By Tony Attwood
Of course I’ve never met the guy but think I can still make a fairly decent guess as to what powers the brain of Alexis. He’s got a big ego.
That isn’t a very insightful comment however because I suspect most top level footballers have got very big egos. Very very big egos. Very, very, very… well, you get the idea.
Indeed I can’t imagine how one could be successful in the bear pit that is the modern game without having an ego the size of Mount Everest.
I guess one might be able to make a case that says that forward line players have more of an ego in general than defensive players – defenders (again in general) give fewer interviews, do less thumping of the badge on the chest and so on. But even so, to go out in front of cheering and baying fans, and have your every move subject to intense speculation, not to mention rampant invention by the purveyors of fake news, you can hardly be a shrinking violet.
The ego (which is of course an invented concept set up to explain the way people behave – we must remember that it is not a “real thing”) is supposedly the part of the mind that links the conscious and the unconscious and from that gives us a sense of personal identity. This is me. This is what I am. That sort of thing. (Freud called it das Ich which transliterated comes out as “the I” – which explains why it is not a very clear concept Ego is the Latin for “I”).
But for most people personal identity is also to some degree influenced by what others say and do – what happens in the outside world. Most people are influenced by what others say and how they react, to oneself. People who think only that they are right and ignore everyone else, have big egos.
So last season when Alexis did his usual bit of throwing bits of strapping that apparently are essential either to hold his kit together or his body together onto the ground, and the press started noticing, Alexis noticed that the media noticed.
He started to do it a bit more, with a bit more vigour, every single time he was substituted. Interestingly no one ever complained about the time he took to go off when substituted, even when Arsenal were shuffling the pack to try and get a winning goal, and that helped him. The crowd were rarely against him as they have been with Giroud. Alexis made his little protest, the crowd were sympathetic and the media reacted.
Then he did it a bit more and a bit more and a bit more and… and the trouble with ham actors and big egotists who let things get out of control is they they always get to the top of their range far too quickly. Quality actors rise up the more slowly so that one hardly notices. Anyway, very soon Alexis was at the top of his range in terms of flinging stuff around.
But of course the media loved it. “Arsenal player in a strop” that’s the story. Now it is anticipated in each and every game. When Alexis goes off the amount of camera work on the continuing match goes down by 40% as the media focuses on Alexis on the sidelines.
And because Alexis loves being the centre of attention, and because he’s not a very good actor, he does it more and more. And the media (because really most journalists don’t have a clue how to report a football match) instead report Alexis’ latest method of leaving the pitch more and more.
None of this means that Alexis is actually protesting against the management, rather he is playing to his audience – the media – just like Giroud does. The only problem with the situation is that unless one is properly trained as an actor, the act can become reality. The actor starts believing he is the part he is playing. The two merge. Ultimately that way madness lies, or if not madness then certainly a dislocation from reality and a rather unpleasant person to be with.
Who knows what Alexis is really thinking – I doubt very much that he has thought about the whole situation (although of course I don’t know – I can only suspect, based on the psychology I have studied. And I must admit players getting in a strop while leaving the field of play was, rather curiously, not part of the curriculum when I did my degree. A grave error by the writers of the curriculum of course, but that’s how it was.
Above all, Alexis’ action creates a reaction (of course) and from there the fake news merchants get moving. As I have tried to show in the past, “fake news” was invented and nurtured by football journalists and their editors, and now they are given over wholly to its invented reality. Alexis’ agent must realise that playing to the gallery of men and women who live by creating fake news (in terms of transfer rumours and the like) is very much to his advantage. It keeps him centre stage when he is not scoring glorious hat tricks against West Ham. And all he has to do is throw something on the ground, or pull a hood over his head.
Sadly those of us who pay Alexis’ salary by buying season tickets, Sprout subscriptions and merchandise pay for these antics, and (although I maybe on my own on this one) I’d prefer to have my money spent on watching the football, rather than ego games. Indeed even though I support Arsenal with all my heart and soul, and although I want Alexis to stay and be part of the team, I’m getting to the point of thinking that players that use the media to further their aims should not be worried about too much.
They probably have enough problems already.
Swansea v Arsenal
From the Arsenal History Society website: