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1992 pre-season: a record but where was the entertainment?

This is part of a series which looks at the pre-season from each season.  This is the pre-season for 1992 – before the Cup Double.  A list of all the articles to date from 1993 to 2014 is at the end.

By Tony Attwood

In 1991/2 Arsenal came fourth in the league scoring an amazing 81 goals.  We were top scorers in the league due to the sharing of goals between Campbell (13), Merson (12), Smith (12) and Wright (24).  From 1 February to the end of the season Arsenal were unbeaten in 17 including a 7-1 thrashing of Sheffield Wednesday (who actually finished the league in third) and a 5-1 over Southampton.

So interest and enthusiasm was high, and crowds in the upper 30,000s started to be the norm once more.  But in retrospect we can see signs that things were not right.

The old season winds its way…

12 March 1992: Andy Cole, after just one game for Arsenal moved on to Bristol City and later Newcastle before getting almost 200 games for Manchester Utd.  Quite how such a talent was missed has long been a mystery.  If there had been others coming through it wouldn’t have mattered so much but there were only one or two.

8 April 1992: Stephen Morrow’s first game: Arsenal 3 Norwich 1.  He had joined from Bangor and went on to make 39 starts in the League scoring one goal.

And in terms of transfers that was it until July, although on the playing front a mention must be made of…

2 May 1992 Ian Wright hat trick (two in the 90th minute) in the last game in front of the old North Bank.  Arsenal won 5-1 against Southampton as Wright beat Lineker to the top scorer spot with 24 league goals.  A hardy group stayed on after the match chanting “We’re here to save the North Bank,” as stewards left us to slowly drift away.  Which eventually we did.

1992 Pre-season

14 July 1992 John Jensen signed from Brondby.  The signing was, in 1995, shown to involve the agent of Jensen paying George Graham, a deal that led to Graham’s dismissal. Jensen played 132 games for Arsenal over four years before returning to his former club.   He was one of the heros of Denmark;s Euro 92 triumph, but when it came to Arsenal he was not David Rocastle.

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 very distressed by the move.

25 July 1992: First game for John Jensen and Ian Selley in friendly v Byafossen.  Selly showed a lot of promise, but he later suffered a broken leg which affected his game and he spent much of his subsequent career playing in non-league football.

The Norway Tour and the rest of pre-season

  • 25 July 1992 Byafossen 1 Arsenal 0
  • 28 July 1992: Fram 0  Arsenal 2 (Smith, Wright)
  • 2 August 1992: Brann Bergen 0 Arsenal 2 (Campbell 2)
  • 7 August 1992: Wolverhampton 0 Arsenal 0
  • 10 August 1992: Peterborough 2 Arsenal 4 (Campbell, Smith, Merson, Limpar).

A video of the Brann game is available here

What happened next

15 August 1992: Steve Bould scored Arsenal’s first Premier League goal. Campbell got a second to make it 2-0 at half time, but the final score was  Arsenal 2 Norwich 4.  The game was played in front of just 24,030 with the North Bank closed in order to become an all seater two tier stand.

18 August 1992.  Perry Groves last game v Blackburn (a 0-1 defeat).  He had played 155 league games for Arsenal and scored 21 goals.  On 21 August he was sold to Southampton for £750,000.

5 September 1992: Wimbledon 3 Arsenal 2, the 3rd defeat in the first seven games

However at one level one can argue that the season was a triumph in the end.  Arsenal finished 10th, but won the unprecedented league cup and FA Cup double.

But it was clear that there was no influx of exciting new talent either in terms of significant transfers like the events that brought us Smith and Wright, nor the arrival of many youngsters – with the exception of Parlour.  The rebuilding that was needed after the amazing triumph of 1991 didn’t seem to be there, and the summer on the transfer front was quiet.

There were also a lot of stories about player disquiet with newspapers publishing exclusives from “Highbury insiders” claiming that morale in the team was at an all time low.

“It’s almost as if they are putting two fingers up to the manager by the way they are playing,” was the quote in one paper.

 

 

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