So Arsenal have won the FA Cup. It is the club’s first trophy in 9 years.
Now that it is done and dusted let me tell you that I have been meaning to write something like this for a long time. I guess most Arsenal fans were too. This post is about how much this win means and how it could relate to other clubs around it and their fans.
This post is not against fans of other football teams. I have nothing against them, but most people do not know how it is to support a Football Club for 9 years without any trophy. For me, the most annoying among these people are Chelsea and Manchester United fans. Among them Manchester United is a club I somewhat respect, since the club at least made its fortune through hard work and winning things.
I am pretty sure that they are at this moment coming up with political arguments like the FA Cup is not that important, we had an easy run, blah blah blah. If you make the first argument my response will be that it is still an FA Cup more than what you have won this season. Every time for the past 8 years when we have said ‘We played well’, the stock response has been ‘Come back when you win something’. Well, what goes around, comes around. Also it was not an easy run. We had to dispatch Liverpool and Tottenham in the early rounds.
So, back to 9 years.
Here is a picture of the Emirates Stadium where the trophies that Arsenal won are marked in the stands and since the gap from 2005 is so large that they have shorted it into a single section :
Arsenal’s club website went through a redesign twice in the meantime. Clubs usually put the trophies they won last time in their web site as a banner and an entire redesign never saw that banner. I bet there are Arsenal fans who do not even remember anymore that Arsenal used to do that.
Point is, 9 years is a long time to be a foul-weather fan.
Why else could wining the FA Cup be a big deal ?
Arsene Wenger. Most people whiff at him for being righteous ( as if it is some evil thing to want to do the right thing ) and consider him to be ‘specializing in failure‘. I could list a thousand things about him that I like, but why bother. Please watch the recent interview he gave to Sky Sports.
I consider him dedicated, humble, polite and intelligent. I want to believe that such people do not have to be considered failures or that you have to be disrespectful to succeed. He kept the club in top-flight football even when he engineered a move away from Highbury to the Emirates Stadium.
Oh by the way, Emirates Stadium cost around 470 million pounds. This is less than the net transfer spend by Manchester City in the last five years and many times the net spend of Chelsea in the last five years. Also remember that Arsenal could not expand Highbury like Manchester United did Old Trafford because of real-estate restrictions.
So basically, Arsene Wenger agreed to stay at Arsenal knowing full well he will win less if he did, his hands will be substantially tied, he will be brutally ( verbally ) beaten by his own fans, charges and the media because he wanted to lay the foundation at this club and take it to the 21st century. It is nice to see someone with that much dedication succeed in his endeavors.
In the modern age of football where clubs go through 3 or 4 managers a season, it is remarkable what he and his team has done. But, English football still is getting more and more painful to watch. At least this season has been somewhat more satisfying than many before.
I always look at how other teams perform which could potentially threaten Arsenal’s progress next season. For example, I wanted Manchester City to win the League this season since if Liverpool won, they might win more prize money and cause a revival of revenues next season for them. The petro-dollars are going to keep coming to Chelsea and Manchester City for some time. The important thing is that objectively, revenue wise it is better for Arsenal if :
- Manchester United does not even compete in Europe ( not even Europa League ) next season [ only the top four seems to have earned more than they did this season ]. Next year they are going to perform well, now that they do not have the stress of Europe. Just look at Liverpool this season.
- Nobody win the Champions League.
- Chelsea is without a prize ( hope Abramovich will get tired at some point ).
- Tottenham does not qualify for Champions League.
For many years this has been somewhat of a trend for Arsenal, other teams who could potentially do a lot better do not. I strongly suspect it is only the super-rich clubs ( Chelsea and Manchester City ) who has a genuine chance of keeping Arsenal’s progress at bay for a long time. But at some point these clubs also have to be sustainable businesses too and I cannot see today how they could earn substantially more than Arsenal. Hopefully, Arsenal can ride the storm out.
But for tonight, our hopes and dreams have been given a life-line. Let us believe that this can happen again :