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August 2021

Keep calm and follow Arsène

Keep calm and follow Arsène

By BlackSheep

In response to the countless number of letters that have would have found their way to my door had Her Majesty’s Post Office not lost them, I return with a second look into the world of philosophy football.

This has been a trying week as we attempt to make sense of M. Wenger’s transfer policy.  Will he sign a bitey racist? Will an imposing midfield general be presented to the crowd before the Villa game?

And what of Fenebache, what risk do they pose to our chances of European glory? Why did God create Didier Drogba?

In short we are all, like poor Mr. Prendegast in Evelyn Waugh’s Decline and Fall, susceptible to doubts. And when those doubts begin fester in our minds it is hard to shift them, regardless of how good Ramsey’s pass was in Helsinki. But consolation is at hand and so today I offer you a few insights from the ancients.

Let us start in 5th century China with K’ung Ch’iu or as his number 9 shirt always read, plain Confucius.

I think it was Confucius (but it might have been Doo Fus…) who said ‘no state can exist without the confidence of the people’. And we can of course apply this to The Arsenal.

As we have seen with the ‘Great Forehead’ a lack of confidence can be entirely detrimental to the ability of the disciple to perform, leading to him being forced to travel many leagues to escape the scorn of those that should have been his strongest supporters.

Indeed I feared this would also be the path that awaited young Aaron, the Celt, but he has stayed true to his Tao and now blossoms like an opening lotus flower. The message of the master is clear: if one desires victory one must back the team, not pour down scorn upon it grasshopper – a message that is evident from the pages of Untold and its twin sages To-ni and Wal-ta.

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Confucius lived some two and a half thousand years ago and in this week’s lecture we will look at more of the ancient and medieval philosophies that have so much to add to our understanding of association football.

Let us start with the greatest philosopher of the middle ages, Thomas (Saint’n’Greavsie’) Aquinas. Born in Naples in the early 13th century he played for an early Napoli side in the days before ‘Igwayne’ came to represent the hopes of so many.

However, Aquinas found the cut and thrust of Serie A a little too vigorous for his light constitution and opted to write programme notes and commentaries for the local rag instead.

Here though he excelled and his jottings have plenty to say on the subject of football supporting. He recognized that blind faith and reason were not, as many of his age believed, incompatible. Humans could reason and even if God oversees everything we can make choices – to do good, love others, or chip a through pass to the handsome French fella etc.

Faith and logic (he was a translator of Aristotle whom he admired) are interwoven, each informing the other. But for all his love of Aristotlian logic, Thomas placed his fate in the hands of a superior being (a bit like me sending my article to Tony)  [Look stop it – its hard enough reading an article on philosophers which doesn’t mention that all time top scored Lao Tzu, without more sycophantic whatnot. – Tony]. I suggest this tells us that we too should have faith in the man that picks the team we love.

Next I would like to look at the work of another early Christian thinker, namely Anselm of Canterbury City FC in the Southern Counties East League.

Anselm was an unusual footballer in that he eschewed the material and earthly comforts offered by the game, choosing instead the humble sackcloth and tonsure of a Benedictine monk. Anselm was the world’s first official optimist and therefore the true ancestor of approximately half of all football fans – at least at the beginning of the season anyway (this figure steadily declines after August 31st).

Anselm believed that God existed because something that Good simply HAD to be true. This is the direct opposite of course of much recent teaching which tells us that however well Arsenal are playing in pre-season it will all be doom and gloom by next May. It reminds us that just because we can’t see exactly what the transfer team (if such a thing exists) are doing, it doesn’t mean they are doing nothing. Absence of evidence (as I so often tell my disciples) is not evidence of absence.

Therefore brethren, I think what these early thinkers can tell us is that there are reasons to be cheerful* and that it is almost easier to be consumed by doubt than to remain constant in our faith and love for that ethereal presence that is The Arsenal. So keep calm fellow devotees lest our own weaknesses infect those we place our faith in.

