Around this time last year I wrote a post, on a somewhat less reputable site, talking about how crazy football has become. I voiced concerns over the fact that signings now seemed to attract more interest than actual matches and were viewed as ends in themselves. That summer I was completely demoralised, after all the previous years final premiership table, particularly the top five, had finished exactly in order of who spent the most money, with one exception of course: Arsenal. So thank God I spent this summer working in America where despite what they may tell you about Beckham mania over here very few people care at all about football.
But when I came back I realised that the world had gone crazy and that my prophecy of football dying as a competitive sport is actually closer to fruition than even I ever imagined. Arsenal will be outspent this summer not just by the usual subjects of Manchester United, Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool and Newcastle- the last three of which always seem to think we spend more than them and then are astounded to find out that actually we whoop them on a regular basis on half their budget-but also by Manchester City, West Ham and Sunderland. Not only are the pundits, in their usual bout of ignorance fuelled hystyeria proclaiming this an exciting season for this reason but also the fans of all these clubs are proclaiming this will be their year. The editor of the once great FourFourTwo magazine says he hasn’t “looked forward to a season this much since Roman Abramovic first started juggling his roubles at Stamford Bridge”, this after spending the rest of the year lecturing everyone about how there are no real football fans anymore! True football fans should not be excited by this, they should fear it.
But where are the true football fans? Liverpool talk all day about how they have such great fans, great tradition and great loyalty but this is not based on anything concrete. Their fans have had a blighted past but I have never truly felt disgusted by them untill now. The first reason is their club spent themselves into debt to buy mediocre and often terrible players when they wanted a new stadium.
Instead of trusting in their manager, tightening the purse strings for a few years and getting a stadium they knew had been built on the backs of their own hard work and sacrifice, like that new one in North London, they decided to carry on spending and then recline on the lampost for two years offering their club to whoever had the most money.
What a wonderful tradition, compare and contrast this with their bitter rivals in Manchester who they often accuse of being fake fans. The Mancs fought tooth and nail to keep their club and many even left to create a new one. Of course much of this is forgotten by now, along with how much they hated Ronaldo last summer. But more than Man U, more than Arsenal the group of fans that most disparaged Chelsea for buying success were the scousers. It is not the achievement of the club if they spent money they have not earned they argued, and they were right. But now Liverpool are doing the same thing. Fortunately for them, they have the memories of goldfish, also allowing them to forget that their two best summer signings; Ryan Babel and Fernando Torres both desperately wanted to play for Arsenal and most probably are disgusted by the type of football Liverpool play.
On a similar note, does anyone remember Gerrard almost signing for Chelsea, twice? No one in the red half of Liverpool does, nor do they remember burning him in effigy outside the ground. Great fans, loyalt and tradition? Suely this can’t all be based on the fact that they like to sing a monotonous song over and over can it?
So what does the true fan want to see out of this season of football. Surely he/she wants to see that money does not rule the game, that the amount of money you spend does not positively correlate to your success, that good coaching and players can still achieve success without a massive foreign investor otherwise we may as well just arrange the league table now, according to who has spent the most money. It is for that reason, and obviously I am bias (you are on an Arsenal site you know), that all true football fans should be supporting Arsenal this season.
We only spend money we earn and we play the most attractive football the country has ever seen and so any victory we achieve will actually be an achievement, not the product of a financial transaction. In fact, as we are the only club in the top four who can actually achieve something we have a very good chance of being the most successful club in the country this year.