It’s been a while, Gooners!
I’ve been away on holidays and then very, very busy when I got back to work (coincidence?), which hasn’t left me any time to write my usual, weekly column for this wonderful community.
I am back and I couldn’t be happier.
Although disappointed by the fact that I couldn’t really participate in the several debates about our Club, players, manager and so on, I have been keeping an eye on the magical combination of social networks, and the Arsenal. In so doing I realized a few things I would like to discuss this week.
Hopefully it will all make sense by the end of this blog but I cannot guarantee anything.
In the past month we’ve been through a spell of excellent results, like the 5-2 win at Leicester, the win at White Hart Lane in the Capital One Cup and the magnificent trashing of Manchester United at home, last weekend; unfortunately, we’ve also lost at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea & Mike Dean and – most upsetting result so far – lost at home to Olympiacos in the Champions League, which leaves us with very little chances of qualifying for the knock-out stage.
Seen from outside, this roller-coaster looked unbearable to many, many fans; especially the bitter defeat against a poor Olympiacos side seemed to sparkle another meltdown among supporters – with even the usually positive opinion leader Arseblog looking out of patience and faith.
It was awful to watch but reinforced the perception I have that football fans only live and think here & now.
If you take a step back from the game being played here & now, you might easily see that Arsène Wenger’s philosophy is destined to fail: winning a trophy in today’s football is already extremely difficult per se, wanting to do that while playing attractive, offensive football and also being financially sustainable is pure madness.
Fortunately or unfortunately, his philosophy actually worked for a large part of his tenure at the Arsenal, which surely doesn’t help him now. If he had not won so convincingly the trophies he did in late 90s and early 2000s, he would only be a fool pursuing a Chimera or some such myth; he would have been sacked long time ago and wouldn’t have this kind of unconditional support from a big part of the fans.
Instead, he won three league titles while playing some breath-taking football and went one whole season unbeaten – something that none has been able to replicate to date.
Not the likes of Chelsea or Manchester City with their money or Manchester United despite having one of the strongest and more balanced teams you’ve seen in the Premier League era.
Many of us know the manager’s principles by heart and yet still are surprised by Arsène Wenger choices or reactions, here and there. You can either love or hate his philosophy but you should not really be surprised.
Personally speaking, I believe he should be lauded for his stubbornness, instead of being accused of it. I think you need great faith, confidence and belief to stay true to your ideas and not crumble under the external pressure; I am not sure how many managers would stick to their plan when things do not work.
Brendan Rodgers didn’t and eventually paid the highest price for that. He changed his style to make the team look more solid. He started overpaying for bang-average players and lost the plot, which cost him the job a few days ago.
It’s easy to throw the towel and give up, just because things are not working as expected.
It’s far harder to get back on your feet each time you fall or face hurdles, especially in today’s football.
Similarly, it’s easy to accept the idea that we’re not good enough to compete, only because we are not winning.
I usually appreciate Arseblog but I couldn’t believe when I read here:
“That win (against Barcelona) was February 2011, coming up on 5 years ago. What have we done since in the Champions League that’s really worth remembering in any way? So perhaps a different tournament, different dynamic, different teams, different nights, might be more at our level.” – Arseblog
Should we really give up on Champions League and settle for the Europa League, only because we had another bad result?
The day a statement like this one will make sense, the only meltdown worth mentioning will start.
The day we will accept the idea that we do not belong to the élite of European football, our decline will start.
Its’ true that we were playing some very awful football against a very average Greek team that somehow scored three times at the Emirates – like some other random Clubs like Monaco and Anderlecht; here & now, one could easily think that we need a revolution and start from scratch because it is not acceptable.
But then, four days later, the same players were demolishing Manchester United with one of the most exciting, entertaining, inspired and solid performances of the year and suddenly we are doing things right.
A very sharp team, packed with talent, playing with confidence and making it impossible for the opponents to defend: forwards were exchanging passes and swapping positions freely, while midfielders were pressing high, winning the ball back and moving it quickly.
Here & now, we are playing some incredible football and Arsène Wenger should be trusted and supported.
That philosophy works, sometimes more and sometime less. It’s like anything else in life; you can’t really expect things to go the way you want them to go, all the time.
You have to accept that sometimes shit happens but you should also be strong enough to stay true to yourself if you think you are doing things the way they should be done.
We have evidence, wonderful memories that it can be done this way because we have done it in the recent past; none believed it could be done but we did it.
Either you keep the belief and get back to your feet each time you go down, no matter how much it hurts, either you throw the towel and give up the fight, settling for something less than your goals.
We are what we do, not what we say we do.