Stone Cold Friday: Finding Opportunity In The Midst Of Adversity
He’s fearless, intrepid and laughs in the face of danger. Which is just as well because even Indiana Jones wouldn’t venture into his neck of the woods. A place where the men are men and the sheep are worried. Here’s Darius...
Rahm Emmanuel, the White House Chief of Staff, when responding to a question about how Obama’s administration intends to manage the economic crisis said: ”There’s nothing worse than letting a good crisis go to waste”.
If you believe some of the stuff being printed out there about Arsenal’s’ short-comings, you wouldn’t be mistaken to think that we’re a club operating in crisis mode.
With a first choice centre half, a talismanic captain and one of the world’s best strikers in Robin Van Persie out for the season, surely mid-table mediocrity is a position Arsenal should be thankful for?
At least that’s what they say or seem to suggest. To give you an idea about the lengths some media houses will go in their desperation to push ratings and get traffic (to increase their advertising revenue of course), one of them even questioned whether Fabregas had played his last match for Arsenal.
I’ve got to tell you that some people are only alive because it’s illegal to kill. I would have been content with writing up this column for the next 14 years from the library at Belmarsh Prison south of the river if that comment was made in the same room I was in, but I digress.
What is it about this Arsenal team that refuses to go away or refuses to die?
On Wednesday night, I was watching the game against Barca with my wife and a friend. After 20 minutes, my wife went upstairs to watch one of her soaps instead because she was embarrassed for me and couldn’t take the footballing master class the Catalans were dishing out in plenty.
I don’t blame her, believe me – I was tempted to hide under the sofa. I had to be a good host and pretend that what happened in that first 25 minutes was an anomaly.
As the match went on though, I was totally convinced that riding that Spanish inquisition was perhaps one of the best tests of adversity this team has faced. We were playing the best team in the world, a team that admitted that they played the best football they’d ever played in those 45 minutes.
We were put under so much pressure, that the Arsenal team could not retreat or surrender; we had no option but to deal with the relentless pressure. The fact that the entire footballing population around the world who could get to a TV or a radio were probably tuned in did not help in relieving that pressure.
However, this is the key thing. Arsenal survived that onslaught in the first half. The only reason Barca weren’t rolling into the sunset with a 6 nil lead after the first half is because Arsenal defended like their lives depended on it.
It was funny watching Premiership managers give their verdict on the game as they did their routine interviews yesterday. A handful of them praised both Barca and Arsenal for their respective roles in the epic encounter, but the funniest comments came from managers who had suffered the wrath of the Arsenal.
Mick McCarthy for example, took pleasure in pointing out that ”Well, at least Arsenal know how we all feel when we try to play them”.
It’s true; this team has never had to live with being starved of the ball and being made to chase shadows. The fact that they dealt with it and came out of the battle with their heads held up high tells me a lot about how this team has grown up.
We can question the team’s tactics; we can question individual and collective performances. However, it’s becoming harder and harder to question the teams determination, tenacity, character and resolve.
As every obstacle is placed in front of this team, the young men are showing that they feel nothing and will do whatever it takes to find a way around that obstacle.
We face yet another hurdle with the walking wounded who are keeping Colin Lewin and his team gainfully employed. Ordinarily, I would have been concerned about not having our talismanic captain, our big bad Billy G out back, and the lethal streak of Robin Van Persie. Arshavin has some down time to kill while entertaining his website visitors.
In most other clubs I know, injuries to the fulcrum of the team would be considered a crisis and a disaster.
However, this team has yet another opportunity to rise from the ashes and continue with the ’never say die’ spirit that they’ve shown throughout this season.
We have no time to chew fat on the impact Fabregas’ loss will have; Samir Nasri has an unbelievable opportunity to nail a first team place in the Les Bleus squad for the World Cup.
We have no time to ponder which version of Andrey Arshavin will turn up for the match; Eduardo, Vela and Walcott have statements to make to remind the masses that they aren’t just bench warmers.
We have no time to moan about whether Wenger should have risked William Gallas or bought brand spanking new centre half backups; there’s 6 games in the EPL and 4 games in the Champions League that stand between Arsenal and 2 trophies.
Before the season started, we were allegedly destined for the wilderness of mid-table, and the team continue to defy the odds as they refuse to go away.
Of course, some will be quick to point out the short-comings of this team in the familiar defensive pessimism streak. My sense is what the team has done this far demand that we as a collective fan base, rally behind and help carry them through to the finishing line.
If this was the crisis that we are made to believe, I would suggest that those not acknowledging what this team has achieved so far don’t know what success looks like any more.
I’ll be honest with you – the journey this team has taken us through this season is a roller coaster ride and it’s not good for my heart. I wouldn’t have it any other way though.
Is there a sweeter way to victory than to experience adversity and come out on top?
Posted on April 2, 2010, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer and tagged Arsenal, Champions League, FC Barcelona, Football, Premier League, Soccer, Stone Cold Arsenal, Stone Cold Friday. Bookmark the permalink. 181 Comments.