Back to the Future: How Can Leicester City Winning the League Show Arsenal the Power of Love?


Even though I took a small siesta after I saw Spurs’ first goal I was able to wake up in time to see Gary Cahill’s set piece goal and then PFA player of the year (er, last season…), Eden Hazard, fire in the winner (er, draw-er…) and it was all very exciting.   The pace of the counterattack was strong and the first time strike was of title-winning quality.  The place was rocking.  There’s nothing quite like a stadium singing about their (ex) manager.  Soon enough at Arsenal, I fear… Hopefully there wasn’t too much anti-semitism, a problem to which we’re not immune either.

I don’t mean to be cynical…so I won’t be (or at least not too much)…

A foreign Billionaire owner bending the rules (just a little…) but bringing in a nice and very experienced manager who added a few good players to an already decent group.  Add to that some modern elements (stadium, pitch, fitness ideas) and a fan-base with zero expectations and all you need is a little magic.  Or a lot of magic.  In the end, despite almost all believing that Leicester would revert and relent, it seems that, as they sometimes say, “Together, anything is possible.”  At Arsenal, it’s in our motto: Victoria, Concordia, Cresit.  I’m no Latin scholar, but I think it’s victory, concord–the opposite of discord–and growth with the usual translation, “Victory through Harmony,” not being too far off.  We’re lacking the two Cs, so why should we get the V?…Oh wait, that means something different in England…

Congratulations Leicester City, 2016 Premier League winners.

Sorry, no sour grapes for me.

That it could happen with Tottenham reaching too high (like the fox in the fable, you know, about the sour grapes…) and falling flat seems all the better.

Chelsea have a very nasty edge and the only times this season I saw them as motivated as they were last night was in our two matches–the ones which dented (if they didn’t kill off completely) the Arsenal season and spirit.  How did we have two players sent off in those two but nobody went off in last night’s?  I guess referee Mark Clattenburg didn’t want to kill the “spectacle.” as he did in our home match and as Mike Dean did for the one at Stamford Bridge.  There was a retrospective ban in that one for Diego Costa (while Gabriel Paulista’s red was rescinded) as perhaps we’ll see after last night.  Though they will go down as the worst title defenders in PL history, you have to salute Costa and John Terry (the playing faces of the Jose Mourinho legacy…) for getting their mates up for it against their London rivals and using the hate of their supporters to motivate their own.

Hate, I fear, does seem to motivate… But it’s not as much fun as love… 🙂

So, congrats to Leicester but Arsenal’s season isn’t over yet.

We still have a (remote) chance to finish as the top team in London and I think we should go for it.  We’ll probably try for a bit of Claudio Ranieri’s more Italian style of football (or at least defending and trying to nick goals on the break) up at Manchester City with the hope that some extra rest and European distraction takes a toll on the (Blue) Mooners.  It won’t be easy, especially given the form our team is in, but it seems infinitely better than looking over our shoulder and inventing scenarios for Manchester United or West Ham to catch us.  What could be worse than for our top 4 place to come down to needing a result in a game between this season’s biggest losers (us and Aston Villa) on the final day?

But that’s Arsenal, so we should be prepared.  Nothing easy, nor fun.  For some reason it’s what we do.  We worry and we turn inward to create scenarios about how bad we are and losing all our matches.  Or we believe we should win them all just because we (as supporters) are going to spend the time (and perhaps the money) to watch.  Some have probably chosen Arsenal as their big team because their smaller club would never get close.  That’s a big price to pay and there must be some Leicester based Gooners (and others who turned to supporting a non-local club) paying it today .  Even a trip down to the pub costs the price of a beer or two.  (Sorry, I’ve yet to find a pint that will last the full ninety.)  Listening on the radio, I have gathered, however, is still free, but that comes with journalists viewing through the opposite of red (and white-sleeved) tinted glasses.  Everybody loves a villain and somehow–even for ourselves–we’re it.

Where is the Love?  Where is the Magic?

Personally, this is my preferred version of songs with this title, but now I’m dating myself… Besides, I can’t ever listen to too much Fergie…

We used to have some magic.  Somehow, with money troubles all around us, or at least a stadium that could not meet the demand for tickets, an unknown manager with the same name as the club (spooky…) inherited some quality players, added some good ones and got everybody together with some modern ideas to win some trophies and create some history.  If only Arsenal had spent the money and bought the rights to the term “invincible,” the DVD wouldn’t have to be called “49.”  Instead, they spent it on that new stadium and new players and more contracts for that manager.  Ten years ago it all seemed a pretty nice thing, at least among the Gooners I met when I lived (briefly) in Highbury.

