The sun is shining, which on a bank holiday weekend is a surprise. Or at least that’s how the cliche goes. It’s staying out until the barbecues are cleaned and started gently smoking; then the heavens will open. Always do; a nation of enthusiastic, if limited, barbecuists we may be, but when it comes to cooking under an umbrella or temporary shelter such as garage doors, we’re experts.
Not even an unexpected downpour can dampen my enthusiasm for today though. Not because I want to say goodbye to Arsène but even the weather can’t spoil life when Stoke City are relegated.
The knuckle-dragging, slavering Orcs are gone. Masters of their own destruction, the dreariest people on the planet are consigned to the Football League, who are already trying to find a way to lock them in the basement and never let them out again.
Their relegation is the weekend’s ‘I love the smell of napalm in the morning’ moment, and poor ickle Ryan’s own misery made it all the more enjoyable. It takes some balls to say in an interview that “some people need to take a long, hard look at themselves” when you’re the drongo who made the mistake which confirmed the club’s relegation.
They might come straight back up, but gloriously, I doubt it. The Premier League might be rid of their stench for three or four years, at the very least which is something we can rejoice in.
High Apple Pie…
All of which segues into Arsenal with talk of ineptitude. I welcomed a day off yesterday and not having to pen pieces about a disappointing defeat – thanks to Isaac for all his efforts every Friday.
Losing in Madrid left me numb, to be honest. Not angry, nor bitter; I was resigned to the inevitability of a cock-up causing it. The usual pre-match hope was there but there was something missing. The crossing was bad and we didn’t create many chances.
Credit to Atletico’s organisation for the latter; in a season where harum-scarum defending has ruled, theirs is an object lesson in what organisation can achieve. Godin is a good defender, a good organiser and that’s what you need at the heart of the back four: someone in charge. We lack that and have done so since the time of the Invincibles.
But each of that back four knew their role, what was expected of them as did the rest of the team. When Arsenal had the ball, they dropped back; when the counter was on, the same players flooded forward. They were fitter than us, hungrier than us; better than us.
That thinking is the antithesis of Arsène’s free-thinking philosophy. The reality is that players don’t want to make up their own mind about what to do, where to be; they like structure. Guardiola’s philosophy, according to those who played for him, is that everyone knows their role in the side for the first two-thirds of the pitch. Only when they get to the opposition penalty area does he give them free reign.
We lack the discipline and leadership to make the foundation of that work.
Laurent Koscielny’s injury will change that for the new boss. The new boss can’t be the same as the old boss.
…In The Sky Hopes
Tomorrow is the time when the Emirates says goodbye to Arsène and a big shindig is under way. There are those who don’t want to without adding “good riddance” and frankly, I see no point in that attitude. Change is happening and instead of becoming wrapped in bitterness, embrace the moment; there’s a bright new future ahead. A rebirth, if you like, of both the club and in my case, the enthusiasm for the game.
But instead of focusing on the negatives of recent years, let the day be about remembering the good times. It hasn’t all been bad, let’s not forget that. But as I said earlier, change is happening and that’s what was needed. So enjoy the moment; remember the good football not what it has morphed into.
And look ahead with optimism.