Stone Cold Friday: Balancing Your Perspectives
“Hey Yogi, you gonna handle this lot? I just woke up, you take your share.” I’m not Bambino and he’s not Trinity. He’s Darius…
It’s often said that the last mile of any arduous journey can seem the longest; fraught with a myriad of challenges that makes reaching the promised land so near, yet so far. This week has been a classic indicator of what perils lie in wait to ambush Arsenal’s continuous endeavour to glory.
The Catalans, one of our possible opponents in the next round of the Champions league are quickly touted as the universal benchmark and SI unit of what total football should look like. A comparison quickly followed by the misguided narrative that Arsenal is the poor man’s Barcelona
The reaction for most part to our loss on Monday night was for me, more disappointing than the actual game. Let’s face it; it was painful to watch – and an advert for the superiority of the EPL it certainly wasn’t. What isn’t in doubt is that Arsenal could have pulled their finger out and performed better on the night, but we are where we are.
What baffles me more is how we got to the stage where the justified disappointment in our performance subsequently consumed us to the stage where perspective and objective thinking after the cold light of day was thrown out of the window.
The misguided suggestion that perspective should be followed right out of that top floor window with the baby, the bath water and the entire bath tub crashing onto the Holloway Road is as ludicrous as it comes.
“But Darius, we’ve been here before every season for the last 5 years”, I hear some of you screaming with hands thrown up in frustration.
I must admit, the fact that say for example, since we last beat United 2 years ago, we’ve lost 5 games against them and drawn 1 shipping 10 goals with only 3 in reply. Any which way you look at it, it sounds bad, it really does.
My sense is a lot of the acrimony and disillusionment is to do with the loss of bragging rights around the world when it comes to games against our nearest title rivals. For some, facing colleagues and friends at work, around the water cooler and down the pub has become as excruciating as a visit to the dentist without the anaesthesia.
But let’s look at some simple facts. We’re still within touching distance of the summit of the table, and have a good chance to top the table at the end of the year. We have conceded fewer goals than this time last season. We are still in with a chance of winning 4 trophies. Most of our senior players are available for selection with only the notable absences being Vermaelen and maybe Ramsey who is out on loan.
There are so many myths, factual inaccuracies and misguided narratives peddled about Arsenal from within the Arsenal blogosphere and out in the media that they’ve developed a life of their own. I mean – why let facts get in the way of a good story?
Let’s look at another ridiculous narrative that lacks context and perspective. We are told that Arsenal is light years away from Barcelona. But are we? For one, we are at different stages of development. The Catalans went through the same growing pains and didn’t win anything for at least 6 years.
Moreover, they’ve got to the current stage by supplementing their squad with a ridiculously unsustainable financial model that has seen their debt spiral out of control into the hundreds of millions. And no, they’re not going to be bailed out by the shadows lurking in the financial corridors of Spain.
After Greece and Ireland, Spain are odds on to turn up in Brussels, cap in hand asking for at least €360 billion (not million) to get them out of jail. Ask the Heads of State stuck in those smoke filled rooms with their advisors last night trying to develop a ‘get out of jail free card’. My point is that even for Barcelona, the environment they exist in has permanently changed and they are not going to be able to do what they have done in the past.
So are they really light years away from us? Their country’s economy is living on borrowed time, and even they aren’t that naive to think that the laws of economics don’t apply to them because they’re more than just a club.
Coming back to England and the narrative about the last barren 5 years for Arsenal, ask yourself what it has cost Chelsea and United to actually win the various trophies they have in that period. £1.6 billion and counting.
The opportunity cost for Arsenal’s way of life and our approach to development is that we will experience the highs and lows of the inconsistencies of development. I suppose the more relevant question is “how long does development take”?
Those with patience are indeed a very rare breed, and my sense is that there’s more of a problem of supporters managing their own expectations about what it will take to see this journey through, as opposed to whether Arsenal’s project youth is working.
There are 16 other teams in the EPL and points against them are as valid and relevant as the points against the other title contenders. The disappointment and frustration mid-season of not beating title rivals cannot be allowed to consume us to the point of not focusing on the rest of the EPL.
When pots start calling kettles black, you do ask what moral ground we stand on by asking for our players to show strength, character and tenacity to overcome these inconsistencies and low points in the season; yet we’re not prepared to be strong and tenacious to dust ourselves off, get back on the horse and help carry them through the rough patch.
All 4 trophies are up for grabs and this is not the time for self-doubt and nebulous pontificating about the could, would or should haves.
As for the draw today, we will have to beat one of those teams to get our hands on the Champions league trophy – and my take is that the earlier the better. Contrary to conventional wisdom, none of the teams likely to draw Arsenal are that excited about the prospect of facing us at this stage. Even if some don’t believe it, those teams know we’re damn slippery customers that they want to avoid like a nonsense.
Posted on December 17, 2010, in Arsenal, Champions League, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer and tagged Arsenal, Champions League, Football, Premier League, Soccer. Bookmark the permalink. 248 Comments.