Cheap Chatter To Forge A Siege Mentality?
A favourite tactic of George Graham’s was to build a siege mentality when he believed that his players had been slighted by the press; it happened quite frequently and invariably forged as much of a team mentality as the infamous lunchtime drinking sessions.
Fast forward two decades and the intrusions of the media are more frequent, immediate and from a wider variety of sources. The pundit culture has left more top players sitting on the sofa offering their views on what is wrong. Even the President of Rwanda knows where the blame lies and being a politician, it isn’t with him. Often their observations are no more insightful than those of the ordinary fan – sometimes less so – but sometimes it seems more hyper-critical; sales and hits are king.
There is nothing wrong with airing their views but too often because they have been heroes too much importance is attached to them. Let us be honest, are any of them genuine Arsenal fans? I would perhaps place more emphasis in that respect on the words of Charlie George, for example. However, their views are no less valid, just no more perceptive than you or I.
For Wenger, these interventions are tiresome. Privately, if he reads it all, he must wonder how these people are not top managers given that they know so much. Goodness knows what he thinks of Arsenal supporters; I wouldn’t like to hazard a guess after Sunday.
But it plays into his hands. This is an easy win in terms of galvanising the squad. A team meeting followed by training ground interventions by the manager; surely this will awaken the giant from its slumber. Mikel Arteta should be more positive than most, the new boy untainted by the cynicism of the Arsenal support. His words this morning surely reflect those of the whole squad,
All the players are supportive of Wenger — there are no divisions. When we’ve had bad results the fans get upset with the manager but that’s normal in football. Wenger has done so much for the club that he deserves the confidence of the fans.
Arteta is probably not aware of the scars which last season’s collapse; not fully at least. You wonder if those are resurfacing in some who were here last year or is that counter-acted by the return to training of Gibbs and Sagna or the knowledge that Jack Wilshere is not far behind.
Too many presume that the current run will continue to the season’s end. Surely that is too much presumption. What is undeniable is the wobble that took place following defeat at Eastlands. The victories over Aston Villa and QPR were unconvincing which with hindsight was a warning of the lethargy that manifested at Craven Cottage.
Defeat at Swansea was fallout from that; the win over Leeds with less than half the normal starting line-up in place may have helped individually but collectively, there was still uncertainty which showed in the defensive errors. What do the players do about this run? At this moment in time, a series of scrappy wins would do more good than a resounding thumping of Aston Villa in isolation.
With fourth place the target, back to winning ways immediately is required. Bolton and Blackburn have something to fight for and cannot be construed as easy matches; Sunderland too are on a comparative high following Martin O’Neill’s appointment, beating Manchester City whilst arguably unlucky to lose at Stamford Bridge and White Hart Lane. That’s before the North London Derby. How the world would look different were that to arrive on the back of five consecutive victories.
Football is a fluid environment, luck changing from one week to the next. Gary Player observed that the harder he worked, the luckier he became. If Arsenal’s players are working hard on the training pitch and in the ninety minutes, matters will change. As soon as possible though, Footballing Gods.
Still, if you think the current situation is bad, it could be worse as Arsenal On This Day reminds you.