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Monday 29 August 2011

Money Can't Buy My Love....But They Could At Least Make The Effort!

Stuck in traffic on a depressingly dreary Friday, it was hard to believe it was only the day before that we’d been watching the Champions League draw, plotted up in the Venice sunshine, fantasizing about further European glory. I was thinking I’d have been better off staying in Italy. After Sunday’s shellacking, I really wish I had!

I’m not sure I’d have bothered stumping up for an overnight trip to Udine, until I discovered it was only an hour and a half away from Venice. I couldn’t resist a first ever opportunity to wallow in the shimmering splendour of this pearl of the Adriatic (albeit a little wiffy in 38˚ heat).

I thought I’d be joining many other Gooners who wouldn't want to miss out on what might prove to be our last Champions League jolly for some time – I’m not sure many of us would’ve fancied following the Gunners around the graveyards of Europe in the Europa Cup. But bizarrely, virtually all of the few hundred Arsenal fans at the Stadio Fruili on Wednesday night had crossed the nearby border, coming from Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia.

Assuming this horde of East Europeans Gooners found their way home in their drunken stupor, I imagine they must’ve been hiding behind their sofas come Sunday, as their hero, Woijech Sczczny, endured the most traumatic afternoon of his short career. I knew I should’ve remained holed up behind mine, when I couldn’t find anyone to accompany me on a masochistic trip to Manchester.

I must admit I was sorely tempted to stop indoors, rather than suffer more ignominy at Old Trafford. But after five fruitless years you feel obliged to keep going, for fear the Gunners might perform when least expected. Yet in the absence of Vermaelen, it was obvious the game was up, when I had to check if I’d heard correctly, as Coquelin & Traore were announced in the starting line-up. It must be time to throw the towel in, when one starts pining over the loss of Eboué & Denilson!

Sure Arsène had the excuse that our side was so severely depleted by injuries and suspensions, while others were understandably jaded, after competing in the stifling heat in midweek. But our squad was always going to be stretched at some point during the season and perhaps we should be grateful that it’s gossamer like lack of depth has been so blatantly exposed, while there’s still a day or two left to try and address the situation.

It felt to me as if Wenger had already written Sunday’s match off before it started and if we’d come away with a more creditable defeat, our obdurate manager might’ve been able to continue to kid himself that his invisible suit of armour hadn’t lost all of it’s lustre. But with that 8-2 humiliation, Arsène left Old Trafford with nowhere to hide his manifest embarrassment.

I only hope his sacrificial lambs to the slaughter don’t end up with permanent, career wrecking, psychological scars à la Stepanovs as not all of them were at fault for our impotence in the face of Man Utd’s relentless onslaught. This was all the more galling because apart from Rooney’s scintillating form and Ashley Young’s two stunning strikes, this was far from Utd's most formidable display.

You certainly can’t afford to look the rare gift-horse in the face of a Howard Webb penalty against Man U on their patch and Van Persie’s head dropped after his disappointing spot-kick. As the Gunners trudged off 3-1 down at the break, you just couldn’t imagine anyone in the Arsenal dressing-room with the force of personality to inspire the Gunners to raise their game.

For my money this has long been le Gaffer’s most grievous blind-spot; Arsène’s failure to appreciate the crucial value of those qualities in a footballer that simply cannot be measured on a statistical spreadsheet. We’ve seen countless examples that demonstrate team-mates don’t necessarily need to love one another, but a squad simply can’t survive without the leadership qualities capable of inspiring the sort of common bond, which equips them to fight for the greater good.

However there was little evidence of this on Sunday, when the likes of Arshavin, Rosicky and Chamakh turned tail and ran for cover after the final whistle, without the slightest acknowledgement to the loyal suckers for punishment in our corner of the ground, who’d sung ourselves hoarse, with an unabated reaffirmation of our love of the Arsenal for almost the entire second-half.

If the Arsenal is indeed the model for how a well run "football club” should operate, rather than just a going concern, it’s unfathomable that we should be left with £70 mill in the bank, fighting over the last turkey on the shelf. I’m not so naïve as to believe these modern day mercenaries will ever share our intensity of feeling for the club, but there has to be some semblance of a unity of purpose.

In this time of desperation, it doesn’t really matter who Wenger drafts in. Unless he focuses on unearthing that intangible iron-will, strength of character (over quantifiable talent) that can be the catalyst to bond the disparate individuals, at the end of the day the Gunners will continue to be on hiding to nothing.

In offering those of us who travelled the token sop of a free match ticket, the club should be aware that money can’t buy our love. Perhaps it would be better spent on a punt at the vertebrae needed to provide us with a bit of backbone?
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Anonymous said...

Personally i think its nice for Arsenal to realise the fans that spent a load of money going up there for that defeat/performance.
When your away, players should always come to your part of the ground and clap you, no matter what the defeat/win.
If i went OT yesterday, i'd happily take a free ticket, (Chelsea, Liverpool, Spurs) away.

Anonymous said...

if your losing the faith ....then seez maybe it has to be said, wenger out????
i dont know.
if i was wenger id say feck it i got close to 100 million in the bank that i made.
fuck it im gonna blow it on one last chance blow-out. i crazy spree.
get to january and blow the rest.

leave nothing for the next guy - he can get his own money

Anonymous said...


Glasgow_Gooner said...

Another entertaining read. The Arsenal fans were fantastic yesterday.

I'm still totally stunned by yesterday's result. Even though I had completely accepted we would be beaten ( hoped for a draw ). I had already written it off, blissfully content it would be purely as a direct consequence from our lack of transfer activity. Hoping a 2-1 ( 0-0 ) would provide the necessary catalyst required to get Arsene's arse moving toward the company credit card.

Watching us being humbled like that yesterday filled me with empathy for all the dads from the you've been framed archive,that handed his kid a plastic baseball bat / golf club or pair of boxing gloves before being inevitably pummelled in the nuts. The feeling of being completely powerless to halt the demise we engineered ourselves has proved a difficult pill to swallow.

Looking at our current squad, even if 6 of the 8 players missing, were available we would not have won that game bar a fluke of somekind.

Arsene has some how lost his own perfectionist qualities. Where is the fear? I would question if Arshavin or many others were even confronted about their lack of desire. The way Arshavin in particular "trundled" forward
!!WTF!! and the new kids on the block were allowed to sink was little short of a scandal. I wish Arsene would be more direct/cut throat when the team fails. ( We all remember Fergie tearing Johnny Evans a new one, even though just after utd scored somewhere in europe.)

It's high time Wenger kicked some ass in the dressing room. Or at the very least offered some verbal abuse from time to time. C'mon Arsene, get ANGRY !