Afternoon Ladies and Gents… Coming to you live from the middle of some boring place with my half-baked and stale opinion on all things Arsenal. It’s been a dull few days in Nowhereland. But at least it gives me the opportunity to marvel at the brilliant cacophony of bagpipes combining with the double bass and the distorted whine of the electric guitar, so I really can’t complain too much.
Last night went well, didn’t it? Poldi Thunderfoot decided to mock our opponents from the south of France with that sledge-hammer of a left leg, and by gods he did it in style. Lucky us, the Polish born German international seems to be getting into the habit of spanking in goals in the Red & White, who are we to complain?!
Oli Gi too put up a good show and created two goals with a cushioned header for Jack and a deft chip to set up the Teutonic war-machine to leave a giant smouldering crater in the goal-keeper’s ego. It warmed the cockles of my heart to see Wilshere’s name on the score sheet once again, his goal reminded me of one he scored against West Brom (I think) during his debut season, a lobbed shot over the head of the keeper. The technique this time around was the same but execution was even better.
To be honest, I was much impressed with Montpellier’s tactics, instead of playing a repulsive brand of Unfootball™ (All trade-marks which include terminology and tactics are registered to Stoke City Football Club) that clubs usually adopt against us, the French team opted for a more creative strategy : To stifle our creative outlets by hounding Cathola and Wilshere in the centre. The two were given no room to move, their entire unit was deployed in a tight man-marking/counter-attacking formation whenever Arsenal had the ball. None of our players were given room to thread a few passes together or get any sort steam to build up; this close quarter marking started to choke our flow and threw a monkey wrench into the intricate-pass machinery that runs the team. Though the tactics were sound, the opposition lacked enough “quality” on the pitch to create goals from only counter-attacks. The sheer talent and individual skill of AFC’s players ensured a couple of goals and victory rather than our flowing style and the chances that are automatically created. Call it a very crude “Plan-B” if you will, nevertheless, I suspect that it would fail to be effective against stronger teams.
In light of our recent performances and the phrase “worst start to a season” has suddenly vanished from the websites and papers, the gunning faithful are once again puking rainbows, making out with mermaids, frolicking with nymphs and dancing with unicorns and all is well in the world.
A loss or two will once again bring the factions of polarized fans to the forefront, each seem to have their own unique suggestions and wish-lists. The two popular heavy weights lurk as usual: AKB (Arsene Knows Best) battalion and the WOB’s (Wenger Out Brigade) but there is another party that has escaped my notice so far: The Board Are Great (BAG for short, I guess) group, consisting of supporters who are convinced that Stan and PHW are angels and are the best thing to happen since cotton candy. Well, everyone is entitled to their views. Only a fascist would deny a person the right to air his views.
Should Arsene be honored with another statue?
Or should he be given the boot?
Perhaps Ivan should be flayed?
Or Hill-Wood stripped nude and paraded through London while Chelsea fans mock his weenie?
Or maybe Tim Payton deserves a flogging?
Or should we all light up a few Cubans, stretch out with a glass of scotch and watch the scene unfold silently while hoping for the best?
A few unimpressive results and everyone will formulate their own opinions and they damn well have the right to opine as they please. After all we live in free countries don’t we? But I reckon things would make a lot more sense if opposing parties respected one another’s thoughts and view. People tend to forget that we are ALL Arsenal fans and wouldn’t spending time thinking or arguing about the fate of the club otherwise.
Things would be so much more pleasant and civil were people able to hold on their horses and listen to a person before verbally lambasting their fellow fans and branding them “enemies of the club” or “closet Man City fans”.
Would it kill you lot to behave like civilized people debating a point rather than a bunch of baboons hurling feces and invectives at one another?
A little decorum and mutual respect would go a long way. Disagreeing with a person could just end with “Well I can’t agree with that. Good day to you, sir/ma’am!” rather than: “F*@# you!! You ignorant little c*#?, I’ll slaughter your entire family and dance on their bloody carcasses!!!!!” Or the ever-green: “My family has been following the club since my great grand-father’s time, what do you know? You ugly #*@!!!”
Pax gentlemen, Pax!
