The Arsenal philosophy

Arsenal’s philosophy and the global impact of Wenger.

In my re-launch for this blog, among other things, I spoke about my feeling burnt-out from writing about Arsenal. It had been four years of writing, analysing, discussing the Arsenal and those sorts of things take your toll on the simple enjoyment you get in watching your team play. It is the sort of simple enjoyment that my love for the game is based on, something that I needed to find again and removing myself from regularly writing seemed the best way to do it.

There was more to it though. Arsenal is a strange club. Like most clubs all over the world, it has a clear understanding and appreciation for its history. But unlike most clubs, it has a strong sense of what it is now, both on and off the pitch, and a clear vision of where it wants to go in the future.

It has a philosophy.

There will be fans that want us to spend to keep up with the big boys but for various reasons, most of them obvious to the rational fan, this is simply not possible. If anything, our refusal to do just that combined with Arsene Wenger’s stubborn desire to mould teams based on a consistent philosophy of possession-based, attacking football intensifies the desire to remain true to this philosophy.

The issue is that as a supporter — and more pertinently, as a supporter who has only seen Arsenal football under Wenger, a group that I believe makes up a large part of the club’s international fan base — this philosophy has changed. Whether it has been obvious to you or not, Wenger’s approach to Arsenal has altered. The desire to play possession-based, attacking football is still there but his youth experiment has failed.

The change in philosophy

You only need to look at the club’s most recent exits (and I don’t need to rattle them off to you). The players he has trusted to fight against the system, players he counted on to buck the ugly trend of disloyalty in the modern game, have deserted him. Whether you agree or sympathise with their reasons for doing so the fact is that Wenger, the idealistic bastard he is, had hoped they would stick around and in the process stick two fingers up at the rest of the football world by winning the biggest prizes on offer.

They got close but they missed out, gave up and bailed. End of.

What is important is that Wenger has accepted it. He is not some mad fool who is still fighting the same fight. This summer’s signings show that clearly. Last summer’s signings showed it too. Robin van Persie’s exit has burned him badly and his reaction to Alex Song’s ridiculous itching over a new contract — cutting him away with little more than a moment’s thought — displayed a newfound pair of concrete balls. If Theo Walcott and his agent thinks he’s going to get a new deal worth more than 75K, they’re in for a nasty surprise.

His idealistic approach to loyalty is gone and it is likely that the club is all the better for it.

Last season while writing about Arsenal I could feel the shift in the manager’s approach and the impact on his philosophy. It was unsettling in the sense that everything I had previous written about was penned with the perspective of reaching a peak from Wenger’s previous, youth-based philosophy. Yet it became clearer to me that this was no longer the direction he was taking with this team and rather than drawing conclusions, I felt a natural pull away from sharing my scrambled thoughts. In short, I didn’t know what the hell I wanted to say and silence was golden.

Arsenal on a global level

This is a vital time for the club because its philosophy is being questioned on a global level. The ability of this club to ride out what I would label The Infinite Years of football in England — where the virtually infinite money of clubs like Manchester City and Chelsea have created a marketplace with no rules, boundaries or logic — depends on it retaining its idealistic philosphy in places like Asia, Africa, Australia and the US.

The supporters in these regions — and of course, I am one of them — have grown up in the time where football has gone truly global. To my recollection, 20 years ago it was not possible to get English football shown in Australia, for example. Between now and then I have seen the coverage of the Premier League grow from one match a weekend on free-to-air to blanket coverage of every single game on Foxtel. During the formative years of this process — during the mid-to-late 90s — the games were limited in nature, weighted heavily towards the two most successful teams at the time; Arsenal and Manchester United.

As teenagers and young kids these were the teams we could relate to the most, giving us enough narrative to build up villains and heroes and a story worth tuning in to. Sure, we might catch a Spurs or Aston Villa game here or there and sympathise with them or see a wonder-goal in a Sheffield Wednesday match, but there wasn’t the same continuity that came with following these teams. It became easier to love Arsenal and Manchester United because they were more familiar, offering character development like any good TV show.

While Manchester United — like Liverpool before them in the 80s — grew their fanbase primarily through success, Arsenal’s reputation and standing on the global level was tied in with their philosophy. Success was important, of course, but the crucial element was Arsene Wenger and his idealistic approach to the game. If you don’t agree simply ask a Malaysian or Nigerian supporter and you’ll see what I mean.

A sense of detachment

The truth is that this club under Arsene Wenger is at a crossroads. The shift at the club in the first-team level has happened and it is a challenge as a supporter to accept it. Even if it is ultimately for the better the reality is that the current landscape of football, as I’ve already mentioned, puts us and in particular, Wenger, in an impossible position. We are highly unlikely to win anything this season, next season or even in the foreseeable future yet most of us still hold hopes that it will happen.

