One Of Us Speaks: Welcome To The Era Of The Rakish, Super Fly Arsenal.
Big Al is here, using the so-called right of his opinion…
Even before Arsenal’s own version of Gallipoli on Sunday afternoon, it was already looking like one of the worst weekends of football. In both England and Spain, well-run, respectable clubs and Spurs, were about to be obliterated by the mechanised giants destroying the European game, while the people who purport to hold its interests looked on.
In Spain the Villarreal and Sevilla presidents spoke up, decrying the crushing inequity in their league. And you’d be right to point out that there are some key differences between the administration of La Liga and the Premiership, but, unless something drastic happens, in the end the outcome will be pretty much the same; both leagues will have three clubs dumping on the rest from their gilded garderobes.
I’m sure you’re aware of all this, but let me tell you something about Arsenal today:
Our wage bill is now comfortably fifth in the Premier League. Even after this week’s business we have made a big profit on transfers in the last eight years. Only two Arsenal players are among Europe’s Top 100 best-paid players – and one of those is Arshavin. We are now firmly second tier; rogues, out there hustling on the streets, while Chelsea, Manchester City and those self-styled paupers, Manchester United orgy in their penthouses like Caligula at Studio 54.
How did this happen? Well, that’s simple – we’ve been priced out, and in the crudest way possible. We saw it coming quite early, made some snap decisions and took a different path, bringing in younger players and letting the team blossom in unison. But it’s clear now, more than ever, that this game is rigged and it’s time to get dirty.
When Abramovich showed up in 2003 the road ahead was suddenly blockaded by tankers with oil company logos. We were shunted onto a parallel trail, and forced to put our faith in Wenger to carry us through the transition. We needed him to overcome the obstacles, to guide us from Highbury to Ashburton Grove – a short walk in any other circumstances, but a brutal slog across uncharted terrain for Arsenal FC. All the while the landscape changed as we ran; wages rose and transfer records were broken. Our opponents established scouting networks we could never afford and bought our targets to spite us.
Still Wenger kept on. Too loyal to have his head turned by another club, too dignified to bemoan the conditions imposed by his naive masters. Even as the terrain became almost impassable, the demands of the media and some fans became ever shriller, on he ran. You know, the people who took all the trail-blazing ingenuity for granted and nitpicked the eccentricities.
And you know what else – we nearly pulled it off. Despite being dwarfed by our main rivals, despite having our best players cherry picked, despite being derided in the media, despite the growing discontent, we got so damned close: Three finals in five years. In the running for the league title for three of those as well. We were pushing it too hard and the strain told in the end, amid injuries and bitter disappointments. Truly the Carling Cup final felt like a deathblow. We could all sense it at the time, and I feel that we’ve only just hit the bottom.
All the while our fans have had to look across to that tarmacked highway while we negotiate our dusty track and watch, as our rivals have souped up their sports cars with increasingly extravagant modifications. You can’t blame us for being envious, but Arsenal runs on sweat, not oil. We need to take pride in self-sustenance, and keep going, keep supporting with everything we’ve got, because our team needs us more than ever.
Seriously, it’s getting expensive, but when you take your seat at Ashburton Grove you can be sure that the club does need you more than Chelsea or Manchester City need their supporters. We’re not some billionaire’s plaything; there’s a vital, mutually supportive relationship between Arsenal fans, players and board that needs constant maintenance.
That doesn’t mean our club can’t take care of itself either – we’ve suddenly got all streetwise. The more observant will have spotted us, lurking in shadowy doorways, face hidden by a tilted fedora and raised collar, waiting and watching less prudent clubs flounder. We’ve been observing Fenerbahçe mired in a betting scandal; we read the news about Werder Bremen’s financial woes; we saw the once great Monaco sink into Ligue 2. And don’t think we’d been ignoring Bolton and Everton round our way, on their last legs, suffocating in this noxious environment polluted by Chelsea and City’s poisonous emissions.
So we strolled up and took their stuff from them. And if they didn’t like what we were offering then we left them to ponder their own oblivion: “Their choice”. Cahill will leave next year, either for free or less than the £8 million we offered. And in the end Everton had to let Mikel Arteta go; he’s no replacement for Cesc, but that was never the aim. Instead we have a hugely experienced premiership player with the technique and vision of the best midfielders in the Champions League.
That’s right; we took their stuff. After years accused of being too wide-eye and quixotic, Arsenal has developed an alter ego – the kind of club that strikes a clandestine deal for one of Barcelona’s best prospects, and, when they protest, takes another one for the hassle. Months later across the channel, Lille officials knock on the door of a hotel room, soon to discover that their potential new recruit has been smuggled to North London.
So that’s how it’s got to be. Welcome to the era of rakish, Super Fly Arsenal.
Take it away Curtis.
That’s enough of this young mod’s forgotten story for today. ’til Tomorrow.
Posted on September 2, 2011, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer, Transfer Gossip and tagged Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Soccer, Transfer Gossip. Bookmark the permalink. 322 Comments.