Why Arsenal’s supposed lack of ambition might be nothing of the kind

One of the traits that Arsenal are regularly said to have is a “lack of ambition” – this is revealed, we are told, in the players that are brought in.  Minor players who won’t make any difference to the club.  Players we can get on the cheap.

Players such as… Rob Holding.  For this was certainly what was said of him when he signed on this day in 2016, and yet now, the fee of £2m looks ridiculously small.

Sadly many fans never quite seem to get the idea that just because a player costs a lot of money, that doesn’t mean he is going to be any good.

Below are the anniversaries, and after that details of who and what we are…


22 July 1934 Danny Clapton born in Stepney.  He played for Leytonstone as an amateur before joining Arsenal in August 1953 

22 July 1966: Tony Burns transferred to Brighton.   He played as a goalkeeper 31 times for Arsenal.  He continued playing until 1979, most notably playing 90 games for Crystal Palace, and then became a manager, and later goalkeeping coach.

22 July 1971 Jon Sammels sold to Leicester for £100,000, after becoming a victim of the “boo-boys” in the crowd.  He had played 215 league games and went on to play 241 for Leicester, leaving them for Canada in 1977.

22 July 1989: First appearance of goalkeeper Alan Miller in a friendly against Skelleftea.  He played nine times for Arsenal and then after several loan spells moved to Middlesbrough in 1994.

22 July 1990: Andy Linighan and David Seaman debut v Varberg Bois.  Linighan joined from Norwich while Seaman came from Queens Park Rangers.  After Linighan retired from football he went on to run his own plumbing business.

22 July 1992 David Rocastle sold to the league champions Leeds for £2m.  Later reports strongly suggested that he was very much sold against his will and was deeply distressed by the move forced upon him by George Graham.

22 July 2003: Oleg Luzhny sold to Wolverhampton W.  Luzhny played 110 league games for Arsenal and was part of the team that won the 2001/2 double.

22 July 2003: SC Ritzing drew with Arsenal to make it one defeat, two draws and no wins in pre-season games. Matters picked up later and Arsenal won four of the nine pre-season games all told before embarking on the Unbeaten season.

22 July 2004: Mathieu Flamini signed from Marseille on a free transfer – a profile he continued through his career, never once commanding a transfer fee.    He played 102 times for Arsenal before moving on to Milan; returning in 2013, and then leaving again for Palace.  After leaving football Mathieu not only became a partner in GF Biochemicals, he also co-founded The BioJournal the world’s first e-magazine devoted entirely to eco-sustainability.

22 July 2004: Ray Parlour joined Middlesbrough.  He had played 339 games for Arsenal, and finished his career in 2007 playing for Hull.  He currently holds Arsenal’s all-time Premier League appearances record of 333.  All told he won the League three times, the FA Cup four times, the League Cup and the Cup Winners’ Cup.

22 July 2006: The Emirates Stadium opened with the Dennis Bergkamp testimonial,  Dennis’ father kicked off the match.  Dennis had played 423 games for Arsenal, and was part of both Arsène Wenger’s Doubles and the Unbeaten Season.

22 July 2016: Arsenal signed Bolton’s Player of the Year Rob Holding for £2m.  The transfer was met with wholesale derision by the anti-Wengerian mobs who were spurred on by the mass media and their newly emerging small scale blogs.   Although no one seemed to apologise for the abuse by the end of the season when Holding put in a sterling display in the Cup Final to see off Chelsea, it was apparent that this was another Wenger work of absolute brilliance.

22 July 2013: Arsenal played Nagoya Grampus, the club Arsène Wenger managed before Arsenal.  Arsenal won 3-1 with goals from Giroud, Ryo and Walcott.

The Arsenal History Society is part of the Arsenal Independent Supporters Association – a body which gives positive support to the club, and has regular meetings with directors and senior officials of the club to represent the views of its members to the club.  You can read more about AISA on its website.

Below you will find today’s feature, and the list of anniversaries for today.  But first…

We currently have two books available.

“Woolwich Arsenal, the club that changed football” is the definitive history of Arsenal from its inception, and “Making the Arsenal” is a novel which tells the story of Arsenal in 1910.

Both books are now available on Kindle and in print.    Please see here for more details.   

On this site we have hundreds of series of articles on Arsenal history and a full list of the various series of articles on Arsenal’s history can be found here.    Three particular highlights are…

Henry Norris at the Arsenal:  There is a full index to the series here.

Arsenal in the 1930s: The most comprehensive series on the decade ever

Arsenal in the 1970s: Every match and every intrigue reviewed in detail.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *