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Monday 28 March 2011

Hardly The Return Of The Lean Mean Hungry Gooner Machine

Hi folks,

I guess my failure to post out last week's missive is indicative of the sort of apathy I feel towards breaks for International footie. But I'm sending it out now, if only to satisfy my pedantic need to maintain a weekly record, so please feel free to ignore.

This week's rant to follow!

Big Love

Usually an International break at a season defining stage of the campaign is about as desirable as a hole in the head. But after having endured the masochistic battering of the perennial disintegration of the Gunners vain quest to end our barren run these past few weeks, I’ve rarely been more relieved by a brief period of respite from the relentless run of recent disappointments.

Obviously I couldn’t resist watching the cultured clash between Wilshere and Ramsay, in the middle of the park at the Millennium on Saturday, but it proved the painful opposite of “car crash” TV, as I sat there praying for the safety of the pair of them. Personally I’d prefer if Jack was playing alongside Aaron, or after seeing Scotland’s capitulation against the Samba Kings at our place on Sunday, better still if he was eligible to join the Jocks. At least then, we’d have no worries about Wilshere suffering under the immense weight of expectation of his entire nation.

However with the tabloids seemingly so intent on labelling the Gunners’ prodigy as England’s latest “great white hope”, I can’t help but have some concerns about whether Wilshere’s performance on the pitch will remain unaffected. I suppose nowadays, even St. Peter himself would struggle to avoid bad press pratfalls! But no matter elusive he is in midfield, the flimsy “red top” evidence to date suggests it might be something of a miracle if Jack develops the sort of rock solid temperament necessary for him to be nimble and quick enough to dodge the increasingly harsh glare of the media’s all-pervasive spotlight.

Whereas although I can recall Ramsey coming on apace before Ryan Shawcross attempted to separate Aaron from his right limb, I worry that his long stint on the treatment table (and our despair over some of his more diffident stand-ins) has resulted in him growing in stature in our memories, to a point where we now expect him to be the finished article, instead of the emerging talent that he was.

What’s more, after such a horrific injury, would it be so surprising if some of Ramsey’s youthful promise were stolen by the lasting psychological impact of his shattered tib & fib? What sort of rugged mentality will it take for Ramsey to charge around the pitch in quite the same committed fashion? With the likes of Blackburn, Bolton and Stoke all on the horizon, I guess it won’t be long before all is revealed.

If “car crash” TV is your trip, then I guess you need look no further than Il Trap’s Boys in Green. Just when you thought it safe to come our from behind the sofa, with Ireland about to cruise through a qualification game, two up in twenty minutes, they switch off just before the break to concede the goal which left us all on the edge of our seats for the entire second half.

I suppose for a football fan it was an act of sacrilege, not to even bother wandering around the corner on a sunny Sunday afternoon to watch Brazil do the business. But the thought didn’t even occur to me to fork out yet another fifty quid for the privilege of attending a meaningless friendly. However with a TV replay of Sunday morning’s F1 procession in Sydney hardly captivating my interest, I turned over to find myself regretting that I hadn’t made the effort. Needless to say I’m referring to Neymar’s natural talents, rather than the feast of feminine charms occupying the Emirates terraces (at least that is if I want any dinner tonight!). Mind you if I’d been there in person I might have missed out on amusing coverage of the stark contrast between the grim-faced Jocks, cutting a wretched pose with arms-crossed, all too familiar with yet another feeble outing from the Tartan army and the garish yellow and green fiesta going on in the Brazilian sections of the ground.

It seems Sunday’s entertaining fare was just the appetizer necessary to revitalize my appetite anew for the feast of football to come. Before that I’ll be holding my breath, hoping everyone returns intact from the array of farcical midweek International friendlies. I never imagined I’d be so looking forward to the Rovers return to the Emirates (and that was before I discovered the cult figure of John Jensen has become Blackburn’s assistant manager).

I only hope that the Gunners are equally reinvigorated on their return to the fold, able to galvanize themselves to make a real fight of our nine remaining fixtures. With my Spurs pals teasing me about taping Eastenders for them when they travel to Madrid (and with me encouraging them to make the most of it, as it might never happen again), I know our season is collapsing around our shoulders, when I no longer need worry about checking the Arsenal’s fixture list before agreeing to future work.

Nevertheless, while I might not hold out that much hope of us exerting the sort of pressure which might redeem our season with the Premiership Holy Grail, we’re still some way from the fat lady’s climactic choral reprise. Until then, personally I’d settle for the reassuring sight of some genuine fight in the Gunner’s young pups.

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