By Tony Attwood
I imagine that this will be another one of those moments (rather like last saturday afternoon) when the AAA to rise up in fury and demand the sacking of the manager.
It was of course a disappointing result – 65% of possession or something like that – and then to lose to a lower league club, yes extremely disappointing.
But the reaction that I imagine will happen, and the reaction that I have seen in such situations in the past, suggests we are forever getting deeper into the notion that at Arsenal you are only as good as the last game.
I repeat this point, which I made a short while ago, because I was thinking after the Leeds game that when Man U lost to Leeds last season I didn’t see many Man U supporters making a fuss about it. And if they did make a fuss (in terms of demanding wholesale changes at the club) it was certainly not the fuss that was made about us drawing with Leeds.
In fact looked at like this, we’ve done a hell of a lot better than Man U in the cups – drawing with Leeds when they could only lose, and getting to the semi of the little cup this year, where they have been knocked out.
And there’s another difference between Arsenal support these days and the support of most other teams that I come across. When we have a bad result, (and this was a bad result emotionally, but it was not as if we were actually knocked out of either cup during the last few days) the AAA don’t just moan a bit, and then pick themselves up and then carry on with their support (which is what supporters have mostly done in the past). Rather the rancid moaning and bitching goes on all the time.
As Walter pointed out in an article a while back, the AAA are making it so that it must feel awful for many players to play for Arsenal, the level of disgraceful criticism they get from people who proclaim themselves to be Arsenal fans. Quite amazingly these players still want to play for us. I really did suspect that Song (for example) would leave for good, the way he was treated.
For me, the Unbeaten Season was my once in a lifetime experience – as was the 49 that wrapped itself around that season. Before and since we have been back to life as normal. But sadly the AAA can’t stand that, and they will be calling for most of the team that played against Ipswich to be thrown out, and for the manager and his team to go. If we don’t win something this season it is all useless and hopeless. They’ve been told it by the newspapers so much they now come to believe it.
What happened tonight against Ipswich was what happens in football. You get upsets. It hurts, it is frustrating, it is annoying, but it is what happens. A bit like 1997/8 when (as I mentioned a while back) we played Port Vale at home and drew 0-0, and then went away and drew the replay 1-1. If the AAA had been around then they would have been calling for the manager to go.
And who knows they might have been successful – we could have got rid of Mr Wenger and got Bruce Rioch back.
Or maybe the following season when we lost 5-0 at home to Chelsea. Same again, time to kick out the manager. No messing, you are only as good as your last result.
Of course had we done something about those depressing results we would not have won the double in the Port Vale season, and there would have been no Unbeaten Season. But instant reaction seems to be everything.
I feel a bit fed up tonight, but I’ll do a spot of work when I finish this blog, have a natter on the phone with my partner who is currently 170 miles away, and then I’ll feel ok in the morning. It hurts, but probably not as much as it would have hurt had we lost to Leeds, as Man U did. And probably not as much as it would hurt if I were a Liverpool fan and having just lost to Man U we then toddled off to the seaside and lost to Blackpool 2-1. And I wonder how would I feel if I were a Chelsea fan. Yes they beat Ipswich 7-0. But would I feel that was fine, given where we are in the league. Or are Chelsea fans calling for the manager to be hung drawn and quartered as the AAA are about our manager and quite a few of our players.
I suppose overall what makes me feel ok is that most of the clubs at or near the top of football in England have no idea how they are going to carry on, because they are either broke, or they don’t have any way of getting themselves sorted in time for the new Euro regs. I know we’ll be plugging away in the next couple of years, doing our thing, but others won’t. And that continuity thing is fairly important to me.
Somewhere somewhen there is an alternative reality in which Arsenal won the league twice in the last four years, and also picked up a couple of cups en route. Unfortunately in doing that they also have got themselves into a situation rather like those around us – that is to say, they are hugely in debt. I know this scenario does exist, because the relativity equations that Einstein worked out always include lots of infinities – and in a multiverse of infinite possibilities every possibility is real. So there we have my Arsenal, with another version of me, writing another version of Untold Arsenal, celebrating four major trophies in the last four years.
And we’ve just lost 1-0 to Ipswich. And I demand action. Let’s buy some players. Now. Unfortunately we can’t, either because we are broke, or because we won’t qualify for the Champs League if we do. So, I demand, let’s bring up some of the youngsters. And we can’t do that either. Because we’ve let our scouting and youth systems crumble because all we’ve been doing is buying players to ensure we win things.
In that universe we’re rather more stuffed than we are in this one. (Of course the AAA don’t recognise that universe – they live in one where we win lots of stuff, and others don’t and the others don’t do anything about it.)
I’ll be at the rematch against Ipswich at the Ems, doing my usual thing, urging the guys on. Fortunately for me, although the ground will be filled to capacity, the AAA won’t be there. They never are. Which at least is one good thing on a rather sad night.
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