Core players, attendances and wigs...
Feature by Brian Dawes
Updated Monday, 11th February 2013
... more thoughts from Brian.
Thoughts on Arsenal’s Core Players
Oxlade-Chamberlain 19, Jenkinson 21, Francis Coquelin 21, Wilshere 21, Szczczczczesny 22, Ramsey 22, Gibbs 23 and Walcott 23 are not really core players in the sense that that they provide the spine of the team, certainly not all of them, but I’m happy that they could well form the heart of the Club if not the team for quite a few years to come. It’s the most impressive home-grown group of youngsters we’ve had together for quite some time and they all have something going for them. The extent to which they are home-grown may be debateable but all home grown players come from somewhere be it Arsenal under 9’s or Southampton. They all already have International Caps under their belts (rather than on their heads) and are in my opinion are all still improving even though Szczczczczesny is having the odd glitch, which young keepers tend to and Gibbs appears to be somewhat injury prone. The future is bright – the future is red and white. And yet Wenger’s Youth policy has been deemed a failure. I just don’t get that because Wenger’s move towards a youthful team was clearly an imposed financial constraint forced upon him by the cost of a new stadium and the redevelopment of the old one. The above mentioned may not prove to be our ultimate core players, but they will certainly be the hard-core upon which the core is built. To have 8 in the first team squad looks quite impressive to me.
Thoughts on attendances
Some Arsenal fans with an agenda appear to be claiming that our ground is increasingly empty and our paying punters are very close to melt-down. This alleged disappearance of fans is variously put down to piss poor play, our pitiful 4th place finishes, the lack of transfer spending and the ridiculous seating prices. That and their inevitable claims that Wenger is past his sell by date. Certainly there are many gaps to be seen but I find it rather pathetic that anyone is even attempting to use the attendance figures as a bludgeon when quite clearly our current attendances are way better than anything the Club has ever previously known. Even when we had a capacity of over 70,000 our averages didn’t even get close to 60,000. Only in six seasons during the late 1940’s and early 50’s did we ever average over 50,000 and only in six of the last 50 seasons at Highbury did we even top an average of 40,000.
The facts show that Arsenal still managed to sell 59,872 for the Stoke game despite it being our 5th home game in just twenty days during a cold spell not conducive with outdoor entertainment. Also in spite of this match being priced as a B game when quite clearly Stoke should be classified as Z or at the very least X-rated dross. Montpellier only attracted 59,760 for a live on TV Champions League game but I’d suggest they have all the glamour of a Blackburn Cup tie, I say only – but when was 59,760 such an awful crowd figure, especially so given that we’d already beaten them away from home. While Swansea in a Cup replay with only 9 days-notice also failed to top 60,000. But even then the tie did manage to attract 58,359 paying fans, not that many of whom were travelling fans. There was also a loud media song and dance about away ticket pricing when Citeh visited. Rightly so. Citeh returned loads of tickets we were told. But did anyone in the stadium notice thousands of empty seats? No of course they didn’t because Arsenal fans were delighted to snap them up despite the silly prices. Whatever the doom-mongers might suggest the board will only take heed of what they’re saying when the tickets fail to sell.
In that respect I believe the last time Arsenal got shot of a manager due to piss poor attendances was when Billy Wright got the bullet following crowds as low as 8,738 and the all-time low of 4,554 in the 1965-66 season. This was at a time when Highbury’s capacity was about 64,000. Prior to our move to Ashburton the number of 60,000 plus attendances were very limited, even in the days when the capacity was over 70,000.
Thoughts on Stan Kroenke
Should he ever appear at an Arsenal home game again, or even an away game come to that, the most appropriate chant from Arsenal fans would surely be ‘Who the f*ck, who the f*ck, who the f*cking hell are you, who the f*cking hell are you.’ Clearly he’s in it for the money rather than the love of Arsenal, football or even sport. Like a number of Americans buying up Clubs in the English game I’d suggest he’s looking towards salary caps to make his fortune. It’s never going to happen Stan so why hang around?
I also think there’s a certain amount of irony in an American buying up a trophy club when we’re not actually winning any trophies.
(Read more at The Highbury Library)