Wenger Right to Slam Fans
Posted on April 11, 2011 8:17 pm
I just want to go back to pre-season. The discussion among my fellow Manchester United supporters obviously centered around our hopes for the coming season.
A show of hands around that time would probably have a majority seeing a domestic title challenge as the most realistic expectation.
With most of 2009-10′s goals arriving from a single source in Wayne Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov misfiring throughout and Michael Owen providing little assurance regarding his ongoing fitness problems, the attack was deemed lacking. With Nani frustratingly inconsistent, Anderson apparently stalling in his development and Michael Carrick seemingly bottling at crunch time, people again questioned when and how this midfield could finally feel complete again.
When United signed an unfamiliar Mexican forward in Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, to add to the recent captures of Chris Smalling, Gabriel Obertan and the infamous signing of unknown Bebe, the LUHG/MUST crowd went into conspiracy theory overdrive. Fergie was secretly being denied funds. Or when it was pointed out that a man starved of cash would be unlikely to blow 9m on a guy nobody had heard of, there were suggestions that the Glazers were looking to force the wage-bill down. Then came the placation and pay-rise of Rooney. But this isn’t a Glazer post, or even a Man United post.
It’s an expectation post. Whatever United’s problems or issues, the signings seemed to underwhelm, while the existing roster didn’t scream European glory.
The talk seemed to center around a Chelsea repeat. They’d just won the trophy and despite being a year older, they remained cohesive and nobody had seemed to make moves that would produce a clear competitor. United apparently required another stellar outing from Rooney to be in the hunt. Arsenal still weren’t the finished article even if Barca-flirting Cesc Fabregas did put his heart into it. Manchester City were an expensive crapshoot, with as many volatile chracters as gifted individuals. Liverpool were on the downturn and Tottenham Hotspur weren’t even on the radar.
What a difference a season makes. Man United sit on top of the league, in Europe and have reached the FA Cup semi-final. Arsenal, despite notable results going against them, are the closest second contender in the Premiership and remain a realistic one. Chelsea, despite a rampant start find themselves in recovery from a dramatic slump. Europe remains the best chance of glory, though if those above them slip up, they still have a slight chance of defending their league title.
Did anybody but the most optimistic of Gunners see Arsenal as strong title contenders this term? I’d have pitched them as nothing more than dark horses, with again consolidating Champions League football as a realistic aim.
Whatever your theories or explanations for the dynamic of this season, Arsenal have done more than expected. It’s become a frustrating cliche for their fans and we’ve all used it mockingly, but it turns out that all the talk about this team “maturing” is showing signs of coming to fruition. Stan Kroenke might finally provide some cash injection that has Arsenal competing for the top names again. In the same way United have had to watch the likes of Real Madrid, Chelsea and more irritatingly, Manchester City splashing sums that they couldn’t, Arsenal have been in that boat to an even greater extent. Indeed, for all that Arsene Wenger has said to irritate us in the past, the guy deserves credit for dealing with his own situation while Rafa Benitez bleated on about financial constraints, while grossly outspending the Frenchman.
Arsenal fans need to thank Wenger. He’s been taken out of the chase for big names by forces outside his control and still built a talented squad. Sure, they need that bit more in terms of mental toughness, but a tight season like this can breed that.
More importantly though, why the hell would you turn on the manager NOW? Winning games in hand puts you within 4 points of the top spot. Keeping that form up and beating United puts you within a point. Respective Chelsea and Arsenal victories a week later puts you top. Whatever reservations you might have, this is the time you should be behind your manager.
And if it ends as I’m holding out for and Arsenal end up second, ask yourself if you’d have taken being a serious title challenger back in August.
…and this comes from a guy who has a vested interest in NOT wanting your team to succeed.