The media agenda has never been clearer.
We should have seen it before, cried out at the injustice of the journalists and experts who have continuously hitched a ride on the Arsenal train to boost their flagging numbers.
Let us look at recent attempts to discolour the truth.
Never happier than during our trophy drought – repeated focus on our nine years without silverware, despite their darlings Liverpool being without a trophy since 2012, and tottenham bereft of anything to put inside their dusty cabinet since 2008 – the League Cup – writers held up our barren run as something that was not acceptable.
When we did hold aloft the FA Cup in 2014 to end the terrible run, newspapers, radio hosts et al then switched their gaze upon our lack of a Premier League since 2004. Like the FA Cup was an insignificant piece of history, as if it didn’t register in the annals of footballing history. This switch even though Liverpool and tottenham have NEVER won a Premier League trophy.
When Manchester United won the FA Cup in 2016, it was lauded as a significant step in the recovery of the Red Devils. Yet we had won it two years on the spin before United achieved their win at Wembley.
The Wenger era was faltering, there could be no doubt, but we had won silverware. It mattered little though, as our failings rather than our success that fed the media machine. When we did stumble? Manna from heaven for the journalists.
When we eventually fell out of the Champions League reckoning? It was only a matter of time. Every year, every publication, every show, they all predicted the final positions of each coming season. For five years prior to us finishing fifth in 2016, the lions share of experts would predict that we would finish well out of the top4. When it did happen many years later, it wasn’t seen as an epic fail or egg on the face of those that are supposed to know – it was used as vindication.
Of course Arsenal finished outside of the top4 – look, we’ve been saying it for years!!!
Now we have a new man at the helm. After more than two decades at Arsenal, Wenger had left the club and we had Unai Emery who was tasked with returning the Gunners to the top table of English and European football. Change after such a long time is difficult, and the level-headed ones amongst us recognised this and were optimistic, yet guarded. It would take time to instill Emery’s values, tactics and framework. The Spaniard’s processes would differ from Wenger’s inevitably, and a period of adjustment would be needed.
After the first two games of the season we were pointless, and the stories surrounding us all were loving every minute. Emery stuck gamely to his principles though, and even though we still have plenty to work on, Emery oversaw a fantastic run that helped us up the table and progress in the Europa League.
The blemish-free run was in the face of a squad that were adapting to new measures and ways that would hamper any attempt to hit top gear – and yet we were winning.
The focus in the news?
Our shaky defence. The amount of chances we were presenting. All genuine causes for concern but the actual main thread?
All the while, Liverpool and tottenham struggled in the Champions League.
How were their efforts described?
Unlucky. Brave. Heroic. Full of effort.
It shows that no matter what we do, unless Emery masterminds a blitz toward the title,the external opinions surrounding our club from outsiders will always be tainted. It also highlights that both the Reds and spurs enjoy a certain leeway from writers and presenters who are meant to be delivering honest assessments.
What has overtaken real news is attention. Clicks and hits.
What gets clicks and hits? Disgruntled Arsenal fans.
During my research for my book about the title-winning team of 1990/91, I found that George Graham commented on this even back then, saying that the anti-Arsenal bias existed even in the days of pre-internet.
This isn’t a new thing, yet it is getting worse.
Match Of The Day never highlight our excellent passages of play, yet always remember to showcase other clubs.
When Stewart Robson comes out with another pearl regarding how poor Arsenal are, pay him no heed.
The next time Neil Ashton or Adrian Durham spew forth some bile regarding Arsenal’s bleak future or lowering targets? Ignorance is bliss.
Courting controversy is what they are doing, and we are playing our part too, by feeling the need to vent our spleens at such idiotic content.
Let us just enjoy the Emery revolution and constantly remind ourselves that impartiality is predominantly dead, and if you do find a writer whose opinion you respect?
Those are the clicks we should be giving away. Rewarding those who present us with agenda-free content.
You’ve hit the proverbial nail fairly and squarely on the head. Particularly in respect of the fact that this is not a new or recently developed phenomenon.
Maybe a few of your readers will remember the oft used reference to ‘Lucky Arsenal’ a title that, I understand originated from the Herbert Chapman era. My memory, in terms of Arsenal, extends back to the 1950 FA Cup Final and even at the tender age of nine (going on ten) I got stick for my allegiance and comments written in the press were used as a foundation and justification for the ribbing aimed in my direction. Probably made worse as I was born and lived in Manchester. But if Arsenal dared to lose then they had problems and if the won they were ‘Lucky Arsenal’.
We went through some very lean years In the 50’s and 60’s but never out of the negative spotlight. We got a lot of hammer for the George Eastham affair and our procurement of him from Newcastle.
If we made a poor or unfortunate transfer investment it was always worthy of a headline (or two, or three) e.g. Mel Charles. Even then we were still getting the ‘Lucky Arsenal’ label, or conversely the ‘Not so Lucky Arsenal’.
Whilst several ‘top flight’ teams were toppled by lower tier opposition in the domestic cup competitions non of them attracted the bile that was aimed in the Gunners direction when we were downed by Swindon Town and West Ham Utd. (then in the old Div. 2). The Cambridge spy ring received less column space.
Moving forward into the period so adequately cover by your article we have maintained our status as the team to be permanently in the pillory. Only these days the flack comes from many more directions, i.e. social media, TV pundits, internet pundits all adding their tuppence worth to the vile garbage spewed out by the press.
It would seem that Arsenal players, when out enjoying themselves socially have to be extra diligent with their behaviour because tomorrow’s headlines are waiting for even the most minor transgression that can be converted into a story of major disaster proportions.
Paul Merson should be the last person to throw stones as he has been the star of many headlines, for poor behavioural reasons, whilst Arsenal were tainted along with him. Perhaps his lack of talent in his role as pundit drives him to make outlandish statements in order to attract attention that his work would otherwise lack. I recently picked up a remark aimed at Paul which went -“He might have been a decent player, but he’s a crap pundit” – kind of says it all.
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I remember reading that this goes way back, so thank you for confirming, and for illuminating me on some wonderful facts!