Wenger 1-0 Mourinho? Why Arsenal’s ‘specialist in failure’ may have the last laugh over the Special One’s Chelsea

Arsene Wenger FA Cup

Good Friday Gooners, how are we all? You find me today in reflective mood. Among the many joys that marriage has brought me, has been the ‘inheritance’ of nephews and nieces from her side of the family. Two of my nephews – 12 and 14 – are Gooners, with one a fully paid up ‘I met Jack Wilshere on a day out’ Junior Gunner.

Having fortnightly conversations with the two lads about Arsenal when we visit Kent has become a lovely ritual, and in the time I’ve been with their Aunt, I’ve taken them to two Emirates Cup days; 2011 and 2013. I’m asked – as if I know – each time we visit “who are Arsenal gettin’ then?” Watching them grow up, following The Arsenal, reminds me of myself, half a lifetime ago…

…In the late Ninties and early Noughties, I lived and breathed every Gunners game, whether listening to the radio, watching TV, or if I had managed to scrape together enough money to get myself to Highbury, soaking it in at the home of football. Each goal lifted my soul, every loss felt like a sucker punch, and as Arsene Wenger’s team grew; the joy resulting trophies brought was as close to ecstasy that I could legally consume. The flipside was that I couldn’t bear to listen or watch the big clashes with Manchester United, and my mood after a loss would be darker than a winter’s night. The despair and pain was too much…the anxiety too pent up to harness without long strolls outside…

As I have gotten older, although Arsenal still remained my first love, my wife, my career, my mortgage and now my daughter have overtaken my priorities somewhat. As oil money forced out Arsenal from the title challenges I’d become used to, so love, life and living had forced away a certain percentage of my attention. What can I say? You don’t stop loving, supporting or following a club that has held your interest since 1990, but I embraced new things. Losses didn’t have the same resonance anymore. Players that I loved moved on and were replaced by those that I didn’t…or couldn’t love…Gallas, Silvestre, Adebayor…players who couldn’t stir the soul like Cole, Campbell or Henry could. Yes, they had my support. Of course. But it wasn’t the same.

Since I met my ‘future nephews’, my Arsenal interest, my Arsenal passion has been reawakened…mutual interests and all that. Contributing some Arsenal thoughts to ‘Sabotage Times’ in the last couple of seasons and writing my novice Arsenal blog this season: culminating in now writing each Friday for ‘Gunners Town’, has made me feel how I used to feel. The signing of Mesut Özil made me believe again; conversely the non-descript January window felt like the gloom that had engulfed my feelings towards Arsenal had returned; had me doubting, feeling, even hurting again, hurting like the seventeen year old Greg did one May afternoon when Leeds United beat Arsenal on the last day of the season to hand the title to Sir Alex’s juggernaught 1998-1999 side. Love and pain had returned to replace the near-indifference felt during the last half-dozen seasons.

wigan_arsenal_fa_cup_semi_report-374127

On my mother-in-law’s sofa last Saturday, I was a teenager again. My doubts about Arsenal’s chances against Wigan were being confirmed in front of my eyes.

Jordi Gomez’s effortless penalty pushed my stomach firmly into despair territory.

Per Mertesacker’s late equaliser had me off of my seat and punching my thighs in relief.

The penalty shoot-out had me hiding behind my unworn shirt, not disimilar to a child being shown ‘Doctor Who’ for the first time – a Dalek episode perhaps – by a knowing father.

Victory was savoured like a Cuban cigar. A cup final appearence, the very thought of a May day in the sun at Wembley inhaled, lingering on the palate, and exhaled with a satisfied grin. Hope. Hope returns.

A comeback win against a West Ham side managed by Northern charactor actor Sam Allardyce three days later…another grin. Another layer of hope.

A layer of hope that an unlikely Everton defeat at the hands of Crystal Palace – managed by a coach who would hate to do Arsenal or Wenger a favour no less – was added to the very next evening.

Lukas Podolski West Ham

All of a sudden a cup win and fourth place looks do-able. All of a sudden, momentum has been started. All of a sudden, the specialist in failure looks like he could be more likely to win a trophy this season than the special one. All of a sudden, this author feels like a teenager in his bedroom again, listening to the radio…hoping…enjoying…feeling.

Hull City are the likely obstacles in the way. An away game at the end of an exhausting week is not ideal, but it represents in my view Arsenal’s hardest remaining league fixture. And in the FA Cup final, you know they will relish their underdog status…just like Real Zaragoza, Galatasaray and Birmingham City before them.

But can Arsenal do it? Well, they are going to have to. Once this monkey is off of the team’s back…I get the feeling that the sky’s the limit.

