Twisted Tenderness

“Crisis? What crisis?” so the old saying goes. Well, in media terms Arsenal are a team in crisis – sixth place, new stadium to fill, two abject defeats back-to-back; ripe fodder for the scribes and denizens of the press. And as if to prove it, George Graham is quoted in todays The Sun as saying,

“.. as soon as you’re in sixth place, as they are now – and not really challenging, the fans don’t like it. They will not accept three years of failure.

Now George is somewhat of an expert in this and has an axe to grind, his knowledge based on the latter part of his reign when dissension in the ranks of supporters was not pivotal in the decision to remove him but probably one of the factors that the Board took into account, along with being caught with his hand in the till.

He does make a valid point: namely, there is a noticeable split between the team and supporters. Having kicked off at fans for leaving early and not being vocal enough, Thierry Henry delivered a rebuke to those who do so, some of which is valid. However, supporters and in particular those who go regularly to away games, have made an equally valid point about the lack of recognition from the team after performances, Bolton was when it really came to a head. Yesterday one blogger commented about the derision directed at Song during the Fulham game and his attempts to point out that the rest of the team deserved the same treatment. An overall picture of unhappiness on the surface.

However, is that the true picture or more likely a case of frustrations coming to the surface; anger turning inwards at the poor level of performances in recent weeks? Myself I think it is the latter although what is also apparent is the disdain for which some supporters have by the newer fans – “the Glory Boys” – and the Corporate elements in the crowd, “the Prawn Sandwich Brigade”. Football is a broad church, welcoming all; by all means be critical of the teams performance but let’s forget about bickering between ourselves – “I’m a real supporter, you’re not, ner-ner-ne-ner-ner” – and get behind the team. There are enough critics without us turning on each other.

In The Daily Mail this morning there is an interesting article on Howard Webb, who was apparently wearing a polar heart rate monitor during the Fulham game in midweek. The graphic with the article showed the spikes and troughs of his heartrate during the ninety minutes. The highest peak? Senderos’ sending off? Any of the other bookings? Nope: Brian McBride’s opening goal. Don’t understand that myself but there you go.

Team news ahead of tomorrow’s derby is not good at the moment. Despite some indifferent performances, Henry is still a goal threat to occupy opposing defences but it looks as though he may miss the match thorugh injury. Whilst it is not encouraging, there is a silver lining in that it would give the team a bit of practice ahead of the trip to Portugal in the week. However, I guess that is one that we will have to wait and see if he makes it or not. I suspect that he will, even if he can only manage an hour or so of the game.

Back in the morning with a Spurs preview.

6 thoughts on “Twisted Tenderness

  1. Flint McCullough says:

    It is not a matter of how long you have been a supporter but how you support.

    I was 1st taken to Highbury in 1956 and the 1st time I went with a friend & stood was the 4-5 against the Busby Babes, just a few days before the terrible Munich air crash.

    In those days I do not remember any ritual chanting but what hooked me was the general buzz & excitement. The crowds were completely mixed & the atmosphere could be electric.

    You would just be shouting your individual encouragement along with everyone else. So that is what I still do when the mood takes me. What I have never ever done is boo 1 of our own players. There have been times of severe frustration in these 50 odd years but a true supporter should never do that.

    Probably the worst of times was in the early 80s when we lost Liam Brady & then Frank Stapleton. They were class acts but were irreplaceable at the time even if cash was available, which I believe it wasn’t.

    So the likes of John Hawley,who was just an honest pro but not up to the job came. We also played Paul Vaesson, who was about 18/19 without much success. He was a talented lad but not ready but the cretins in the crowd decided he should take the brunt. They destroyed him & the confidence of the whole team, which led to several years of mediocracy.

    Perhaps you can can see the parallels here. I have learnt that there are peaks & throughs, and through the troughs you had to change your expectations. What you needed was some hope & a lot of patience. In that way you really thought you deserved the bliss when it did come good.

    I still look at things the same way. The Wenger years have been pure fantasy for me, which is why I am so vehemently in support of Arsene. I am so afraid that the growing tantrums of some supporters ?? will have a terrible knock on affect. They will find out the hard way if he decided to go.

  2. Frank says:

    Totally agree with both of you. The team are not getting the results and so they need our support. Support is not turning out in great numbers and singing loud and long when we win, and then turning on the team like rabid dogs (and some of the comments on some blog-sites are moving in that direction). This squad can be very successful and with our help will achieve it sooner. I have been called wildly optimistic but I still feel that we are only inches away from success.

    I think that TH needs a rest and take several games off, especially if he is injured, the team will cope.

  3. Yogi's Warrior says:

    Flint

    I don’t believe Wenger would be forced out by the crowd. More likely, his own standards will do that – he may feel he has taken the players as far as he can and maybe that someone new could bring the extra 10% that makes a difference between a good and average season. I don’t think that point will happen in 2006-07 but could towards the end 2007 – 08 if it were a repeat of this season.

    Like you, I will support AW for however long he is in charge. The desperate periods of mediocrity during the late 70’s through to the late 80’s (and anything in the latter part of Graham’s reign) is enough to make me appreciate how good this past decade has been. Perhaps the club ought to show the “lowlights” of that period before every home game so that people can realise just how dire we were.

  4. Flint McCullough says:

    I’m not thinking he will be forced out but I put myself in his shoes.

    What would you do if you had provided what he has and then when, there is a lull in performance, a significant number of fans?? turn on you?

    You can get a top job anywhere in the world if you want. You don’t need the money anyway!

    I would just think f*** them I’m off , then they would find out,what was what !!

    World class players in their prime – thing of the past !!

    & there we are like Tottenham, Villa etc.

  5. Yogi's Warrior says:

    I think that’s too much of an easy option for him something which if we’re honest he could have taken years ago to go to any club anywhere in the world.

    I know we only see the public side of him but he strikes me as the sort of person who walks away only to either improve himself or if he cannot take a project any further.

    I’m just incredulous that this is even a topic for discussion in general; a couple of other blogs have mentioned his departure over the last few weeks. None of us want him to go or so I thought but apparently a few are saying that he should.

  6. vivb says:

    I think it’s inevitable thoughts turn to his future his contract has 18 months to run aqnd the team have gone backwards this season. His tactics have been somewhat exposed. I’d rather there was a replacement being groomed to step out when he eventually leaves (which could be next season) to fill the massive hole he would leave. He is however obviously sensitive to the criticism honestly answering at the press conference today the crap spouted about him this week.

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