On a personal level I feel like the last three seasons have slapped the naivety right out of me. I bought a shirt with Adebayor on the back, expecting him to repay the manager’s faith in plucking him from relative obscurity by becoming a vital part of Wenger’s successful project. He left and I felt gutted. Thierry bailed. Kolo Toure left. I felt stunned by Hleb leaving, by Flamini refusing to sign a contract and Fabregas going home.

Some of them hurt more than others but when Nasri left last season, something changed. It became clear to me that loyalty really wasn’t prevalent in the modern game and as such, attachment to certain individuals became dangerous. It made me feel stupid.

So I detached. But when you feel detached from the players who make up a team how can you truly support a team? Football is a passionate game for everybody involved but the moment you cannot truly get behind the players as a fan it becomes deflating. To take that further; how can you write about people that you no longer really respect or care about, even if it is in a tactical or technical sense? This blog is about the love of Arsenal but when you’re not feeling the love, what’s the point of it all?

When Robin van Persie released his statement earlier in the summer intending to leave the club I realised that things had changed for me. My detachment had changed my feelings. I simply did not care. I thought: if you want to leave this club and go play somewhere else, then so be it. When Song started itching for Barcelona I thought the same thing. Fine. Go. Now Theo Walcott wants to leave? I really don’t care. There was little anger, more a quiet acceptance that yes, the football world is not perfect but no, I wasn’t going to let it take away from my simple enjoyment of the game.

A team for life

It seems to me that Wenger has thought long and hard about his philosophy and in his own small way, which just so happens to be about as universal as you can imagine, he wants to show us that the world can be yours if you navigative life with intelligence, creativity and a desire to be innovative. Other teams have done it in the past — think Ajax in the 70s, Milan in the 90s and the Hungarians in the 50s — but Arsenal were the team I saw who offered this truly innovative approach, in a time while my love of the game blossomed from confused interest to full-blown passion.

As long as this philosophy remains I will care about Arsenal and as long as I care about Arsenal I will continue writing this blog. Whether that alienates me from some local fans I don’t know but I cannot fake a story that is not mine; about being born near Highbury or having a great-grandfather who handed me down a vintage Arsenal scarf.

The truth is I’m in far too deep now to stop supporting Arsenal. They will be my team for life. I am not foolish enough to believe they will keep telling the story over the rest of my lifetime the way I want it to be told, with the Wenger philosophy at the forefront of all of our successes. But that will not keep me from hoping.

Would you like to get all of the latest Gunner’s football scores as they happen? Make sure the online football scores service you choose is at http://www.footballscores.com! Why not check out the Arsenal FC superblogger on the site too!

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47 Responses to “The Arsenal philosophy”

  1. the gunners
    August 29, 2012 at 9:45 pm #

    Andrew
    thank you for writing what i really enjoy and feel.i think most supporters all over the world share your view.please keep on writing more frequently ok.

    i love arsenal coz i can feel both extremes,happiness and frustration,with a real passion while supporting arsenal.Good luck for our team!!!
    Arsene knows!!!

  2. Adam Hopper
    August 29, 2012 at 9:49 pm #

    A very well thought out article and a good read.
    I find myself agreeing with the points about no longer loving the players as I once did, for me something has changed and it has changed for the worse in that respect of football.
    I remember Vieira leaving in 2005, while 17, it nearly brought me to tears. Then devastation when Henry left.
    But for me since the Adebayor departure for purely monetary reasons, this has been a steep decline in my ‘appreciation’ of players. I see appreciation because I no longer ‘love’ such players.
    Example, when I watch back Arsenal DVD’s or the Premier League Years, and see those Legends playing those games, I get goosebumps, brings back fond memories.
    Now i feel nothing with regards to devastation for those leaving the club, not even RvP, it feels more like anger and then it quickly burns away as I understand this is what the game is, and it is heading for a fall.
    What happens when the clubs can no longer afford to pay these players with massive wages.

  3. vernat1066
    August 29, 2012 at 9:51 pm #

    Excellent Article, thank you for the time and effort you have put in to write it. I think the thing that strikes me about Arsene is that he is not merely trying to build a team but is rather trying to grow a club which makes him one of a very few who have this depth and breadth of vision.

  4. Fl.Nielsen.
    August 29, 2012 at 10:06 pm #

    I totally agree your opinion.Keep going – Afc forever, Flemming, Amager

  5. Fariz Izwan
    August 29, 2012 at 10:10 pm #

    A good piece of article. Whatever happen, the love for our Mighty Gunner will never fade away. Keep blogging mate.

    Regards,

    Malaysian Gooner.

  6. Mark Thompson
    August 29, 2012 at 10:33 pm #

    Super piece, Andy. You’ve captured a feeling so perfectly that I have nothing to add other than my appreciation of what you have written.

    Thanks.

  7. Aaron Gordon
    August 29, 2012 at 10:53 pm #

    Bravo, Andy. This is beautiful, honest, and gets at why we throw ourselves at this tremendous game the way we do. It’s a big question, one that can’t be answered in 1 post. Or 100.

