Substance over style

Image: Graham: sees promise at Arsenal

George Graham told Goals on Sunday that style must be secondary to silverware at Arsenal.

Graham calls on Wenger's youngsters to deliver

What would an Arsenal supporter prefer to see - their team playing sparkling football or their team picking up sparkling silverware? That was the question put to former Gunners chief George Graham on Goals on Sunday and he was adamant that the pursuit of trophies must be the top priority for the club. Graham's nine-year spell in charge of Arsenal was undoubtedly a successful one as he led them to two First Division titles, one FA Cup, two League Cups and one European Cup Winners Cup. However, his teams were hardly notorious for their attacking football as "one-nil to the Arsenal" became a common terrace chant during his reign. In stark contrast, Arsene Wenger's current squad have received plenty of plaudits for their attractive style of football but the club have not won a major honour since 2005. Not many players in Wenger's young squad have won a trophy with the club and Graham says that needs to change this season. "A lot's expected of them," he told Goals on Sunday. "They have one of the best managers in the game without question and they keep on promising, which is one of the things I think people have against them. "They keep on promising, new players are coming in each season and they're all young. People are saying they're playing great football, but let's deliver some trophies. "They've not done that now for three years. My argument when I was at Arsenal was always let's put a trophy on the table at the end of each season. "Arsene does it differently. They really play some wonderful football and it's just a joy to watch. "Even though they've not won anything, everybody's delighted with the football they play, but I think this year they've got to be seriously looking for a trophy."


Graham suggested that the Arsenal squad is lacking in physical presence and said Wenger should have signed some experienced players over the summer to guide the youngsters through the difficult periods of the season. He continued: "I think they're playing as good football as we've seen for years, but I also think they needed an injection of experience at the beginning of the season. "I think the spine of the team, I always used to build the team around that, is a bit weak. I think they need a bit more strength. "The technical side of the staff is top class but I think they need a more physical player. "Not necessarily British players, but I feel they need a stronger mentality and strong mental players. "When Arsenal play they play a technical game all the time and it's magnificent to watch, but you're going to get games where you're going to have to dig in. "Are they good at that? Can they dig in and make it physical? Have they got enough players there that can make them strong mentally? "That worries me a little bit because halfway through the season they're going to come up against a winter's evening when they need to dig in. "That's where the question mark is. It's nothing to do with the footballing ability, I think they've got that."
Graham accepted that fans want to see both good football and trophies and he admits that success can indeed be achieved with an attacking philosophy. But he says silverware must always cone first. "They can't keep promising and promising," he concluded. "We're in a game which is a winning game and you've got to win things. Good football comes second and you can't keep talking about good football and not win any trophies for six to 10 years. "The fans want to see both. They want to see good football and they want to see you winning things."

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