Exactly What Did The Booing Achieve?
Arsenal 1 – 0 Wigan Athletic
1 – 0 Adebayor (16)
The victory turned out to be important with everyone above and immediately below winning. The points gap was neither closed or widened and at the end of the day, those are the brutal facts.
Performance-wise, it was not the most polished ever turned in but for years, we have had to put up with the ‘media fact’ that Arsenal cannot win ‘ugly’. It was not a beautiful performance from the extended highlights that I saw – frankly I was glad to have missed the game and have been away at the weekend – but it should not mask the fact that were it not for some good saves by Kirkland and the intervention of the woodwork, the scoreline would have been more emphatic. But they did intervene and equally, three points could have indeed been one. But they weren’t.
Which brings us to Eboue. I have to say he had a poor game but in view of the circumstances, it was hardly surprising. No gentle introduction following a number of weeks inactivity for him, instead an hours worth of a game, played out of position. The problem for the player is that he was put into a situation by the manager who got it wrong. At that point in the game, he had the option of Vela or Wilshere which in hindsight seem entirely more logical given that both are more natural to them.
If Eboue was shorn of confidence before he entered the field of play, the game went away from him. His touch was not good, reflecting his absence through injury. No matter what he did, it did not come off. In that scenario, I would suppose that he would have mentally being trying harder to get things right but instead of focussing on a more ‘natural’ getting the small things into place, he carried on trying to perform as an outlet for the team. He had a bad day at the office and it was hardly surprising that he was substituted.
Wenger got it wrong in the initial substitution and in hanging Eboue out to dry at the end, even if that was unintentional. Whatever the case, the booing of the player, I found shocking and frankly beyond disappointing. Is this the new benchmark for players? What if that had been Fabregas? Would there have been catcalls? Is it simply a case that a sheep mentality enveloped the crowd, the minority who dislike Eboue infecting the majority?
It becomes an issue of conscience. Personally, I cannot bring myself to boo an individual player when they are wearing the Arsenal shirt. It does not make me a more loyal fan, it does not make those who catcall more passionate. It does not bring into question their or my support for the team. It is simply a case that I do not understand the mentality and frankly, I am not sure that I want to.
Another baseball bat being used to beat him is his attitude. How anyone in the world other than Eboue can tell you what his attitude in the match was is beyond me. Even those who know the man well cannot with 100% certainty tell you what was going through his mind during his hour in the fray. A lot of supposition is passed as fact when we look at players. Do not tell me he was not trying without the evidence to back it up.
So what to the future? Has the booing focussed Eboue in any way? Do you seriously believe you have motivated him to improve? If your aim was to motivate him out of the club, forget it. He has shown the mental toughness to ignore you in the past, I have little doubt he will do so now. It is something that Arsene touched upon:
I will sit down and talk to him. But I believe it could make him stronger and more determined to show how good he is. Manu is really loved inside the team and he is a good boy. But you can see that when he lost confidence it was very difficult for him.
There is one more aspect of this that has to be considered. How do you think that it makes the rest of the squad feel? You remember them. The ones who nobody wants to see leave. Irrespective of what you think of Eboue, I have little doubt that they have a loyalty to their friend. It is generally accepted that players come and go in football but does anyone seriously think that they feel any more loyalty to the club following on from the events of Saturday or has it crossed your mind that they might just question your support for them, have a moment of self-doubt about the reception that they will receive if they hit a sticky patch. Indeed, do you know how you will react?