I got told to take a day off, so I did. I liked it so much, I bought the company. GoonerAndy is here to take the reins…
Like all of you, I am an Arsenal fan. No more, no less. Arsenal have never done things the easy way. We do things the Arsenal way. Many will attest this is the “right” way and no-one said it was the easy way. Even in glory, we often teeter on the edge of the chasm. Maybe we are just curious to see what is down there, who knows? But this just emphasizes the Schizophrenic nature of our club. Equally capable of the sublime and the ridiculous. Rich beyond our dreams but the ultimate bargain hunter. So close…
Let’s get one thing straight between us: I am an Arsène Wenger supporter. He is a man who has done great things for this club and in truth, football in general. But we are at a point where he is being seriously questioned. A big part of this comes down to the element which makes the world go round: CASH. We are rich but despite many internet wizards’ calculations, no supporter knows the actual amount available for strengthening the squad. And rightly so. If Arsène has been limited to a virtual nil net spend each summer – often actually making profit – he has performed miracles.
If he had greater funds and chose not to strengthen, it is verging on negligence given the past 5 or so years. Is there the fabled “middle ground” in this scenario? No. All too often I wonder if we were only a couple of players away from something special. Not £100m pound players, just a couple of our normal captures.
But that is only half the equation.
Given the players we have, should we not be doing better? If so, is it the coaching and tactics which should be called into question? As fans, I think it is only natural to “big up” our players. Maybe some of our players are simply not as good as we think they are? Mikel Arteta is a good example of this; I like him, in fact I have not spoken with an Arsenal fan that doesn’t. He is an automatic starter. But eight years ago he would not have made our team. So have our standards dropped, or do we over-expect from our players? There are already too many open questions in this paragraph and that is something I wish to avoid as it is obviously subjective. I am, after all, a professional. At what you may ask? And you would be right to ask, but we may get to that later. I digress.
As Mr Zimmerman once mused, “the times are a changing”, and the old sage was right; they are. Or more accurately, they have. Our club is taking a hard-line stance at this decisive point. The original plan of building a great new stadium, becoming self-sustaining but with massive revenue and dominating the footballing landscape was a brave one. And as mentioned earlier, the “right” one. But things have vastly changed since we set upon that path. The changes mean that rewards will not be as vast as first thought but we are sticking to our path and for that we should be applauded. There is a saying “when in doubt, do something”. Personally, I prefer the opposite “when in doubt, do nothing”. Panic and rash decisions are not the way forward, for proof look at the fiendishly posh folk in Chelsea.
Back to our Schizophrenic. It even stretches to us, the mere fan. I begin every Arsenal game with the smug knowledge that we will win. Every time. Even a couple of goals behind with the 87th minute approaching, I am still steadfast that we are just about to score the goal which will turn the game on it head. We will get an equaliser…..maybe even the winner. Yes, that is what is about to happen. And then the full time whistle blows and I can attempt to absorb this surprise defeat in the way only an Arsenal supporter can do. How did this happen? We had plenty of the ball zipped it about very nicely, thank you very much but didn’t create many chances though in truth. The opposition hardly got near our goal; they only had three shots on target – scored with two of them. A glib and tongue in cheek way of looking at things but it struck me after I had committed it to my cheap Dell screen, just how true it was.
The stats will tell you that we concede roughly the same amount of goals as other teams in our sphere but your eyes tell you something completely different. Those damn eyes, the ones often covered with fingers as the ball is pumped towards the ensuing chaos in our area. In truth, we are pretty disorganised at the back and the team shape leaves the back four hopelessly exposed. Our goals against column is respectable because we hog the ball for the majority of the game like John McFastfoot used to do in the playground. Nothing wrong with that either, it is a good method of defence but if allied with a better functioning rearguard, it could make all the difference. We are good with the ball, but not without it.
There is nothing else for it at this point; time to wrap up this stream of consciousness dripping out of every orifice and onto your screen/tablet/phone. I have covered precisely none of the points I set out to which may – or may not – be a good thing. It has been a somewhat cleansing experience for me. I suspect for you, sat out there in the ether of the internet, your eyes may now be starting to bleed a little. I have used the words “I” and “you” liberally in this little rant, but in truth the more appropriate word is “we”. Because when all is said and done, we are after all, Arsenal supporters for good or ill.