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Arsenal Board Must Learn the Lessons of History & Invest

Following another disappointing result, Arsenal and the board need to learn from past mistakes and invest in the squad this January to save our flagging season.

Peter Hill-Wood

Hill-wood: Must learn from history

‘The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history’. In Arsenal’s case it is untrue in the sense that from history we DO learn the inevitable cycle of our Arsenal supporting lives. However, it is untrue in that the Arsenal board never seem to learn the lessons of history in terms of the need to invest and build.

The most shocking realisation that came out of the Swansea game was that whilst the Arsenal team were below par they had inferior players to Swansea City in most areas of the field.

How have we made the transition from invincibles to … (please no swearing-Ed). The answer is simple every year we lose our best players and replace them with usually half decent but inferior replacements. The result is a gradual but inevitable diminution in the quality of the team.

None of this is new. The Wenger era is far from unique. The club can be characterised, in my time as a fan, as regularly building a decent team only to demolish it through lack of ambition, investment call it what you will.

The 1971 double team was functional and effective. For the couple of years that followed the club built on it but just as they started to develop into what may have become a really top side the club allowed the team to age, stars were sold and inferior players came in, sound familiar?

The team flirted with relegation for a couple of seasons, and then built again. This was the side of the three successive FA cup finals, of Jennings, O’Leary, Brady and Stapleton etc. They were talented but the club didn’t invest yet again. So whilst they could beat anyone on their day, they were never able to challenge for a league title. The squad was simply not deep enough. Again the best players were sold and as ever the inevitable flirtation with relegation followed. Those early eighties teams were awful. If you are too young ask someone how bad Hawley and Hankin were! Honestly they both made Chamakh look like Messi!

Then from the ashes another phoenix arose. Carling cups were followed by Anfield 89 and all that! The 91 team was a really good side and underrated by many. Docked points, they still won the league by a distance.

Again the club didn’t invest. See it isn’t just Arsene Wenger. Any manager that can produce a team on a shoestring is music to the ears of generations of Arsenal boards.

So the George Graham team also descended into a cup team built on a great striker and wonderful keeper and defence. Then came the usual flirtation with the wrong end of the table. The loss of good players, the buying of inferior ones. Hands up anyone who thinks Glenn Helder or Kris Kiwomya should ever have worn our great shirt…didn’t think so.

So to Mr Wenger, and the invincibles. And because it’s the Arsenal Board we know what will happen and …the inevitable is happening.

We are at the point in the cycle where we should now just about be ready to start the flirtation with relegation. Don’t rule it out. There are many worse teams than Arsenal in the league but some of our players have serious question marks against them in terms of character, belief attitude and so on. And where is the leadership? Thomas Vermaelen has a great attitude himself but doesn’t seem to be able to transmit that to others.

The answer of course is, as it always has been …investment. It doesn’t require Manchester City style spending. That would be nice but it isn’t going to happen. Get rid of the deadwood, buy a skilful but physical midfield player, a forward of real talent, and see where we are then.

Will the board learn the lessons of history? And even if they do will they choose to make the same mistakes again? The answer may well rest with the fans. Believe me Arsenal boards are no different from other boards. They react to pressure. The kind of pressure that the protest before the Swansea game is starting to exert.

I was standing with a large group of Swansea fans as the protest march went by. At first they offered their own rival chants but as the scale of the protest became clear they clapped out of a respect that decent fans always have for each other. And one of them turned to me and said. ‘They won’t be able to call that a minority for much longer’. No they won’t. Keep up the pressure so that we stop this board going the way of so many of its predecessors.

Footnote: Our thoughts must be with Peter Hill Wood and his family following his recent illness. The Hill Woods have given generations of service to our club. Whatever differences we have we should never forget we are all part of the same Gooner family.

What are your thoughts on the state of Arsenal right now? Get involved below.



  1. Goonerboyo

    December 3, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    I recognise this story, or is it one of those nightmares which keep repeating night after night and just when we are about to perish we wake up just in time to avoid our demise.
    ‘No one can hear you scream, in space’. Do you feel you are also screaming in desperation and frustration in a vacuum that prevents this club hearing the obvious.
    Why is that hundreds if not thousands of Gooners from all over the globe can see what has been happening and the refusal rather than failure of the board and manager to correct the decline?
    The pockets of those who hold the purse strings have been handsomely lined at the expense of bargain basement buys and hyped up ticket prices. So no incentive there.
    And whatever happened to the Wenger youth production line? The renaissance of languishing players, the unveiling of unknown talent, the manufacture of superstars, the discovery of genius?
    I’ll tell what happened, other clubs got wise to this, or baled out by benefactors willing to donate millions inflated the market as they furnished squads free of competition with the finished article at fantasy league prices.
    I am convinced that things must continue to worsen before they get better.
    Losing ECL qualification is almost certain, season tickets sales will plummet, weekly demonstrations wil become more vociferous and difficult to contain. Corporate clients will stay away. Gooners will vote with their feet.
    Change will have to come.
    But will mantle of Wenger become a yoke too heavy for any new manager to bear?
    Are we witnessing the fading of an Empire, flames flickering and dying in it’s own ashes?
    Time will tell.

  2. dipo

    December 3, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    Yea! We that are even away can’t stand and beat our chest as arsenal fan, it always shame no troph over lot of years and year in year out u sum the sales of ur best players and tell us that’s the profit we made in a season, what bragging right does that give to us? Pls mr hillwood gett well soon we need our arsenal back

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