Champions League Qualification: The New Silverware?

Last week, Arsenal held their annual AGM meeting, where Arsene Wenger was given a few minutes to speak openly about the clubs recent history, and his plans for the future.

The meeting came at a delicate time for the club, having just lost away to Norwich city, and succumbing to defeat at home against Schalke in the Champions League. You’d have thought that Arsene would have kept controversial statements to himself.

However, during his speech, Wenger claimed that;
[blockquote]”For me there are five trophies: Premier League, Champions League, the third is to qualify for the Champions League, the fourth is the FA Cup and the fifth in the League Cup.”
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“Players ask: are you in the Champions League? A new player doesn’t want to know if you have won the League Cup.”[/blockquote]

As you can imagine, such a bold statement has caused somewhat of a stir in and amongst the Arsenal fan-base. But does Arsene’s statement hold any weight? Or do Arsenal fans have every right to be angry about his nonchalance towards winning real trophies?

[title]A Silverware Sore Spot[/title]

It’s no secret that Arsenal last won a trophy seven years ago. Patrick Vieira’s penalty against Manchester United won us the FA Cup back in 2005. Since that day, the Arsenal trophy cabinet has been festering in its own stagnancy.

Over the years, Arsenal fans have slowly but surely developed a sore spot regarding the trophy drought at the club. For rival fans, It’s become a weapon of choice for poking fun at the Gunners.[quote_right]”Despite qualifying for the Champions League year after year, Arsenal fans do not consider Champions League qualification as a success, but rather a minimum requirement.”[/quote_right]

It is no wonder then, that Arsene Wenger’s statements have had such a bad reception. Is Arsene really suggesting that we celebrate Champions League Qualification just as we would an actual trophy?

Arsenal may not have won a  major trophy in several years, but the status of the club remains world-class. The fans expect the team to challenge for honours, make good signings and represent the club as it ought to be represented, both domestically and across Europe.

Arsenal’s history is trophy rich, and every person associated with the club wants our successful past to be reflected in the future.

Thus, despite qualifying for the Champions League year after year, Arsenal fans do not consider Champions League qualification as a success, but rather a minimum requirement.

[title]Benefits Or Beauty?[/title]

Although I think Arsene has got his wording wrong, I can actually see where he’s coming from.

In reference to the second part of his aforementioned statement, Arsene is totally correct in saying that attracting players is easier when you’re playing Champions League football, in comparison to simply winning the League Cup, or indeed the FA Cup.[quote_left]”Yes, qualifying for the Champions League is more beneficial & rewarding than a trophy. However, it can never match the euphoria that accompanies winning silverware.”[/quote_left]

Foreign players especially will not care in the slightest about domestic trophies, unless of course you were winning the English Premier League. So was Wenger right to say that qualifying for the Champions League is a ‘trophy’ within itself?

In my opinion, winning a trophy like the FA Cup may not bring you much economic benefit. Neither will it help attract world-class footballers. However, winning a trophy is both a beautiful & magical experience for the club and its fans.

Nothing can compare to lifting a hard-earned trophy, and seeing your club go down in history in the process. Simply qualifying for the Champions League could never match such a momentous event.

So in conclusion, yes, qualifying for the Champions League is more beneficial and rewarding than a trophy. However, it can never match the euphoria that accompanies winning silverware. A feeling that Arsene Wenger may need to be reminded of.

What do you think of Arsene Wenger’s statements in the annual AGM meeting? Share your views in the comments section below.

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