For the past ten years, the lack of success achieved at the Emirates Stadium has forced Arsenal fans to believe they have been treated unfairly by the club’s management and boardroom.
The North-London faithful are firmly of the belief the move to the Emirates Stadium has halted their bid to become a successful side domestically who can challenge for honours on a regular basis.
The fact of the matter remains that no club has achieved stability like Arsenal have the past decade, and this is why the vast majority of the Emirates supporters have become the most thankless and forgetful fans on the planet.
Arsene Wenger may not have achieved a title victory since 2004 but the Gunners undoubtedly lay the blame on the Frenchman’s inability to reestablish Arsenal as the country’s best side. Times change and teams develop. The league has become a much stronger competition with every team in the top-flight now have a squad capable of beating a team in whatever position they may sit.
Let’s face it, without the move to the Emirates Stadium in 2006 Arsenal would not have received the highest sponsorship in the club’s history. Highbury was an old and decrepit structure that a club like Arsenal needed to move away from so they didn’t become victims of falling behind the chasing pack.
A 60,000 capacity stadium that has the majority of opposition supporters around the world in awe and one day hopeful their club, whoever they may be, could one day be capable of performing in such an arena on a weekly basis. The stadium move has also allowed another 22,000 fans to attend every match-day, which is a staggering 57% capacity of Highbury’s 38,000.
During this apparent period of stagnation, Arsenal fans have qualified for the UEFA Champions League every single season. This has allowed the club’s revenue to increase annually from tournament prize money, more ticket sales and the sale of merchandise.
When you compare this fact with any other side in England over the same period, no side has been so successful in these terms. Liverpool have qualified for the Champions League just four times during the same period with Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea all failing to qualify as regularly as Arsenal have.
Other clubs may have been victorious in the competition with United winning the trophy in 2008 and Chelsea in 2012 but both teams suffered from severe instability during the past decade also – something Arsenal fans have not experienced since the mid-1990s.
As a club, Arsenal also have to be realistic about their expectations and now must realise they are now not the biggest or best team in the country. Under Arsene Wenger, Arsenal won three league titles in his first eight years with two of them double winning sides.
In comparison to other managers who have been in control of the Gunners, Arsenal won the double in 1971 and it remained the club’s only double winning campaign until 1998. In 2002, again under Wenger, the club won the F.A. Cup and Premier League title again claiming their second double winning season in just four years.
For any manager to achieve such an enormous amount of success in a limited time frame would symbolise greatness, but Wenger’s greatest achievement was still not completed. In 2003/2004 he guided Arsenal to an undefeated Premier League season and became the first side since 1888 to do so. In fact, Arsenal would go 49 games unbeaten which is now a record and not likely to be beaten anytime soon.
Fast forward twelve years and the Frenchman remains in the Arsenal hot-seat with the North-London supporters divided on whether he should stay or go. Times change and managers need to develop, but Wenger comes under some disgusting and almost vile abuse from Arsenal fans who remain dissatisfied about the club’s lack of progression.
To put it into comparison, Arsenal’s ‘Wenger Out’ supporters are the equivalent of Liverpool fans of the 1980’s booing and abusing Bob Paisley for teams becoming even stronger and more competitive. Would Manchester United fans turn on Sir Alex Ferguson and cause their fan-base to be split despite finishing in the top four of the Premier League every season for twenty consecutive years?
Wenger’s past 12 years have not been unsuccessful either. Maybe the club should not have gone nine years without a trophy but Wenger has since won back-to-back F.A. Cup’s in recent seasons and paid out large fees for world-class players which were demanded by fans. Despite this clear intention from Wenger and the board, fans still remain discontented due to Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United’s ability to spend even more than their North-London rivals on transfer fees.
It’s football and large fees do not guarantee success. In the past three seasons, Stoke have spent more than Southampton but the Saints have managed to finish higher than their midland counterparts. On the other hand, there remains little difference between Arsenal having more money than a club like Swansea in comparison to Manchester City having more money than Arsenal, and fans have got to accept the realism in this.
Also during this time, the balance of power in Manchester has swayed with City overtaking United. In the North-East, Sunderland have overtaken Newcastle as the premier club. Has this occurred in North London despite the success in recent times for Tottenham? Not since 1993 have Tottenham finished ahead of Arsenal – three years before Wenger’s arrival.
Unfortunately, the facts are there and it is clear to see that Arsenal fans have got to accept reality for what it has become.
Until they do, they will remain the world’s most ungrateful fans who have forgotten the fact that the grass is not always greener on the other side.