Fighting For The Soul Of Arsenal Football Club

Damon popped by yesterday and delivered his gospel. And bloody good was as well…

I come from a strong Christian upbringing, but my family are in no way whatsoever evangelical. My ethos is very much in tune with “if you think that, hey, that’s great, but I’ve done my reading and wondering and please don’t take my indifference to all-comers mindsets as an invitation to try and bend my head to see the world through the eyes you do”

Football fandom is very close to religion in the feelings, senses and passions it can and does evoke. Just like religion, though, it can start to morph into a rather ugly beast. It’s our responsibility to stop, think and evaluate ourselves and those around us in simple human terms, within the parameters of what we personally and collectively perceive to be “decent” in the here and now.

There is no point trying to take something that was relevant 5000 years ago, and applying it word for word today. Nor assuming what was “right” in football a hundred years ago, could be wholesale applied today.

Moving from Highbury was probably the single most damaging thing that happened to this club in decades. It has brought many benefits, some vast, but for me, the negatives are beginning to outweigh them

Heat And Soul, One Will Burn

It didn’t start out with that intention, but we are where we are and it should be assessed on face value.

The board and our own fans say “you don’t know how lucky you are”; the only ones I’d listen to would be fans of other clubs. I must sound like an utter prick to a host of fans who aspire to Champions League football. Not just once but every season in living memory and a 60k all seater stadium in the heart of London with every comfort you desire. So, to them I say, yes, I am arrogant but be careful what you wish for

I was in favour of moving to The Emirates. A dream of more affordable tickets that were more easily available, whilst helping the club to compete for European glory was sold. I bought it and who wouldn’t? The idea was pure and a good one

Has it brought any of those benefits? Not one. In fact, all three points are further away from being realised than when we started

The atmosphere in the stadium is poor at best; always has been and probably always will be. Perhaps it’s the rose-tinted glasses but can anyone imagine going to The Emirates on their own, as a one-time visitor (i.e. not sitting in a seat they regularly attend) and feeling a sense of comradery?

I’d venture that unless you made a better than average effort yourself, no one would even speak to you throughout the game. Sing??!!?? You’ll be lucky! It won’t be an amusing one either, probably the horrendous monotone of simply “ArsenalArsenalArsenal”. The witty songs that were made up almost game to game have been replaced with huge flags that are waved behind the goal when someone scores. Hurrah!

The Gift Which Keeps On Giving

I challenge anyone who has visited Highbury once and The Emirates just once to tell me all the benefits they feel the move has brought them. Personally, and collectively to us, AFC fans. Then the negatives. I’ll happily engage in that list making today or any day from now

Some of the fans have been blinded by the stadium. It’s become bigger than the club, the team and the game.

In part, it has divided the fan base, possibly irrevocably which is dreadful to even think possible.

Some will say that it isn’t the clubs fault. That since the idea of the stadium was born to take us to the next level, the game changed. Sponsorship and television money dwarfs match day revenue, with oil money mixed in there too. In part, I’d agree.

But.

AFC has been too slow to adapt to the shift in the landscape, to the point of being left behind. Now we’re hiding behind the mantra of doing it the right way, but in reality, we’re not doing it at all

If you’re here and reading this site, you care about AFC. Therefore, I ask each and every one of you, where is your line in the sand on this? When we get there if we haven’t crossed it already, what are YOU going to do about it?

The board must be over the moon this morning. They have built a sterile concrete monolith bowl that is the gift that keeps on giving.

Take Me To The Promised Land

After relocating from Highbury to what was previously a rubbish dump (literally – you couldn’t make this up) they didn’t know what to call it, so they let an airline pay them millions to name it after their global brand. No doubt some other brand will pay an incomprehensible sum to call it something else some day, but The Emirates will stick. A bit like Boris Bikes will always be called that.

The concrete altar brings in another £30m a year as the serfs traipse back and forth, back and forth, to kneel and worship every week. The overwhelming size and enormity of the bowl are sold as a dreadful burden to carry every week, so the serfs scrape their coppers together and offer them to the collection plate. They’re happy to help, as the Promised land is close now.

So close. Just a few more pennies and a little more hardship. Tomorrow is coming and it’ll be wonderful. Tomorrow will be wonderful!! Just make sure you pay today – we now take all major credit cards – for your convenience, of course.

