier Giroud, squandered Arsenal’s best opportunity midway through the second half on Saturday.
The Gunners dominated, racked up 23 shots, but drew 0-0.
Alex Song, too, has been moved on, the midfielder joining Barca for £15m.
“It’s always frustrating losing good players,” said Wenger afterwards. Quite. So why lose them? Not so long ago Arsenal were The Invincibles. Now they’re nothing more than a car showroom – everything’s for sale.
They’ve become a feeder club – they buy players, improve them, mould them into world-class footballers, then let them go for a tidy profit. Cesc Fabregas, another club captain, was sold. Samir Nasri, a star attacking midfielder, was sold. Gael Clichy, a French international left back, was flogged. Then there was Kolo Toure (another captain), Emmanuel Adebayor, Patrick Vieira... the list goes on and on. The big question is why? rsenal have the second-biggest gates in the Premier League. They’re in the top five in the world for money coming into the club. They make a profit year after year.
The Gunners fire out the same old message time and again (a similar one emerges from Old Trafford when anyone mentions The Glazers)...the money is there if the manager wants it but he prefers to find value in the market. Okay, gents, if you say so. The £34m splurged on the French striker Giroud, German forward Lukas Podolski and Spanish attacking midfielder Santi Cazorla may well prove to be money well spent. Wenger is generally good at making the most of his kitty. It’s a good job really.
Cazorla certainly looked the part on Saturday – but are Arsenal REALLY going to trouble the Manc monopoly in the Premier League?
Can they rival Barca and Real in the Champions League?
No, and no, would be most people’s punt.
And so, what’s the point? Why charge big club prices but behave like a small club?
Financial Fair Play may well rein in some of the big spending at other clubs over the next few years, but Arsenal have taken things far too far the other way. They’re all about business and balance sheets and less about fun and football.
Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis said earlier this year: “Our business model means that we can continue to do what we’re doing forever.”
No wonder they’re booing...