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Why last season was a success and Wenger can lead us to the title again

Following the realisation that we were not going to win the Premier League title there were some ugly scenes. The team were vilified by some fans and castigated by pundits and sections of the media. There were some small in-match protests directed at Arsène Wenger and occasional bouts of booing of the team. On a calmer but still frustrated level there was talk of the need for ‘change’ with much finger pointing at Arsène as manager being the object in need of change.

As a great admirer of Arsène Wenger and particularly his attractive and entertaining style of football, I instinctively felt very uneasy about all this hostility and finger pointing but I also shared greatly in our collective sense of disappointment. I felt the need to make sense of all this and in seeking to do this I decided to address the issues.

Whilst accepting that the manager should accept some of the blame; it is my contention that too much of the responsibility for our disappointment has been placed at the managers door and there were other causes for our disappointment.

Great Expectations

Expectation is the leading cause of disappointment. Disappointment is defined as the psychological reaction to an outcome that does not match up to expectations. The greater the disparity between our expectations and the outcome is, the greater our disappointment.

Over the course of this season our expectations as title winners went sky high only to see the outcomes go into free fall. A huge disparity opened up between our expectations and our results and this created huge disappointment for us fans, which in turn led to huge criticism. 

The team and the manager should be criticised for the dramatic collapse of our title bid but I believe we should first examine our own expectations to determine a fair level of criticism.

Let’s look at how our level of expectations changed over the season.

August 2015

At the start of the season there was a fair bit of optimism around Arsenal’s title chances. We could boast 3 world class players in Cech, Alexis and Özil; we had just won 2 back to back FA Cups and beaten Chelsea in the Community Shield at Wembley.

Our hopes for our first title since 2003 were the highest they have been for at least a decade and this was reflected by the bookies with our odds for the title: Chelsea were red hot favourites at 13/8, Man City 5/2, Arsenal 7/2 (shortened from 10/1 quoted 4 months earlier in March 2015), Man Utd 5/1, Sp*rs 100/1, Leicester 5,000/1. 

According to all the experts at the start of the season, we were expected to come 3rd in the League.

Hopes were high amongst the fans but it would be fair to say that anyone who expected us to win the title was getting a little carried away. How many had set themselves up for a disappointment and believed that this would be our year? A poll of Guardian readers before the start of the 2015/16 season saw a surprising 34% of voters back Arsenal for the title.

I don’t know what percentage of those readers were Arsenal fans but it certainly indicated a high degree of expectation for the Arsenal amongst the football readers — which differed somewhat from the views of bookies and pundits. 

Tags: Wenger, Arsenal season review, Title winners

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