*part two

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39 comments to Keep calm and follow Arsène

  • Bergkamp's The Man

    A refreshing counter to the depressing drivel that’s being peddled elsewhere. Well done.

  • colario


  • Brickfields Gunners

    Very nice and keeping with the spirit of positivity , here is suitable poetry from Rudyard Kipling –

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I always thought that Tonic and Water should not be mixed.
    As a wine drinker myself , I know not of such things , but I do admit that it pisses me off when the riff- raff add ice cubes to their wine !

  • Gerry Lennon

    Love it, Alas, the Existentialists are among us, until he signs he does not exist?

  • Epicurean

    If you lked this article…you will love this 😀

  • Chris

    We have been following Arsene for the last 8 years. And don’t be kidded by him having no money to spend. That was only true for about 3 years. The rest of the time he had as much or more money to spend than most (not all) EPL teams. He was on his own personal crusade which did not succeed.

  • Giddy

    Its good to be positive tho I don’t think we should blindly trust Wenger blindly. Besides that trust has been there for Eight years and it has not yielded much fruit! Winning one match does not serve as a barometer to gauge how better we have become and even how we shall approach the coming season! Our current 1st eleven is good but unless additions are made, it will be almost impossible to challenge. The season is always long and with many competitions sometimes coming thick and first, few additions is what we need and unless we are working towards that, then i don’t think we should be discussing the possibility of atleast challenging for top four.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    One of the funniest videos on you tube. Adult humour .

  • Keep them coming, sir!

    But true football fans will remember that Confucius was an atrocious striker and after suffering a crisis of confidence, underwent self-imposed exile and became a EPL referee. His hugely influential teachings – exalting the old ways and flatly refusing to embrace new ideas, saw British football languish in the ancient era.

    At least that’s how I remember it..

  • Mick

    Come on then, you appear to be in the know, let’s have a year by year breakdown of how much money Wenger had available and where you got your information from?
    And what was his personal crusade?

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Just thinking aloud !

    If there are no stupid questions, then what kind of questions do stupid people ask? Do they get smart just in time to ask questions? Scott Adams

  • Brickfields Gunners

    From the Medical Division of UA – Our aim is to keep your
    spirits with an infusion of laughter .

    … when you shout at the TV during medical shows to correct their pronunciation. Then give up correcting and just wince instead.

    … when you know some of your patients better than your own family.

    … when you beat ALL the Jeopardy contestants on the medical questions.

    … when you can watch the slow motion replays during professional football games, determine the nature and extent of the injuries …and are right most of the time in predicting the results of the MRI.

    … when people begin disrobing in your local grocery store to show you how well their incisions have healed.

    … when people think you really want to see what they blew out of their nose.

    … when you’ve had to decide whether eating or going to the bathroom is more important because you don’t have time to do both.

    … when you can sleep standing up.

    … when you are being charged twice what your neighbor is for a brake job.

    … when you are afraid to tell people what you do for a living at school functions.

    … when within a few minutes of meeting someone, you ask them to take off their clothes, lie down and let their knees fall apart, and they do so.


    And is goodnight from me !

  • Robl

    @ Mick, Chris is right, Arsene found the £1/2B for the emirates down the back of the sofa and is just being a tight wad.

  • Robl

    Go on, who is going to be topical and do an analogy of Schrödinger’s cat and our transfer policy?

  • Ah well, Schrödinger’s cat and the transfer market. I am glad you asked Robl.

    This is very much the Gilberto Silva approach to football. When the man is not needed he is not there, attention is elsewhere he does not exist.

    But when the attack comes he is there, he intercepts, he passes, he vanishes.

    Schrödinger’s Gilberto Silva. A cat among pigeons.

  • Dennis Brady

    Gustavo……we shall see. I believe others are after him, and since wenger took over the running of all operations at the club….and so coincidently, became a crap manager, he has refused to get into bidding wars no matter how desperate the need. We could be pleasantly surprised, but my guess is that we will see very little before champ league qualification, IF that actually happens. Then a 2011 style panic buy up to save his own job.

