9. Sep, 2021


Roll up, Roll up Arsenal are bottom of the league. All good fun for those not committed to the Gunners cause.

But hey folks, its happened before. October 1974 to be precise following a derby defeat at Tottenham. Not that Spurs were riding high, they were second bottom. The culprits are shown in the cover photo. It should be recorded that Arsenal did escape the drop. They finished 16th while Luton Town, Carlisle United and amazingly Chelsea were relegated.

So we've been here before with the Gunners, as my mate Lawrence Soleimani points out it has always been feast or famine down Islington way. Billy Wright flopped in the 1960's, Don Howe didn't win a bean in the early 80's. Bruce Rioch lasted a season in the 1990's.

All three managers failed to deliver a trophy. At least current incumbent Mikel Arteta has the FA Cup on his CV. That will not carry much weight with the North Bank. We all remember swaths of empty seats in the fag end of Arsene Wenger's reign. During that troubled 1974-75 season crowds plummeted to 17,000.

This is not St James Park, blind loyalty is a lost commodity. The Emirates punters vote with their feet.

Maybe Arteta was the wrong man. Ok he was Pep Guardiola celebrated number two at Manchester City. But football history is littered with co-pilots who struggled in the captain's seat. As Malcolm Alisson, Peter Taylor and Brian Kidd will testify

You can throw Don Howe's name into that dubious list. Howe coached the Arsenal side which clinched the double in 1971. Yet as soon as the First Division and FA Cup trophies were captured, Howe departed to manage West Bromwich Albion. Two years later Albion were relegated and Howe was shown the door.

The Hawthorns horror story didn't deter the Highbury board who appointed Howe manager in 1983. Once again the brilliant coach failed to cut the mustard. Arsenal rarely threatened in the league and suffered humiliating cup defeats to Walsall and York City. Indeed the era is probably best remembered for the green and blue away kit worn by Howe's charges.

So the lesson is simple, a track record is required when head hunting a successful Arsenal manager. But George Graham was hardly pulling up trees at Millwall, while Wenger was famously christened "Arsene Who" when he was appointed. They both did ok!

It is hard not to feel a tinge of sympathy for Arteta. He like predecessor Unai Emery inherited a sinking ship. Both Spaniards faced virtual civil war when they walked into the Emirates. The harmonious relationship between Wenger and Vice Chairman David Dein was the bedrock for the last Gunners golden era. Indeed many feel Dein's exit in 2007 marked the start of the decline in N5. In contrast current owner Stan Kroenke, has a popularity level that rivals Harry Kane.

Lack of Investment on the playing side has been cited as the root of the unrest. Although Arsenal were the biggest Premier League spenders last Summer. Moreover lack of quality seems a bigger problem. With the exception of Pierre Emerick Aubameyang the squad lacks world class performers. In 1974 boss Bertie Mee had Alan Ball, Charlie George and a young Liam Brady at his disposal. Mee also didn't have to face the ravages of social media or Talk Sport. Discontent on the terraces and miserable Monday morning press were the pinnacle of Bertie's headaches. While Piers Morgan and Adrian Durham were mere whippersnappers