Arsenal's failure to win trophies is not down to faint hearts

Joss

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Arsenal's failure to win trophies is not down to faint hearts
The fallacy that only British players have spirit means Arsène Wenger's team are regarded as gutless



Stuart Pearce epitomises the 'passion' that Arsenal are supposed to lack but even the most rousing display of passion is as much about showboating as any prancing triple stepover. Photograph: Sean Dempsey/PA

There was something brilliantly provocative about the conjoining of two Arsenal related news items this week. The first was a familiar swell of pained and wincing why-oh-whying as it became clear that the Premier League's most consistently infuriating club would not win a trophy this season: talk of callowness, foreign-accented surrenderism and a crucial absence of Anglophone chest-thump. Then, on the same day, came the news that the club had signed, not a tattooed enforcer, or Brian Blessed dressed as Beowulf, but a highly promising eight-year-old boy. In the current mood this seemed like the final insult, not to mention a matter of some concern as though this might be too young to be subjected to full-blown Arsenal-ism, and that perhaps the entire Arsenal lifestyle ought to be ringfenced, available only to consenting foreign cowards.

This is the thing with Arsenal now. They arouse a deeply personal fury. Gutless, spineless, headless – not to mention lacking in heart, balls and biceps – it is a miracle there is anything left of them at all beyond a single slightly fey pair of yellow ballet pumps. It is a gloating, righteous kind of outrage; and no doubt entirely unrelated to the fact Arsène Wenger and his team are still seen as the most prancingly Euro-fied in the Premier League. This isn't anti-Frenchie-ism. We're past all that now. So what is it then?

There is a kind of intolerance at play here. Specifically, Wenger is being denied the opportunity to fall short in the way everyone else falls short – bad signings, muddled tactics, players not good enough. Instead, Wenger's Arsenal lose for one reason: because they lack "heart" and "leadership". They lack "that little bit of spirit", some vital gurning imprint of what a man on the radio described this week with tearful solemnity as "the Tony Adamses, the John Terrys".

It is amazing that this fallacy still exists: the notion that only British players have heart, or have heart as a matter of course whatever their deficiencies elsewhere – and that heart itself can be disassociated from talent and skill, as though one were not a function of the other. On the same radio show an ex-pro described Peter Osgood as "a continental player with a British heart" – a leap of logic that suggests the past 11 World Cups have all been won, miraculously, by players fundamentally lacking in basic courage.

The question remains, though: why is everybody so cross? How do Arsenal inspire this level of jeering moral censure by almost, but not quite, winning several trophies with a young and inexpensive team? The notion that they are guilty of a kind of high-end decadence, a preference for showing off ahead of the rousing, grubby-fingered victory ******, is a familiar cultural misunderstanding. By now it should be clear that even the most rousing display of "passion" – the sleeve rolling, the finger wagging – is as much about showboating as any prancing triple stepover. Stuart Pearce, for example, is still hoist like a totem of un-arm-wrestlable Anglo-Saxon spirit for his famously gruesome display of passion-showboating after scoring a penalty against Spain at Euro 96. But England, like Arsenal, also fell short that summer. These are just different forms of display, albeit Arsenal's showing off is deemed the wrong kind of showing off, a symptom of some basic cowardice or laziness (never mind the extreme dedication needed to attain these skills in the first place).

Wenger has brought some of this on himself. Nobody likes being told off and Wenger is still the man who made English football feel so chasteningly juvenile when he emerged 15 years ago, single-handedly inventing pasta and stretching, and exposing decisively the myth that drinking lager and jumping up and down in a circle inside a night club called Starzz actually improve performance. After some reflex hostility he was embraced, too, his new age boffin template energetically adopted. This week it emerged that Liverpool's promising academy team have taken to shouting "Build!" at one another during matches, which is very encouraging, albeit perhaps only a step away from shouting "score a stylish continental-style goal!" or "be a bit like Barcelona!". And while it may be more useful for Arsenal's own youngsters to shout things like "maybe hoof it this time!" or "OK, stop building now!" it is possible to detect Wenger's influence even here, the original overseas advocate of the sinuous all-star youth team.

Positions have solidified recently. The Premier League has grown into cosmopolitan adolescence. And Wenger looks vulnerable suddenly. The temptation is there to gloat, to revel in momentary weakness, to swipe the spectacles from his nose. In a way it is heartening that he can still arouse this agitation, that there is space in our game for cultural differences, even imaginary ones (Wenger is after all not really a hoity-toity Frenchman: he is a hoity‑toity economist – coming over here, taking our jobs, failing to bankrupt our football clubs).

