…..and our obdurate conductor still won’t ring our bell!
As an Arsenal fan I’ve long since learned that it’s prudent to switch off during the summer, rather than be driven to distraction by endless rumours, which fail to take into account the tendency of our very own Nero to want to continue fiddling with the flames licking around his feet.
However while Rome burned, the Emirates appears pretty flameproof, which is perhaps a significant factor in the complacency that seems to plague the club after 14 consecutive years of Champions League football. Instead of placating fans by making good on the promise of some serious investment in the squad, they’ve put ticket prices up.
Whether it’s exasperation or hard economics, the net result is probably the largest turnover of season tickets in the club’s modern history. Yet for every Gooner giving up their precious pitch this summer, there’s ten waiting to take their place, who dare not pass up the unheard of phenomenon of actually being offered a guaranteed seat, for fear it might never happen again.
Nevertheless, despite growing Gooner disgruntlement over Arsène’s myopic insistence at overstaying our welcome, seemingly stuck in this Groundhog day loop, it’s every football fan’s prerogative to approach each new season, fuelled by optimistic expectations of a fabulous new dawn. That is until we are left gloomily trudging away from the pre-season nuptials, resigned to another unfulfilled campaign of the ‘same old, same old’ ornamental underachievement, with little or no faith in our manager’s hollow claims that we are ever closer to consummating our long-awaited reunion with the glory days.
Gervinho’s introduction offers a faint spark of promise. Compared to tearing at what little remains of my hair, after enduring six frustrating seasons watching the Arsenal recycle the ball ad infinitum but with no end product, I adore the Ivorian’s directness and pray that he might add some much needed dynamism to our forward play. But despite not wanting to put a dampener on our exciting first glimpses of our new (and along with the untried Carl Jenkinson, so far ONLY) addition, I can’t help but fear that Gervinho’s ‘push and run’ preferences might soon be nullified in the uncompromising environs of the Premiership?
There were other causes for optimism in our pre-season friendlies, with the return of Thomas Vermaelen, who has that aura of resolve about him, which at least doesn’t leave one feeling quite so insecure that we’re about to commit centre-back hari-kiri whenever we concede possession. And after the injury which stalled his career last term, the resumption of Manny Frimpong’s potential development into a homegrown Michael Essien (I often wonder what might’ve been if we hadn’t been gazumped for Essien, as Abramovich signaled his intention to park Chelsea’s tank on our lawn and fire fifty pound notes at us).
Benik Afobe also looked full of promise for the future. But in the here and now, against possibly the most uninspiring line-up in the competition’s 5 year history, the fact that we couldn’t even contrive to win our own bloomin’ tournament was quite frankly downright embarrassing. Carelessly squandering leads in both games of the Emirates Cup felt like a metaphor for all that’s wrong with the club. How can we expect even a facsimile of commitment from this squad, when they see Samir Nasri’s refusal to sign a contract rewarded with the captain’s armband?
As for the Fabregas saga, I think that like most Gooners, I just want it over, as it’s making the club look like the jilted lover, refusing to accept reality to the point of requiring a restraining order. Losing our best player will be a blow, but clinging on to anyone against their will is a recipe for disaster as far as team spirit is concerned. In the apparent absence of Arsène’s imaginary war-chest, or any willing mug-punters for the rest of our deadwood, if they are actually planning on re-investing the fee for our captain into the squad (as opposed to more eateries for the high-rollers), can I humbly suggest they pull their finger out and get on with it, or never mind May, looking at the fixture list we could be casting a few clouts before August is out!
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