Belfast Telegraph

Biting Back: The similarities of Ulster and Arsenal

By Stuart McKinley

They have an impressive new stadium, while out in the middle there is some great talent on the pitch.

Among those players are one or two who are coveted across Europe. Add to that a number of great home-grown kids who show the work being done in grooming the next generation is working.

You'd think the fans would be happy, but no, because one thing is missing; the one thing that supporters crave - regular trophy success.

The fact that some big names have left and not been replaced with like-for-like quality might have something to do with that.

But which team are we talking about here? Well, Arsenal, of course, but you could be forgiven for thinking that there are similarities between the Gunners and Ulster Rugby - because there are.

It's only in the last couple of seasons that Arsene Wenger has started to spend in order to plug the massive gaps left by the departures of Gael Clichy, Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Robin van Persie.

The circumstances are different for Ulster, with no multi-million pound transfer market to delve into. Losing Tom Court and John Afoa last summer, followed by the retirements of Johann Muller, Stephen Ferris and Paddy Wallace, have been a big blow.

Coach Neil Doak really has been left splashing in the deep end without the experience of departed Director of Rugby David Humphreys to help ease him into the role.

Having the PRO12 final at the Kingspan is a massive coup, but it will be a damp squib if Ulster aren't in it.

Wenger ended a nine-year trophy drought last season.

It is now nine years since Ulster's only previous Celtic League success and without investment the next one could be just as far away.

Belfast Telegraph


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