Brazil 1970, West Germany 1972, Holland 1974, Holland 1978.
As the best teams in the world veered toward attacking football, English club and international football ploughed its lonely furrow, convinced that the Wingless Wonders were the way forward.
In fairness, the 1970 England team was probably better than the 1966 World Cup Winners and the third placed squad in 1968s European Nations Cup. Indeed the squad of 1970 is often unfairly overlooked; whether Banks’ food poisoning was deliberate or not is unknown but it was certainly as decisive in the quarter-final defeat to the Germans as Sir Alf Ramsey’s substitution of Bobby Charlton with England ahead 2 – 0 at the time.
It seems curious – arrogant even – to believe the way forward was the path already trodden but hindsight is a wonderful tool in analysing trends. At the time it is easy to see why England (and English clubs) felt that there was little wrong in the preferred style of play. However, 1972 sewed the first seeds of doubt, 1973s World Cup qualifying campaign sealed that fate. As ever, the FA were enlightened in their approach, sacking Sir Alf Ramsey and then enlisting the archetypal English stylist, Don Revie, in his place. That move arguably took English football two decades to recover from, if it ever has.
But given that Bertie Mee won the double in 1970-71, there was nothing wrong in Arsenal playing their particular way at all.