After Arsenal's loss to Fulham earlier in the week, the wolves came out. These particular wolves had CLUB IN CRISIS written all over them (note to the good folks at PETA: this is a metaphor. A very bad one, too), and if you listened to certain quarters of the internet and the wider soccer media, Arsenal are on the verge of imploding and will become a chess club next season because they obviously can't compete at soccer any more.
Then something I read today caught my eye.
I just read a match report discussing Manchester United's 3-0 loss to Newcastle. This was a game that Newcastle won fairly easily, and while Newcastle (7th place) is arguably a better team than Fulham, it's still not a game that Manchester United should be losing, especially 3-0.
But nowhere in that match report, or in any other info about the match, did I get the sense that a loss to a "lesser" team would plunge Manchester United into CRISIS MODE, like it does at Arsenal, and I got to wondering why this is. The thing I kept coming back to is that Manchester United has obviously banked a lot of CRISIS goodwill because of their consistent top two finishing, but that can't be the whole story.
I then turned my gaze, however briefly, to the hoariest of all cliches, media bias. Are the media really biased against Arsenal? No, they're not. Nor are they biased against any other club. If there is a media bias in the sports world, it's against hard work and analysis; actually digging into issues, exploring and explaining them is soooooo much harder than sitting at your desk and screaming CLUB IN CRISIS because a club is underperforming on a particular day, and then stringing several of those days together to support the CLUB IN CRISIS hypothesis.
Do I have a grand, overarching conclusion here? No, I really don't. But as we head into yet another transfer window, what I keep coming back to is that when reading things about how Arsenal are on the verge of imploding, and how things are never going to be the same, and how failing to qualify for the CL is basically like relegation for a team like Arsenal, just take a step back. Read sources you trust, and - most importantly - ignore those you don't.
So no, there's no crisis. There's a team not playing up to its potential at the moment; but at any given moment there are many teams that fit that description. Today it's Manchester United, tomorrow it's Portsmouth, Friday it'll be another team. It may shock the younger readers here to hear this, but just because it's on the Internet doesn't mean it's true. I KNOW!!!!