Stone Cold Friday: The Good, The Bad & The Downright Ugly
You see, in this world there’s two kinds of people, my friend: Those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig. Here’s Darius with this week’s musings…
My short-lived media blackout was ruthlessly shattered this week. I had forgotten that Royal Mail and my mobile phone service provider still had the ability to let Tottenham fans and other undesirables get to me.
I had promised myself not to do anything ‘Arsenal’ until 7.43 pm on Tuesday when I could safely watch an Arsenal redemption. The thought of some good football with the TV sound muted, and a ‘safe’ Arsenal TV commentary was supposed to lift my spirits.
Yet it was the practical joke played on me by a very good friend and long term Liverpool supporter that slapped me back into reality and got me out of the bunker. A package arrived in the mail on Wednesday – a nicely wrapped DVD with a neatly printed label stating: ‘Official Tottenham Hotspur Match DVD – 20th November 2010 – Arsenal v Tottenham.
Inside the blank casing was a note that simply said, “Snap out of it you bastard, now you know how Liverpool fans have been feeling for the last 20 years”.
And he was right. This is what I subscribed to. This is what we all subscribed to. The highs, the lows, the emotional roller coaster, the excitement and elation, the despair and hopelessness.
The last 135 minutes of football have left me with a bittersweet taste in my mouth. Sweet because despite everything, we’re still well in with a chance of 4 trophies, and bitter because an unacceptable level of complacency has crept in.
An ACLF regular texted me on Saturday night after Chelsea’s loss to Birmingham saying – “The sun does truly shine on a dogs arse”. It made me smile as even I didn’t expect Chelsea to give us a second ‘get out of jail free card’, and it’s safe to say, we’ve used our quota for the season.
I suppose what pains me is that if you look at the results we had at Sunderland away, and against West Brom, Newcastle and Spurs at home, all of which were arguably winnable games – we could have been sitting pretty at the top 9 points clear of the chasing pack.
I know of many jobs where if you lost such a monumental advantage especially after being in control – you’d find yourself sitting in front of a disciplinary panel charged with dereliction of duty. 9 points in the EPL for example is equivalent to a windfall in the financial markets capable of securing 6 months wages for a good proportion of your employees.
But that my friends is the ‘ugly’ side of this adventure. It’s what keeps us awake at night, tossing and turning and making our loved ones wonder why it is that we get so affected and so emotional when Arsenal lose a game. If you didn’t feel this way, I would suggest that it’s possible you’re not truly a Gooner.
The ‘ugly’ is part and parcel of this journey, and even though we mentally prepare for it, and find a way to rationalize it – the impact to us has been plain to see this week.
The team know it and it’s fair to say that they hold their heads in shame. Denilson’s public apology for the debacle against Tottenham was an indicator that the team are sensitive to the fact that they’ve let us down and they’ve let themselves down. Only a gallant performance at Villa Park will start to spell redemption in the eyes of many.
Let’s however not get to down trodden because it’s time to dust ourselves off and get back on the horse. As they say in Miami – “It’s time to ‘fan up’”. It’s time to show the team that we share their pain and their joy. It’s time for us to make sure they know that we want them to get back to winning ways and that we will support them to the hilt to do that.
It is unreasonable to expect them to get back to the ‘good’, minimize the ‘bad, and totally eliminate the ‘ugly’ – if we are not prepared to do our part and ‘fan up’ for the team. I suggest that it’s actually hypocritical to expect the team to show mental strength and fight back, yet we’re not prepared to also fight back with our unwavering support.
My sense is that it’s entirely feasible that our indifferent performance at home this season is directly impacted by the fear, or anxiety or apprehension that the players might have in case they get a lukewarm response from fans claiming to be home supporters. You cannot discount that they’re playing more like the home team when they’re away – and that is a form of indictment of what we as fans do to make the Emirates a fortress.
The next Carling cup and Champions league ties are at home, and I think that by virtue of both having a fairly different crowd base than the EPL matches, we’re likely to see a different response from the crowds ‘fanning up’, and by extension, a much better performance from the team.
Johan Djourou captured it for me this week by defining our performances as “crazy and inexplicable”. Some call it a crisis, but I would suggest Ireland is in a crisis and not Arsenal. The problem with the blogosphere is that a perceived ‘crisis mode’ is easily amplified by the click of a button.
There are issues to resolve and they will be resolved so that we sail closer to the ‘good’ as opposed to the ‘bad and ugly’.
Meanwhile, is it only me or is anyone else disturbed by Fabianski’s recent fashion sense? What’s with the shocking pink?