I’m sure most United fans will feel irked by the constant barrage of Arsenal’s so called “great football”.
I’ll begin with a disclaimer before I start a flame war with Gooner fans, that I completely respect Wenger’s choice of his own philosophy, and that they do what they do very well. But I’m sick to death of it being seen as the “best” and “greatest” way to play football.
Because it isn’t.
Its a choice, and no amount of media backslapping or self generated Wengerist smugness will change this.
My patience finally snapped after their away win at Birmingham, where I had to endure radio phone in punters proclaiming that an Arsenal title win will be a “victory for footballing principles” and that they are some kind of shining light pouring scorn on everybody else’s approach to winning games. Well, they’re not.
Before I start, I could fill a whole other article about Arsenal hiding behind their so called “young” team, (Checked the ages of Arshavin, Van Persie, Eboue, Sagna, Rosicky etc lately?) or Wenger’s never-ending work in progress/ no silverware operation, but that would be churlish…
I’d imagine that watching Arsenal play regularly is more likely to induce intense frustration than delight. Their ability to run rings around leaden Premier League midfields is not in question. Their merry-go-round triangular passing movements are dizzyingly accurate, but does this somehow mean that’s “better” football? Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t we supposed to put the ball in the net? Watching them at Old Trafford this season was no different to the previous three seasons. They spin and rotate each other centrally until they reach the edge of the opposition box, and then… well.. nothing. Because they seem frightened to shoot (Nasri apart) or unable to pick a killer pass. Until the recent mauling of the falling to pieces Chelsea, their record against the big teams backs this up. Shots on target against major rivals are limited to the extreme.
So why is this approach considered by the media as “the best football”?
Where has this come from? Is it Barcelona’s fault? Why should that influence our history? Sure, defensive organisation and destructive counter attacking is the hallmark of the Italians. Ruthless systems the hallmark of the Germans. Technique the Spanish? Where does that leave us ? The “physical” league? I think that’s a bit unfair, but is our media embarrassed by this tag? Is this what makes them fawn over a foreign style? Do years and years of constant underachievement on the international stage make our press pack think that our systems of play are inferior? And that Wenger’s continental philosophy is ultimately aspirational?
Hey, if we all play like Arsenal then so will our English players therefore we’ll win the World Cup..utter rubbish.
Have we lost focus about what we really love in a game? For me, and many others I’m sure, English football is about pace, power, talismanic characters, overhead kicks, flying headers, hard slide tackles, noisy crowds, moments of inspired skill combined with moments of primal scream aggression. The rest of the world’s TV viewing figures cant be wrong. More watch us than any other league in the world. Hard fact. So why must we aspire to Arsenal’s philosophy ?
One game I remember vividly, (and even today its still one of my favourite ever United games) is our trip to Carrow Road in the League on April 5th 1993. We beat title chasing Norwich 3-1. But we did it in a counter attacking, aggressive style that pretty much set a blueprint for the next 15 years. Searing skill and pace on the wings from Kanchelskis and Giggs, genius unpredictability from Cantona, guile from McClair, and toughness from Bruce & Pallister. It was perfect British football for me. Breakneck, inspired, tough, and a team fans could identify with.
So, passing in triangles or diving headers? 30 yard screamers or passing our way to the net? Occasional over the top tackles or no body contact??
I realise I’m asking more questions than I’m answering, but if this media backed love-in for a foreign, ineffective (in our league) style continues, then I too will continue to wave the flag for all the good things in our British melting pot. Questioning Arsenal’s philosophy DOES NOT MAKE US NEANDERTHALS. Supporting a team that can have not just a plan B, but also a C and D will ultimately win you a Premiership.
Please someone tell the press this.
And that while we have the EFFECTIVE Ji Sung Park in our starting line up, Arsenal will never beat us :-p
PS… To all Gooners: Disclaimer Pt.2… I completely respect Arsene’s choice of style, and appreciate what a brilliant man he is. He has the right to do whatever he likes.