Sunday, 28 December 2008

For What It's Worth

I'm finding that my exasperation with Arsenal, and particular with Wenger, has led me to a kind of tired, fatalistic passivity. After the Villa equaliser, I could only nod and ruefully smile; after a scratchy win against Portsmouth, a sigh of resignation. Again, after the macth, there was all the old statements about belief and still being in the Premiership race: who believes this? Who is it for? This is currently the weakest, youngest, most inconsistent team Wenger has put together, and I don't think it will finish in the top 4. Personnel-wise, it's a mid-table team. I'm not a gambling man, but this is what I would do come January:
1. offload Bendtner for as much as could be raised.
2. send Song on loan with the proviso that he does not return.
3. buy Bullard for £7m, Upson for £8m, and Given for £5m. If, as one blog mooted today, Dacourt is being looked at, bring him in too, for peanuts.
4. get Senderos back from loan at Milan.
5. offer to take Arshavin on loan until the end of the season with the condition that he will be signed for £18m only if Arsenal finish in the Champions League places.
None of the above will happen. I'm sick and tired of Arsene, the excuses, the ludicrous rhetoric, the pointless spats, the post-game frustration and anger. This Arsenal team fails to win consistently not because of some refereeing conspiracy, nor because the team are booted off the pitch (as the 1998-2004 team were); no, it's because they aren't very good. And if Arsene can no longer see that, he should go in the summer. It's got to the point where I think my passion for Arsenal will only return when he does go. After 11 mainly brilliant years, that's a sad thing to admit.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Playing I-Spy with Arsene

Over the Christmas period, I-Spyers, award yourself the following points when you hear Arsene produce the following:
1. 'I believe in these players' (1 point)
2. 'The team showed great character' (1 point)
3. 'We were not physically sharp enough today' (2 points)
4. 'Having Eduardo and Senderos back will be like signing two new players' (20 points)
5. 'Our quality was missing today' (1 point)
6. 'Yes, we were a little unlucky' (1 point)
7. 'He is a good player, but we are not interested in him' (15 points)
8. 'We are a little disappointed in the level of our performance' (3 points)
9. 'We are not out of the title race, no' (6 points)
10. 'I feel the team is back to its best' (150 points)

Merry Christmas.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Something Rotten

Being disappointed with the manner of Arsenal's performance is one thing. Booing a player until the manager is forced to remove him from the pitch, then cheering as he goes, is quite another. Like many another blog I'm appalled by what happened to Eboue at the Emirates yesterday. One of my favourite memories from Highbury was watching the late-80s GG side, and two or three Geezers in front of us provided a running commentary. When yet another move broke down, one stood up and shouted 'Hayes! Hayes!', then sitting back down, turned to his mates and said, 'Martin Hayes? If 'e was a horse, they'd take 'im out and shoot 'im.' Me and my friends gasped with laughter for the next few minutes. No booing, no calumny, no poison - just a few geezers who were well used to Arsenal playing poorly and reacted with a kind of resigned humour.
These malignant toads who booed Eboue yesterday - and who seem to think that paying the huge sums to attend the Emirates entitles them to boo their own players, to destroy the thing they watch - are a product of a change in footballing culture, in crowd culture, at Arsenal. No more support through thick and thin (mainly thin) - they use the analogy of the cinema or other 'entertainment', and say that if they weren't entertained, they have a right to complain. It's a long way from when Alan Durban, then Stoke manager, told critical journalists after a bore-draw at Highbury 'that if they wanted entertainment they should go and watch clowns.' The Emirates crowd are now consumers, and in all honesty, the club has encouraged them to act in this way through escalating prices and an emphasis upon the corporate spectacle. Wenger's marvellous football 1998-2007 has also spoiled this crowd; their support is now contingent upon entertainment or success. When I began to watch Arsenal at Highbury in the mid-70s, your ticket price guaranteed neither of those things (and hadn't done for a while).
A word: hubris. On the pitch and off of it, this near-train wreck of a season is being undone by long-standing fatal assumptions, from the board, from Wenger, from the crowd, for the blogosphere, about the relationship between players and supporters, between the club and the fans. The rage of the bloggers against the 'arrogance' of Bendtner is that of Caliban seeing his own face in the mirror.
I want Arsenal to fail now. I want them to fall apart and finish out of Europe. I want these so-called fans to 'do one', permanently. Only a season or two of failure will drive them out, and see the whole club return to something that I can feel happy in supporting.
A plague on all their houses.