The Cure To All Woes
After the excitement comes the inquest, and the subject that has been one of the most hotly debated over the last couple of days has been this: what to do about Arsenal? Their defeat at Liverpool coupled with their less than shining form over the last couple of months or so has provoked furious brow-furrowing in the press. The fourth estate has, of course, been salivating over Arsene Wenger’s every move this season, and losing to Liverpool wasn’t in their script. Having seen off Internazionale without seeming to break into too much of a sweat in the last sixteen of the European Cup, they were expected to march on to Moscow without too much difficulty. The events of the last ten minutes of the match at Anfield on Tuesday night were something that no-one was expecting.
The one word that has come up again and again is “investment”. You have to speculate to accumulate, and so on. The spectre of Alisher Usmanov has even started to creep back into some people’s lexicons – a man of considerable wealth (no matter how dubiously gained), who might just throw money into the club in the hope of finally bringing the European Cup to Islington. It is reasonably symptomatic of the current woes of English football that people think that being knocked out of the European Cup in the quarter-finals is something bordering on a crisis that can only be cured by throwing money at it. Arsenal, let’s face it, were five minutes from a place in the semi-finals on Tuesday night, before a clumsy challenge handed the initiative back to Liverpool. To suggest (as I have seen twice in the last couple of days) that Arsenal aren’t capable of “challenging” for honours is clearly, plainly nonsense. Consider this, though – it’s the final sentence of an article in this morning’s Independent about Arsenal: “They are not yet good enough to win a major trophy”. This is an viewpoint that is at odds with everything that you can see in front of you. Arsenal are currently involved in a bitter three-horse race to win the Premier League, and were five minutes from a place in the European Cup semi-finals. To suggest that they are “not good enough” is ridiculous. To say that it would be desirable for them to try and solve all their woes with a policy of spend, spend, spend is simply reckless.
So, to any Arsenal supporters reading this and are still in the slough of despond after Tuesday night’s late, late show from Liverpool, I would say the following. Firstly, consider what has happened to your club over the last twelve years or so. You’ve won the double. You became the first team since Preston North End in 1888 to go a whole season unbeaten in the league. You got to the European Cup final. Your club build you a magnificent 60,000 capacity stadium for a fraction of the cost that Wembley was built for or the cost that is projected for the new Liverpool stadium. Your club has a manageable debt, to the extent that it is perfectly plausible to argue that all you have to do is wait, because in ten years you might just be the only English candidates still standing. Everyone (even, grudgingly, your enemies) purrs when your team plays. You are probably the luckiest supporters in England. All you have to do is be patient, and it will come. It might be next year, or it might take five years, but it will come.