We’re all guilty, even me. 99.9% of the time I give this club 100% of my support — I’ll even call out my readers for their lack of support — but even for me, the doe eyed optimist, it is difficult to see Alex Song take the field in the center of defense and get excited. And what am I supposed to do when I see Almunia flapping around, turn off my brain? Mindlessly “get behind the team” and cheer?
No, I think it needs to be a decent balance of optimism and skepticism; 99-1 sounds about right to me. But that’s me, I get to see just one game a year (if the world economy doesn’t collapse!) and I have a blog that only reaches a few insane fans a day. The real people who need to get behind the team are the season ticket holders and match day supporters who’s cheers and groans can lift or push down the club at a critical moment on the pitch.
The problem is, in my experience, Arsenal fans are some of the most demanding, haughty, and sour pussed people I have ever met. The author Nick Hornby blogged about the phenomenon last April when Arsenal crashed out of the Champions League. In his brief illustration the Arsenal fan won’t be happy unless we win every game, for all eternity. Maybe there’s a certain personality that chooses a certain team, I don’t know, but it’s uncanny how demanding Arsenal supporters are.
Imagine for a moment being an Everton fan? They haven’t won anything for a hundred years (Ok, since 1995) and worse, they are a perennial mid-table team. It takes a hardy soul to sit through some of the stuff that Everton field, and it takes a real supporter to sit there and cheer.
I suspect that’s what Arsene Wenger wanted when he said “I feel that this team does not get the support it deserves” at the AGM yesterday. If it’s true (I don’t get to many games) it’s Wenger’s own fault, he’s the one who made Arsenal into a top club in the top league in the world. He’s the one who’s raised our expectations!
For doing that, for raising our expectations, I say we should fire him. Because what Arsenal supporters need is a period of, say, 10 years of Evertonian mediocrity in order to shake our hubris. Either that or we could try to look at what we’ve got and appreciate it, as Wenger says:
Last year we were close to winning the championship, finishing just four points behind Manchester United. Instead of showing resentment, we have to believe in our team more than ever because this team will deliver.
I WANT TO BELIEVE!
“Tennis Style” Challenges
Also at the AGM, Arsene revealed that he wants coaches to have the power to make “tennis style challenges” of certain calls. In the U.S. it’s called instant replay and it’s used in pretty much every sport, except baseball. I don’t know how this could be used in football, honestly. Like tennis, American sports stop every 5 seconds so it’s easy to administer. Plus, games like tennis are simple to make a ruling on; is the ball in or out? For some plays in football I can see the benefit; did the ball cross the goal line? Easy to rule on. But in football, an uncalled foul in the right place could easily lead to a goal. Would he want that call re-ruled? How do you rule on say Theo’s pass in the game the other day that was ruled over the end line? The other team stopped play when the whistle went so, should the goal stand? Do Arsenal get an indirect free kick at the spot?
I’m dubious of this, to say the least. Not that I don’t support Arsene! I love him!
Bergkamp the Great
I liked Bergkamp as a player but I don’t think that means he would be a good coach — his fear of flying would be at least one main reason. Irregardless, just as with Keown and Tony Adams before him any time a former Arsenal player starts going for his coaching medals he’s linked with the team.
I’d pick Tony Adams over Bergkamp, which brings me to the Friday poll!
All right, I’m off to sing the praises of Alex Song and Emmanuel Eboue… see you tomorrow.