Wednesday, 2 July 2008

10 Things for frustrated blogonauts to remember

1. Arsenal are not a 'big club' in the way that Real Madrid or even Manchester United are. They do not pay very large transfer fees for established stars and rarely have. (The stars of the 1980s team were over the hill, for instance). There are no £25million Ferdinands or Rooneys in the Arsenal squad. If Adebayor is sold for £30million, do not expect the club to spend a similar amount on a replacement.
2. Do not judge players before you have seen them play. On the comments of one blog I saw yesterday someone call Amaury Bischoff 'rubbish'. How does he know? Because Bischoff's a reserve at Werder Bremen? I expect the same person wailed at the departure of Flamini, who was plucked, unheralded, from Marseille. Forget the 'who he?' reaction with Arsene signings. Think Clichy, Flamini, Vieira.
3. Arsenal conduct all transfer dealings in secret. This is frustrating for the fans, but almost certainly hardly any of those players 'linked' with Arsenal will arrive. Remember when Sol Campbell was revealed as an Arsenal player in 2001? Who expected that?
4. Arsenal finished four points behind United last season.
5. We are not the only club to be preyed upon this season. Rivals may lose Cristiano Ronaldo, Lampard, Drogba etc.
6. In a tightening financial climate, Arsenal's sensible financial policies will not see the future of the club put in jeopardy. There will be no Leeds scenario here - unless an Usmanov manages to get hold of the club. Then will be the time to really worry.
7. Think beyond the end of a goldfish's concentration span (the typical neural interval of the 24-hour, 'news'-junkied, febrile blogonaut. And don't worry, I keep checking NewsNow myself.) The transfer window doesn't close until midnight on August 31.
8. Count your lucky stars. (Fabregas, Clichy, Sagna, Toure, Walcott, etc etc). Imagine what the blogosphere would have made of near-relegation in 1975 and 1976 (finishing 16th and 17th), the over-the-hill gang of 1985/6, or flirting with relegation again in 1995. Arsene has constructed the most successful period in Arsenal history since the 1930s. Even if it is coming to an end, we've been lucky. Think what Arsenal fans suffered in the 1950s and 1960s (one championship in 20 years), or between 1971 and 1989 (one FA Cup and one League Cup win).
9. As I said at the beginning, Arsenal are not a 'big club' like Manchester United (or even Liverpool in the 1970s and 80s), in terms of a period of sustained domination of the league, in terms of European success, or in being the team that players wanted to play for above all others. We might have turned it around had we won the league in 2003, thereby winning three in a row; but we didn't.
10. By a remarkable succession of conjuring tricks, Arsene has kept Arsenal in the top three or four (mainly top two) for the entirety of his time as manager, with a budget that cannot be compared to United or Chelsea or the European giants in Spain and Italy. We've had one of the greatest ever club managers running our club since 1996, and he has transformed Arsenal from top to bottom. If and when he goes, there's an excellent youth system in place, a new stadium that will generate competitive revenues, and he has changed what Arsenal means to football fans around the world. No more 'boring, boring Arsenal'; we're now the champions of pure football. In 1995, who would have thought it?

I began blogging by working through my frustrations, but they are as nothing compared to the fans who have only really known Arsene as manager. Like frustrated teens (as some may well be), they long for the father-figure to be deposed. Have a care. Before Arsene came Rioch; GG; Don Howe; and Terry Neill. Be careful what you wish for.