Wednesday, 24 August 2011


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A Big Club; a term bandied around quite a lot at the moment. The basis is generally one of historical context added to consistent achievement. Manchester United have been consistent in their achievements for the last two decades and have a historical root to their fame. For Liverpool their story and European achievements keep them firmly in the category, despite failure to win the Domestic title for twenty years So a club like Manchester City have taken on big club status as they have won a trophy and qualified for the ECL after the Ethiad rebirth and are called a big club, similar to the Chelsea Abramovitch renewal.

For Manchester United and Liverpool their status also applies to European football something that the rest of the top clubs cannot lay claim to.

Which brings us to The Arsenal. Domestically big because the stats don’t lie. Historical context? Check Length of top flight status? Check.  League titles & FA Cups? Check.

However, unpalatable as it is to hear, we are not a big European Club among the ranks of Real, Bayern, Milan, Juve, Barca, Ajax et al. From England only Man Utd & Liverpool are; that’s just how it is.

What has to be considered though is that in 1996 Arsenal were on the brink of joining that elite. On the back of a good three season run of an unbeaten season an FA Cup Win a Champions League Final and a move to a new 60,000 Stadium in the Nations Capital. We had seen some of the best players in World Football at Arsenal and the new stadium was all about giving us the financial clout to compete with the elite.

In the period between Sol Campbell’s header at the Parc De Princes and Obafemi Martins winner at Wembley Arsenal have not grasped the opportunity to join the big boys. Yes qualification for the Champions League has been consistent over that period but when we have been tested by English teams or needed the right result we have failed to reach the pinnacle.

2006-2011 should have been a consolidation of what had been achieved domestically between 1997-2006 and a period where Arsenal made their name in Europe’s top tournament. The Squad that included Henry Vieira Pires Bergkamp Ljungberg Lehmann Campbell Cole Lauren and Gilberto would obviously have changed and developed over this period and as these names were replaced with the likes of Alonso, Reinna, Torres and Ribery; this calibre of player should have wanted to come to the club. That was the promise of the future that our board fed us.

So we see ourselves on the brink of dropping further down the pecking order. This is a direct result in lack of investment in the squad; plain and simple. When a club is on the brink of making that next step up, as we were in 2006, investment is as necessity. Investment in the raw materials; players. Should we drop out of the Champions League later it will be a case of reaping what has been sown. Even should we go through it will only be a delay of the inevitable.

I fear that we have gone from being a big club to being no big deal

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