“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.