    It’s easy to get caught up in the players as more than footballers, but that’s all they are. But to an extent that’s the beauty of it all, that such simplicity could bring us such happiness (and misery, and lament, and, well, all the emotions). There is little else in life where watching someone do 1 thing so exceptionally well can bring our whole worlds to a standstill. To me, the game is not about loving a man, but loving the game. Wenger tries to play his own games with his philosophy, but love what happens on the pitch, even the bad things, because even the bad things are beautiful in their simplicity.

    Note: these words will offer no consolation whatsoever if you read them after a loss.

  8. Retsub
    August 29, 2012 at 10:54 pm #

    Suprerb article Andy enjoyed reading it. I share your sentiments. Year after year Arsenal players have had an adverse effect on my summer holidays, will he go? Will he stay? I think Viera was the worst.

    But no more . No player is bigger than the club. Will still believe that the likes of Wilshere will repay our faith but we will see

  9. Agga
    August 29, 2012 at 11:07 pm #

    Amazing piece mate

  10. Andrew Weber
    August 29, 2012 at 11:09 pm #

    Thanks all for the feedback. Felt good to write something with a bit of depth and feeling. I don’t think it’s close to being a great piece, but the way it came out suggests an insight into the confusion I felt blogging last season. Very disjointed, strangely emotional yet a little bit detached.

    @ Aaron — Loving the game is the most important thing. I almost finished this piece writing that my love of the game will always outweigh my love of Arsenal, but I thought it a little inappropriate for this audience. But the truth is that if Arsenal dropped all their principles and went down a darker path it would be difficult to follow them. That is what separates an international fan from a local, in my opinion, and what separates a fan who has grown supporting Arsenal based on philosophy rather than location. In some ways it’s a more intense love because it’s connected to personality rather than geography, but many people could view it as being plastic or short-sighted. Thoughts?

  11. Robin
    August 30, 2012 at 1:27 am #

    Andrew, this piece came from the inner crevices of your heart mate. I feel your pain.

    Sometimes, I wonder how clubs like Barcelona have managed their youth system. You don’t really see them going on a spending spree for players. They buy one or two at a time, and it’s easier for the team to gel. We say Wenger’s project youth has failed but can we find the reason for it’s failure? Is it due to just lack of trophies or the general decadence of young footballers today?

    I write about Arsenal too and at one point I had to ask myself why English football had stopped breeding loyalists like Tony Adams, Steven Gerard, Theirry Henry and Alan Shearer.

    Look at players like Nedved, Buffon, Inzaghi… What happened? Maybe there’s no longer any strength of character; everyone follows the paper trail, everyone wants to buy the pink Bentley and the diamond studs that can feed half of the hungry children in Somalia for a year…I don’t know any more.

    It’s impossible to stay disconnected from players and the manager. You’ve got to love something, someone. It’s like closing up your heart to love because you’ve been hurt too many times. It’s the normal human reaction, an emotional defensive to save us from more pain. But then again Andrew, we’ll just be missing out on what could have been, living empty.

    It’s impossible to love the cub without loving some players, at least I think so.

  12. Dimby Radads
    August 30, 2012 at 2:40 am #

    Hi Andy,

    a very emotional post this time!!! Must remember that Fans that are angry and left Arsenal are those who really loved and being attached emotionally to the club like you are. Ive been supporting this club since `1998 Andi, when AW was one of the first french manager in the PL. Being educated in french and having the whole family living in France for 12 long years, I automatically fell in love with Arsenal where I saw French players shinning in League 1 and being brought into a different league to prove themselves. But I felt betrayed by the club ad AW. This philosophy Andi is a Strategy, its very genuis if you look at it as a Business Man but you cant expect emotional Loyalty from players to support the club’s strategy for its growth. Both You and I have seen how much these guys have offered to Arsenal despite of what the Club has offered to them as opportunity. And after some few calculations, I ended up with a results that sees players being abused by the Club. You are right, there has been a shift when he bought Podolski and Giroud upfront
    First: Shifting from youth policy to averagely aged players now: see players average age).
    Secondly shifting from expecting the players to stick with him no matter what!!!! I felt the exit of Song being accompanied with “good riddance” becos, AW has come to the point where he also didnt care anymore.

    But I think that its stupid from AW expect these guys to stick ard when he waits to loose 8-2 to Manu before adding players to the squad. DONT YOU STILL THINK THAT AW’S STUBBORNESS IS A BIT TOO MUCH. Fans with emotional attachment to the club cannot hold on to this anymore and I can tell you, IF I WAS A SHAREHOLDER, I WOULD KISS WENGER TO HIS ASS, IF I WAS A SUPPORTER, I WOULD FEEL SAD AND FEEL BETRAYED.

    The way it is now Andy is no MOre “Only Shareholder” but its all about Stakeholder. Thats the way it is now Andy!! And I feel betrayed as acStakeholder.

  13. 1NiltoTheArsenal
    August 30, 2012 at 3:20 am #

    Well done. Good on you. The sense of disillusion with the modern game I think is something that we all feel to some degree and it doesn’t matter what sport.