And when other circuses roll into town and deliver the promised land today, not tomorrow, they can turn back and say, but don’t forget The Concrete Bowl!!!!!! It must be paid for!!! Those others are merely circuses, not a true place of worship!! They are sinners, snakes and charlatans. The truth shall be known on Judgement Day. When the Bowl delivers the promised land, we shall know that it was done the holy way. The right way. The only way!!!!!!

It’s All Watered Down

During that long, long wait and worship, your patience will be tested. But only those who truly pay and believe will earn their right to celebrate in Club Level. It might cost £5k a season, but you can jump the season ticket waiting list. And you get a “free” pint at half time

Watered down.

Everything is, except the prices. The beer, the football, the passion, the pride. Even the winning has been diluted to “4th place is a trophy, as it pays for The Bowl”

The Bowl is always full. Even when it’s half empty. Bums on seats are no longer the barometer. Seats that are paid for is all that counts. And they’re all paid for, every week

The march towards organised religion is complete. Pay your money, get nothing back while the priest screws hordes of wild hookers sozzled on the finest brandy in every waking hour, barring the one a week when he must deliver the sermon.

Victoria Concordia Crescit

The serfs are too terrified to question it. They must keep paying the pennies for The Bowl or Tottenham might leapfrog us into the 4th place trophy. And the bowl would collapse and everything you worshipped would be gone and tomorrow will never come. So, don’t let it happen!!

It’s the ultimate board members wet dream. They know the serfs know it’s all a sham. But they’ve bought enough of it to be too scared to turn away now, so better to stick with what they know

All hail the mighty concrete bowl. 4th place – it’s a prize! It’s pure! You can worship it and worship in it. It’s a wondrous pile of fucking concrete full of tourists. Can’t get there? Pay money to stream the services into your living room LIVE!! You too can see The Bowl and help its holy guardians, Arsenal PLC, with their righteous struggle to maintain it, for your benefit, for another year, so call our toll-free number to make your donation now!!!

So, in summary, please ask yourself this question.

Do you support a concrete bowl that sits atop an old rubbish tip or a football club, whose motto is Victoria Concordia Crescit?

4th place, in-fighting and worshipping false idols? Or VICTORY GROWS OUT OF HARMONY above all else?

Look around, stop and have a think about it and choose the right path while a wonderful game teeters on the brink of eternal damnation

110 thoughts on “Fighting For The Soul Of Arsenal Football Club

  1. Bill,

    Please explain how a cut back isn’t a good pass and what supporter (well obviously outside of you) doesn’t think so. Whipping in a low dangerous cross for somebody is a good pass but a cut back to a particular player in the box isn’t, that doesn’t make sense.

    Yes it did bounce off a player but the cut back was clearly to Gibbs and the defender just initially beat him there and Gibbs was able to get the shot off. Its strange because if somebody was to whip in a cross and it bounce off of Giroud then somebody bangs it home people are saying “really good idea for whipping in the cross and Giroud for challenging…”. Yes Gibbs got the shot off but without the cutback there is no Gibbs chance. Its fine, I understand and like I have said, we are sitting on opposite sides firmly on this one and I am not nor have I ever said Ozil was superb or even average by his standards but the cutback was Ozil picking out Gibbs and then things happen.

    Actually I do think people would give Sanchez credit same as Iwobi got credit for the 2 own goals by ‘taking a chance’.

  2. For me, it boils down to really the more English way of playing and then really everybody else. 2 strikers are great but we don’t have 2 strikers and sorry, Giroud doesn’t show up enough to build our team like that. Sure Arsenal haven’t won since we switched but then again, we also haven’t built a complete team since the Invincibles left. An attack with no defense and then a solid enough defense with no attack. Just like the club and culture at the club, nothing since the Invincibles has been complete. I would venture to say if we kept most of this current crop and bought a genuine striker that was consistent I could most certainly see us winning the PL.

    Cech (still think Sczcney at this point is the better option now and moving forward but that’s another day)
    Bellerin—-Msutafi—–Kos—–Nacho
    ———Xhaka———Elneny or Le Coq or Iwobi
    ————-Ozil————-
    Ox or Theo or Iwobi——–a genuine CF—–Sanchez

    I would put that team up against any in the PL and think we could most certainly win the PL. Shame we missed out on Higuian 2x, Aubameyang, or the pleathora of other strikers we should have or could have bought our fortunes would be looking drastically different and Arsene could leave on a high note, instead we didn’t and now we are where we are.

