There’s a long (very long) post on Gunners Town from a couple of days ago titled “If you believe Wenger is a failure, you’re deluded. Here’s why”. It opens with this sentence: “If you have been clamouring for Arséne Wenger’s departure based on any reason other than you’re throwing an emotional hissy-fit of entitlement and frustration – then you are, at best, seriously misguided, and at worst, clinically deluded.”
It then goes on at great length to compare average finishing positions in various competitions – effectively celebrating the 2.8th place trophy – and proclaiming the greatness of Arsene – which of course the author is perfectly entitled to do if he feels like it. Whether people who disagree with all of this are deluded or not is a matter of opinion.
However, my issue with the post is that it talks about or implies lots of things that aren’t really true. It neatly slices the Wenger years into ‘Feast’ and ‘Famine’, though it’s not 100 per cent clear whether the terms refer to finances or trophies. Maybe it’s cunningly written so that it could be either, so that if people like me come along and point out problems with one aspect the author can just claim he meant the other.
Anyway, I responded yesterday with a comment pointing out a few things I disagreed with, and my comment was still ‘awaiting moderation’ this morning, so I thought I’d reproduce it here instead. And of course as soon as I got 90 per cent through typing this my comment was approved and replied to! However, I’m not going to waste the fact I’d typed the three paragraphs above, so here it is anyway:
“Of course Kroenke doesn’t consider Wenger a failure; Kroenke’s interest is first about money, second about money, third about money… and some way down the list at about 97: sport.
And fans of nearly all other clubs are never going to judge Arsenal’s record as failure, because Arsenal are above their team more often than not. So on that objective measure, Arsene is not a failure.
You are misguided in some aspects.
Firstly there were no ‘famine’ years in terms of finances, that’s nonsense. What happened was Chelsea got rich in 2003 and it took them a couple of years to get the right blend (because money isn’t EVERYTHING) and start winning titles. Then Man City got rich, and lo and behold a couple of years later they started winning titles. Then there were new TV deals that made everyone richer, but especially the big clubs who finished higher up the league and were on TV more often.
So Arsenal from 1998-2004 had one richer team to compete with, then two, then three. Meantime the stadium debt was refinanced in 2006 and has been repaid since at around £20m a year (capital and interest) and that arrangement continues until 2031. So it was not suddenly paid off in 2014 and it was not unduly hampering anything before that, given that during the period from 2006 to 2014 the infamous cash balance rose every year, from £53m in 2006 to £153m in 2013, then £208m in 2014 – yet you still insist Arsenal had to sell to buy? Not true, I’m afraid. The players who left were either disillusioned with the manager and the club’s prospects or just wanted to go to a bigger club for more money and/or a better chance of trophies. They insisted on leaving, no one pushed them out of the door.
I would also say that your stats ARE cherry-picked, despite your denial. Where is the stat that says how many titles each club won during each period? You’ve focussed on numbers of cups, but not numbers of titles.
Another change at the end of your so-called famine years was Fergie departing from Man Utd, after which – surprise! – they went downhill. Do you really think Fergie would be finishing behind Arsenal every year? I don’t.
I could go on, but I’ll just ask this – Which would you rather have from 2006 to now: Arsenal’s average finishing position and trophies, or Chelsea’s, Man Utd’s or Man City’s? Because I can categorically state that Arsene’s reputation would be much enhanced if Arsenal swapped with any of those clubs for that period.”