So Wenger should be allowed to lose in his own way: neatly, profitably, perhaps a little airlessly, polishing in private his own fiscally calibrated triumphs, parading his balance sheet around the deserted streets on his one‑man open top bus.
 

I Hate Fish

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I still don't believe Fabregas is a leader. The captaincy should be given to Vermaelen. He's the hard man, the tough SOB, he feels the pain when we lose or drop points.
 

Joss

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I still don't believe Fabregas is a leader. The captaincy should be given to Vermaelen. He's the hard man, the tough SOB, he feels the pain when we lose or drop points.
He feels the pain? Because Fabregas doesn't care if we win or lose?

The captaincy is with Fabregas so he stays basically - not having the armband doesn't mean you can't shout and be a tough son of a ***** if you're Vermaelen.
 

I Hate Fish

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He feels the pain? Because Fabregas doesn't care if we win or lose?

The captaincy is with Fabregas so he stays basically - not having the armband doesn't mean you can't shout and be a tough son of a ***** if you're Vermaelen.
My point is that Fabregas is virtually anonymous when it comes to leadership qualities. He doesn't do anything to lift the team. He doesn't raise morale. We all saw that against Newcastle, etc. This is just my personal opinion though, so don't sweat it. ;)
 

curtis290

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The Wenger hate baffles me: he gets more **** than any other manager and people seem to celebrate Arsenal's "failures" more than any club. The fact that in the poll in the Mourinho thread, most people thought he wasn't in the top 3 managers in the world was very indicative of how he's the most underrated person in football. Has the best financial record of any big club in recent history yet still competes in all competitions. He's made the Champions League for 16 straight seasons. So what if he sacrifices the Carling and FA Cups so that he can stay in the title race and compete in the Champions League? That's more honorable than giving up in the important competitions just so he can get a trophy for bragging points. Maybe Arsenal hasn't been the best in the Prem or in the World in the last 6 years, but the fact that they at least compete with Chelsea and ManU on that budget is remarkable, not to mention they play the most attractive football in the Prem. They'll get a trophy pretty soon since they've stopped their selling policy and the current crop of players will get better. They're on a very long-term plan to build the club for the future and keep its finances in order while they pay for their new stadium. That's something to be celebrated, not constantly criticized and rooted against. It's amazing that you can be so hated in the Prem for finishing in second place while balancing your budget. I think it has something to do with the lack of Britishness of the squad and manager.
 

Joss

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My point is that Fabregas is virtually anonymous when it comes to leadership qualities. He doesn't do anything to lift the team. He doesn't raise morale. We all saw that against Newcastle, etc. This is just my personal opinion though, so don't sweat it. ;)
But my point is that just because TV5 isn't captain - he can still be a "leader", whatever that means - he can shout, or try to raise morale and it's not like people won't listen to him if he doesn't have the armband. Fabregas leads by example - just because he doesn't shout, it doesn't make him a bad captain, or the wrong choice.

Also - can you imagine what Cesc would do if he was stripped of the captaincy?
 

Mike.

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this article sounds like it was written in 2009. You still need those type of players, they just don't have to be british. Every manager gets criticised, Arsenal's "lack of success" makes it easier
 

sunilvk7

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The Wenger hate baffles me: he gets more **** than any other manager and people seem to celebrate Arsenal's "failures" more than any club. The fact that in the poll in the Mourinho thread, most people thought he wasn't in the top 3 managers in the world was very indicative of how he's the most underrated person in football. Has the best financial record of any big club in recent history yet still competes in all competitions. He's made the Champions League for 16 straight seasons. So what if he sacrifices the Carling and FA Cups so that he can stay in the title race and compete in the Champions League? That's more honorable than giving up in the important competitions just so he can get a trophy for bragging points. Maybe Arsenal hasn't been the best in the Prem or in the World in the last 6 years, but the fact that they at least compete with Chelsea and ManU on that budget is remarkable, not to mention they play the most attractive football in the Prem. They'll get a trophy pretty soon since they've stopped their selling policy and the current crop of players will get better. They're on a very long-term plan to build the club for the future and keep its finances in order while they pay for their new stadium. That's something to be celebrated, not constantly criticized and rooted against. It's amazing that you can be so hated in the Prem for finishing in second place while balancing your budget. I think it has something to do with the lack of Britishness of the squad and manager.
TBH, for the ticket price they charge, Arsenal supporters have every right to be angry on Wenger. Arsenal ticket price is higher than any club's and after paying 100 pounds week in week out, they are seeing bottlers who just can't win a trophy.

Arsenal's attractive football is very debatable though..
 

Joss

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TBH, for the ticket price they charge, Arsenal supporters have every right to be angry on Wenger. Arsenal ticket price is higher than any club's and after paying 100 pounds week in week out, they are seeing bottlers who just can't win a trophy.

