It’s the morning after our feeble surrender to Villareal in the Europa League semi-finals.
Like many I suspect, I’m still pretty numb.
The worrying thing is that I never once thought we would get to the Final once the draw was made.
I, like many other Gooners, are starting to see through what now seem like wafer-thin excuses coming from our players and manager.
And yet, according to recent figures – it is down to – in a large part – our managers in the last five years that have got us in this mess.
In the last five years, we have spent more than any other side in the PL, bar City and United. That means that a large proportion of what we have bought has been a failure. And that doesn’t sit well for Arteta, nor Emery or Wenger.
Regardless of where you sit on the fence regarding Mikel Arteta and his future as Arsenal boss, one thing is abundantly clear.
We have eroded our brand and the damage still hasn’t finished.
Our club is a proud one. Built on fine traditions and a healthy amount of success domestically, Arsenal had a platform to build from. It wasn’t much, but enough to lure a steady stream of talent to North London. It still took the genius of three or four men though, to really put Arsenal on the pedestal and earn a global following. Herbert Chapman of course laid the groundwork by shifting the balance of power away from the North of England and fixing it in London. Bertie Mee ousted a Johan Cruyff-inspired Ajax team to lift what is still Arsenal’s biggest European trophy back in 1970 – and followed it up with a remarkable Double within a year.
Then came George Graham, defensive diligence, teamwork, organisation and some shrewd work in the transfer market. Not to mention a few Hale End products that were destined for greatness. The result meant that Arsenal returned to the top of the game, upset Liverpool’s equilibrium, began playing in Europe again and reasserting ourselves as one of the big boys of English football. He also won us another European trophy – no mean feat.
Arsene Wenger however, is the man that raised our expectations. For beautiful football. For success. And his glory days coincided with an explosion of popularity for the Premier League. Arsenal cashed in and our fanbase is amongst the biggest in the world. Our earning ability was regularly within the top five teams in the world.
And we have p*ssed it up the wall.
Twenty five years of consecutive European football, gone.
Twenty years of Champions League football is but a mere distant memory.
We can’t claim to be amongst the biggest in the world. Recent earning figures for last season showed us well behind even the likes of our neighbours – which shows a sad fall for our club.
By not competing in the biggest competition and versus the biggest teams, we of course lose out on talent but also on building our reputation.
And our European reputation is one that sorely needs repairing. A Fairs Cup and a Cup Winners Cup in all our years of existence, is terribly poor. Especially when compared to Manchester United and Liverpool – the two clubs in England with more domestic trophies than us. They have multiple European baubles and have just as much history as we do too.
The best example though, is Chelsea.
Yes, it seems repugnant to look at a club that has been completely revolutionised by unashamed wealth. But Roman Abramovich pumped his money into the club to quickly elevate a club who was treading water. He got them into the Champions League on the back of transfer splurges and he kept them there. Titles and cups were earned, and failure was not accepted. An influx of managers came through the revolving doors at Stamford Bridge but the job spec was always the same.
And fast forward to the last few years and Chelsea are spending far less than they did, almost to the point of turning a profit in transfer dealings. Self-sustainment is the ultimate goal for Abramovich, while maintaining a tight grip on Champions League participation.
You have to say that as an ownership model, this is pretty much what we need.
We cry out at the unfair nature of both City and Chelsea, PSG and Real all chucking obscene money at players, but we are also in the same breath asking for either Stan or Daniel Ek to spend some money too. We can’t have it both ways.
And we have the third highest net spend over the last five years in the Premier League – and look at where it has got us. So not only can we blame the laissez-faire attitude of our owners, but management have a big part to play in our woes.
This moment is a wake up call to all Gooners really.
We sit in a ridiculous position in the Premier League (at the time of writing we are 9th). We won’t be playing European football next season. We have spent a bucket load of money on players in the last five years yet we are in a worse position for it and our long term prospects of success and hoping to build on some of our youth players (Saka, ESR) looks bleak.
Would you stay? If you couldn’t see success in your future?
For a club of our supposed stature, the fare served up to us in the last five years have been unacceptable – but it has been accepted by Kroenke and his cronies.
And now the result is we are sinking, fast.