I love the FA Cup. It has reawakened dormant emotions within my soul. Come the final, I will, no doubt, be a giddy schoolboy again for the first time in a long time.

Have a great weekend you lot.

Thanks for reading.

Greg Cross


16 Responses to Wenger 1-0 Mourinho? Why Arsenal’s ‘specialist in failure’ may have the last laugh over the Special One’s Chelsea

  1. Austin April 18, 2014 at 3:15 pm #

    Bro,

    Sad that Arsenal has descended so low as to celebrate a potential 4th place finish and FA Cup win (none yet in the bag) as a success. More so as a success over a Chelsea that has a potential to win both the Champions League and Premiership titles. So so sad …

    • hantsgooner April 18, 2014 at 4:44 pm #

      Quote ” none yet won yet” works for Chekski too Bro !!

  2. Lorne April 18, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

    Hey I’m really happy to be in a final and the article was good but the title is stupid. If I had a choice I would rather be in Chelsea’s situation right now where you have a good chance at the two biggest trophy then a great shot at the FA Cup. The article title should be with a great chance at the FA Cup could the gunner be ready to take more trophies next year

    • Oguntuase Amos April 18, 2014 at 4:33 pm #

      One does not expect your likes to be happy. There are teams that had never won the league for over 20 years and another one that won only once after 40 years not after they had squandered almost £2b of questionable wealth and there are some almost dying every year in their struggle to get a champion league slot. Arsenal might not have won any trophy for the past 9 years but without controversy it has the best value for money both earned legally and spent prudently. Those teams you are celebrating today are either in debt, or their balanced sheet doctored or cushioned with dubious/stolen money. I wii rather win nothing but remained honest in running a viable legacy rather than presiding over lies covered with half truths. The world today hate honesty and Arsenal represents honesty, prudence and the right way to do things. Whether we win or not I am proud of the club and it does not matter if the whole perverted people and the press go against us I would not be suprised because men hate the truth and love lies and revelled in cutting corners and finding short cuts. Arsenal represents the future of football, an industry that must be run profitably for sustainability. I am proud of the club, the club that does things in the right way.

  3. Gooner April 18, 2014 at 4:19 pm #

    I’m going to let the two lads before me in on a little secret. In 05/06, Arsenal finished fourth and got into the Champion’s league final. They lost to Barcelona in the final. When people say “Arsenal haven’t won a trophy in 9 years”, do they add at the end “But they did get into a champion’s league final in 2006”? No. Does anyone but Arsenal fans remember where we finished that season? No. If Chelsea get knocked out by Atletico and lose to Liverpool and finish second, nobody will remember or care. If Arsenal win the FA cup and get 4th place, the “9 years without a trophy” will end, it’ll offer a winning mentality and greater cash to the club, Arsenal will become joint second (with United) in the most FA cup titles ever, and 4th place will keep us in the champion’s league. Does Chelsea finishing second or getting to the semi-finals gain them anything? No. If Arsene wins a trophy and Mourinho doesn’t, then Mourinho will have to eat his words. Simple as.

  4. Joe April 18, 2014 at 4:20 pm #

    Really? WOW… JUST…. WOW. If this is the view from all the Arsenal supporters, then I pity you…

    You sound as bad as Arsene ‘Whiner’ when he loses to the better side!

  5. Lawal April 18, 2014 at 4:27 pm #

    Hope one red hot Athletico Madrid do the magic and cancel out the mouthy Jose, and his boys , lets hope wenger got his tactics right against hull, come may , let hope liverprool end the season in style , then we ask jose who is the useless one ?

  6. ken April 18, 2014 at 4:31 pm #

    This article is one from those too many mercenaries on the club’s payroll. However this year something has changed , the failure specialist is not defendable after the thrashings and poor tactical displays.
    The one who has the plot cannot be hidden and covered anymore by the AKB brigade. Fans have witnessed the senile and lazy performance of the stubborn and the truth about the lack of preparation and un professionalism has been revealed.
    Why so? because when you have lost 10 years and acted as a loser it is difficult to turn around overnight.
    By disguising your wants and pro Wenger message you have proven that you are another one of those blind, deaf, and brainless followers of the expired coach.

    • Greg Cross April 18, 2014 at 5:04 pm #

      Ken, you couldn’t be more wrong. But bless you for trying.

      I am pro-Arsenal and if Wenger is in charge, that is fine, but only if the club isn’t going backwards.

      You could argue that the thrashings handed out to Arsenal this season have been proof that the team has regressed since last season…and the FA Cup final has glossed over this opinion.

