Stone Cold Friday: Mistaking Desperation For Intent
Aaah, it’s Friday so it’s time for the blogging equivalent of The Bay Of Pigs. Here’s Darius…
Years ago, I was arm-twisted by my then girlfriend to watch the TV premier of the James Cameron epic – The Titanic. During the movie, our housemate Charlie sauntered into the living room from work, and just stood in front of the telly, briefcase in hand, for 2 minutes fixated on the unfolding scene.
Shaking his head, he then shot off with a puzzled look, while cynically commenting “I don’t know why people even bother watching this movie. Everyone knows what happens in the end – they can’t surprise you”.
But for me, it wasn’t Charlie’s irony that cracked me up. There was a particular scene after the ship started sinking when all the rich and cultured folks were being carried into the lifeboats. The band of violinists continued to play some soothing music for these snobs, in total oblivion to the fact that they were about to meet their maker.
The drama this week and the malarkey of the transfer window reminded me of some of the scenes in that movie. While the sporting equivalents of the neo-con hawks in the media hailed and heralded the orgy of obscenity in the transfer market; you couldn’t help but think that the big spenders Roman Abramovich and John Henry were just simply re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic while the cheer leading pundits and hacks strummed on the violins.
It’s so sad to observe the sheer ignorance and incompetence of those charged with imparting their wisdom on footballing matters unto the masses. The clamour for big spending beyond obscenity in football is further fuelled by sensationalism and hyperbole that is arguably unrivalled anywhere on this planet.
We all need to be shamelessly proud of being part of the Arsenal, an oasis of fiscal and footballing sanity in an orgy of excess. Of course, we will be accused of lacking ambition, lacking intent, and being spell-bound by an egotistic maniac who is more of a book-keeper than a football coach.
I submit to you though, that there’s a very big difference between intent and desperation. Intent is when you lay down a vision, put the pieces of the jigsaw in place, and follow through that vision, sometimes in the face of adversity. Intent is having the foresight to anticipate the direction football will take, and executing an audacious and ambitious plan that will see you straddle the footballing landscape for decades to come.
Intent is refusing to shirk from your custodial responsibility of not sending the club to the dogs while irresponsibly chasing short-term glory. Intent is building a world class stadium, and organically developing a stable and sustainable backbone to act as a foundation for the club to stand on and remain an elite club for generations to come.
But no, no, no – we are told that you have to spend tens of millions of pounds that let’s face it – the clubs can’t afford – for you to show intent. Look up desperation in a dictionary, and you will find that spending £75 million in January to try and buy you a Champions league spot is desperation.
When a single player costs more in transfer fees than Arsenal’s strongest entire first team, you have to ask at which point desperation becomes stupidity. When you pay £35 million for a player who can’t even pass a medical, let alone a player who’s only scored 11 goals in his entire premier league career, you have to wonder whether some folks have lost the plot.
But this is the thing, and it’s something that we shouldn’t lose focus on in the midst of the storm of Arsenal being pilloried as unambitious and lacking intent.
We are second in the Premier league, with the best away record and the best improved defence this year having only conceded one goal in the league since the draw to Wigan just after Christmas. We are still in three cup competitions, including being 90 minutes away from lifting a trophy at Wembley.
We have the deepest and most versatile squad in the league, despite the misguided untruths and falsehoods peddled in the media about an alleged crisis. Take for example the suggestion that we have a goal keeping crisis since Fabianski went under the knife. I don’t know about you, but Manuel Almunia has to be the best value and most experienced No. 2 keeper in any league I can think of.
Our defence is wrongly maligned for being too soft and milky, yet we have only conceded one goal more than them lot up the M62. Sagna is without a doubt the best and most consistent right back in the league, yet he is treated like the kid in the back of the class raising his hand and being ignored.
Djourou and Koscielny are the most agile, nimble and sexy ball playing defenders in town, yet we’re told that because they didn’t cost as much as Vidic and Ferdinand, they shouldn’t even be eating on the same table, yet they’ve only conceded one goal more. Clichy diligently anchors our left flank, and we haven’t even mentioned Thomas Vermaelen, the league’s best defender last season – who must be wondering whether he has an automatic starting place.
All this has been done without selling our souls or compromising our virtues and principles. Some will argue that because Wenger hasn’t whipped out the cheque book and jumped into the madness like everyone else, then we are lacking in ambition and intent.
Being dependent on the whims of an individual benefactor is more of a big deal than not being able to get a player who will improve our squad and is available at an acceptable market value. Paying stupid money for players in January because you run the risk of not making it to the Champions league is not intent – it’s the height of desperation.
And as our colourful Chairman puts it, what are you going to do when your benefactor walks under a bus?
That’ s what the man said. Can I Get A Witness? CAN I GET A WITNESS? ’til Tomorrow.