I also met more (many, many more) Gooners on the internet, which I soon learned, was where the line between support and critique was a very permeable one.  In fact, I learned that by critiquing I was supporting, and those who accepted the status quo were actually failing in their duties as supporters.  Revolution (or at least suggesting major, minor and oftentimes speculative or impossible tweaks for improvement) was going to happen one keystroke at a time.  A form of magic if ever there was one.

So, magic (at Arsenal) turns out to be about believing that we (or at least somebody new) can manage the club better than the current manager.  It’s also about spending money to match the biggest spenders, unless (of course) the players turn out to not be worth it. (That would be stupid…)  It’s about playing players who are on the bench or out of favor (sorry, American spelling…or not fit or out on loan…) because, at one time, perhaps in a memory from the stadium or from Match of the Day (or in a youtube compilation or because somebody said so) we remember them doing something that has to be better than what’s on display.

At terrace level, the tickets are too expensive but the football isn’t worth watching so the seats stay empty.  Maybe being able to say you can afford them–and/or having your accountant write it off as an expense–is the real magic of being an Arsenal supporter.

Last weekend it came down to protests with signs printed, you guessed it, from the internet, and manager Arsene Wenger doubled down by criticizing (ugh, z instead of s, more Americanisms…) the home support in the easier matches.  It was ugly but we won the match and afterwards he addressed the happiness issue.  “You want to make the fans happy.  I’m sorry if I don’t achieve it. I’m irritated and frustrated if I cannot keep people happy. I want to make people happy.”  I preferred a small quote from beforehand, one perhaps missed by those so incensed by his accusations.  “When a club cannot enjoy anything anymore it is in trouble.”

In my view, Arsenal is in trouble.  These are not happy times at our club and if being a football supporter is (as is sometimes said) all about the suffering, Arsenal as a club, including our manager, players, fans–and our internet–is perfecting the brand.  Leicester winning the league, however–something their long suffering supporters could not have dreamed up–is the antidote, and I cannot begrudge them (or anybody else) for enjoying it.

So, congratulations to Leicester City.  For Arsenal there should be a lesson in it: onward, and, ideally, upward.  Away from (self) hate and towards love…Maybe?  As it is for all football supporters, our club is not (and never will be) good enough to avoid the suffering, but, perhaps, we’re good enough to dream.  As such, back to the future, I say…


by 17highburyterrace

13 thoughts on “Back to the Future: How Can Leicester City Winning the League Show Arsenal the Power of Love?

  • Gerry, 17ht,

    Somehow the most negative team in England won.

    We should start playing like that, hacking everyone down like a rugby team and scoring through quick counters like manu**.

    Am pissed as we should have done so much more, but its not enough to trigger a massive collapse of support for the team.

    So, should we sell Theo, Giroud, Jacko and keep Welbeck, Santi, and go down to Wenger basics by buying unknowns and unleashing the winner in them?

    We have been bogged down by Wenger’s failure to see the efforts or the lack thereof by Theo, Giroud, and the never ending injury crisis of Jacko.

    We need them to go, and buy players or bring the youngsters in from the reserves.

    Just my 2 cents,

  • If you want to putthe Leicester win in perspective, take it from their manager. Claudio Ranieri offered this in an interview with BBC after his team won; “Big money makes big teams and usually big teams win. Now we can say only 99% of the time,” said Ranieri. “Next season will be the same and for the next 10 or 20 years, it will be the same,” the Leicester manager added.

    Ranieri noted that a surprise title winner comes around every 20 years, mentioning Nottingham Forest in 1978 and Blackburn Rovers in 1995.

    Blackburn won the title three years after winning promotion to the Premier League but the financial strain of staying competitive sent them tumbling into administration and the lower tiers. They haven’t been back to the top flight since.

    “How many years after Nottingham Forest and Blackburn have another team won?” said the Italian. “The richest, or the team who can pick up the best players to make a team, People point to the massive influx of cash coming to the teams in the league next season as a reason Leicester can make it stick but all the teams will get that cash and teams like Chelsea, Man City, and Man U will add that money to war chests already bursting with readies.

    For those who declare Leicester’s victory as the most amazing ever; Nottingham Forest won the year after being in 3rd place in the Championship. That is, empirically, more impressive than Leicester’s victory. The second most amazing win in the history of English football is still pretty good. Arsenal’s unbeaten season was the second best title win in England until this year. One more reason to pity the Gunners this year.

