Meltdown & Scapegoats Ahoy On Rough Arsenal Seas
About the only thing which has not appeared in this morning’s papers is the broken cannon motif, so beloved of sub-editors when Arsenal are perceived to be in crisis. Perhaps it would be more apt if they inserted the skull and crossbones onto the club crest to signal the mutiny – even though the historical assumption that the Jolly Roger is purely a piratical ensign is utterly incorrect. At any moment I am expecting Arsène to call to Robin van Persie, “This is mutiny Mr van Persie, mutiny“. To hear him mimic Charles Lawton might well be worth the entrance fee alone.
Reading the back pages, you sense that some are revelling in the mayhem whilst others think that we are all idiots. The latter is possibly a hangover from being the chairman’s pet paper, David Woods in this morning’s Daily Star observes,
Centre-half Thomas Vermaelen is believed to have been angry to learn late on, with no briefing from Wenger, he was having to play left-back, after three weeks out with a calf strain.
Seriously, that is a direct lift from their website. I mean did Woods not realise that Vermaelen had played a dozen or so games in the position before being out. Does he really believe that it was a shock. The village idiot is now employed gainfully.
As you know, I’ve been trawling through newspaper archives and my own scrapbooks for Arsenal On This Day but rarely have I come across such shoddy journalism.
It beggars belief but by the same token pretty much sets the tone for the morning. Robin van Persie’s declaration of loyalty and frustration is delivered in staccato form by The Sun, as if Hill-Wood and Gazidis have donned hoods and are threatening to kill him unless he delivers a message of support for the manager.
The same thread carries across the media from tabloid to broadsheet, each emphasising the same thing; Arsène has the support of the squad, van Persie is loyal and it’s all the fault of Andrey Arshavin.
Reportedly – and given the veracity of some of the column inches this morning, a healthy dose of cynicism should be applied – the players held a clear-the-air team meeting in the aftermath of the defeat on Sunday. Many of these have been held down the years during Wenger’s reign, the players seeking to put right the wrongs on the pitch. At this, reportedly, Arshavin has been held to blame.
It strikes me as too convenient. Gary Neville accused the Russian of being disinterested, that comment interwoven with the displeasure displayed on Sunday appears to be the foundation of this all. Too many in society though seek out a cheap scapegoat, convenient because it allows a polarisation of dissent onto one subject but more often than not a deflection of individual failings onto another.
Let us not beat about the bush. If there was no injury then the manager got Oxlade-Chamberlain’s substitution wrong on Sunday. He admitted as much in the post-match press conference and we go from there. It is not a signal that he is losing the plot, God Knows there is enough evidence to suggest he has not.
That – and pinpointing Arshavin as the sole cause of the winning goal – is to ignore a simple fact: football is a collective game. One minute can lose a match with a goal. Ninety minutes in which you score less than your opponents tends to be more damaging in that respect.
Arsenal had their opportunities and failed to score. Robin van Persie arguably missed an easier chance than the one he did convert. And what of the defenders culpabilities in the first goal? Song had a distinctly average game and was as much to blame as Arshavin in the winner. Collective responsibility.
Much finger pointing is happening, as much a legacy of the season as one match. It has been a poor campaign, the summer was not handled well and lessons must be learned from that with a recurrence this year entirely possible. The manager did not replace the players who departed quickly enough, arguably before Cesc left a replacement should have been signed or at the very least announced within a week of departure. That is an ideal world; we do not live in one and no-one on any internet board or forum knows exactly what went on, why the carnage was allowed to occur in the manner that it did.
One thing is for certain. There is no confidence in anything Arsenal any more. The reaction displayed firmly underlines that there is no sense of “We’re all in this together“. Which is hardly surprising when you view the state of world at the moment and the impact of wretched political and economic decisions on society.
The word support does not mean blind adulation; healthy and constructive criticism is actually a good thing, contrary to the opinion of some. At this moment, there is nothing healthy or constructive about much of the criticism being shown. Bowels are turning to water and a feeling of doom is being spread.
And the arguments go round and round. It’s a vicious circle, the only solution for which is apparently to spend. And sell, of course. In fact have the sort of firesale and panic buy for which derision was heaped in the summer.