If Arsenal failed by finishing fifth, so did everyone else. Including Liverpool…

Date published: Wednesday 25th May 2022 8:42 - Editor F365

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta.

The Mailbox continues to debate whether Arsenal f***ed it or not by failing to secure a Champions League place. Also: Liverpool, celebrations, and managers making it up as they go along.

Get your views in to theeditor@football365.com


Disdain over denial
Not really accepting this whole ‘fifth is an achievement’ story coming from some fellow Arsenal fans here.

About 15 games to go and the editorial tone was pretty accurate. “Let’s want to f@ck up getting fourth the least” was the clear strategy for success.

Arsenal deployed this strategy the most effectively from here on in, and it was working until Tottenham discovered a new, better strategy of actively pursuing fourth place and subsequently handed Arsenal a spanking. That should’ve been the final final final warning and then Newcastle. This is all a bit like Stevie G and his ‘don’t let this slip’ battle cry which is far less inspiring than ‘Let’s show them we want this’

The team gained fifth place not because they drove hard at fourth and just fell short but because they travelled slightly less far once the wheels came off than Tottenham and slightly further than United and West Ham. Having lost 13 games this season the club could easily have come sixth or seventh or lower. It was generally shambolic but slightly less shambolic than a few other clubs and slightly more shambolic that Tottenham.

What’s more the opportunity to seize the day was handed to Arsenal over and over again, but somehow this failed to motivate the team when it mattered. When losing 12 games will get you into European elite football and you go and lose 13 they actually WTF.

Sure, at the beginning of the season Arsenal would’ve taken fifth, much like I would gladly take a five number winning lottery ticket at the point of payment instead of leaving it to chance later. Difference is we had the jackpot-winning ticket handed to us and we swapped it for a five digit winner at the final stage.

We all need to find solace where we choose at times of trauma. It’s fine to choose denial but I am choosing disdain.


Every 2021-22 Premier League club’s top scorer, creator, dribbler, tackler & more


Failure is relative
I see Arsenal fans are being called losers and mediocrity accepters because we refuse to panic at finishing 5th. Yeah, we choked, 4th was ours for the taking, but we failed. I’m sure that failure will hurt all the players at the club. But you know what, we have the youngest first team squad in the league by quite some way, there are obvious green shoots of development in ESR, Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli et al. We basically played the season with no striker. Some smart additions this summer and there is no reason to say we can’t push for the CL places, even with the added competition next season.

But this idea that we failed, or that we somehow failed worse than others.

City won the league, that meant:

United, spent 100 million odd last summer, finished below Arsenal, so failures right?
Spurs had 2 of the top 4 strikers in the league and only managed 4th, got to be a failure there right?
Liverpool had Sane, Salah, and countless other amazing players, but failed to win the league, so failures right? All that talk of Quads
Chelsea, who spent 170 million the summer before the Russian conflict failed to win anything this season, so failures right?

The point I’m trying to make is that only one team can win the CL. Only one team can win the league. That doesn’t make everyone else massive, unsavable failures, it doesn’t even make them mediocre. I think part of this is people expect immediate results. Lets say Ten Hag’s first fixture of the season is Liverpool next season. He’ll probably lose, and say the following match is City. 2 losses straight away. You know the mad yahoos on Twitter will be calling for his head. In this world of instant success and gratification, people want wins and complete revolutions immediately. That is not how anything great is built. It is trial and error. Even Klopp took time to build his amazing team.

I’ve seen a graph showing Arsenal’s position over the last 3 years, and there is an undoubted upward trajectory. I have faith in Arteta and the core of the side he has built. Sorry if that upsets other fans, maybe back your team and not expect everything straight away.
John Matrix AFC


…Dear Rob Pearse,


How many of them would you take in the Spurs squad, let alone team?

If Tierney, Tomiyasu and Partey had been involved more post-March, I’d agree it was a bottling. As it turns out, with those full backs and the pedestrian midfield for the last two months, I’m a little surprised we took it down to the final day in the end. Nketiah was decent when he got his chance, and it should’ve come sooner than it did.

If targets can change during a season, context has to have a place too. I’ll admit, leaving the Emirates in February after beating Wolves I thought we might actually do it. We then beat Watford, Leicester and Villa (losing to Liverpool in between) and we looked great. But we also had Tierney and Partey fit through that run, and in the end their injuries were too important and the backups are simply not good enough to win the games required, as proven.

So is it disappointing? Of course. Is it the end of the world as some are trying to paint it as? No not really, we just have to raise the floor of the squad and make sure we’re back in the hunt again next year.

As for “won’t get another opportunity for a long time” – nobody thought we’d get one this year did they? So that’s complete fluff.

Joe, AFC, East Sussex


No quad, no problem
I don’t think you’ll find many Liverpool fans who genuinely believed we were gonna do the quad at any point.

I personally don’t believe anyone will ever do it. It’s way too difficult, especially if fixtures get moved due to cup games, rampant diseases or other such uncontrollable events.

I’m ok with that. What I find curious is the mocking. Sure I get why everyone wants to put the boot in on insufferable reds fans, which would be fine if we won nothing but we won every other top uk trophy and made the final of Europe’s greatest trophy. So mocking us for not doing the quad is like mocking your mate for only having a threesome with scarlet Johansson and Sofia Vergara when if you’d held on a bit longer gal gadot was about to walk in. What a loser that guy is.

It’s like mocking guardiola for only winning 4 out of the last 5 instead of all 5. What a loser.

It’s like mocking buzz Aldrin for being the second man on the moon.

If being a loser means getting three major trophies in one year then I hope we are losers every year. I’ll take that tag.