Arsenal's attractive football is very debatable though..
People have to earn the right to be unhappy - if they turn up at the Emirates and they don't sing, or get behind the team and instead just boo or get on the player's backs they can't be surprised if we don't play well. Tbh - that's not even the point Curtis is making, I don't think.

For one thing, I'm pretty sure he means generally - not just from Arsenal fans but the media, and other fans who are quick to criticise him for everything he does. All he (and I, and I imagine Curtis) asks for is patience. It's a 10 year plan which could see us dominate the English league in a similar way to Barcelona in 1/2 years time.

There's no point sacking Wenger now - a year or two before the long term plan should be completed.

I'm not sure how attractive football is debatable: I think most people would agree we play the best football in England at the moment, regardless of success.

---------- Post added at 10:48 AM ---------- Previous post was at 10:42 AM ----------

this article sounds like it was written in 2009. You still need those type of players, they just don't have to be british. Every manager gets criticised, Arsenal's "lack of success" makes it easier
How many people have you seen on this forum alone who say: "Arsenal need to go out and buy a good old-fashioned English CB - because they understand the notion of leadership and because they're big and strong and this, that and the other".

What in particular makes it seem like it was written in 2009? Other than making pretty good points and sticking by Wenger? Just because the trend now is to criticise him - whether that's made easier by the fact we haven't won a trophy for 6 years shouldn't matter.
 

sunilvk7

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People have to earn the right to be unhappy - if they turn up at the Emirates and they don't sing, or get behind the team and instead just boo or get on the player's backs they can't be surprised if we don't play well. Tbh - that's not even the point Curtis is making, I don't think.
So you mean to say that Arsenal supporters dont get behind the team? I have seen you saying You have excellent support and posted few videos during champions league game.

For one thing, I'm pretty sure he means generally - not just from Arsenal fans but the media, and other fans who are quick to criticise him for everything he does. All he (and I, and I imagine Curtis) asks for is patience. It's a 10 year plan which could see us dominate the English league in a similar way to Barcelona in 1/2 years time.
That works really well on paper. As much as Arseanl, other teams too improve and add to their strengths.

Team has enough experience and i dont know how things can change so much in 1/2 year.

I'm not saying Wengers should go, I'm a big fan of his, but what you said looks hypothetical to me.



I'm not sure how attractive football is debatable: I think most people would agree we play the best football in England at the moment, regardless of success.
.
Its debatable coz not everyone like mindless passing around without end result. Last season Chelsea played the best football in the country. There was no doubt in that.
 

Mike.

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Actually ive not see that too many times, what ive seen is that peple have written they need commmanding centreback leader, very few times do they mention nationality.

As for the 10 year plan, i applaud it, but there is no guarantee for success, certainly not in the way barca dominate. the mistakes that players like clichy make, are thing t do with finances, they are schoolboy errors that should happen at any level, this is what needs to be cut out if you want the title,
 

I3east

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Wenger gets all this stick but what other manager in the last 10 years have gone a season unbeaten in the prem ? (Not sure if there is :p)

I rate Wenger highly and i think the only reason Cesc is your captain is because the club is scared of loosing their 'Talisman' if you like.
 

Joss

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So you mean to say that Arsenal supporters dont get behind the team? I have seen you saying You have excellent support and posted few videos during champions league game.

Without wanting to sound rude or argumentative - you can't really understand without going to the games. We have excellent away support and the fans turn up at big games but in reality, the Emirates is pretty quiet and that doesn't help anything. If the fans don't go to the Emirates every game and give the team encouragement, I don't see what right they have after the game to boo etc.


That works really well on paper. As much as Arseanl, other teams too improve and add to their strengths.

Team has enough experience and i dont know how things can change so much in 1/2 year.
Of course it isn't a full-proof plan. The point is that in 1/2 years, the First XI will be at their peak and then when they're older, the second "wave" of youngsters (the first being Cesc and co.), signed about 4 years ago will be ready to provide competition and step into the first team in their place.

It's a long-winded process - read this if you're interested on how the plan should work: The Mighty Transition: Why Arsenal Haven’t Won Anything In 6 Years | Arsenal Report

I'm not saying Wengers should go, I'm a big fan of his, but what you said looks hypothetical to me.
But some people are saying exactly this - I find it quite sad tbh how many people say Wenger's lost the plot and Wenger's this, that or the other. They forget everything he's done for the club and seem to assume that the Emirates was built by the stadium fairies, rather than costing almost £400m

Its debatable coz not everyone like mindless passing around without end result. Last season Chelsea played the best football in the country. There was no doubt in that.
Well if Barca are so wonderful, and we've apparently "copied" them (or rather built our tactic upon the DUTCH '74 side) - then surely our football is pretty ****** good as well.. Attacking, short passing etc. - if that's not for you though, then fair enough !

