By Simon Bailey
Ho, Ho, Ho, Merrrry Christmas.
Lest we forget, tis the season to be jolly and all that, and now that the public holiday of enforced jollity and happiness is upon us, i feel compelled to write about why supporting Arsenal is like having christmas every day.
Seeing as how I have no flying teapot or spaghetti monster, this time of year seems a bit daft to me. It is quite apparent though, that most of the rest of everyone cheer right up, and for a couple of weeks there is peace on earth and good will to all men, dare i say even the spuds.
Now, you might think I’m a bit of a grumpy bollocks or scrooge, but nothing could be further from the truth. If anything I am in danger of a happy-overload. I dont see a half empty glass or even a half full one, to me the glass is always overflowing (but not in danger of spoiling the carpet). And before you ask, no, I’m not cracked, under the influence, or even remotely wealthy.
And I’m not going to try to convince you that Arsenal are the only reason for my rosy outlook on life. But i firmly believe that Arsenal are the only football team I could ever support.
Take, for instance, the last month. Having just qualified for the next stage of the Champions league, we were beaten twice on the bounce by Chelsea and City, two of the biggest spenders in the world, let alone the EPL.
Since then we have won three and drawn one in the league and lost an inconsequential CL tie. All of this without a striker or left back. And without a sugar daddy, or an unservicable debt, or criminal charges. But in a new stadium under what is probably the Carlsberg Manager.
As a snapshot of Arsenals’ season, its been quite a poor month (August and September; won 5 – lost 1, October; won 4 – drew 2), but we have battled and, despite the odds, prevailed.
As the season now seems to be measured in points lost rather than gained, it is interesting that in December, we have dropped 2 points so far. As opposed to Liverpool – 8, United – 6, City and Spuds – 5, and Chelsea – 4. Its only Villa who haven’t dropped any points ….and we’re playing them next.
These results alone should be enough reassurance for any Arsenal supporter that she or he is supporting the right team, but theres more.
I should utter a word of caution here, what I am about to tell you is highly likely to render you all so utterly ecstatic, that multiple crises may occur.
Still reading? Comfortable?
If we consider the twenty clubs in the EPL, Arsenal stands head and shoulders above the other nineteen in every category. (Obviously I’m not talking about the actual players here, because as we well know, Arsene recruits mainly from a lesser known tribe of European Pygmies that roam the lowlands of Switzerland and the high plateaus of the Netherlands.)
Firstly the Club itself. Its owned by several shareholders, most of whom are sound. They don’t lend the club money to buy players or stadiums, but they don’t take a dividend either. The board seems to have a good working relationship with the manager and are fiercely opposed to any external takeover bid.
Although there have been murmurings and in-depth reports of share by share trading in the last couple of months, the situation seems stable enough. Its hard to control who buys shares in the club, but any imminent threat from the east looks to be parried neatly from the west.
In 1996, the aforementioned board (or some/most of them) appointed Arsene Wenger to manage the club. This was the moment that Premier League football was created. I know that it is generally accepted that it was actually created 4 years earlier, but the aforementioned four years were merely an extension of the booze and, latterly, drug addled first division.
Arsene changed all of that. In thirteen years the league has become the best in the world by any measurable standards, because of Arsene. And within the success of the league has come the success of the team. If I can paraphrase W. Churchill,
‘never on the field of football endeavour has so much been accomplished for so many by so few’.
We are in arguably the strongest financial position of any club in the league. Even taking into account Chelsea and City and their respective manager-merry-go-rounds.
The whole sugar daddy approach to club ownership is at best, dangerous, as many clubs have found to their chagrin. And lets face it, it sort of really goes against the concept of sportsmanship to endeavour to buy titles. Its all a bit grubby. The various plights of Liverpool, United, Portsmouth, Hull etc are great examples of how not to organise your club finances.
Arsenal, under Wenger, have revolutionised modern football with strict diet regime and specialised physical training. Modern scientific approaches are definitely the order of the day. A world wide scouting team coupled with the excellent youth training and development provides world class players that are schooled in the Arsenal way at a fraction of the cost of a comparable player on the transfer market. The emphasis placed on science and youth development are no small thing. Indeed they are integral to the success of the club.
Did I mention that our home is the most modern stadium of any club in the league, if not Europe? And did I mention that when the mortgage is paid off, the extra matchday take each year (as against the take at Highbury) will be enough to let us play in the transfer market with the sugar daddies, if we even need to, considering the previous point.
In 2009, Arsene has made four major deals on the transfer market. Two in and two out. Spent 27 million, earned 40 million. We got Arshavin and Vermaelen, they got Adebayor and Toure. That sounds like we got two better players and 13 million quid, and here’s me thinking that ‘arry was the biggest gangster in the league.
But above all this, above being best at everything, is the football itself. There is no point in being best at everything if you look like a bunch of one legged pirates having an arse kicking contest, and this is where the genius of Wenger is most apparent.
The quality of the football that is played week in – week out is sublime. I catch myself sometimes with my mouth hanging open, about 4 ft from the screen, totally caught up in the events unfolding before my unbelieving eyes. Even when we’re not on our game it’s still enthralling. Even when the spuds comeback from 4-2 or thrash us in a carling cup match, even when Liverpool cheat us out of the champions league its still the best 90 minutes all week.
This is my reason for being a Gooner. Personally I don’t need the crutch that is our outstanding success in global football terms, just watching the team play is all it takes.
Read what Arsenal Independent Supporters Assn said about “Making the Arsenal”
Read about Arsenal’s endevours 100 years ago on the blog
Read about Arsenal’s endevours 100 years ago in the book
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