  7. Christopher April 18, 2014 at 4:42 pm #

    Good article but would have left Chelsea and Mourinho out of it.
    I still firmly believe Wenger has to go even if we get 4th and the FA cup.
    Time for a manager with some tactical nous to be brought to the club.

  8. Joe April 18, 2014 at 4:46 pm #

    @Gooner

    Your deluded!

    Chelsea will earn more money than Arsenal even if they finish second and bow out to Atlético Madrid.

    “it’ll offer a winning mentality” What are you smoking, man

  9. paul35mm April 18, 2014 at 4:46 pm #

    Arsenal supporters are like everyone else; each has their own views.

    Personally, I think this has been a good season, regardless of what occurs in the FA Cup final or in the league. Am I satisfied with it? No. Is it what we aimed for? No. However;

    Arsenal are in the FA Cup final with a good chance to win it. They beat Tottenham, Everton, and Liverpool to get to that final. To those who say top 4 is not the most important thing and that Wenger is not a good manager for aiming for top 4 finishes; look at the sides your own managers pick for cup games. Every manager of a top side is doinf exactly the same thing. They rank the competitions thusly;

    Premier League
    Champions League
    FA Cup
    League Cup

    Arsenal are out of the title race. It is now a three horse race (or two horses and a pony if you buy into Mourinho’s rhetoric) between Liverpool, Man City and Chelsea. Does anyone believe Liverpool would be top of the table if they’d had Champions League or Europa League to cope with? If they do, they’re delusional.

    I’m not panning Liverpool. They’ve done well. They are top of the table, and the table always tell the truth. So right now Liverpool are the best club in the league; but the CL and Europa take a toll on clubs. Injuries, fatigue, psychological beatings all add up. Instead of playing 38-48 games, cubs are playing 60+ against Europe’s top teams; traveling to Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine to do it.

    So European football is a blessing and a curse. It provides additional revenue, rewards excellence, and lifts a club’s profile. It also punishes with long travel schedules, additional wear and tear, and a mental fatigue. Teams need large squads to compete in Europe and bigger squads are harder to manage. More egos, more players who do not play day in and day out, more trophies to lose as well as win. No one is bashing or damning Liverpool and Rogers for not winning in Europe; they’re celebrating being top of the table and quite probably the title. Congrats for a great season.

    But do not pretend that not competing at the highest level has not been a boon to the Reds this season and be ready next year for the grind of 60 games and the expectations that come with being a top club again.

    • Antique Gunmen April 19, 2014 at 5:22 am #

      Generally we’ve the same thoughts. I’ve made my last conclusion on our gunners right after Chelsea six nil trashed. We’ve the ability to land in title zone (20+ weeks as league leader was the proved), but not yet have all requirements (consistency, squad depth, determination, and balance) to be champion. All big scores slaughtered against other title contender were harshly emphasized that. We urgently need to improve and reinforce these gunners next season. Thankfully after these short dark eclipse ( we already have forgot that the sunshine bright for most of times), we still have a final FA Cup and ECL place to for fight for. Question for all gooners, an anti, pro ,or neutral. Move a side your voices to Arsene’s regime, then why should we do? Take all of our dignity remain, or else?
      Regret and whine up as much as you like, but the FA thropy and last ECL ticket should be the non fail obligation whether you like or dislike Arsene.

  10. Greg Cross April 18, 2014 at 4:59 pm #

    – Aaron, let’s see the trophy count come the end of May…and lest we forget, Mourinho has spent significantly more than Wenger this season – again – so any thing less than equalling 1 trophy would be a dismal failure.

    – Lorne, I don’t write the titles.

    But thanks all for reading and for your feedback.

  11. SimonSeez April 18, 2014 at 5:37 pm #

    Love the personalised view in the article and in the whole midst of arguing about trophies, ticket prices, stadium noise etc sometimes the personal nature of Football and Family gets lost. Thanks for referencing it in your post Greg. Hopefully. We win the Cup this year but going forward winning the cup and title should not really be mutually exclusive. Cheers!

  12. Mike April 18, 2014 at 5:40 pm #

    Great article- at least there is someone there who thinks like me. I have been a Gooner since 1978 and I proud of the fact that I’ve stood by the club through many trophy-less years and still have the same joy and passion when I see them play. I live somewhere across the world in Singapore and though I have caught a couple of matches at Highbury these days its tele for me. I do feel that the new breed of fans have a different yardstick for success – for me its just the joy of watching my team there giving their best for the club. Thank you Arsenal for all the great memories that you have given me and may you continue to give me the joy whenever I watch you play. I really do not care if we lose to a fantasy league team bankrolled by sugar daddies. I love the way that we are punching above our weight and long may that happen. We have always been the underdogs and am perfectly fine with that.

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