---------- Post added at 11:09 AM ---------- Previous post was at 11:06 AM ----------

Actually ive not see that too many times, what ive seen is that peple have written they need commmanding centreback leader, very few times do they mention nationality.

As for the 10 year plan, i applaud it, but there is no guarantee for success, certainly not in the way barca dominate. the mistakes that players like clichy make, are thing t do with finances, they are schoolboy errors that should happen at any level, this is what needs to be cut out if you want the title,
Obviously there are things to improve on and obviously our squad isn't as good as Barca's - although they have plenty of flaws as well... (let's not get into that)

I've seen a lot of people say we need a commanding, ENGLISH CB. Barney Ronay is pretty spot on IMO.
 

Mike.

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Ive seen a lot say its just commanding, mostly on here its just commanding. If anythings its because england seem to produce a good amount of those type of centrebacks.

I'm off for a drink in the sun

whether his is english or not is by the point, still a missing part of the puzzle
 
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Ride The Walrus

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The old saying goes, 'they try to score the perfect goal' which is true, and Wenger's way too stubborn to change that. Wenger has to be the sorest loser-manager.
 

sunilvk7

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Without wanting to sound rude or argumentative - you can't really understand without going to the games. We have excellent away support and the fans turn up at big games but in reality, the Emirates is pretty quiet and that doesn't help anything. If the fans don't go to the Emirates every game and give the team encouragement, I don't see what right they have after the game to boo etc.
Well i just pointed out what you said. And regarding the bolded part, my first point was the people who pay 100 pounds week in week out have the right to complain, isn't it.. So in other way you are agreeing with me..
Of course it isn't a full-proof plan. The point is that in 1/2 years, the First XI will be at their peak and then when they're older, the second "wave" of youngsters (the first being Cesc and co.), signed about 4 years ago will be ready to provide competition and step into the first team in their place.
It is really hard to hold on to world class players when you are not winning trophies. Players career is short to wait for a 10 year plan to take full effect isn't it.
Regarding the bolded part, when the youngsters provide competition or take up the place again we will hear the excuses about the youngsters wanting the time as they are not experienced..



It's a long-winded process - read this if you're interested on how the plan should work: The Mighty Transition: Why Arsenal Haven’t Won Anything In 6 Years | Arsenal Report
I have read that when someone posted in other thread. I think it was you. Like i said it was hypothetical as other teams will also improve and build on their success, while it would be very difficult for Arsenal to hold on to world class players when they dont win.



But some people are saying exactly this - I find it quite sad tbh how many people say Wenger's lost the plot and Wenger's this, that or the other. They forget everything he's done for the club and seem to assume that the Emirates was built by the stadium fairies, rather than costing almost £400m
I have seen people saying Fergie has lost it, he has past it, and they think they are better than one of the best manager ever. So it was not surprising to see people making these statements.

I agree with you that people should remember what he has done for the club. He has laid a strong foundation for the future.

Question for you Joss, what will be yours and others (who believe in 10 year plan) reaction if the 10 year plan wont work anywhere near you expected. I have my doubts with this approach, would like to hear from few Arsenal supporters.


Well if Barca are so wonderful, and we've apparently "copied" them (or rather built our tactic upon the DUTCH '74 side) - then surely our football is pretty ****** good as well.. Attacking, short passing etc. - if that's not for you though, then fair enough !


Barca are not so wonderful to watch and you are poor man's version of Barca. So it should be even less attractive for those who likes direct football. I dont think Barca and Arsenal play similar brand of football apart from the formation. The way Barca press to win the ball and attack is not at all comparable.

Oh and this is just my opinion. Maybe way off the mark. I dont know that..

 

Joss

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Question for you Joss, what will be yours and others (who believe in 10 year plan) reaction if the 10 year plan wont work anywhere near you expected. I have my doubts with this approach, would like to hear from few Arsenal supporters.
If we haven't won anything by - say - 2013 (when AW's contract ends and when the 10 year plan should be done) then clearly it's failed and a new approach is needed. I think either way, Wenger will retire then.. Either handing over to a new, young manager who understands the philosophy etc. and becoming a director or something or leaving on a sour note (which I sincerely hope isn't the case).

---------- Post added at 11:38 AM ---------- Previous post was at 11:37 AM ----------

you are poor man's version of Barca
We're richer than Barca ;)
 

CJACKO11

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Fabregas is not a natural leader and its easy to see that. He is a role model and someone to look up to but no way a leader. Maybe someone like Vermaelen when he comes back could do a decent job.
 
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