It feels as though each of the last 10 games has been ‘Arsenal’s biggest game of the season’, but now we can say it like we mean it. Sunday is indeed judgement day, 90 of the most painstaking, excruciating minutes of our lives. The result will define not only this season but probably next season too. Win and we will have snatched victory from a position in which it should never have been possible. Fail to win and it’s the lowest point of many of our Arsenal supporting lives. It’s do or die, sink or swim, in or out, take it or leave it, us or them, yes or no, or whatever particular dualism cliche takes your fancy..
The axe will undoubtedly fall most heavily on Arsene’s head should we fail to win, so here are two journalistic glimpses into Monday morning’s papers to highlight just how fine the margins are!
”As a disconsolate Arsenal left the pitch at White Hart Lane back in March, many thought the 5 point gap that had opened up was too significant a margin to overcome. Yesterday’s victory saw the Gunners once again prove they are indeed the ‘fourth place specialists’ as dubbed by Arsene Wenger only last week. An incredible run of form, winning 8 of their last 10 league games since the 2-1 defeat at the hands of Spurs, sets up a big summer in which we are led to believe Wenger has in the region of £70 million to bolster the squad.
With the best away record in the league, conceding just 14 goals away from home all season (whilst they conceded 8 in one game during the last campaign), it looks as though this newly assembled squad might finally have found their feet. The new contracts signed by the British core of Wilshere, Ramsey, Gibbs, Jenkinson and Chamberlain as well as the probable departure of Gareth Bale surely signify a continuation of the balance of power in North London. The three new signings of Cazorla, Giroud and Podolski have also each reached 20 goals in a debut season riddled with unjust criticism.
Time then to look towards a bright future in the red half of North London? I think so. Mancini and Ferguson has departed, meaning that all 91 English League Clubs have changed their manager since the last time Arsene Wenger last won a trophy! An incredible stat but one which should be seen as an appreciation of the level of consistency Wenger has adhered to rather than a slight on his misfortunes. In a season in which Spurs gained more points than any other 5th placed team, Wenger once again pipped the old enemy at the post, and he deserves a lot of credit for doing so”.
”It looked as though Arsenal had once again scraped a fourth place finish but Arsene Wenger’s luck seems to have finally run out, and so may his time as a Premier League manager. Ever since Patrick Vieira scored the winning penalty in Cardiff against Utd with his last kick for the Club, Arsenal have been in demise. Europa League football presents an all time low as far as the Wenger era is concerned and this may prove a step too far for an Arsenal board who have been his most ardent supporters in years gone by.
Only last week Arsenal fans were criticising Chelsea for taking such pride in winning the Europa League but in a years time Arsenal themselves will be vying to match Chelsea’s feat. Although they went into the final day as favourites to claim fourth place, failure from the jaws of success should come as no great surprise. Wenger’s stubbornness and refusal to listen to the demands of seemingly everyone around him lead to similar ‘oh so close’ scenarios including the Champions League final in 2006, the defeat to Birmingham in the League Cup final in 2011, this season’s defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League and now the failure to beat Newcastle Utd on the final day of the 2012/13 season.
The sad truth is that Tottenham have been the better team all season and are deserving of their fourth place finish. The writing has been on the wall for Wenger for a number of years and you can only think, at least in the short term, his legacy will be a regretful one rather than a memorable one. This particular failure will have huge financial implications and many of the apparent transfer targets are likely to head elsewhere seeking European football of the highest order. Wenger may be on his way to PSG, but it may not be a decision of his choosing as we always thought it would be”.
Wow writing that second one was painful.. Hope you all enjoy Sunday as much as it’s emotionally possible. I suggest you have a heavy supply of alcohol at the ready and avoid sharp objects. See you on the other side.
Even though I am an Arsenal fan and quite frankly I despise Manchester United, I still felt sad when I heard Sir Alex Ferguson was retiring. Now, many gooners will read this and feel I’m not thinking straight. Man United have been one of our biggest rivals in recent times, however the thing is, not only United but also the Premier League won’t be the same without “The Boss”. It’s Ferguson’s presence that has been the cause of so many memorable moments, not just at Man United but within English football and we should all be grateful. The drama he brings will be missed and David Moyes has very big shoes to fill. Shoes which I hope he will be able to grow into.
In 1986 a man travelled down from Scotland to have an interview for a possible job. The job was to take a Club which had fallen into obscurity to greener pastures. This man was Alex Ferguson. The 27 years that followed will go down in history as the greatest era for any football team. During these 27 years of service he picked up a modest 38 trophies, being crowned champions on 13 occasions.
Never again in football or any sport for that matter will we see one individual so integral to one team. 27 years is a long time, well beyond my years, and for a Football Club to maintain success consistently over such a period is an incredible feat. Yes he has had some of the best players in the world playing for him and yes the Club he was manager of was one of, if not the biggest Club in the world. There is one reason why Utd remain at the very top, and that’s Sir Alex. He was the best and no one can deny him that. He took Manchester United out of mediocrity and positioned them back into the flashing lights of stardom. You can argue until the cows come home but it was his presence that attracted the big players, investors and sponsors.
It’s common to see a manager nowadays go into a Club and have four to five successful years and then leave. The hardest thing in football is to reinvent yourself and keep a consistent level of success, especially at the top. If you lose your best player it’s hard to replace him. If you don’t replace him, others will follow him out the door, then before you know it you’re out of a job and your dynasty comes to an end. Increasingly a new manager comes in, bringing with him a new style of play and the teams is back winning. This hasn’t happened at United for 27 years.
It’s undeniable that there’s now a certain level of trepidation at Old Trafford, something that those involved are not use to, but something that every other Club in the world has dealt with more often than not in the modern era. In Sir Alex there was security. When Eric Cantona, David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo and others decided to leave Old Trafford there was concern, but not once was anyone worried. Sir Alex had the solution and not once was the solution wrong. It may have had to been tweaked or varied but the trophies always came back. Something us Arsenal fans more than anyone have to stand and applaud enviously.
It’s sad is that probably never again will we see a manager so devoted and successful with one Club. The demand for success is so high nowadays no manger is comfortable in their position. Even our beloved Mr. Wenger has come under scrutiny in recent years but he has always responded, just about. Eventually though, if Arsenal go another season or two without silverware he may have to go.
Nowadays there is always someone putting you under pressure. We have seen with the Mancini debacle that one bad season can cost you. No matter how well you did the year before. There’s no better example of how poorly managers are treated in the modern era then at Chelsea. Abramovich is ruthless and acts like a child when it comes to respecting managers. It’s not only the owners who are complacent however; some of the managers themselves are to blame. There is no longer loyalty in football. Managers and players alike want to move up the ladder and be the next big thing, even for only 15 minutes. Sadly every Club is now run like a business, but we should be proud of Arsenal’s self-sustaining model even if we haven’t been able to emulate the consistency of Utd.
Ferguson is a man of integrity, loyalty and respect. It was never about money or image for Ferguson. He looked at his next fixture, prepared for it and more often than not got the job done. He only ever commented when asked. He was focused on one thing and that was success. Success and drama go hand in hand and without a doubt the Fergie era was responsible for some of the greatest moments, not just in football history but sporting history.