On most criteria there are only three really big clubs in English football. These are clubs who have lived almost permanently in the top division for the last century, they’ve all done the Double (three times each for a couple of them), have had many legendary managers and players, and don’t usually go too long without a trophy. And there they are at the top of this table. Arsenal’s relative lack of success in Europe is one reason they’re not closer to the top two. The other reason is that their period of greatest League dominance was interrupted by the untimely death of their greatest manager then ended by World War 2. Such is life. (And death.)
Some time in the next decade the other modern ‘superclubs’ (imagine me rolling my eyes here) of Man City and Chelsea will probably catch up with Arsenal and may eventually catch up with the two at the top of the table, artificially pumped up as they are by foreign money and owners desperate for Western acceptance.
Here’s the full list, spaced so you can see how far apart clubs really are:
What’s that? Why am I not including West Ham’s famous Inter Toto Cup win? What about the Full Members’ Cup, the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy and the Simod Cup? What about the Charity/Community Shield for Pete’s sake? What about Tottenham’s favourite, the Norwich Hospital Cup? Not to mention all those European ‘Supercups’ and other such trivia. Well sorry, they don’t fit my idea of a competitive trophy. A competitive trophy is one that:
- is generally open to all English clubs, or clubs in the English leagues (albeit for European competition you have to do well in a domestic competition to gain entry)
- for cups, involves a competition where multiple entrants are whittled down to a final two
- has only one winner
Of the 22 clubs that have only ever won one trophy, three of them beat Arsenal to get that win. Three others beat Bolton, but that’s fine as I’m not keen on Bolton.