This week, Arsenal fan and Daily Mirror journalist John Cross came under fire from Gunners supporter Chris Hudson, who described him as a ‘media luvvy’ in a video critique of the Emirates management that went viral.
The journalist responded by branding Hudson as a fan who ‘has been around for as long as I can remember, and has been unhappy for as long as I can remember’, part of ‘a batch of fans that are always unhappy- they get a kind of enjoyment from it’. And the idea that some supporters follow the beautiful game as an outlet for their desire to moan is certainly nothing new; being a Charlton fan, I’m fairly certain that a natural pessimism is entrenched somewhere deep in the average Addick’s DNA.
The Gunners’ start to their Premier League campaign was certainly disappointing, with a 3-1 defeat at home to Aston Villa, who only narrowly avoided relegation last term. But like the ever-moaning Hudson, do the Arsenal faithful need a bit of a reality check? It can’t all be doom and gloom at the Emirates…can it?
Well Arsenal supporters will be relieved after their 3-0 away romping of Fenerbahce in a mid-week Champions League qualifier. The performance, despite the squad being on its last legs, was exemplary, and will have gone some way to reaffirm the Emirates faithful’s belief in the abilities of their first team personnel.
And Wenger too has spent the summer boasting about the talent he has at his disposal. Fans aren’t best pleased that the Frenchman is using it as a justification for making just a single addition to his squad this summer, whilst over twenty players have left the Emirates, but his analysis that the Gunners starting XI possesses enough quality to improve upon last season’s 73 point haul is hard to argue against. The unchanged roster claimed nine wins in their final eleven fixtures from last season, starting with a 2-0 away victory to Champions League winners Bayern Munich in the competition’s quarter finals.
Speaking of the continental tournament, Arsene Wenger has secured Champions League football for every full season of his tenure in North London. The Frenchman may rest on that feat to defend himself from allegations over a lack of silverware, and indeed, it is hard to deny the Gunners’ decline amid an eight year trophy drought, but there are few managers in Europe, past or present, who can claim such consistency.
And regardless of this summer’s transfer activity or lack of, the Arsenal boss is still one of the most talented managers on the continent. With nearly two decades worth of Premier League experience, Wenger has claimed three league titles and four FA Cups during his time in North London London, and is now the top flight’s longest-serving manager, with Newcastle’s Alan Pardew an incredibly distant second.
John Cross commented after the weekend’s poor showing against Aston Villa that he was disappointed in the personal level of abuse and criticism the Frenchman had received, and I agree that a manager that has already brought unprecedented success to the Gunners, the mastermind behind their famous undefeated ‘Invincibles’ campaign, doesn’t deserve such disrespect from a fan base and a club that he has only ever tried to serve to the best of his abilities.
For all the doom and gloom in the Arsenal camp, they do possess one of the strongest starting XI’s the Premier League has to offer, an incredibly experienced and talented manager in Arsene Wenger, and their Champions League status, despite losing to Aston Villa, still remains theirs to lose, rather than Tottenham’s to gain.
But the fact that Chris Hudson’s video condemnation went viral suggests he’s not the only Arsenal fan in the mood to moan, and at the core of the common dissent at the Emirates is firstly the club’s perceived lack of ambition, and secondly the series of false promises made by Arsene Wenger and Ivan Gazidis at the start of the summer.
The current window was always going to be a crossroads in Arsenal’s immediate future, and so far, the Gunners management hasn’t delivered. Having discussed a £70million kitty and an ‘escalation in financial firepower’ earlier in the summer, the Emirates faithful are quite rightly disgruntled over the fact they have the single signing of 20-year-old Yaya Sanogo, lured from Ligue 2 outfit Auxerre on a bosman move, to show for nearly three months worth of off-season activity.
Rather alarmingly, Wenger had previously shied away from suggestions that he was keen to invest, before announcing after the Villa defeat that for him, the transfer window ‘starts now’. In the same interview, the Frenchman also officially announced he was ending his pursuit of priority target Luis Suarez.
But the Arsenal boss is right that there’s still a long way to go until September 2nd, and plenty of time to source new recruits. Yohan Cabaye would be a smart addition if Wenger is willing to make a bid with a more realistic valuation, whilst rumoured targets Ashley Williams and Michu, both currently with Swansea, would seriously bolster the Gunners in defence and attack respectively. And there are always twists and turns in the transfer market before deadline day, especially in the final hours of the transfer window; but it will be up to Wenger and Gazidis to capitalise.
So it’s not all doom and gloom at the Emirates, despite what the current situation might suggest. Arsenal are still a top four side, and I have my faith that they’ll be able to stave off competition from Tottenham for a Champions League spot, despite the huge financial investment in new recruits this summer at White Hart Lane, and they possess one of the most talented managers in the history of the Premier League in Arsene Wenger.
The club’s lack of ambition is concerning however, and Wenger has a lot of work to do before deadline day to appease the fans. It’s been a summer of immense disappointment and continual false hope for much of the Emirates faithful, but there’s still time for the Arsenal boss to make amends.
Is it all doom and gloom at the Emirates?
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