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- Carragher and Neville should feel ashamed of their behaviour at Arsenal
- Large football organisations exist to benefit… those who run them.
By Tony Attwood
I had expected that we might be alone in criticising Carragher and Neville, pundits both, for their putdowns of Arsenal players’ celebrations at the end of the Liverpool game. The measly-mouthed commentators were dismissive of Arsenal players for enjoying their moment with the crowd, although much of their criticism was incoherent, as we might expected.
As the Guardian reported “get down the tunnel. I’m serious, honestly,” is not one of the clearest of sentences ever uttered. Carragher however has not given up, writing on social media. “By all means enjoy it but enjoy it by being disciplined.”
Obviously, players do need to be disciplined in their training, otherwise they won’t be fit, but Carragher and Neville have taken this to another level, suggesting players cannot share emotions with the crowd but should instead be isolated.
Martin Ødegaard however got the response right, as he was quoted in the Guardian as saying, “if you’re not allowed to celebrate when you win a game, when are you allowed to celebrate?” The answer from these pundits is, “if you are Arsenal, never.”
What Caragher and Neville suffer from is a well-recognised mental health condition of Anhedonia, the inability to get enjoyment or pleasure from life and it is a common side-effect of many mental health conditions.
People like Caragher and Neville with anhedonia do not “feel” in the way that most of us do; they have an emptiness where most of us have feelings. Such people are often in a dark cloud while the rest of us are in metaphorical sunlight. They feel boredom, apathy and negativity while we feel fun, which is exactly what they expressed in relation to Arsenal’s celebrations. It often leads to social anxiety disorder. and can be related to depression.
Obviously we feel sorry for these two who clearly are struggling, and it is unfortunate that their employers are not providing help, but there is also an impact on football of having these two people so prominent in reporting football. Sadly many people who are completely unaware of psychiatric disorders may actually believe that these two were putting forward a coherent reponse to the moment.
But there is also a deeper problem, because people like Carragher and Neville seek to define what football is, how it should be, and who is doing well. This is in contrast to how Jorginho spoke, saying, “I feel like our team is getting more mature. Not just with scoring goals but the way we play – understanding the game, when to play short, when to go long, these kind of situations.”
In contrast to the psychological whinging of Caragher and Neville, Mikel Arteta described the Liverpool game as “best atmosphere” of the season, and having been there I would agreed.
Of course many in football are not as influenced by their own mental health shortcomings. Indeed as the Telegraph reports Guardiola has always been aware of the psychological position of his team reportedly making a policy of selling players who while on the bench did not leap up and celebrate a goal scored by those on the pitch.
Thus what Carragher and Neville see as “immaturity” is actually a major part of putting a winning team together. The problem is within them, not within Arsenal.
But it is not just that Carragher and Neville don’t understand this, and their rampant negativity towards many aspects of football, is having an impact on the game, as it extends from not celebrating into not protesting at errors.
Now this is a major demand of PGMO, whose aim is to avoid all criticism of itself and its employees. All of this is an attempt to keep football in a straightjacket maintained by key pundits and organisations such as the FA, PGMO, Fifa, Uefa etc. There can be no criticism because players should just get on and play the game.
In effect, the raging anti-emotionalism that comes from the Anhedonia that Carragher and Neville appear to suffer from provides the basis for the anti-Arsenal, anti-fun, anti-everyone-else’s-opinion, that Carragher, Neville and others have installed into football reporting and which has been so enthusiastically taken up by the media.
This leads to a view (as we have seen over the Carragher and Neville comments) that the pundit and commentator knows exactly what’s best and can say it, without ever having to justify it beyond claiming it is right.
In the media we see this developed in the insanity of the transfer reporting. Through the January window much of the media was telling us all the players Arsenal would sign. Nothing happened, but the day after the window closed, they were still there, telling us (without any apology for past failings) about the transfers that would happen in the summer.
It is all lies and fantasies, and is aided by the fact that those who suffer from Anhedonia such as Carragher and Neville, attract others – and so more and more of the journalists who write the nonsense about transfers that don’t happen have the same problem. They can’t share joy, fun, laughter, togetherness. Their response to a wonderful team win, is to tell the players to get down the tunnel.
Of course it doesn’t matter what people with the problems that Carragher and Neville have think, for as the Telegraph said, “It is what those celebrations do to the players, the coaches and the fans associated with the club. It is about the message they send and the impact they have, both on the team’s performance and on the atmospheric power of the Emirates Stadium.
“In short, celebrations matter — and we can be almost certain that Arteta knows it.”
And we can be grateful too, that unlike Carragher and Neville, Arteta studies the psychology of sport. He’s probably read “Deconstructing celebratory acts following goal scoring among Elite Professional Football Players” published in 2020 which shows that teams that celebrate collectively always end up higher up the table.
As the Telegraph says, Arteta seeks to weaponise emotion. And that is what the emotionally dead Carragher and Neville can’t do because of their own inner failings.
There is however also a darker side to Carragher and Neville’s protests. If any manager seeks to weaponise emotion in victory it is Jurgen Klopp, but he is never criticised by these two emotional dead-beats.
Celebrating makes a difference, as Arteta and Klopp both know, and that is why the emotionally dead Carragher and Neville hate it. They want the power in the hands of the pundits, not in the hands of the manager, the player and the crowd.
In the Arsenal Liverpool game they saw their power slipping away. If it went Liverpool’s way they would put up with it, but for Arsenal to get the upper hand, that they cannot stand.
Today on the Arsenal History website:
- How far down might these points deducations take clubs?
- Big clubs that foul less lose fewer players of their own to injury
- What takes clubs up and down the league: attack or defence?
- Referee Extremism: the situation in Spain and in England
- Didn’t appreciate KO time, M1 is a disaster, but watching Arsenal is a joy