By Ken Nwachukwu
Arsenal was imperious in their match of yesterday. They thumped the Wimbledon FC 3-0 in the 3rd round of Carabao tournament, a sign of rejuvenation?
It is quite a while the fans had the luxury of a tree-peat victory from Arsenal. I have up until now agonised as have most fans Arsenal about the free fall of the once almighty football Club. In the campaign of 2020, Arsenal placed 8 on the league table. Coming 8th means losing out in all international competitions: UEFA Champions league and UEFA Europa league. These external tourneys are the real money spinners.
Participating teams not only leverage from gate takings, but they also receive matching grants from the European football organisers for participation, depending on their level of achievement. It is also true that playing in major championships offers requisite publicity to participating clubs which often translates into major hits in merchandise sales.
The Gunners have long lost their allure and gunpowder strength through several years of bad board decisions. Every enterprising team should be hungry for silverwares. That is what warms the hearts of devotees and keeps the fans coming. To win trophies means investment in quality players and coaches. Serious competitors such as the pair of Manchester clubs- Man City and Man U; Paris Saint Germain in France and Real Madrid in Spain who perceive trophies as an article of faith have been known to spend tons of money to secure the services of top-class players. In the current campaign season, Manchester United doled out £15 million to re-sign Christiano Ronaldo, the talismanic albeit ageing Portuguese football maestro; PSG shelled out a whopping £25 million to sign on Lionel Messi, the 6-time ballon d’or from Barcelona FC.
The lack of ambition for Arsenal has erroneously been placed on the unfortunate coach, Mikel Arteta. But this appears to be misplaced. The right persons to be canned arguably should be the Kroenke family, the American owners of Arsenal. Operating under the aegis of Kroenke Sports and Entertainment, the family has shown as little interest in acquiring big time players as they have been in raking in profits from Arsenal’s resilience on the league despite the fraught operating conditions. This perhaps explains why Arsenal spends more time in acquiring inconsequential or over the heel players at auction prices.
The rot in Arsenal appears to have predated the arrival of Arteta. Even the much-revered Arsène Wenger suffered similar lack of boardroom support until he was practically forced out by the din from disapproving diehard fans of this once all conquering club. Arsenal at the beginning of the 2021 season was caressing the bottom of the league table, having lost 3 matches in a row. This was a far cry from the historic 2003-2004 season when the club did not register any defeat in all domestic competitions: 26 wins, 12 draws and 0 losses.
The fortune of the club seems to be looking up. They have now secured 3 victories in all competitions. However, no one should get ahead of himself. These victories were against second stringers and lower division teams. The test of great teams is in mixing it up and prevailing over bigger teams. It is gratifying to see Arsenal fans smile again. No more lowballing of the team. The fans deserve it, no doubt at all. But victory is still far from certain.
They should not be quick to blame the coach once things start heading south again. In all likelihood, it could. This is because the initial fissures are still present: low quality players and bad management. These challenges could yet surface again to rain on the parade of fans. But for now, let everyone savour these victories. Regardless of whatever happens in future, the fans should know that Arsenal is a living organism. It has a soul of its own. It will eventually trompe any obstacles including that of management. Bravo Gunners.