Unless you are old enough to remember first half of 1940s, it’s very likely that you live in the worst era of your life. Era of pandemic, lack of trust, paranoia, fake news, inflation of informations, Spuds managed by Mourinho finishing weekend as top of the table…all happening live and at neck-breaking speed.
Given all that, it’s perfectly logical to presume we have been sucked into a worm-hole due to which Multiverse has been going to compression. It’s only matter of time when we will see a T-Rex becoming a goalkeeping coach at Napoli where his great-great-great-great-great-grandson David Ospina plays, late Herbert Chapman becoming a pundit at Match of the Day, late Michael Jackson winning the U.S. Presidential election or aliens from Roswell acting like VAR and – instead of red cards – making abductions of players who commit a violent conduct.
Or even more incredible – that Mikel Arteta, who was supposed to be our own bridge between Arsene Wenger and Pep Guardiola, is actually a George Graham v2.0.
You don’t believe me, right?
Well, listen to this:
In his first (full) season Arteta has managed Arsenal through nine league games. We have won four, drawn one and lost four – 13 points, nine goals for and 10 against.
In his first season, Graham had picked 12 points in his first nine league games. We won three, drew three and lost three while scoring mere six goals and conceding five. Two of those three victories were against Manchester United (at Highbury) and Sheffield (Wednesday, though). In our third league game we lost to Liverpool away. At home, we won our first two league games only to fail to score in the next two.
After a roller-coaster of a season, we finished fourth, behind eventual champions Everton, runners-up Liverpool and, gulp, Spuds but ended a trophy drought by winning League Cup.
Oh, and you know what happened in the League Cup Final against Liverpool?
They scored first before our Charlie Nicholas scored a brace to win us a cup at Wembley.
You know, Aubameyang scoring a brace after Pulisic’s opener.
If that’s not enough for you, take a look at few other things.
Before Graham took over, Arsenal had been going through a barren spell in terms of league titles. We hadn’t won the league since Graham’s playing days – 1970-71. As you probably know, we won the league at White Hart Lane, on the last day of the season.
So, Arsenal had gone through 15 full seasons without winning the league between 1971 and Graham’s first season in charge. Arteta took over halfway through our 16th barren season, Graham was appointed at the start of our 16th.
Graham’s first season in charge was, as I’ve already written, a rollercoaster. Our team wasn’t the most prolific (to put it mildly) but our defence was the second best in the league (only Everton shipped fewer goals). Our attack had just one scorer with double digits (Martin Hayes 19) so no wonder we had only seventh best attack in the league.
Two years later, Arsenal won the league in what will probably remain the most exciting title decider of all times.
What is, exactly, my point?
Arsenal put trust in George Graham because he was obviously changing something in the club that had been in the mud of mediocrity for over a decade. He restored defensive solidity and brought in talented youngsters. He gave the keys of the defence to a young lad with No.6 on his back.
Now, Arsenal have put trust in Mikel Arteta, also a former Arsenal man, to steady our ship and then turn it into a battleship “Arsenal”.
In the era of neck-breaking speed in which months have become hours and years have become months, a few years in mediocrecy equals a decade from the old days. Arsenal have slipped out of Top 4 in 2016-17 and out of Top 6 last season. We have had quite a few poor transfer decisions in the same period despite increased transfer budget and right now, we are in Top 4…of the bottom half of the table!
I won’t say Arteta will repeat Graham’s feat (or his betrayal from the late ‘90s) but maybe we are yet to find out how his meal looks like. It may not have the best look or, indeed, smell right now but we have to be patient until we hear the beep from the oven.