THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE……Don McMahon
I have seen so many bloggers writing sarcastic and demeaning comments about the Club, the players and particularly the manager over the years I have followed AFC… and one thing they all seem to have in common is that they are totally blind to one side of the Arsenal. A side of the Arsenal that in fact most people seem to ignore.
We all know that the Gunners have consistently dominated the injury league for well over five years running, have failed to win the EPL for 10 years, have never won the CL and so on. We have been called chokers, also-rans, Barcelona-light, boys not men, fragile, impotent, foreigners, etc. We also know that we have been accused of variously lacking British ¨steel¨, players like beasts, toughness, determination, ambition, a will to win, etc. Well here are some facts to counter those accusations:
In recent years Arsenal have had three players very seriously injured by thugs in the EPL. We have had 7 players with recurring injuries, whose careers have been considerably shortened by these same thugs, We currently have six players, five of them starters, who are recovering from medium to long-term injuries, most of which were caused by these thugs.
To explore this further, I convinced a retired FIFA referee assessor, instructor and former professional league referee appointer to review the famous match between AFC and Manchester United, where our 49 unbeaten run ended. After watching Riley’s performance, he stood up and said that had he been the head of the PGMOL, Riley’s EPL and FIFA career would have ended that day. I also asked him to watch a few more games where the Arsenal had serious injuries and decisions go against them and he said, and I quote his exact words, ¨there is something rotten in Denmark!¨
My point is that the Arsenal have shown the following qualities, despite facing almost insurmountable odds, since 2005:
1) Their ability to nurture and support their players regardless of their issues or situation.
2) Their loyalty to all their players, past or present, despite some very bad press about that.
3) Their respect for their players and their deference to their wishes, even if it goes counter to the club’s immediate interests.
4) The players’ almost uniformly shared admiration and respect for Mr.Wenger, which is equally reciprocated.
5) The ability to put together strings of victories that take them over the top each season despite being financially out-muscled by the oilers and sugar-daddy toy clubs.
6) The courage, commitment and caring for the club, the fans and their teammates which, despite setbacks, allows them to pick themselves up and perform miracles.
7) The engagement to play Wengerball against teams whose sole intent seems to be to kick them off the park, and still win a lot more often than they lose or draw.
8) The mental and emotional strength to continue believing that they can win, regardless of their previous results. The players truly believe, like Wenger himself, that they are as good as their next match.
9) The stability and adaptability to welcome constant new faces into their lineup, season after season, and still perform at a very high level. 17 straight years in the CL and the top four, as well as the recent FA and Charity shield victories testify to this.
10) The pleasure and enjoyment our players seem to experience playing with their fellow Gunners and the team spirit they display week in and week out, despite the best efforts of the media, the moaners and groaners and the officials.
11) Their determination to fight to the end, particularly this season, and to hold onto a lead whenever possible.
12) Their self-control on the pitch despite officials routinely ignoring serious fouls against our players….how many of us would tolerate that depth of abuse?
So the next time the serpent slithers onto UA and starts delivering the repetitive meme about Wenger out and AFC being ¨soft¨ or whatever, lets remind them that this so-called team of pussies has done far more with far less than any other team in the EPL. AFC deserve to wear their red badge of courage more than any other team in the EPL and will continue to exceed all expectations, to the great dissatisfaction of the media, their critics and even some of their so-called supporters.
Playing for Arsenal is a very special experience and often raises up the players’ career and skills, and when the player moves on, it is rare that they ever achieve those heights again. Many ex-players state that their worst error was to leave the Arsenal for ¨greener¨ pastures.
Arsenal’s promotion in 1919. At last, the truth
98.4% of all referee decisions are correct – and the press believe them
Not to mention…
- Uefa increasing looking weak as European clubs propose completely new approach
- The Premier League action against Man City brings Super League ever closer
- What Europe knows about Man C but the English press haven’t told you
- Arsenal v Manchester City Women’s Continental League Cup semi-final – match preview
- How Man City’s problems began to arise…. nine years ago