  3. Henry –

    Bang on with the acoustics (ditto City and West Ham in their new venues) which is why I said you cannot replicate Highbury.

    Andy 1886-

    Agreed- things slowly unraveled over years as Wenger decided to ‘re-proove’ himself and abandon what had bought him success in the first place.

    if we regularly pirouette from a strong performance to drab one to an inexplicable loss, the atmosphere is going to reflect this. Fans are guarded, fans are defensive.

    It’s impossible to support with unreserved passion if you are constantly afraid the team in front of you could let you down on any given day.

    Raven –

    “I do think the most glaring need today for Arsenal is to find some genuine football people to incoorperate into the system surrounding the team. Bankers and stockbrokers might be good from a business standpoint, but they are truely shit when it comes to a football standpoint and untill that happens Arsenal will be pulled the wrong way, cause there is noone to counterweight the current board”….

    Absolutely.

    The Emirates does not reflect the intimacy of Highbury (yet, as Henry, I am proud of it) but the atmopshere is reflective of greater weaknesses which exist at the club. We need board members who mirror the passion of the fans, not dismiss them.

    The stadium is what it is (and again I am proud of it and the effort it took) but we should be discussing and applying pressure in areas that could bring definitive positive change.

  4. C

    Go back to Arsenal.com and watch the play again. The cutback was not meant for Gibbs. By happenstance it ended up at his feet after it hit a defender. I can’t imagine anyone is good enough to plan For a 90 degree bounce off the defenders leg to another Arsenal player.

  5. Last night in the hotel SABC were showing highlights of the weekend’s Premiership games and I saw for the first time the Sanchez “handball” incident, there was no way that he could have avoided the ball, it happened too close to him and too quickly. It is one case where the replay fully supports the ref’s decision. Just like Arsene Wenger, I didn’t see the Gibbs foul.

  6. andy1886:
    HenryB,

    As I got a mention I thought that maybe I could put my oar in this time

    Scholes was really just the more advanced midfielder of a central pair (supported by Keane, Butt etc.). He played behind two genuine strikers be they Cole/Yorke/Sheringham, Van Nistelrooy, Solskjaer, Saha, Rooney et al.

    Although the idea of a ‘#10’ gets bandied around as though it’s always been the way teams play typically until well into the premier league era English teams played with two strikers, usually a taller #9 good with crosses and a more mobile #10 that fed off him. None of that ‘Johnny Foreigner’ stuff mucking around with the ball. During my early years attending regularly as a schoolkid we had Stapleton (#9) and Sunderland (#10) for example. In the middle we had a certain Mr L Brady who certainly had the skill set of an Ozil, but he was a midfielder no doubt about it. At Arsenal another one who could have played the role (and did seem to be neither an out and out striker or a midfielder) was Paul Merson. Dennis of course could play wherever he wanted but was probably the only player I’ve seen who could be both a striker and creative European #10 at the same time, equally effective as both.

    It’s also pertinent to point out that since we switched from two recognised strikers to a striker and ‘wide attackers’ in support we haven’t won the league. Maybe a coincidence, maybe not?

    Andy,

    Now that is the sort of comment I love!! It is based on knowledge and experience and reflects a fan’s perspective without closing out the views of others.

    You may have detected that I am a little sceptical of certain terms such as the ‘N0 10’ or the ‘false 9’ which do have a descriptive use, but they do not relate to prescriptive, fixed positions or exclude players with all round skills which means they can switch to other roles as well.

    [not that you were saying that anyway] ?

    Sadly I only know the names of some of the players you mention as they were before my time. And I am happy to accept your first hand assessments as it would be stupid of me otherwise.

  7. Enjoyed my 24 hours in the limelight and thanks YW for polishing up my early morning ramblings into something that resembled an article.

    Thanks for the positive comments from all those here yesterday too

    As Bob mentioned, it is quite a deep topic that can run into various different veins. Which was neatly demonstrated in the comments.

    Look forward to getting back to normality today though 🙂

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