And back in the days when we used to beat our rivals but win no trophies and I’d boast to United fans about how we did the double over them, United fans always used to say – there’s only one stat that matters, how many trophies are in the cabinet at the end of the season.

We’re gonna need a bigger cabinet.

No premier League? It’s cool well just have everything else instead.

Jurgen Klopp and his teeth in pursuit of Manchester City
Making it up as they go
I’m not sure whether everyone feels the same about the work they do, or the people they work with, but as I’ve grown older and wiser it has become clearer that most people – even those who many would consider “professional” – are really just amateurs giving it a go.

Unless you’re a craftsman, or someone with a specific trade, you probably didn’t end up doing what you do by design. Personally, I fell into what I do by taking the opportunity to do something I enjoyed, and ended up pretty good at it. Greater experience has brought greater professionalism. But when all is said and done, most of the time I’m making it up as I go. And god knows, a lot of those around me seem to have no idea what they’re doing.

So what’s all this got to do with football? Well, aside from the professional footballers, who I would consider similar to those with a craft or a trade, the managers, staff and owners seem to fall into the “making it up as they go” category. Sure, there are those who stand out – Klopp, Pep, Sir Alex – but there are a lot more who seem to have somehow landed the gig, but really don’t know what they’re doing half the time. Likes of Ole, Lampard, Moyes, Arteta.

But moving even back away from the managers, if you look at the mess at Manchester Utd, it’s clear that it’s amateur hour. Woodward – the accountant – had no business doing the job he was doing, meddling in football matters or selecting managers. The Glazers are obviously canny when it comes to exploiting loopholes and banking credit, but when it comes to managing a football club they’re just clueless amateurs. They – as non-experts – appointed all sorts of inappropriate people to important roles. The idea that Fletcher is a suitable director of football is bonkers to me. I like the guy, but what are his skills that make him suitable for such a big role at a huge club? They rode the back of a hugely successful “force of nature” manager in Sir Alex, but it’s all collapsed without him holding it up.

Now, they made a bizarre decision with putting Rangnick in as a manager, because that’s not what he is, but at least he’s started work to disassemble the amateur madness behind the scenes. The number of departures already has been impressive. It may be a long road back, although it absolutely doesn’t need to be, but at least we’re starting to face the right direction…


Liverpool doing us all a favour
Cor blimey, there has been some tripe in the mailbox over recent days.

As a Liverpool fan I want to start by congratulating Man City on their title win – the table doesn’t lie at the end of the season and I seem to remember a brilliant 6 minutes in my football viewing life that will stay with me for ever …. City now have their glorious 6 minutes that will live long in their memories, alongside the Agueroooo moment, beautifully commemorated by a statue of Toni Kroos outside the Etihad.

We can discuss relative finances until the cows come home but Liverpool don’t exactly sit at the paupers table in that debate – when you have a business model that allows for £40m net transfer spend a season, things aren’t so bad.

It is challenging to picture Liverpool reaching the heights that they have done in the table in recent times without Klopp being the guiding light.

A very real rivalry with Man City has resulted, which has clearly driven their group of talented players to greater heights. This has meant that the premiership has been a more attractive proposition to international markets.

Imagine if Man City had simply cruised to the league over the last few years – how would this impact the value of future negotiated TV rights ? ….. a downward pressure no doubt.

If the size of the TV cake reduces, the size of the slice cascading down to the clubs in the prem diminishes, serving to chop the legs away from teams that have made impressive strides in recent times (eg. West Ham).

While there is a City and a ‘Pep’ there needs to be a ‘Klopp’.

His presence serves to make the overall premiership football product more appetising, in no way standing in field on his own in that regard, I hasten to add.

To offer a parallel, interest in the Bundesliga has increased in recent times not because of Bayern Munich, but mainly because that team have legitimate rivals in the shape of Dortmund … that’s the draw.

Trophies and awards are at their most meaningful when you have won them in a fair competition and it strikes me that football’s governing bodies need to grow a pair – in order to retain the (false) premise of fair competition in our league (and others), they need to make sure that there are suitable penalties for non-compliance. Don’t claim to have a policy of financial fair play if you aren’t prepared to police it effectively and enforce meaningful penalties relative to the scale of the club … but history tells you that these governing bodies default to the “ain’t broke, don’t fix it” stance – why rock the boat while the money continues to roll in ?

From an LFC perspective I want Klopp to be there for as long as possible, but is his presence some form of block to motivating the authorities to adjust things re FFP ?

It would be more than a little hypocritical if UEFA didn’t strive to do more in this regard, particularly considering their reaction to the ‘closed shop’ ESL proposal.

Not holding my breath
Sparky, LFC


What’s wrong with getting shirty?
Let me just start by saying that I’m a Leeds United fan, so I think I’m uniquely placed to ask this question. Now that you have finished cursing and spitting at the screen I will continue…

What’s so terrible about removing your shirt as part of a goal celebration? When compared with some of the other things you can do on the pitch that only get you booked, a yellow card for a goal celebration seems ludicrous. I can see that removing your shorts would be an issue, but taking off your shirt to show everyone that you’re wearing a sports bra seem more amusing than inciting.

As far as I’m aware celebrating in front of your fans is ok, even if they do get whipped into frenzied delirium, as long as you do it with your shirt on. I remember a couple of occasions in the past where players were reprimanded for taunting the opposing fans, and that seems a little more reasonable.

But given that goal celebrations have nothing to do with the play on the pitch wouldn’t a fine make more sense?
Andrew (I still think it’s a silly rule even if it did benefit my team) – Canada

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