  • Mick

    I see some of the usual suspects are showing themselves again after their day of mourning yesterday.

  • blacksheep63

    save his job Dennis? If we sacked AW he would walk into half a dozen top jobs within six months, if not six minutes. If he panic buys it will be to save our season not his job

  • Robl

    @ Dennis, 2 of the players we refused to enter bidding wars for were Jones and Smalling. If only…..

  • Arun

    Hey Tony
    Please check your mail.

  • Dennis Brady

    He will only have a year left on his contract this autumn black sheep, I will be utterly amazed if they offer him a new deal without him using his substantial funds to strengthen this threadbare squad. He would certainly be offered other jobs but probably be a lot more accountable than he is here. Robl, smalling, maybe but jones is a good player and both have a couple league winners medals. there are quite a few others as well, ronaldo , mata, hazard, higuain plus any number now at or about to join our neighbours spring to mind

  • Mick (@5.10pm),

    You beat me to it.

    blacksheep63 (5.15pm),

    If he wasn’t loyal, he’d be PSG’s manager right now. This is why I so loathe the Wenger haters. The man is not just good at his job, he is also a very decent human being in our decadent, dog-eat-dog world.

  • Stroller

    I can’t see Wenger panicking over anything, let alone buying just to save his job. He could walk into almost any job in football, and certainly not limited to the club manager level.

    It’s even more ridiculous to think that he would be released for not spending enough money. Imagine Kroenke and Co. thinking ‘We really want a manager who spends our money for us. What about that Redknapp bloke, always up for a bit of wheeler-dealing?’

  • Dennis Brady

    Wenger may be many positive things, and a decent human being, but he was once a great manager as well, bold, innovative, decisive, but became a finance director, a youth development officer, a stadium design civil engineer, physician, fitness guru, CEO, COO, and worst of all, transfer negotiator. You cannot do all things all of the time or you get found out, especially if you have an inherent inability to delegate. He was once great, but is now in danger of taking himself and the team into the zone of underachievement. That is unforgivable. It is not all his fault, the idiotic board sacked the one man who made wenger tick, and just look at the results since.Teams in recent years with far less resources than wenger have won things, that to me makes the wenger of today a loser, and times that by a hundred fold if he fails to strengthen this squad. If he can become the wenger pre 2006, if Ivan Gazidis can make him bold again, I will so gladly take it all back.

  • Dennis Brady

    Stroller, Gazidis gave wenger the green light to spend at the start of the summer, and told us in no uncertain terms if he did not, it would be wengers decision alone. There is a difference between redknapps rather questionable antics and a desire to spend to compete. The players this summer, in addition to Gazidis have been imploring wenger to sign but still we wait. We are stuck with the only manager in world football who hates spending money?

  • Stuart

    Dennis Brady,

    I’m glad you have said it like that. All too often people say the problem is….. which all started going wrong since Dein left. Their solution is always to sack Wenger rather than bring back Dein or someone else.
    I’m glad to hear of a sensible opinion over it all.

  • The font

    Maybe we could have an inter- blog who we should buy and who they should replace competition
    Allowing everyone to look back and say I told you so for me it’s.
    1.* Shezzer / backup ———- Fab

    2. ———- Backup sagna .jenks

    3. Gibbs. Backup. Montreal

    4 *Arteta backup backup Perez frimpong

    5 * merts backup ———-

    6.* Kos backup vermaelen.

    7. Poldy back up ——— Ryo

    8.* Ramsey back up rosicky ox

    9 giroud backup ———- Akpom. Sanogo

    10. *Jack backup santi. ———-

    11 *Walcott backup. ——– Gnarby

    *denotes automatic choice

    Our best players at the moment are Ramsey /Walcott/giroud no matter who we buy it would be hard to drop these to the bench maybe Suarez for giroud but giroud may surprise us this season I think a replacement for sagna a new centre half a top quality winger I also think shenzen will improve greatly this year we all yearn for superstars but who do you drop to fit them in .

