Stone Cold Friday: Where Next For Arsenal?
He’s Darius. He’s got a navel. He’s going to gaze at it. More to the point, he’s a caring, sharing kinda guy who’s willing to show you it…
Whenever I sit down to write this column, the events of the week – whether it be the performance on the pitch or the reaction to it – influences the direction I take with the article.
I’ll admit it sometimes is extremely hard to garner the courage or the creative instinct to write something inspiring, when a feeling of disappointment and heart-break does overwhelm you.
This is one of those weeks, and I’m still trying to process which part of this journey this season is leaving me jaded. I suspect that I don’t hold the monopoly when it comes to being frustrated and disappointed.
My feeling perhaps stems more from the fact that it was Tottenham who yanked the chain and left us in limbo. I’ve made no secret about the fact that I’ve never really liked the Tiny Tots, or as my brother would say – “I’m an equal opportunity hater of all things Tottenham”.
Notwithstanding the fact that a dear friend claims that he has already purchased Wednesday’s DVD for me as a present (he’s a wind-up merchant), the loss this week has left a very bitter taste in my mouth. It was self inflicted in many ways for it is a match we were in control of and should have won.
Double that up with the gallant journey that we have travelled this season, and the feeling I’m left with is like that of having great sex but being violently denied the opportunity for a deserved orgasm; yanked violently away from the pleasure by a herd of wild horses racing for the hills.
My wife tried to inject a bit of perspective to my disappointment by pointing out that I might be expecting too much considering that 4 out of our preferred central defenders are injured at the same time. Even as a die-hard Chelsea supporter, she appreciates that if they lost their Vermaelen, Gallas, Djourou and Alex Song, and had to contend with our esteemed senior citizens out back, they like any other team would struggle.
Where do we go from here I ask?
I would start from the point of view that the team has 4 games to redeem themselves and cultivate a positive mindset as we finish another season. Mathematically it still is possible to win the title, but chances of Chelsea committing spectacular suicide and dropping 7 points out of 12 is as slim as expecting Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem leader to be riding in the Jaguar to Buckingham Palace on May 7th to formerly accept the keys of Downing Street from Aunt Liz.
My heart holds hope that miracles can happen (for Nick Clegg too), but my head says that even if Chelsea are criminally negligent, we still have to win our remaining games. That should be our focus whether Chelsea falters or not.
Off the pitch, I have remained true to my resolve not to indulge in the kamikaze nonsense of the venomous naval gazing that customarily follows any Arsenal defeat. Think of it as managing my own health and well-being, but the noise in the Arsenal blogosphere can be suffocating at best under such circumstances.
Once the noise has died down though, and the season parked for another year, we must focus on the opportunity to build on what we have achieved so far. Some would have you believe that Arsenal needs major surgery, but in truth, those are the ramblings of knee-jerk reactors who live in the fantasy world of the Play station manager.
There’s a very big difference between being disappointed at losing to the Tiny Tots, or at stuttering so close to the finishing line; and being disappointed with the general progress and development of the team. This Arsenal team has come on leaps and bounds but is still a work in progress.
We need reinforcements and I’m confident they will arrive. Wenger and Gazidis have already done the foundation work in keeping the core of the team together and a sprinkling of new signings will do well to shore up our current resources.
I think what I’m more worried and wary about is the fact that save for the 31 days in the summer when we have some excitement with the world cup, we’re inevitably going to be subjected to a nauseating barrage of Arsenal bashing yet.
From the media and the pundits and hacks, I can appreciate the bashing; for that is how they earn their corn. I’m more concerned with our very own home grown hardcore elements that have made it their preserve to unleash a disturbing form of poisonous tongue lashing in what is mostly a desperate bid to stop the humiliation they say they constantly receive from rival fans.
I do actually appreciate an honest and engaging debate that questions what went wrong, discusses where we can improve and celebrates the triumphs we have. That however, is miles different from the stone throwing and name calling that we’ve become so accustomed to from those insisting that it’s the new form of constructive criticism.
More importantly, it is worth acknowledging that the business of football and how the finance works within the game has changed. In my view, it has changed drastically to correct itself in line with the economic reality around the world.
The days of brazen big money spending are long gone, and for most part, the devil is quietly but surely knocking from door to door as he collects his dues from the clubs that have been living beyond their means. I must say that from this point of view, Arsenal is very lucky to be in a relatively secure position that allows us to build on what we have and move forward in a concerted way without fearing that the wolves are going to be at the door.
We must find the strength to set aside the raw disappointment we experience, especially from losing to that lot up the road; and draw comfort from the fact that we are moving forward in the right direction.
And of course, I will promptly chop up that Tottenham DVD with the new set of secateurs I bought last week to trim the hedges.
Keep the faith people, keep the faith.
And that’s your lot for today. ’til Tomorrow.