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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Arsenal: We have reached the End of the Dark Tunnel

I have remained an Arsenal fan since 1988-1989 season. I don’t remember now clearly that why I became a fan of this club in the first place. Most probably, Arsenal was an underdog that time as Liverpool was the dominant force in English football while Arsenal had won the league title since 1970-71 season. Now, we are passing through a similar draught in our history as we won our last EPL title in 2003-04 season. So, it is 10 years or a decade for us without having the League title.
Most Arsenal fans realize the reason behind such bad luck. We were invincible in that season a decade ago. Then we faced a slump and in the last five seasons, we did not even hope seriously of even becoming runners up in the English Premier League. Everyone knows the reason- we had to build a modern stadium the Emirates. It was a tough ask to stay competitive while investing hundreds of millions of pounds on the stadium. We have now a 60,000 seated arena which is perhaps one of the best in Europe and that is enough for us for many years to come.
We have lost 10 years for this stadium. We accept it and we understand the reality. No club in Europe would keep a coach who has not won anything in a decade. Not only we have kept Arsene Wenger in charge but we believed in him deeply. I cannot recall of any day in the last 10 years in which, Wenger did not have the backing of at least 51% fans. The Arsenal board and Wenger believed in self-sustaining financial model. The fans also agreed to that model. I for one strong supports this theory and don’t mind sacrificing a decade for the new stadium.
Well, we all know this history and I am not going to ponder more on the past. What we all want is to get rid of this vicious cycle- we don’t win titles, we don’t have money and we cannot get top players. It has been frustrating decade for us- at times heart breaking too. We saw Henry to leave after we reached to UEFA Champions League Final. Fabregas, Nasry, RVP and some others left too. We became a selling or feeder club for Barcelona and Manchester City.  
We have suffered humiliation and insults from our own players celebrating goals against us. Fans of Chelsea and Manchester City can now show off and even mock at us thanks to money of their rich sugar daddies (owners). It seems that we have been living in a dark age inside an endless tunnel. There is no hope for getting out of the dark tunnel. However, we have kept our fighting spirit intact. We have kept our head high even in the worst of times. We always knew that we are doing this sacrifice for the future.
We are sacrificing for the next generation of Arsenal players, manager, shareholders and most of all for the generation of fans like us. Of course, we have waited for our own happiness too. We deeply wanted this new stadium and we wanted Arsenal to become a big club like Barcelona, Real Madrid or Bayern Munich. For that we need money- a lot of money. Look, it is only because of money from their owners, Chelsea and Manchester City could remove us from the top two spots in the league table. Nothing but pure money.
I was not born in 1971. I was a school student of tenth grade in 1989. Most fans of my age perhaps don’t remember much about the domination of Liverpool in 1970s and 80s. However, we have seen a lot of Manchester United, Chelsea and now Manchester City. Before 2004, we were having great success with our coach Wenger who joined the club in 1996. Then, from 2004, we had to do the sacrifice and had to be consent with a top four finish- just enough to qualify for the UEFA Champions league. Well, in fact, we suffered a lot of pain in our heart but we knew that someday we would rise again.
Perhaps, that someday has already come. We just need to see the ray of light at the end of the tunnel. This summer, Wenger shocked all the fans by purchasing a player like Ozil from Real Madrid. This was the most expensive transfer deal for any incoming player in EPL. If someone like Luiz Suarez agrees to join us in the current transfer window, I am sure that Wenger would not mind splashing 50 million pounds in the transfer market again. Paying 100,000 pounds a week salary to some of the top players it not out of our ability anymore.
Because of a modern stadium, consistent flow of revenue and a great manager with an impressive squad, things can only go better from here. Manchester United is already struggling in the post Alex Ferguson era. Liverpool would surely struggle if Luiz Suraez decides to go to Barcelona or Real Madrid. We are already competing head to head and toe to tea against Chelsea and Manchester City- the two biggest spenders in EPL. We will be making more commercial deals in the next few years and get additional revenues from every deal we sign or resign.
 More than anything else, UEFA Financial Fair play regulations will help us to become stronger as many of our rivals in England and Europe will find it difficult to adjust to the fairy play regulations. So, everything indicates that we have passed our worst and we are at the end of the tunnel. I just hope that fans don’t lose hope now. We have waited for a decade and now, there is every possibility that the next 10 years will belong to Arsenal. We will win a number of trophies and become stronger every season. However, we must continue supporting Arsene Wenger who is now undoubtedly the best coach in EPL.
There is indeed ray of light at the end of the tunnel for all the Arsenal fans. We just need to remain patient and things will work out by themselves. The calendar year 2013 has been a great year for us. We achieved maximum number of points compared to any team in EPL in 2013. We could defeat the two best teams of Germany who played in the final of UEFA Champions League. I know that many fans will not be satisfied with such records. They want to see trophies. I want trophies too but it will need some patience in our part.
Those who are not yet satisfied with Wenger or will demand for his head if we do not win the title this season too, I just want to request them to learn from the sudden collapse of Manchester United after SAF retired. The new coach David Moyes was hand picked by Sir Alex Ferguson himself. If Wenger suddenly leaves or is forced to leave then we can suffer such a dramatic collapse too.

There is a proverb, as you sow so shall you reap. There is another proverb, Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet. We have tried to follow these two proverbs. On the one hand, we tried to focus on self-sustaining financial policy while at the same time, we tried to remain patient despite not winning the league title in a decade just after we achieve the invincible status. We had to be really patient for a decade. Fans of other clubs in England can never be like us. We are exceptional and we must always be united and keep our head high. United we stand while divided we fall. 

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