    As a Canadian and growing up a visible minority in small towns out east I took to (ice) hockey more out a sense of survival than anything else. To just fit in. Necessity bred love in my case and I fell for the sport in a huge way, and played until I stopped growing and everybody else didn’t. Size is hugely important in hockey.

    As a kid growing up it was so much different than the revolving doors that typify the NHL and other leagues today. Year after year, teams didn’t change all that much. Guys came in as rookies and retired with the same number, same uniform, same team.

    I abandoned hockey many years ago because league expansion and the constant change in personnel left me completely disinterested. (Not to mention the fact that the Toronto Maple Leafs have done nothing but suck big time for decades).

    I became a Gooner when the season Emirates opened. My company was on the Emirates Stadium construction project. While on the project I came to a bit of about the team, its history, the EPL, etc. My admiration for the team and sport was growing, but it was remote and academic. At the end of our time in North London a few of us got tickets to the Bergkamp testimonial match. It wasn’t a real game, but then and there I fell in love with The Beautiful Game. The atmosphere, the excitement, the love for Bergkamp, it was the single most special sporting event I’ve seen, and I’m lucky – I’ve seen a few.

    That’s the feeling I remember. That’s the feeling thats fed my passion for the club and that’s the feeling that will never disappear.

    From Canada to Australia and all points in between, this club will always have the best supporters.

  14. Rick
    August 30, 2012 at 3:46 am #

    Lovely article. My sentiments exactly. I realize that it’s a bit of a different perspective for those of us without any local ties to the club, but for me I’d much prefer a club that conducts itself with some amount of style and integrity (with quite a lot of success as a bonus) to one that conquers the world without them.

  15. tytee
    August 30, 2012 at 6:54 am #

    Fantastic piece mate !

    Don’t lose hope with the player loyalty though. There still are a few that are loyal.
    My gut tells me Woijech, Sagna, Wilshere – these guys are genuine/loyal to the club.

    One point I want to raise – I’ve noticed our fans are very quiet when the game’s locked in a 0 – 0. That seriously needs to change. The atmosphere needs to be more ruthless against the opposition. The fans need to sing their hearts out. They need to create that pressure on the opposition. They need to act like the 12th man.

    The added benefit is that it gives a boost to our players.

  16. voley_gun
    August 30, 2012 at 7:04 am #

    Andy ,
    I don’t see this as another post from you. This is something straight from your heart and the way you feel and every word contains truth in it.

    It may look like that we are attracted by the philosophy of one of the football genius none other than our professor.But on the long run this guy and his philosophy is a catalyst for attaching us with the club.

    Even someday arsenal’s philosophy may change, arsenal may play like Chelsea and at that time Chelsea may play like barca.But i am sure we will be discussing that Chelsea are not like Arsenal days of Wenger.
    And as you said everyone will still be hoping ,that Arsenal will once again find it’s way back to the glory days of wenger’s philosophy even if we were winning silverware at that time. Because Arsenal is etched to us and when we whine,jump in joy,complain or hope, it means we care and i am sure no-one in this blog can stop that even if they decide to follow some other team.

    Everything will change , the players attached to Arsenal, Coach attached to arsenal , philosophy of arsenal and even sometimes fans ,but the emotional attachment to Arsenal will not change.The worst will be even following another team you will complain a lot about Arsenal and start stories on how arsenal once was.

    As you said
    “The truth is I’m in far too deep now to stop supporting Arsenal”

  17. Aaron Gordon
    August 30, 2012 at 7:41 am #

    @Andy, I’m sympathetic to your argument. I first became drawn to Arsenal because I spent a semester living a few blocks from The Emirates, but then returned to the US and my love only grew stronger the more I learned. The philosophical connection to Wenger (we both approach the game with an economic thinking, both on the pitch and off) is stronger than my geographical connection. I feel Wenger’s pain when people ridicule or undermine the importance of economics. I also feel his pain when it doesn’t work the way he hopes. I admire his intellectual flexibility, as you so eloquently portrayed.

    But, there will come a day when Wenger leaves. I will still love Arsenal regardless of their new philosophy (if they adopt one) because my intellectual roots in supporting Arsenal are now so deep. Just like how the geographic location reminds me of a tremendous time of my life, so too the philosophical connection. Even if Kroenke starts pouring billions into player acquisition, I will still love the club because of what drew me to it, even if that thing is no longer there. So to some extent, I see a great similarity in geographical roots and philosophical roots.

  18. Andrew Weber
    August 30, 2012 at 8:11 am #

    Sorry to a couple of people that left really passionate comments but used ‘textspeak’. I had to remove them to keep the conversation rolling. Sincere apologies but I really want to stress the importance of writing well in the comments, to keep generating conversation and raising the level of conversation.

  19. Andrew Weber
    August 30, 2012 at 8:12 am #

    @ Robin – “It’s impossible to stay disconnected” — too true.

