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March 2018
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Arsenal, a millennial’s sense of perspective, and my friend’s father’s Mercedes


By Sifarzone

After reading on Untold Arsenal Tony’s “It may not be something you are encouraged to try, but a sense of perspective can help” and AKH’s “Another ‘old codger’s’ sense of perspective”, I thought a millennial’s perspective would complete the set articles, given that the issues of viewing football with perspective has been something I have found lacking in many football articles and commentary. So here I present one millennial’s perspective.

As a millennial, typically defined as someone born in the mid 80’s to somewhere in the early 2000’s, I have heard my fair share of criticism for being from a generation obsessed with instant gratification, lacking perspective, and lacking the mentality for hard work.

I find these criticisms to be seemingly true if one’s interaction with millennials is in the comments section of articles, and mostly untrue if talking about millennials in general within society. It is common for earlier generations comment negatively on future generations, and many of the same criticisms will have been levied against people from earlier generations themselves, usually by members of an even earlier generation.

I should say here that both Tony’s and AKH’s articles do not levy such accusations, however, this ‘generational lament’ certainly does exist within life and written football commentary, with gold such as “in our day, we played for with passion” or “we played for the shirt, not money” or even “we used to play 50 games a season with 15 players” etc.

Now these statements are not as informative as they pretend to be, and a whole separate article can be written about them, but they are essentially clichéd and stereotypical.

Such nonsense also exist in mainstream social commentary with articles like “Why millennials have WEAK handshakes: Lack of ‘hard work’ means young people today have less grip strength”.

Note that they never once mention hard work in the article itself, because they are really referring to manual labour, but of course “lack of hard work” is much more click baity than “lack of manual labour”, so that was the title they went with.

This is not just confined within the domains of social commentary; football commentary, as Tony frequently points out does exactly the same thing, and has a lot of click bait nonsense. As a result, I discount football commentary when forming my opinions on my team, I watch the games, form my own opinions, and maybe do a bit of research to better inform my opinions.

As a millennial, I can also see that the generational lament has spilled over to the footballing commentary, causing the commentators (usually from an earlier footballing generation) to frequently make unfair or ill informed assessments of a team or certain players. When understanding and taking that perspective, the comments just seem silly given that the same commentators most likely heard the same laments against their generations in their youth. Of course there are fair commentators, but those are far and few in between.

If you have seen my previous articles here (or here), you will notice most of my gripe in footballing commentary is with ESPN since that is the main rag in I consume, but a rag nonetheless (disclaimer: I humbly admit that I did make some mistakes in those analyses, but the main conclusions I believe to be accurate). As such whenever consuming live or written football commentary, a huge dose of perspective (understanding the click bait and sensationalist agenda) is in order. My father’s way of dealing with some of this is to turn the live commentary off during football games.

Now you may be wondering what is this about my friend’s father’s Mercedes? A quick story is that I grew up among fairly rich people, I cycled to school, whereas my friend’s father brought him to school and pick him up everyday in his Mercedes.

I never envied my friend and his father, and they were also kind and would occasionally offer me a ride home when it was raining. Never once did I wonder why my father did not have a Mercedes, we understood there were differences in fate and fortune and our income was better spent on daily needs, rather than a Mercedes. As a result when it came to getting my own car, I obtained a used fairly old but inexpensive used car, generously passed down by a few generations of international students. I get a fair bit of stick from my current friends for it as it looks quite old as well, but it runs and is well maintained.

This comparison is what I frequently think about when fans complain that the club does not spend enough. Like spending money on a car, player investment does not have a guaranteed return (my car is not guaranteed to always work), spending a huge fee also means incurring huge risk since it is possible that my car or the player fails (repairs on an expensive car are expectedly also more expensive).

If we look upon increased spending as increased risk-taking, the moves that Arsenal FC make become much more reasonable. Some might say since we have increased revenue, we can incur more risk. And to those people, I would point to the past few seasons of increased spending.

Before the new shirt deal and other commercial deals were settled, there were only projections of increased revenue, not actual increased revenue. The cash reserves would have been needed if the increase revenue from commercial deals had not come through.

A club laden with debt has less leeway to increase risk, lest we forget about Leeds, whose expected increase in revenue did not happen and led to the forced sale of players. While Arsenal have well managed debt and therefore well managed risk, it is with sensible spending that led us there. Today, with all the commercial deals settled, we have started to see Arsenal starting to become less risk averse, with Aubameyang and Lacazette deals both smashing Arsenal transfer records. I do not envy Manchester United/City’s Mercedes, simply because the fates and fortunes have been very different and not remotely comparable situations.

In addition, in Wenger’s earlier tenure there were only three teams with realistic championship ambitions, today, there are 5-6, depending whether you are optimistic on Arsenal’s chances. In a three horse race, there is much more opportunity to win if you are in the race, since only two teams have to slip up. Of course, having five teams slip up is much less likely to happen, although it did happen when Leicester won, but that was an aberration and any good statistician would tell us not to rely on that happening often.

Finally, in terms of my friends giving me stick on my well-maintained old car, one of them had to borrow from me for a medical procedure, and at another time for emergency travel; so much for his nice, new car. Luckily, I had the cash reserves.

Happy supporting Arsenal!

In case you missed them…

And from the Arsenal History Society

The FA thanks Norris, the League expanded again. May 1920.

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