The situation at the club frustrates and confounds us all: yes, we would like a few trophies and yes, the occasional victory at Manchester would be welcome as well. But we are smart enough to know that these things would be worth the hundredth root of fuckall if they came at the cost of financial sustainability and compliance to the FFP. (Let’s just assume that the FFP works perfectly for now)
Let’s be realistic here and debunk a few myths that people hold: We are owned controlled by a person who looks at the club as a cash generating enterprise, A profitable business, a giant red & white ATM. Call it what you will. Admittedly, he has not started to pull out cash from the club but if you really believe that he will remain altruistic forever, you evidently need a padded cell as it is painfully obvious that your brain is a little addled. Stan is merely biding his time until the club settles into a state of equilibrium so he can start raking in the chips. No owner in the world is purely altruistic unless he is a fan of the club and his goals are nothing more than ensuring that the club sees as much success and silverware as possible. I’m certain that Stan does not fall into this category. But this kind of owner may not always be a benefit a club, see Roman Abramovich, I assume you know the eccentrically rich bi-polar tycoon?
Another topic that fans have been yammering about is our wage structure: Yes, it is one of the highest in the world (among club playing various sports). Yes, there are many “undeserving” (popular opinion, not just mine) creatures on our roster who are satisfied to watch the cash flow into their accounts rather than justify their earnings with performance. But it is not something that can be changed overnight as it compromises deals formulated over a considerable period of time. What we can hope for is a phase shift in the mentality of over-paying youngsters and unproven new-recruits who need to put in their place rather than pampered.
I have long been against Wenger’s habit of over-protecting his younger players and treating them like precious little princes. All it does is results in a giant egos and a sense of inflated self-worth which eventually leads them to believe that they are “too good for Arsenal” (Yes, the blood boils). But that being said, I understand Arsene’s viewpoint and I’m sad that his affection and loyalty towards players is repaid with veiled criticism and open-betrayal. The great man deserves far more than that. But in this day and age, his philosophy can be a little out-dated at times.
Coming back to the wage issue, fans are rather annoyed that players who need to be retained are let go because of their demands are deemed “exorbitant” and are in excess of our maximum wage limit. Many (myself included) opine maintains that, these players should have been retained and their demands met especially the likes of Nasri and RVP. Whether these players rebelled solely for a fatter pay-check or if they jacked their wage demands knowing that Arsene would not relent and allow them to be sold to another club will always be subject to debate. The aforementioned may have been distasteful monkey grubbing creatures but their talent was undeniable.
A quick glance at the list of highest paying clubs reveals that most of the European heavyweights have heftier average wage figures. Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester City, Chelsea, AC Milan, Inter and United rank higher on the list of “Average Weekly Wages” of players. With the FCB on the top of the list boasting a figure that is nearly twice ours.
Coming to the English league: Our net yearly wage bill was posted at around £ 143.4 million while Manchester United are rumored to have wage spend somewhere between £ 77 to £80 million. Interestingly the list of “average wages” puts the two clubs far closer than expected: While the average Arsenal player rakes in £3,199,678 a year, the players in the red half of Manchester average a marginally better £3,345,911 per annum. Surprising is it not?
What does this mean exactly?
How can United afford to pay the troll £250,000 a week and yet have a wage bill far lesser than ours?
Does AFC have more players (than deemed necessary) on its roster?
Are average and poor players being highly overpaid? If so, why?
Can these average players be given the boot? (Not really an option, their contracts would probably have ginormous severances clauses)
I can already hear the BAG’s coming out in strength and mocking one and all for their lack of faith in the board. Remember dear gooners, only the foolish avoid questions and are content to bathe themselves in ignorance. There is but a thin line between optimism and ‘blind faith’ and history has much to tell us of those indulging in it and most of it isn’t nice.
More importantly, questioning the authorities doesn’t prove “hate” towards the club or “madness”, it only points to healthy concern over the workings of Arsenal.
Our allegiance is to the club, not to the bunch of millionaires who run it.
While these facts and figures pose more questions than answers, it certainly makes for some interesting debates. But I urge caution while drawing conclusions as the complete picture is far from visible from our stand-point. The internet is a wonderful thing but false information is ubiquitous, which may render many of our assumptions and conclusions moot. So think before you lambast a fellow AFC supporter or draw grand conclusions and declare everyone who disagrees with you and ignoramus (or worse). Let me cease and desist with the preachy psychobabble.
Let’s raise our glasses and bask in the victory of a smashingly good North London Derby and the clearing of the group stages Champions League! Let’s also take a second to laugh at Man City who have been punted out of the CL unceremoniously and a guffaw at the double whammy at Chelsea as they lose a capable manager (I rather liked RDM, seemed a decent and capable bloke), hire Rafa instead and they too are booted from the elite European tournament. Ouch..
I had a few thoughts on Theo and our “potential transfer” situation(s), but I’ll hold onto thoughts for later, seeing that it’s been a rather long post….. Keep gunning!
Agree? Disagree? Angry enough to rip out my intestines and choke me with them? Express yourself by means of the comments, right under!