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Monday 16 May 2011

A Fitting Tribute To Another Spineless Season

(with apologies for repeating the odd analogy from last week's missive for the benefit of my Irish Examiner column)

So here we Gooners are again, the uninvited guests with our noses enviously pressed up against the pub’s frosted windows, missing out on all the jollity of yet another end of season “lock-in”.

I celebrated Newcastle’s late equalizer at Chelsea on Sunday, as I dashed out the door to the Emirates with the glimmer of hope of having something to play for against Villa.. At the very least I expected the Gunners to turn up for the curtain call of the last home game of the season, if only for the self-serving purpose of preventing Man City from leapfrogging us and leaving our players facing the premature curtailment of a summer spent lazying around on a beach, with them forced to return a couple of weeks earlier for the potentially cataclysmic banana skin of a Champions League qualifier.

Never mind paying their dues, by putting on a bit of a show for all of us poor put-upon punters. But then judging by the surprisingly obvious number of empty seats at the Emirates on Sunday, I guess that unlike this particular muggins, plenty of our more fickle faithful had seen the writing on the wall, following the previous weekend’s pitiful defeat at Stoke, seemingly knowing far better than me that there was little point in them bothering to turn up, to watch a team that’s far more focused on what factor sun-tan lotion to pack in their suitcase, than they are on crossing the Premiership finish line with some pride still intact.

At 0-2 down to a dreadfully mediocre and managerless Villa and with so little evidence on the pitch of the sort of desire necessary, to provide us fans with even a flicker of faith in the scant solace of a stirring fightback, it was the customary announcement of a farcical full-house attendance figure and the utterly fictitious total for the season, which was the straw that broke the back of so many dissatisfied Gooner dromedaries. Knowing how deep we’ve had to dig into our threadbare pockets to contribute to such profitable figures, this announcement provoked the most raucous response of the afternoon, as all our pent up fury and frustration with yet another “so near but so far” season was targeted towards the directors box, with a vitriolic chorus of “6 per cent, you’re having a larf!”

It’s debatable whether the disapprobation of the plebs registered with chairman Hill-Wood, above the clink of their Cristal-filled champagne glasses and the clatter of the cash-tills in our 200 quid a head Club Level eateries, as the board celebrated the culmination of another “sustainable” season. Yet it certainly felt like a more effective means of expressing our displeasure at the club’s focus on keeping the bank balance in the black, than the negligible evidence of natty scarves of the same colour, worn by a smattering of the 500 odd Gooners who joined the BSM (Black Scarf Movement) protest march before the match.

Although I might fully concur with many of the sentiments expressed by the BSM online, the simple answer is that the Arsenal have followed the money, along with all those other clubs that aspire to a seat a football’s top table. Myself I’d give my right-arm to still be enjoying the more intimate environs of Highbury but I accept the inescapable reality that if we hadn’t had the foresight to climb aboard the corporate gravy train, we’d be struggling along with all those other clubs currently playing catch-up.

Doubtless I’d be feeling far more aggrieved if I hadn’t had the good fortune to swap our expensive Upper Tier pitches for far more reasonable Lower Tier seats when we moved home, as I’d certainly be feeling the pinch of any increases if I was paying nigh on double what it costs us nowadays. But with 2.5% rise in VAT accounting for much of the price rise, from my personal point of view, the remainder hardly amounts to profiteering and is a bit of a red herring compared to the real source of Gooner indignation.

I don’t imagine there’ll be any voices raised about ticket prices at Old Trafford this weekend. Moreover, if it wasn’t for the momentary cock-up between Sczczny & Koscielny that cost us the Carling Cup Final and which has left the dust gathering in the Gunners’ trophy cabinet for the 6th successive season, I very much doubt we’d be seeing any protest marches!

In fact, as much as it pains me to see the ordinary working man, woman and their offspring increasingly priced out of their beloved pastime, after shouldering the large burden of the beautiful game for a century or more, with forty thousand still on the waiting list at the Arsenal, I’m certain most economists might argue that our season-tickets must be under-priced?

Meanwhile, as the clamour for le Boss to bust into the club’s coffers reaches a positively deafening crescendo and the rumour mill gathers it’s manic, media-driven momentum, I’m not nearly so bothered by specific comings and goings as I am by the prospect of suffering another stagnant summer amongst the playing staff. If Sunday’s defeat and the resulting lap of dishonor was telling in one respect, it’s that sadly the constancy of our squad simply hasn’t resulted in the sort of determined team spirit one might expect, amongst a group of players that have endured the same Groundhog Day experience together.

Instead of which, the lack of turnover manifests itself in the complacency that accompanies our stars' security of tenure and the contentment coming from the top, so long as our snout remains in the Champions League trough. Either it’s the carrot of Arsène chancing upon players with the personality and experience to inspire some backbone amongst the Arsenal's current bunch of invertebrates, or the stick to cure such smugness by way of a P45!