  20. 1NiltoTheArsenal
    August 30, 2012 at 8:47 am #

    @Aaron 7:41
    Excellent point. Us relative Newbies consider Wenger and Arsenal almost as one and the same. It’s probably true of Man Utd fans with SAF. But as you say, that day will come when they are no more. What of Arsenal then is unthinkable but inevitable.

    I like to think of Wenger as similar to Warren Buffet is some ways. Sure Wenger plays “moneyball” to a degree, but like Buffet, he’s a “deep” investor.

    Buffet doesn’t trade in stocks, the purely quantitative buying and selling of stocks based on trends, algorithms, formulas, regression analysis, etc. Rather Buffet invests real money in real companies. Ones which he understands. Companies that actually make things.

    I like to think Wenger is like that. He invests in players rather than the statistical investing of talent for short term gain. It’s a philosophy that as Andrew has pointed out, may be now be an anachronism and untenable in 21st century world football. Maybe that’s why I love it. More than anything, I UNDERSTAND this style, this philosophy more than I could ever understand or appreciate moneyball.

  21. Amit
    August 30, 2012 at 9:11 am #

    Hey Andy

    This was a beautifull blog(Master piece) I agree with everything you said in this blog.

    One life One club Arsenal is my club i feel you pain and emotions and share the same.

    I have followed Arsenal since i was a kid and during my darkest days and good ones Arsenal is the only thing which has remained constant in my life.I will never Abandon my club.

    I have supported Arsenal for the sheer joy Class and Integrity this club has bought to the sport.I dont have local connections to the club but i still feel a strong attachement which will never die.

    I still hope Arsenal will win Something with their Philosophy and principles rather than buying trophies like Man city or Chelsea.When we do win however long it may be that would be a true victory once acheived with “Class” i will wait forever for this to happen the day it happens would be one of the great moment in my life.Untill then and forever i will support “Arsenal”

  22. Aaron Gordon
    August 30, 2012 at 9:15 am #

    @1NiltoTheArsenal
    That seems like a fair comparison. No manager can be completely detached from his players, regardless of how he perceives them. Also, your point about understanding the style is well-taken. We love the things in life the most which we understand.

  23. brook_63
    August 30, 2012 at 9:34 am #

    Well written piece, but it is a bit more complicated than just a “failed youth policy.”
    Economics, my dear lad has ruined the game, or at the very least seriously hurt “our club.”

    Without a salary cap on players internationally or a luxery tax, all SuperOwners will always poach the talent that Arsene and Co. have nurtured.

    One only has to look at the NFL, NBA or NHL to see how parity is brought about by financial means.

    If European leagues all played under “real fair play rules” than you would truly see how AMAZING and BRILLIANT Arsene truly is.

    just my one lousy cent.

  24. Andrew Weber
    August 30, 2012 at 9:51 am #

    @ brook_63 — Right you are. I think that’s addressed a little bit in the piece though. My opinion is that Wenger saw the impending doom regarding the finances, came up with a system he thought could match it on the pitch if not off it, based on player loyalty and the team/system being greater than the individual. It didn’t QUITE come off and now the system has been switched. Interesting to see how things pan out though.

    Thanks for your comment.

  25. amanda
    August 30, 2012 at 10:08 am #

    Andrew, lovely article as usual. Although I feel I can’t possibly detach. You know as well as I do how much I’ve relied on the players to draw me into this world, the Arsenal world, and despite the heartbreak (I’m looking at you beardy Cesc, baby Nasri and horse-VP) I wouldn’t have it any other way. Maybe I’m showing my naivety as a supporter by saying this, but for me it feels bitter sweet. Bitter because I hate them for leaving me, but sweet because I can’t believe I would actually care about some footballer or club so much.

    So, I am looking forward to getting to know Podolski and Giroud in particular, sadly turning a page one RVP and Song, continuing my relationship with Wojciech and Vermaelen, welcoming back Wilshere and Rosicky from injury, and stillllll, yes still, wishing Nicky B would come on home (maybe now we have room for him on the right wing, eh eh?)

  26. shambo
    August 30, 2012 at 10:10 am #

    Great, Emotive and thought prevoking piece Andy..
    Would love to haveca proper conversation with you one day and really delve into things”

