There’s a world of difference between what Arsenal fans expect from their team, which is Premier League titles (or at least challenging for them) and making a Champions League semifinal now and then. Too much to ask? According to Arsene Wenger, they should lower their expectations.
Wenger talks each season about how his team can challenge for all the titles; Usually, with all the ups and downs during a season, there comes this point when Arsenal are still in the hunt for three or four titles, before the house of cards comes crashing down and he finds himself needing to explain why.
So, Wenger begins adopting a new approach. Setting low standards. That way, nothing is a failure, and everything is a relative success. Winning three titles in 7 years during the first half of his North London reign? Forget about it, those days are over. All the club, and subsequently Wenger as well, cares about it making money. Reaching the Champions League each season and making it out of the group stage is enough for them. According to Wenger, it should be enough for the fans as well.
At the end of last season, we finished third. Honestly I don’t think there was much more in the team than finishing third. My pride comes from that as well. Like when we won the Premier League with zero defeats, which never anybody else has done, you can think there is not much room to do much better. At the end of the season, I want to stand in front of my mirror and think, ‘I have done all I can’. That’s all.
Arsenal’s last title, of any kind, came in 2005, when they won the FA Cup. Their last league title came in 2004, when they went undefeated to win a third league title under Arsene Wenger. This man, who keeps talking about the great potential and the ability of his players to win titles just does a 180 over the last couple of seasons for one reason: Failing again and again. You hide your failures with words and erasing anything you’ve said in the past, hoping people forget.
People forget we built a new stadium, that we had to go through limited resources, that we maintained the club at the top and we didn’t have the money available. I accepted to stay and to do that. And I went through it. We maintained the club at the top and we are now going toward a period where we will be able to compete again financially with other clubs. It was an exciting period but a difficult one and you needed to be strong. We just qualified for 13 consecutive years in the last 16 of the Champions League and, even with all the financial resources we have now, it is not sure we will achieve that in the next 13 years.
Saying that making the Champions League, finishing third or fourth is suitable and acceptable for this club is OK, if you don’t announce yourself title challengers a few months earlier. Arsenal are a good club, not great, certainly not in European standards. It isn’t moving up the social scale any time soon with this man and this board still in charge.