Keep the faith - as it could all be a whole lot worse supporting the likes of West Ham, or even all those spoilt Kings Road Newbies with their knives out already, after the disappointment of not repeating last season's Double!

Come on you Reds

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Spectrum said...

I wonder how many fans on the season ticket waiting list, would still be on it ,if they knew THEN what they can see now ?
"In Arsene we rust."

Dan said...


We dont need fairweather plastics like you. I was sickened by the wank home support around me yet again, getting rid of twats like you would be a blessing. You are a cunt

Anonymous said...

What makes you so sure we'd have won the Carling Cup had it gone to extra time/pens? It's not exactly as though we'd been all over Birmingham; in fact, I'd say they looked fairly comfortable, despite not having much of the ball in the 2nd half.

It's that kind of presumptuous attitude that makes us so dislikeable in the eyes of others. Not that I really care what anyone else thinks, but explains why our plaintive cries of "what if" always fall on deaf ears.


Spectrum said...

Dan - How does it feel to be in an ever shrinking minority of Wenger worshippers, moron ? Why do you think they feel as they do ? Even Chesney himself just said in the media, that "The fans have a RIGHT to boo the team." This is one of our own players saying this.Doesn't that tell you something ?
If you didn't have your head up Wenger's arse, you'd see the club is going nowhere under him. Mindless sheep who follow blindly, without asking serious questions,are the sickening ones.Do you really think a 6% price rise is justified ? They're having a laugh, and it's on mug supporters like you!
"In Arsene we rust."

Spectrum said...

Dan - And from the man himself ; "We want to give the fans what they expect and when you don't do that they are entitled to be unhappy" - Arsene Wenger. You were saying ?
"In Arsene we rust."

Bern said...

I'm not an apologist for AW but the fact that he doesn't possess the same fear inspiring aura of Fergie, doesn't make him a bad manager. You only have to consider how many clubs would kill to have Wenger at their helm to appreciate quite how privileged we are to have an asset such as Arsène at the Arsenal.

And whenever my frustration over AW's apparent intransigence reaches boiling point, I only have to imagine how they'd be dancing in the streets down the wrong end of the Seven Sisters Road, delighting in AW's departure, to remind myself how difficult it will be to improve on our esteemed manager.

Sure he has his faults and the fact that he's finally beginning to acknowledge those which have resulted in our enduring frailties, gives me some hope that he might finally address some of them.

From where I sit, the short-sighted gloryhunters who appear to be hankering after the sort of quick fix that sees Chelsea changing their head honcho more often than their underpants, are the same misguided Gooners who'd throw the baby out with the bathwater

Big Love

Anonymous said...

True Bernard, but he's got to step up this summer and buy/sell as needed. I couldn't bear to hear that we can't spend until we make sure we've got past the CL qualifier.

Bern said...

I get the feeling that one of the problems is that it has all been down to Wenger and perhaps it's about time Gazides proved he can pull his weight (adter seemingly his one showpiece effort in securing Shava)

For all David Dein's perceived egomaniac faults, the man was Gooner at heart and so where Arsène might baulk at the pragmatic lack of value to paying over the odds for a specific player, my impression was that Dein would do whatever it takes to secure the deal.

In this and many other respects it was an ideal partnership and I don't believe it's a mere coincidence that we've not seen any silverware since ironically, they forced Dein out because of his underhanded efforts to bring Kroenke into the club and Wenger has been left to shoulder the entire burden of responsibility ever since.

Only time will tell if Gazides / Kroenke are capable of winning us over but at the end of the day, there's no hiding the fact that they are businessmen first and foremost, rather than genuine Gooners at heart.

Danish Gooner said...

Frankly this "everyone would die to hire Wenger is an Urban Myth".Noone with any ambition would hire him now and just wait for the summer all the supposedly star players will turn him down because they dont want to be connected or jeopardise their future with a serial loser.

Bern said...

Obviously your entitled to your opinion, but I've got to disagree. While we might not be satisfied with AW's lack of recent success, I can't imagine a club president / chairman across the Continent who wouldn't join the queue for a manager capable of offering his club the opportunity to qualify for Champions League footie for 14 consecutive seasons on a similar relative shoestring budget.

Not sure how relevant it is and how much is by choice or restriction but I think I was told that
I believe I was told we're 8th in the Premiership spending charts and yet amongst the top six biggest clubs in Europe.

Meanwhile for all Man City's bottomless budget, the FA CUp was their first trophy in 35 years

Anonymous said...

Great to see gooners arguing amongst THEMSELVES!

Allan said...

Arseblogger has it right. The current atmosphere BETWEEN the fans is poison. See above. My sense is that AW has this summer and til Christmas to right the ship, or he'll begin to lose even relative AKB diehards like me.

If it were a true rebuilding going on, that I could wait for. Instead, it's a seeming obsession with young pint sized ball players. We have plenty. We need something of the Kevin Nolan or Tim Cahill about us, a bit of bite. And a touch of Keown. AW needs to show the skeptics he's bake to sign that sort.

Allan said...

able, not bake. Damn auto correct.