By Walter Broeckx
This season is not the best season we had in the recent history. A few very hard defeats to take on the chin. Losing one of the best players in the world. So compared to the last 6 seasons we have had a hard time at moments.
And this is why I think all those people who have been shouting and moaning in the past 4 or 5 years have been so utterly wrong. Yes we didn’t win anything in those years. But we came close on a few occasions and still the moaning was around. This season at some moments I could understand some of the moaning. Yes it was not fun to lose at Old Trafford, yes it was not fun to lose at Milan this week. So if you are hurt by that fine. I also felt hurt after that. But why on earth did some of us moan during the years before when we were in contention for many prices at times. Okay we didn’t win them but at the end of the season/competition/cup only one team can win it.
It would have been great if we would have been the winner but it’s not always that simple to achieve and one small detail can ruin a great run of games. I don’t like to bring it up but the way we lost the Carling cup final in the way we did is just an example on how one mistake cost us the game. So we have been near at times but it just didn’t work.
I know people refer to the Invincibles and in a way that exceptional achievement is something that some of us started to take for granted. History has shown the exceptional nature of that season or that run. But still some fans want us to reproduce it. For those who have witnessed it I can only say: keep the good memory and treasure it as maybe no other football supporter of any other team in the EPL will ever live to see it again.
People say this is the worst season for a long time. And in a way it looks like that. But then again let me remind you of the season 2005-2006. A lot of the Invincibles were still at Arsenal. And yet at the end of February 2006 we found ourselves in 7th place. Yes that is a 7 my dear readers. And if it hadn’t been for a better goal difference we could have been in 8th place. We had the same points as West Ham United on that day in February and had played one more game than them. And in 5th and 6th place in front of us we had… Blackburn Rovers and Bolton Wanderers who had played two games less than us. And in 4th place we had Tottenham. Who had 5 points more than us. We were 5 points away from 4th place.
And yet we had Henry, Gilberto, Lehman, Campbell, Cesc, Pires, …well if you are a true Gooner you should know the players we had in those days. And if we compare this to the situation we find ourselves now we can see that we are in 4th position for the moment. This is 3 places better than in the 2005-2006 season around this time. And we then had 5 points to make up on that 4th placed team.
Am I saying this is a great season? No, because it is not. But we have been in a far worse position and this with even all those world class players I named. Of course I would have loved us to have more points in the PL so far. But now we have 43 points with 25 games played. In the 2005-2006 season we had 41 points after 27 games played. So we should not be happy with the way the season has gone but maybe a little bit of perspective can be good to have a times. Oh and if you don’t believe me because some kind of short memory just click on the link and see it with your own eyes.
The fact that after each defeat some fans act as if the world has come to an end is something that makes me wonder when they started to become a supporter of Arsenal. Was it after we won a title? Or a cup? And was it because of that win that you thought : O this is a team that wins, so I have to support them? I’m not going to condemn you if this is the case but I think it is something that you have to consider when we lose a game. How bad and painful the defeat might be, there will always be a next game to play. Unless we go broke and have nothing to play for. God forbid it.
But maybe I am a bit privileged about the moment I became an Arsenal supporter. Maybe because of the first game I have seen live from Arsenal with my own eyes was a defeat. In 1979 I was at Highbury at the old North Bank standing between all those Gooners watching how we lost 0-1 to Wolverhampton Wanderers. Wolves scored early on in the game and Arsenal did all they could to turn it around. But it wasn’t their day. Balls hitting the woodwork, chances being missed inexplicable. I remember a shot rebounding of the post and ending in the arms of the Wolves keeper who just stood there.
At the end of the game the Gooners went home in disgust. I stood there thinking : how on earth did Arsenal not win this game? And the injustice of this defeat made me love the Arsenal. I felt that this was a team worth to support for the fight they had shown even when it didn’t work out at the end of the game. I just felt that this was team that deserved my support. So I became a supporter of what now would be called a team of losers. If there would have been an internet like it exists today the moaners would want the manager to be sacked, and half the team should have been sold the very same day.
And I just thought by myself: this was the most exciting experience of my life. Despite the loss. The boys tried but it didn’t happen. But they won my respect and my support for the rest of my life.
So yes some defeats have hurt me this season. Sometimes it was terrible after a game. But because I started supporting a team of losers all those years ago I know that things can turn around.
For some fans Arsenal is as good or as bad as their last game. Well for me Arsenal never is as bad as their last game. Because when we lose a game I always think back at that day in February 1979 when I was in London for the first time and saw Arsenal lose my first ever game I saw them play. Arsenal is more to me than just our last game.
Arsenal is the sum of all those games that I have seen since then. Some great games, some miserable games. But I will not write off my team just because we lost our last game. And maybe if all of us could do this we wouldn’t act like angry children after even a terrible and painful defeat. Just remember there are more games we have played in the past and more game we will play in the future. And try to take them all in account when you think of the club we love. Arsenal is so much more than just the last game we played. So much more…
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