  • Ipswich Town winning the League, Division One as it was, in 1961-62 must rank alongside Leicester city’s success.
    Another team full of rejects and misfits managed by an inspiring Alf Ramsey were the original surprise package…
    Brian Clough actually did it twice, with Nottingham Forest in 1977-78 and Derby County in 1968-69…

    Nice post 17tino

  • I am amused by the your message behind the message, and the repeated use of the phrase
    ‘Congratulations Leicester’ – as each one has a subtext, either sincere(as far as you can be), regretful, or envious even? Throw in a bit of ‘rabble rousing’ or choreographed cheerleading songs or or phrases …
    Yes you have given it your full treatment as only you can. Personally I preferred the ‘Frankie Goes to Hollywood’ version of ‘The Power Of Love’, but I liked the ‘Soul’ touch you added.

    I said all I have to say on Leicester, so I leave JK to have the last word on that …. as he clearly wants it.

    I have a simple answer to how to solve the malaise that has grown with the fans attending.
    Scrap ‘season ticket sales’. Make everyone who wants to attend the match queue for it ON
    See how many of the super rich bother to turn up then, so they can voice there overblown views on any media they can find. See how many disgruntled bother to pay out money on the day, just to moan about this and that?

    Leave it to the gruntled I say. 😀

    Seriously, are Arsenal in ‘serious trouble’. Well that depends on your starting point. Or more precisely, what level your satisfaction is placed, where success and failure are a moveable (and you think you have trouble with UK/US ‘spell checkers’ HT! I have to have the big version of the Collins English Dictionary just to find out that my instinctive wording is correct …grrrr!) ..feast.

    I was born in Coventry, Went to school in Coventry, Worked in Coventry, So I supported Coventry. I missed a lot of early schooling, so I tended to have an ‘outsider’s’ view which has stayed with me to this day. My first love was horse racing, and still is, so football came later. I do remember the stories of the 8-1 thrashing by Leicester, at home, in the local paper, but I saw every game of City’s unbeaten promotion run, bar the first two. I was among the 12,000 who stood on the freezing terraces to see us beat Barnsley( spell checker, Why????) at the start of their FA Cup run, and only missed the Man U away game – C. Regis 0-1) all the way to Wembley.

    Unlike you HT, as I think you said you couldn’t support another team because you have no emotional connection with them? but I can. It is that outsider view that means I can identify with the underdog. From that you can deduce that Man U were never on my support list, even now, as they think of themselves as ‘top dog’ 😀 In fact, it was Arsenal’s away win(against the odds) at Liverpool to deprive United of the title that drew me to this part of N.London. That, and TH14 😀
    But only as a ‘second team’, until Coventry eventually fell out of the top flight. TV coverage sort of flipped that around … but I retain that ‘outsider’ overview. And right now, AW is the ‘underdog’.

    I therefore try to put an intelligent view on things I write on here, as opposed to unsustainable
    ideas that have many unforeseen consequences that can crop up with the one-liners.

    The bottom line is, Arsenal will survive, and unless they sign Mourinho, I will continue to support both players and management, and use my criticisms only when I think they are deserved.

    Carry on with your discussion …


  • Gerry,

    Mourningho is not going to manu**. So do you mean if he comes to us you will stop being a Gooner?

    Also, on lester i think i have said everything i have to say.

    On the emotional attachment, somehow i feel that the heartaches and heart attacks, even breaking into cold sweat, are the emotions that make me love the club.

    Other clubs do not appeal to me. Some even make me swear in silence. Like you know what the name is.

    So, its like a relationship, less of an affair, more of a long term love of the club.

    Once we get the issues out of the way it will be the best club ever.


  • JK, in answer to ‘that’ question I’ll reply with another …

    Don’t you think that everything (bar lack of titles, recently that is), that you love about the club wouldn’t fundamentally change under M?

    I do, and I think TA has said as much. Not that it will happen, but hypothetically, I would probably end up supporting the clubs my favourite players would move to, rather than go along with the two years under Moo, and what it would do to the club. We all know his third year would be crap, so that would be the time to reconsider.

  • Gerry,

    As M said that he will buy all Gunner lads, so its maybe he will play not so much the Wenger way, but his way plus more passing and direct play.

    Ok, maybe i am contradicting myself a little, but if we are to switch to a more counter game we will have to park the bus ourselves.


  • Well written tour de force post about all that is happening regarding Arsenal and the title etc. I cannot help but think you are the one who needs a bit of happiness from the team and the blog right now. ❤️

    There was more love than hate on display during the game and I do not think there really is an issue with the support. In fact, those who were at the game said they were gladdened by the support for Wenger and the team. I am looking fwd to the last games and then the start of the new seasons on 13 August. Anything in between will be the real bore. 😄

  • Hey JK, then why don’t you just, you know, talk about them? Did you watch them last night?

    Yeah, TA (and I know you have a new post up)… I would like to see more love and happiness–from the team, on the blog and everywhere else…

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