Stone Cold Friday: Dances With Wolves
Like Mongo, he’s only a pawn in the game of life. But anyway, he’s pitched up once more this Friday morning. Here’s Darius
It’s been a funny week. What happened at St. James’ Park was akin to robbery with violence, a state of affairs not helped by a Neanderthal culture which sees nothing wrong with the public mugging that took place.
It shouldn’t matter that in part, we contrived to leave the front door open for the said bandits; any seasoned thief taker wouldn’t have hesitated to collar the match officials for such a travesty.
Like many of you, I’m still suffering withdrawal from that trauma having resorted to the proverbial industrial strength mouthwash to try and clean the bitter taste left in my mouth. Perhaps the international break was a good cooling off period, giving the team enough time to contemplate the sheer magnitude of the task that sits in front of them.
Maybe we’re finally learning the tricks of old with man flu and a dodgy belly giving our two talisman licence to avoid the Wild West that is international football. Lessons are also being learnt elsewhere if we’re to read into the institutional silence that the Arsenal has taken regarding the public airing of their grievances on the pitch.
Tupac Shakur couldn’t have put it better in his 1996 hit “It’s just me against the world baby!”
Somehow, I think that the train wreck last weekend was a watershed moment in the maturity of this team. I think the penny has dropped and they know that it’s naive to expect any favours from anyone; it’s dangerous to try and take on the juggernaut head on; and we’re going to have to do this the hard way.
It doesn’t make it any easier that we have to rise out of the shadows by facing this seasons giant killers. We literally have to dance with the Wolves, who for most part can’t even buy a win against the relegation strugglers who surround them as they prop the league table.
Yet the Wolves have mauled Chelsea, Man United, Man City and Liverpool. And if it wasn’t for Wookash Fabianski’s world class one handed save that turned defence into attack – giving Chamakh an unhindered view of the whites of the Wolves keeper’s eyes within 3 seconds, we would have been another statistic of this giant killing.
With 39 points up for grabs in the Premier League; a trip to Wembley and a chance to remove that blasted “they haven’t won a trophy in 6 years” monkey off our backs; and another lower league land mine in Leyton who are hell bent in stopping us getting to the FA Cup quarter-final – we have no time to feel sorry for ourselves.
And of course, there’s a small matter of Broke Back Barca riding into town for some unfinished business. A trip that wouldn’t be complete without their chief verbal diarrhoea expert Xavi Hernandez already spewing bile about DNA, prodigal sons and I don’t know what else. To his credit though, the punk also admits “But the thing with Cesc is that there is a problem — he is now worth a lot of money”.
If Andy Carroll commands £35 million, I suspect he’s worried that they can’t afford one of the top 5 players in the world whose stock went through the roof with his assist for the World Cup winning goal.
What isn’t in question though is that we need to buckle up, hold on to our hats and face the beast. This right here ladies and gentlemen, is what we subscribed to.
My wife and other close friends tell me that when Arsenal loses a game, or something like the debacle of last weekend happens; I take things too personally. This of course coming from someone who has only recently regained the ability to watch her beloved Chelsea live after their capitulation.
I suspect though, that many of you can testify to the sleepless nights; the tossing and turning; the anguish over what could, should or would have; the cursing of every pundit and hack who bears their ugly mug to pass judgement; or the exile to the bunker and media blackout that follows a loss or freak result like last weekend.
My sense is that for the players and manager, these emotions are amplified 10 fold. In August last year, the Arsenal head chef Rob Fagg spoke vividly in a radio interview of how the players and other staff are affected by any loss and how they adversely react; and he and Ray Parlour passionately and vociferously argued against anyone who suggests that the players don’t care.
What happens from here on requires all of us to surmount incredible odds. We don’t have the luxury of moaning about signings that didn’t happen, or which players we like or don’t like, or succumbing to the misguided truths and convenient lies peddled in the narratives against Arsenal.
It’s us against the world – and a siege mentality is exactly what we need right now. We cannot expect our team to rise to the challenge if we ourselves succumb to the pressure. It’s no time to hide behind the sofa, or hope that fortune will favour the righteous. The bastards – the whole lot of them – are going to make it impossible in this last mile.
I can’t recall how many times it’s been said that the next period is this team’s biggest challenge yet. I would argue that it’s just one of the next challenges that we must overcome. The only way the team have got this far is by navigating all the obstacles that have been put in front of them.
We must continue the belief, and we must continue the vocal support in the stadium and out on the streets and on the web.
Make no mistake, Arsenal’s success is inevitable. It will have monumental implications for the way football is played, financed and managed. It will throw a grenade into a status quo that has cemented the reign of a decaying football establishment.
Let’s all fight the good fight.