As the immediate euphoria of the hilarity of finishing about the Tiny Totts begand to die away yesterday afternoon whilst at work, I started to search out unread articles from journalists, surely backtracking on the inevitable ‘North London Power Shift’ rhetoric that had been gathering momentum in the last few weeks. I thought it might be tasty to see some humble pie being consumed by so called ‘experts’.
So I’m sure you can imagine my surprise when a few pundits try to tell me via print that Arsenal were ‘lucky‘ to finish above the spuds? Or that the power shift will come next season whether we like it or not.
I’m sorry, but, erm, what?
Can you just let me know where that insight has come from? Can you just give me a ‘heads up’ as to what evidence you’ve based that in-depth analysis and insight on? Because I’m a little confused. I thought that the truest barometer of a teams consistency was the league. I thought that football was practically built on the cliched premise that “the table doesn’t lie”? But apparently it now does?
If that’s the case then, if the Totts do have a better squad, better players and deserved to finish above us, does that mean that last season when we led the league for the longest period, we actually were the better team and should have been awarded the trophy?
I must go back over the archives and look up all of the articles leaping to Arsenal’s defence and saying how cruel it was that we weren’t awarded the trophy.
Now, if I switch off my sarcasm filter, I should be able to recall that the very same charges labelled at Arsenal when it comes to mental strength a year ago, should also be labelled at our north London rivals. For they too, have demonstrated a quite extraordinary propensity for implosions, in a similar way that Arsenal seem to demonstrate. So why the difference in the media narrative?
Well, firstly, it doesn’t fit the storyline for the season. In a quite remarkable season, the media are looking for more and more examples of the craziness. Leicester won the league. Man United and Chelski haven’t even finished in the top four. City’s billions could muster them only a League Cup as well as fourth and two of the promoted teams in Watford and Bournemouth have stayed up despite the odds, at the expense of two of the ‘bigger’ clubs in the country (Villa and Newcastle). The press have been romanticising the fight for the title between two plucky underdogs for some time now, so when one of the traditionally bigger clubs comes along and wedges their way in between the two on the final day, it doesn’t quite fit the script. So the system is rebelling somewhat.
Those pundits who trot out the ‘league doesn’t lie’ mantra are going against everything they know in search of some clicks. I suspect there were plenty of clicks, hits and sales lined up off the back of the ‘North London Power Shift’ and as a result of what’s happened, some of the ‘experts’ have decided that truth and facts shouldn’t get in the way of a good story. So they’re telling us that Arsenal don’t deserve it. They’re telling us that we were lucky. And they’re telling us that the ‘Power Shift’ has already happened.
Sorry guys, but data and facts tell us otherwise, and we’ve got 21 years of it.
I don’t doubt that Tottenham have improved this season. I have seen for my own eyes that they have risen up the table and finished third. But to proclaim their rise as the sign of the future after so little time seems a little crass to me. The truth is that this season has seen so many traditional ‘powerhouses’ underperform. Will the same happen next season? Will they all strengthen to the point where Tottenham aren’t able to compete? Will the introduction of Champions League football have an impact? Sure, there are those that have pointed towards the fact that the Spuds have played in the Europa, but Pochettino won’t be able to rotate as heavily in the group stages of the Champions League as he did in the Europa. The truth is that nobody knows. And that’s the same with us. There are some of us that are cynical. We’re not sure Arsène will do what’s necessary to rebuild this squad, to patch up the holes and get us excited enough about a decent chance of winning the league, to ‘do what’s needed’ over the summer. But until we see how the summer is evolving, how can you make bold statements one way or another?
I don’t think that the comments about Arsenal are because of a media narrative towards Arsenal specifically, I just think it’s towards the bigger clubs in general, because nobody likes to see a big dog be successful at the expense of an underdog. They got their underdog story with Leicester, but were thirsty for more, which Arsenal kind of scuppered by playing poorly at times this season but ultimately getting our act together at the end. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t really good enough, but it was the bare minimum and people don’t want to write about the bare minimum. So the tone has been set and the ‘experts’ are perpetuating the story.
It doesn’t really matter though. Most of them are wrong more than half of the time. So when they talk about power shifts, maybe they’re wrong, again.
Just something for you to think about on a Tuesday morn.