Arsenal

Arsenal Football Club and the Myth of the Trophy-Less Years

Arsenal's Long-suffering fans.
Arsenal's Long-suffering fans.Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
H AndelAnalyst IIIFebruary 21, 2012

Arsenal have gone six years without a trophy. This is common knowledge and, what's more, they are poised for another such year. So to declare this fact a myth is not to deny its reality.

It is a myth precisely because it is a narrative the media has created about the club; a frame through which the club can be quickly parsed and qualified. Plus, it is a ready cliche for the lazy journalist.

It is a myth because the meaning or the implication of the term has little bearing with the fact of the situation.

As used by the media—and as unfortunately accepted by some Arsenal fans—trophy-less years are synonymous to years of failure. But that clearly is cynical and false.

Yes, the club has not won the league title in six years and is unlikely to do so this year. And yes, it hasn't won the FA cup in those years or the League cup. All this is true. But to say this is synonymous with failure is to be unfair.

Consider this.

To say Arsenal haven't won anything in six years is to say Arsenal haven't bought anything in seven years. For isn't it common knowledge that trophies (insofar as club football is concerned) are rarely won, but rather are essentially bought?

The above generalization is a bold principle that can bear close scrutiny. Only few exceptions exist—Wolfburg in 2009, Borussia Dortmund in 2011, Olympique Lyonnais through shrewdness until recently.

The big question to ask is why Arsenal didn't buy themselves a trophy? In the words of Bob Dylan, the answer is blowin' in the air, but for those who have bought into the myth, no rational consideration of the situation suffices; all is an excuse.

Arsene Wenger, by popular opinion, is now at the end of his tether.
Arsene Wenger, by popular opinion, is now at the end of his tether.Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

 

Also consider.

In the so-called trophy-less years Arsenal have been to the Champions League final and to two League Cup finals. In many definitions—apart from that of the cynical narrative weavers and the angry fans who have bought into the myth, or the gloating rivals—this qualifies as success.

Finals are tricky things. You can get there, but there's no guarantee the victory will be yours. Somebody ineluctably will be vanquished. Had Arsenal been the victors in these three finals, they'd have won three titles in these so-called trophy-less years.

Do angry fans want to hear this or the cynical media? No?

The naive mantra that reads: Success = Trophies, is the reason why no reasoning is accepted within fandom. Emotions reign and any measured examination of any given situation is rashly dismissed as excuses.

This, ironically, becomes a paradox: a night where both parties bay foolishly at the moon.

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