By Walter Broeckx
I recently read a book, written by Bernard Joy, a former Gunner in the 1930-1940’s called Forward Arsenal and in this book Bernard Joy is talking about the players in those days also being more than just Gunners. Players who are ready to set their personal ambitions aside for the benefit of the team. It was in the years we were managed by Chapman, Allison and Whitakker. It felt a bit that the players also really had the club in their hearts. If you haven’t read the book yet, I can recommend it and really enjoyed reading it.
While reading the book it felt as if it was like in the lyrics I once wrote on the tune of the, in my humble opinion, best song ever “Brothers in arms” from the Dire Straits. I called it “Gooners in arms”, (how original), and it had a phrase in it where I wrote:
“We sing for you Gunners, to be Gooners in arms”
So in those lyrics I asked the players to not only be a player that is passing by, but I ask them to be more than passing players, I ask them to be fans like we are. So it struck me a bit when I read this in that book over our earlier history as it was what I was meaning.
On a few occasions over the last years Arsène Wenger has mentioned in interviews a few times the fact that he wants to build a club with youth coming to its own ranks who are not only players (Gunners) but who eat, drink, love and live the Arsenal.
We all eat, drink, love and live Arsenal and therefore we are called Gooners. And Wenger actually is trying to do that with the current youth team players.
I also think that the way he has been buying players during the last few seasons, most of them at a young age shows he is trying to educate them and trying to make them feel more than Gunners. I really think that Arsène Wenger is trying to bring back the days described in the book Forward Arsenal and wants the players to be fans.
Today when looking for more Arsenal news I ran into the story on arsenal.com where Alex Song was describing how he went totally mad when he was watching the Hull game at home. He said he was jumping around in joy when Bendtner scored the late winner and his little son not knowing why he was running all over the room in joy.
This is just an example I think of what our great managers in the past wanted from the players, what I as a fan once wrote down, and what Arsène Wenger wants from our players.
I really think that Arsène Wenger knows our history and knows about the way Arsenal have wanted to develop and to give a special bond between the players and the club and he really is trying to give this to the players, the club and the fans.
Also the fact that most of our players are rather dull in their private lives means that Wenger not only is bringing players in for their football skills but also he keeps a firm eye on the personality behind the player. Like Vermaelen had discovered they even came to see him training when there were only 8 players in training, just to see what kind of character he had.
Most of our players seem to behave themselves in public and are, apart from a car accident or so, not interesting for the tabloids to make up some juicy story’s. Is it a co-incidence that some of the players Arsène Wenger has let go have had problems with the law? Did Wenger feel that they were missing the attitude he thinks is required, not only to be a professional football player but also to be an Arsenal player in his team?
Maybe this is something to which some could say: so what? It may not be a big deal but as other clubs have to bond their players with high wages this could mean for the young Arsenal players that they not only play for the wages – which aren’t that bad at all in fact – but that they maybe will not leave for another £10.000 a week more to another club.
Yes there have been and there always will be players that want to leave for more money. We all can give examples of this. But the fact that over 15 players, mostly young or brought in at a young age, have agreed new and long term contracts in the last season could mean that they realise that the fact of being a Gunner is more than earning 50.000 pounds a week.
What’s the use of going to Barcelona for £60.000 a week when you sit on the bench week in week out? Maybe we have been lucky with the fact that our latest players that have gone to top clubs in Europe have rather failed. This could have shown to some players who might be tempted to go after the cash that the safe home and the guidance from Arsène Wenger is so important for their future and for the club that they would rather stay at The Arsenal.
And when you stay at your job, even if you could earn more money in another company, you mostly stay for the work itself (the beautiful football we play), for the friends you have in your team (Arsène has got rid of some bad influences in the dressing room), and maybe because you love your company. Because you are no longer just a Gunner but you have become a Gooner.
This is a hidden process we cannot see for the moment, but the future will tell if my thoughts have become a fact. Will Arsène Wenger have succeeded in the most difficult thing in these modern times with money grabbing players all over football?
Will our Gunners in arms, all become Gooners in Arms?
For the Untold Arsenal review of Bernard Joy’s book click here
You can buy the book direct from the publishers, GCR Books.
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