  27. shambo
    August 30, 2012 at 11:13 am #

    continued…..
    Its so easy for things to get muddled or lost in translation when writing although I love the blog.
    Briefly though..for me, a philosophy or ideologys relevance or ability to resonate often is dependant on whether it can move with time or evolve, it cannot remain steadfast on old principles solely under the premise that these principles were or are the best or only way, less you become self righteous or biased and your philosophy loses its credibility.
    For me the philosophy, on the surface works. Whether the right people to implement it are around the manager I have my doubts.
    Hillwoods attitude angers me to the point of not even reading any quotes attributed to him any longer.
    Gazidis’s mouth writes cheques his body cant cash.
    Our manager has revolutionised our club and deserves to be paid on a par with his peers, he is second highest behind Mourinho, yet he does not believe a player should be paid so…City and Chelsea aside, maybe if Squillachi, Chamakh, Bentdner and Diaby all wernt being paid 50,000 on their first contracts, having varying questionable contributions levels, then our big players who are performing week in week out wouldnt be looking for the obscene amounts they are, or on the other side how about getting these guys off our wage bill and rewarding the RvPs and Songs?
    The stark reality, hiding behind a philosophy or not, is that we have managed to sell our best assets every year since we relocated to a stadium we were told we were moving to so we wouldnt have to sell our best…especially not to rivals.
    I understand the sentiment in the piece completely, I just dont feel the men in charge are being as loyal to the philosophy as you are being to them and as I watched Van Percy sweep home a strike honed and perfected at Colney and wheel away in celebration like he used to at the Emirates I wondered if I would live to see a player a little bit better than a clapped out Mikael Sylvestre make the journey in the opposite direction.
    When the answer to that was “no” I then asked myself was being told we have the moral high ground enough for me and I also said “no!”. I want more for myself, for my team. I want to see progress, not necessarily success but a conscious effort to move forward, not an annual merry-go-round of false dawns, and quite obviously so too do players on the inside of this philosophy as it is now.
    Thousands of Philosophys have been lost to the world because they could not evolve…will ours be another in twenty or fifty years.
    Utd and Liverpool are millions in debt, we are loath to go down their route…yet which club is selling its best assets each year? The Company with the crippling debt is buying the best wares from the sound self sustainable company.
    The sad part/ beauty of it is that we are not shareholders or board members. We are fans, and as fans we look to those whos judgement we trust, and we trust unconditionally. So when the manager says he had no choice but to sell, even though he knew the contract was nearing its last 12 months for two years, or that there wasnt enough time in two months to conclude deals, or that a previously proven substandard/ injury prone player will be ‘like a new signing’ then we say..’ok, obviously the man knows more than me’ and you say you’ll judge him in May.
    Peter Hillwood has judged him and sees fit to reward him better contract than he would a player, because a player cant line his and his cronies pockets, but a co-operative manager can. And IS.

  28. shambo
    August 30, 2012 at 11:14 am #

    Briefly I said…ha!
    Apologies.

  29. Great White North
    August 30, 2012 at 12:01 pm #

    No worries Andrew

    I became a fan of Arsenal after watching the loss to Ipsich Town in the FA Cup Final in 1978. Charlie George and Pat Price and what not. But here is the thing. Since Arsen Wenger took over I have watched football played by this club that has blown my mind! Everyone relax and watch the tradition continue!

    Cheers everyone!

  30. Howard
    August 30, 2012 at 12:45 pm #

    Andrew, I agree. Modern day footballers have no loyalty whatsoever. And as much as we all get caught up in transfer gossip and our insatiable desire for “a new signing,” the players at the club don’t matter (unless of course we sign Titus Bramble), it’s the shirt they play for that matters to us. No one or two or three players are EVER bigger than Arsenal. And while our support may be tested, I’ve never found myself disenchanted with The Arsenal. Poor results, poor form and top players leaving happens to all clubs. Arsenal just happen to be experiencing theirs at present. It’s a time we’ll push through and a time the club will push through too. Despite the cynicism and opinions of football “analysts” that we’re a club in crisis, to me, I label this, “white people problems.” We’re no Rangers or Portsmouth. We’ve simply not gotten the results on the pitch that we would have liked in recent years. As a supporter from abroad myself, I find it offensive that you would question your support for Arsenal. Arsenal will always be Arsenal. No matter the manager. We were not the same Arsenal under George Graham that we are today under Wenger, but we’re still THE Arsenal.

  31. Rohit
    August 30, 2012 at 3:02 pm #

    Nice article……really felt good after reading this…. :D

  32. voley_gun
    August 30, 2012 at 7:26 pm #

    From your words

    “he wants to show us that the world can be yours if you navigative life with intelligence, creativity and a desire to be innovative”

    He also showed that you have to leave with the one’s you trusted , and have to show the trust to those who come new and also you have to change the philosophy when needed.

    I still don’t accept youth experiment is a failure.It had success at its level but couldn’t reach the top,missing probably by one or two places.Who knows professor may try again after clinching a title to keep things calm .

    Why not learn from the professor to have our own philosophy to support arsenal?. Let it be our own Arsenal Philosophy unique for every individual soul.

  33. billi
    August 30, 2012 at 9:34 pm #

    Love it, reminds me a bit to : the first cut is the deepest :) :wink: the relationship between the team, representing a club, and fan really is strange, including the players, the bvb really is a great team at the moment, love their football, can’t support them though, it’s strange, I sympathize with the Arsenal, my connections are Rosicky and Wenger I think and you and I’ts fucking excellent, I think I had no regrets with players leaving, I’m a bit older, the actors are changing the stage stays

  34. iggypup
    August 30, 2012 at 10:04 pm #

    beautiful, well written artical. and like you, i don’t need a north london address to validate my support of the gunners. thats not to say it wouldn’t be nice, or to have season tickets…or one ticket…or just to have walked around the stadium in the off season…but i’m off track here….i am an arsenal supporter and proud of it.