  • Dennis Brady

    Stuart, Dein coming back would improve things so much on so many levels. and get his son off our backs, I am sure he is waiting to strike at our most talented….again.But unfortunately, it ain’t going to happen, it would undermine Gazidis, who I see as a guy just doing his best in a tricky situation. Dein returning would also piss off some of the old school still around. But it was not just Dein, Fiszman was a fan with a drive, certainly before his tragic illness, a drive sadly completely lacking in our current owner. Ok Danny made a serious mistake in selling to Stan, but he still did a lot for this club.Wenger had, and for all I know still has winning qualities, but the current setup fail to harness any of them,them, or have done until now. Wenger is a shadow of what he once was, indecisive, over controlling, risk averse and paranoid at times. I am fed up with wenger and the status quo, and make no bones about it, but if Dein were back, I would beg the board to give wenger another five years contract…..tomorrow. The only way Dein will return is if Stan sells, which could be the best option if this club is to go forward. Incidentally, rumours Stan buying shares again, wonder why that would be! Worth reading Swiss Rambles latest on Arsenals spending, or lack of it if you have not already done so. He covers many issues, and amongst other things, suggests that unlike clubs like city, and importantly, spurs,we do not have the exec structure in place to operate efficiently in the transfer market.

  • unbelievable belief

    Dein is Usimov’s tool.

  • Dennis Brady

    Maybe you are right UB, unfortunately for us, he also a while back allowed himself to be stans tool with the consequences we see all around us, though it must be said, he did so along with others on the board at the time, yet, still I forgive him and would take him back tomorrow, we all make mistakes and his qualities and ability to bring out the true manager rather than compulsive accountant in wenger negate a couple of damaging things dein did, or wanted to do……in my opinion only of course.

  • Pat

    @Stroller at 9.08 p.m.

    Great stuff! I laughed loudly!

    In my view our troubles started when the Arsenal board decided to build a new stadium and become a property company building and selling very expensive flats.

    Arsene Wenger and the players cannot be held responsible for that.

    Arsene Wenger’s achievements before that date prove it – Invincibles etc. His achievements since that date prove him to be possibly the greatest manager in the world. Not just in the context of being deprived of adequate money to compete, but in having to compete in a suddenly grossly inflated market (Chelsea, Manchester City).

    Let’s hope he and we all now get our reward.

  • uk

    maybe wenger could stroll into any top job now, but i bet he’d be rolled out in less than 6months

  • Florian

    uk, as usual you know what you’re talking about.

  • Florian

    Thanks Brickfield, it works magically as a joke:)))

  • Stuart

    Exactly Dennis, I think Wenger has been put out of his depth with too much responsibility for human being to be able to handle effectively. What’s another few million to spend on someone to handle the administrative side of the team matters in the light of how much money we have? Although, that said, it might make matters easier for him now that we have let so many players go as he will not be so thinly spread – we will see.

  • Rupert Cook

    @Pat, he’s hardly the greatest manager in the world. Arsenal finish exactly where they should finish, fourth. Moyes has a similar record so by that criteria Moyes is the greatest manager in the world too, in fact he might be even better as he’s managed to finish above Pool despite their obscene spending and he’s never had the mercurial talents of RVP or Fabregas to help him.

    As for money to spend, nobody seems to know exactly how restricted we’ve been. I’m sure Wenger said a couple of years ago that if he thought a player was worth 40 million then he’d spend that. Doesn’t sound like we’re poverty stricken. But of course we can’t contend with City and Chelsea on transfers though we could probably match Manu if we had the courage.

    And some say Wenger overstretches himself. If so then why isn’t someone telling him to leave off in some areas and concentrate on managing the team? That is after all how he became successful, not as an economics expert or whatever else he appears to dip his toes into.

  • Stuart


    “And some say Wenger overstretches himself. If so then why isn’t someone telling him to leave off in some areas and concentrate on managing the team? That is after all how he became successful, not as an economics expert or whatever else he appears to dip his toes into.”

    Good question.