End of Season

The season is over and with Man City ending up as Champions, Liverpool ending up as Champions of Europe. Arsenal ended the season without Champions League football and Spurs extended their trophy drought. But it’s not quite that black and white.

It’s been a strange week – Arsenal lost the Europa final and I think every Arsenal fan was fearing the worst for the Champions League final. Ultimately, Spurs fell short and as we’ve been told many times, no one remembers the losers of major finals. Arsenal remember they got to the 2006 Champions League final but if you ask other fans of other clubs, I doubt anyone will remember nor care.

There’s been a lot of talk about Liverpool and the difference their fans make and the difference Anfield makes especially when you see Barcelona and the Great Leo Messi struggling and losing a 3-0 first leg lead. Let’s be honest, we’ve had a few rocking nights at the Emirates but certainly not consistently, but it HAS got a lot better. Equally, it’s important to remember that Anfield isn’t rocking for every single game, several Premier League games have seen a lack of atmosphere so it’s certainly a problem all over the country but for them big nights, Anfield often aids their players pull off results.

There has been some progress recently with a group of young supporters really trying to improve our chants, atmosphere and just coming up with fresh ideas and working with the club. I was present at a meeting with them and the club and I was very impressed with the way they were balancing their studies and trying to make the Emirates a better place for fans.

However, all the above is irrelevant if your club isn’t quite competing for the big prizes in football. There have been many behind the scenes changes at Arsenal with Arsene Wenger leaving after 22 years, a takeover resulted in KSE owning 100% of the club and the CEO, Ivan Gazidis leaving. Josh Kroenke, part of KSE, when describing the structure said Raul Sanllehi and Vinai Venkatesham are trusted to manage the day to day operations of Arsenal football club. Both Raul and Vinai have said on a few occasions this season that the ambition for Arsenal is to win the two biggest trophies available – the Premier League and the Champions League.

To win the Champions League, you need to qualify for it and in order to quality for it, you need to finish in the top four or win the Europa League, which we failed to do.

The Europa League final in my opinion, was less about winning the trophy – of course, any European trophy is nothing to turn your nose at however, the disappointment of losing the final was less about losing the final, I can get over that, but more about what it means for the club going forward. The difference between the Champions League to the Europa League is significant – getting into the CL results in an increase in the TV and commercial revenue. The estimated difference between getting to the CL final to the EL final is approx. £70-75m. The Champions League gives you a platform to build and not being in it, sets us back another year and that was the real disappointment of losing the final.

(If interested, more on how much you get in the CL can be found here: https://inews.co.uk/sport/football/champions-league/champions-league-prize-money-2019-winner-how-much-liverpool-vs-tottenham-final/ )

There’s not getting away from the fact that Arsenal are quite far behind England and Europe’s elite. Manchester City and Liverpool took it to another level domestically and you wouldn’t fancy Arsenal against Barcelona, Real Madrid or Bayern Munich (even if they failed this season in Europe). Efficiency has been the word of the season so far and Aaron Ramsey has been the major victim of that. The signings we made last summer were all about finding players, at a reasonable price with the objective to get back into the Champions League and unfortunately, it’s likely to be a repeat this summer but with hopefully a better result.

I’m not sure what to expect this summer but it’s all about buying well (unlike other teams – we can’t afford for signings not to work out), making decisions on current players, bringing through young players and having a head coach who is at the forefront of it all.

Last Wednesday really impacted me, not because we lost a final, despite that being very disappointing, but more because that was the first major step to rebuilding but we’re pretty much in the same place we were 12 months ago and that really brings me down. Thank god the domestic season is over!


Akhil Vyas

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