Every time I ever meet a Manure fan, invariably the automatic response is: “oh, where you from dude? That doesn’t sound like a manc accent to me.” Of course the obligatory story follows about a grandfathers dog running away, being found humping Georgy Best’s leg, and how the whole family have been loyal fans ever since. Reality is, they are a bunch of fickle plastic twats with no connection but bugging real fans whenever there club wins and they weren’t there to see it. Near enough everyone in Croydon or Surrey fits this mould of fake fans and anyone who has met them detests them as much as you can someone who only pretends to be something you can’t stand.
Now, I realise that this site is all for inclusiveness, that is admirable. So is the fact that our esteemed editor will print views here that run counter to his aims for the site; but we as a club need to acknowledge that Arsenal is no longer a regional affair – all the better for it – but we must defend some sense of values as expansion dilutes our core fan-base. Let me state right now that this is not about where you are from, this is absolutely not the line of this argument. Any accusation of Xenophobia comes from people who have not read or understood what is written here. This is about people who call themselves Arsenal fans, but know nothing of what that means, and simply enjoy having a team to follow and a bit of banter with that 2 year loyal Chelsea Muppet one desk over. For these people, with cheap, shallow allegiances and sham passions, I’m sure winning seems like everything, and not winning hurts in a very banal sense; but we must distinguish true from false.
Last week on this site, someone asked why our fabulous and classy club bothered aspiring to ethical or moral values, instead of concentrating on what “the game is all about”. Now, I assume that it was being suggested that we pimp out our soul, lowering ourselves to the level of Spuds, or heaven forbid we stoop so low, Chavs, with their fake, tacky, store bought pseudo-history. This friends is a glory hunter, as such he has nothing in common with me. Now, let me illustrate how shallow and short sighted those fans are who clamour blindly for endless trophies and nothing but 4-0 wins until they get dull. I wish to do this not by debating the merits of fans who live here or there, go to games or don’t – the plastic twit who brings his kids to the Emirates and sits behind me shouting shoot when the ball is in our half has a habit of complaining when we are “only” (!) wining 1-0 at the half – but by demonstrating that it is a historical fact that we should be prepared, nay expect, that some seasons will end without a trophy.
Peter Hill-Wood said about as much in his interview last week, we compete each year for the League and Champions League as our ambition, and far more teams finish disappointed than victorious in those competitions. Now, one might say that only four (three?) teams can win the Premiership each year, but that we are one of those is a cause to be happy and proud with our status, not discontented. It would take a terribly myopic perspective to attack the club or management for failure to win the Champions League, as we have never before managed it before, it can hardly be expected each year. In reality Arsenal’s record of consistency in Europe, and our standing on the continent as a vision of the games graces and virtues, surpasses anything we have known before.
So, to the figures: Arsenal have won a total of 13 league titles and 10 FA Cups, plus 2 League Cups and 2European trophies. Over the course of our history, 122 years, that averages out to a League title every 9 years and an FA Cup every 12 years. Even if we do away with the period before when Herbert Chapman came to the club in 1925 that averages out to a title twice every 13 years, 6 and a bit per pot with an FA Cup every 8 years. Clearly in comparison to these figures we should not consider the current trophy drought unexpected, let alone a disaster; football clubs face fierce competition and part of the sweetness of victory is the pain of defeat that it cleanses.
I would also like to draw another comparison, Arsene Wenger against all those who had his job before him. If Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal are in a position where success is consistent and expected, as we have elevated ourselves into a bracket of European football above all but 3 other teams in England and competing every year with the top 8 on the continent – anything less is a disappointment now; it is only to his credit as that is something he created not inherited, but it cannot be said his job any easier than anyone else who had it previously. Arsene Wenger has had 10 years at Arsenal, winning 3 Leagues and 4 FA Cups, or every 3.33 and 2.5 years respectively. For all other managers, excluding Wenger’s time and the period before Chapman – which there is no reason to leave out, but I can and still make my case – those figures are 7.2 and 12. Put another way, Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal sides have won the League over twice as frequently as their predecessors, the FA cup a staggering 5 times as frequently; of course winning a European Cup would make club history and elevate us into a rarefied elite.
What I hope this shows is that there will be more years we lose than win; none-the-less, we should remain loyal to the team, manager and board. I hope that when we acknowledge the nature of competition, we see that there is nothing that is worth stooping below the ideal of our own integrity to win; the only people who want to do this do not truly care for our club and our GLORY HUNTERS. From the pain of defeat comes the joy of victory, this is true for the team also. Look at the years between the first and second double, it took 3 years of hurt – that Giggs goal, the Leeds game, Galatasary, and the ridiculous Cup Final with the Scousers – for the Invincibles to be forged. Where those years without success, joy, memory, or worth? Of course not, relatively they were very successful with Cup Finals and League placing considered, they are just part of being a football fan. Real fans see that, cheap glory hunters do not; it is a disappointing but inevitable consequence of success that they are here, but please as a club, including very consciously the global fan-base that includes, let’s try and tell the difference and maintain our integrity in the face of their shallow cravenness.