  35. 1NiltoTheArsenal
    August 30, 2012 at 11:26 pm #

    For one of the top posts on any Arsenal blog today:

    http://www.aclfarsenal.co.uk/arsenal/centre-of-attention-but-will-he-be-centre-forward-the-theo-dilemma/

    Read ArsenalAndrew August 30 @ 12:14

  36. Asad Saeed - Gooner for life
    August 31, 2012 at 7:12 am #

    Fantastic article! It’s like I just saw the me from when i first started supporting arsenal all the way in pakistan in ’96! :)

    Thank You.

  37. kel
    August 31, 2012 at 11:08 am #

    @ weber very nice piece and very thought provoking as well.
    I will never support noother club in my life BUT ARSENAL I love this club with all my heart.

    BUT am afraid weber, that the board AND the manager’s only interest is MONEY this season proves that beyond a doubt.

    And what hurts me the most is that we continue to do the samething over and over again, Take diaby for instance if he has a good season there is a big chance he might leave or refuse to renew his contract.
    I know players love money BUT they also want to win AND arsenal does not pay big wages and cannot win anything, how could you expect these players to stay, its common sense.

    Many here boast that wenger is So intelligent and am sure that moving to this stadium and investing in youth was well thought out BUT how could you not factor in the players not buying in to this. YES arsenal have made million BUT we have for 7 years sacrifice football and winning for ideals and worst of all money.
    wenger and board speaks and boast prudence BUT on closer investigation
    its the total opposite: wengers wages, and the general wage bill of the club is not in compliance with what the club promotes.

    A strong philsophy will always as said by shambo be done with a view to improve or reconstitute, has Arsenal’s?? has it improved?!?!?!?!
    You can’t achieve this by constantly selling your best players ever year all for money to balance the books and line the pockets of some people, very soon the club will lose it self.

    Look at robin (vanpersie) wenger and the board and some fans keep saying we had no choice, BULLOCKS!!!!!
    yes we had a choice we could have offered him to juventus at a cut price, BUT as usual money is the main factor for us so no matter who the highest bidder is we would have sold him to them and start over, plain and simple.
    I know we made some good buys Cazorla is good and lets face it if you have a team and it has no spanish influence in it your doomed the spanish players are a cut above everyone else at the moment.
    Podolski am not too sure about i thought if robin had stayed then he may have had a better impact BUT by himself, he floped once at a big club when that was harder to do, arsenal is no different.
    Giroud is an unknown quantity to me so no judgment.
    In short we bought 3 players and sold 2 big once that pretty much evens it out for me so where back where we started.

    The fans keep hoping for the best BUT am afraid MONEY is the order of the day for Arsenal and nothing else.

    I also expect walcott to go next summer because he wants more money and trophies and Arsenal can’t offer neither……

  38. Inas
    August 31, 2012 at 8:58 pm #

    Totally agree with you Andy. Recently, a friend asked me,”how do you feel about RVP and Song leaving Arsenal?”.And I answered, “You really want to know??I don’t care because I support the team not the player.” And I felt really proud saying that. Will keep supporting the team!!!!

    Malaysia Gunners Supporter….

  39. Terry
    September 1, 2012 at 3:49 pm #

    Some days being a gooner feels like having an incurable terminal illness, but on the bad days it can be even worse!

    Now on to more pressing matters: transfer window has closed. We could not flog off our dead wood but having Arshavin stay must feel like anew signing right?! And up next the ‘pool who looked good against $ity but garbage against Hearts. How I wished that game had gone to extra time.

  40. Bevan
    September 1, 2012 at 6:43 pm #

    Yeah ok but ….people want to, need to, identify with their favourite players as a key part of the supportors ethos. It’s always been that way. No amount of ‘disconnect’ is going to erase that. I just don’t think loving the club and being disinterested about the players is a viable attitude, however necessary we may feel it right now as a personal protection mechanism from the hurt we all feel when players we love, yes, I’d call it love – someone may as well say it! I’m more pissed off than I can begin to say about the way the game is just about players chasing bucks. But don’t stop supporting the players as well as the team – however much you feel betrayed when they bail. That’s just the way it is. Deal with it.

  41. zulu gooner
    September 1, 2012 at 8:08 pm #

    fantastic summary of what true arsenal supporters feel. keep up the good work. I felt a strange sense of calm and satisfaction after reading this – you expressed in writing what a lot of us feel but couldn`t put so clearly and objectively. go arsenal

  42. Rooiseun
    September 1, 2012 at 10:23 pm #

    So here we are. We replaced instead of strengthening. It’s becoming depressing watching Wenger and the board do the same thing every year. I think its official now: we play for top 4!!!!

