How Do You Measure Progress?

Progress, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is:

• an expedition, journey, or march through a region
• a forward or onward movement (as to an objective or to a goal) : advance
• gradual betterment ; especially : the progressive development of humankind
• in progress : going on : occuring

However the word is interpreted there seems to be a divide between the forward-looking Arsenal supporter who understands that great teams are not built over night and the one who feels the club must win at all cost. The Wenger model that I often speak about is a work in progress. The ‘win now’ types neglect the fact that a sustainable plan is an absolute must. They long for big money buys in the transfer market, popular star names, and to be like Chelsea and United – successful even if with a precarious plan. Success is not just in winning a trophy now but in building a base for multiple titles.

The weight of fan expectation and Arsenal’s own success (under Wenger) have helped undermine the current project. Add the strength of the other “big four” clubs and it is understandable that fans are frustrated. The forward motion and development of the club are clear to see but fans only care about trophies. At least the short-sided ones do. The balanced view of a supporter accepts that it is a journey we’ve embarked on.

While the signs of progress are evident i.e. CL football next term yet again, reaching the last four in Europe without our best team/players, the healthy financial figures that Emirates Stadium was built for, we can and will do better. There was joy and laughter under the bright sunshine yesterday as we defeated Stoke rather easily but it only served to remind us that we went missing or just couldn’t get it done in matches when it mattered most. Timely goals were an issue in 2007-08 and remained so this term. Suggestions that the manager should leave elevated the matter to crisis proportions yet if you listen carefully to what he says, you will feel that he’s not leaving Arsenal. In past seasons when we’ve won, his remarks about contract negotiations and his future in general have been far more cryptic and non-committal. This time around he has said enough to clearly suggest that he will not leave the job. He’s been far more open. Maybe due to the obvious need to get things right or just that (as I believe) this is the only club for him. Regardless, there’s room for major improvement even if not via major changes to the squad.

And he knows it.

My measure for progress next term will be if our season is extended to this month’s two remaining finals – CL and FA Cup – and obviously by winning the damn league.

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