So we lose three league games – the latest when we had seven big players out – and rather predictably, the knives are out.
If it’s not ex-goalie Stack talking about dressing room disharmony (“The cliques aren’t rumours, it’s a fact”), it’s Tony O’Cascarin in today’s Times (“Henry should [leave], if he’s got sense and ambition”). Then there’s the boss of Spurts (they of the dusty trophy cabinet) claiming we’re a spent force.
The list is short-ish, but you can bet your bottom dollar it will lengthen.
And of course, facts don’t lie, and the truth hurts: We’re having a bad time of it. Wenger himself admits the balance between youth and experience is wrong, and that in essence is an admission that his quiet summer was a mistake. As, in hindsight, was letting Patrick Vieira leave.
My take on this: We have excelled – ridiculously so given our outlay and financial clout – for ten seasons now. Since 1996 we’ve won three league titles, four FA Cups, been runners-up in a further FA Cup final and a UEFA Cup final and never finished out of the top two.
That last stat is particularly impressive, but it’s especially so for a team with only about the seventh highest average attendances, and when you consider there are plenty of other sides – who’ve won nothing or next to nothing – that have spent more than us.
So we’re having a poor start to the season – perhaps we’re due one. But come on, how poor is it? We’ve had Campbell, Cole, Henry, Gilberto, van Persie, Hleb and Bergkamp out at one point or another, Pires is well off form and yet we’re still eighth – in touch with the top four places – and we’re top of our Champions League group. We need some perspective here.
Things need addressing in January, but it’s hardly a crisis.
Ah, Mr T Henry…