    I would really love to know why did we moved from highbury in the first place……because we definitely not competing.

    We sold RVP because he was on his last year and was not willing to commit but we still have Theo.
    I wonder how many of us are still angry at Song & RVP

  43. BrisVegas Gooner
    September 2, 2012 at 12:51 am #

    Awesome posts Andy! You got SWAG (apparently, its a compliment) Really felt that it came from the heart! Me likey! Except for the part that the “Arsenal Philosophy” has failed. Its still happening. It is probably the reason why the manager did not sign anymore players at the deadline. If someone gets injured which is going to happen, we are the Arsenal after all, the manager can use the Under 21 players. After watching the highlights of that next gen game, I am quite curious how good Gnarby and Akpom really are.

    Despite what the doom sayers say, what I’ve learned from the last couple of years is people will always doubt us but Arsenal always “over achieve”

    And one of my pet hates are “Arsenal fans” who always blame Wenger. That he only takes the money along with the board. Have you seen how upset he gets when the opponents score?? the abuse that water bottle gets? or how he is being called a sore loser coz he cant accept defeat? Its coz he loves the club. He could have left for Madrid (I read some rumours before) or some National Team. Im sure Russia or Qatar will pay massive amounts to make him coach but he stayed. He will finish what he started. He will leave the club in good financial standing and keep us in the running for trophies year in and year out. Leave the man alone.

    Wenger is a true gunner and will have a statue in the emirates when he is all done.

  44. GunnerBoss
    September 2, 2012 at 1:37 am #

    Is this particular review linked to my cousin somehow? Is it Andy? Did my emotional/passionate post trigger this? Certainly seems like it. Anyways, makes for very nice reading as usual. Andy, I doff my hats to you once again. It is unbelievable the perspective to which you see things to be able to write this beautifully, despite all the negativity. Thank you

    Well, here’s hoping Walcott starts as centre forward against Liverpool. My wish has finally come thru in this area. He and Arshavin are hopeless on the wings with the way we play. Arshavin just captained Russia magnificently during the Euro’s, it is amazing we do not see what he have. Why not play him in front of Arteta and alongside Cazorla in the midfield? The rest of the squad will sort itself out naturally……..

    My ONLY problem right now in the squad is that the only people who can boast to be near Cazorla’s footballing level(Arshavin, Rosicky, Wilshere and Arteta only) are NEVER going to be played in midfield by our coach anytime soon. Let him surprise me so we pick up maximum points against the reds tomorrow.

  45. GunnerBoss
    September 2, 2012 at 1:45 am #

    By midfield, I meant attacking midfield. Coquelin is my pick for defensive midfield and not Arteta. But, I would not mind Arteta playing there so that Arshavin, Rosicky or Wilshere could help Cazorla with strike support.

    I rate Wilshere cos he has played for us at the highest level against Barca at home, when we won. But, can we remember the midfield that brought about the Arshavin goal? It was Fabregas as defensive midfield(What a waste of talent), Nasri and Arshavin. This was why we held and won the almighty barca against all odds. Walcott scores good counter attacking goals, we should definitely try him up-front this season.

  46. Alankar Ranade
    September 3, 2012 at 10:20 pm #

    Andy, you echoed my thoughts over the last few months. I am one of those Arsenal fans you talk about who have seen the team only under Wenger. Although I was with the people who urged spending, a little voice inside me kept saying, “Arsene knows.”. So I still keep the faith. This is a very different side from 3 seasons ago and you’re very right in pointing out that the style of play has changed a lot.

    And I felt exactly how you wrote about the Fabregas, Nasri and RvP transfers. I’ve stopped caring after RvP. Last summer I was also at the crossroads with my love for Arsenal. But I found out quickly that I’m sold for life. I can’t support any other team ever. Which makes it a difficult situation for me. If Arsenal gives up its “philosophy”, I wouldn’t know what to do. I’d probably give up watching football. Wenger won’t be manager for ever. And future after that is uncertain. So I’m trying to enjoy it till it lasts.

    Hala Arsenal!

  47. Cufflinks Warehouse
    September 17, 2012 at 4:24 am #

    Comparing Wenger to Ferguson is as futile as comparing apples and oranges.

    A better comparison would be Wenger and Moyes (Everton)

    Both working on strict budgets, both have teams nearby to dilute the fan base. Both held the Manager role through thick and thin, even when the ‘press’, not the fans, are clambering for their head.

    The final validation / criticism of Wenger’s reign at Arsenal Football Club will be when the facts are finally made public on whether there is a huge transfer budget at Arsenal, that Wenger chooses not to use – or he is working with the budget available.

    However, I have a sneaky suspicion that Arsenal are going to go all the way in the Champions League this year. Best player leaving them, crisis at Arsenal, Wenger to go – all written for an unfashionable club to complete the story and win the whole thing.

    Then, regardless of budgets, league titles or players contacts – Wenger’s reign at Arsenal is truly validated.

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