Negativity is everywhere, but it shouldn’t be at Arsenal

Liverpool, it pains me to say, are jumping around in first or second place in the EPL/

Yes I know this is an Arsenal blog, and if you have ever read it before you will know that nothing will ever shake my belief in Arsenal, but I mention this thing about Liverpool Insolvents because of something rather curious.

There is an article in the Guardian today in which the Carragher fellow (the one who was banned for throwing a coin at fans at Highbury) asked fans of the I’s to be patient, after the Scousers booed their own team during the weekend’s home game against Fulham.

Fulham, of course, play negative football. They are more interested in negating than creating. Survival is the idea, and who cares what it does to the crowd. We all know that. It is true of many EPL clubs.
The Guardian says, “Jeers greeted both the full- and half-time whistles at Anfield, which has not witnessed a league defeat for Liverpool in 2008, while the midfielder Lucas was targeted by supporters as the Brazilian made his sixth start of the season in place of the in-form Xabi Alonso.”

That is interesting, because since most of us spend our time thinking about Arsenal we can lose track of the fact that the lack of faith we see among some visitors to the Ems is found even more volubly in the backwaters of the north west.

Such a report does show the need (if it ever needed to be shown) for Arsenal supporters to be positive about the team no matter what. Especially as at the moment we are giving our even younger youngsters games because 20% of the team have been injured, not while playing or training for Arsenal, but while playing around for pathetically stupid international requirements. (At least when I say that this time I can’t get a load of abuse from people calling me a racist for criticising Togo, when I am simultaneously criticising England).

The demand for success-success-success is a constant among the larger clubs in England, and it is never going to be possible to meet all the time. What we must not do is be seen to be the same as the people from the wild badlands where the hub cap is currency and “Calm Down” is the standard greeting.

Gallas needs support, our new captain needs support, whoever is at right back needs support, and whoever is playing alongside Van Persie needs support.

Tell you what though – can you imagine the reaction on the day that Eduardo is announced as a substitute for the first time – even if he doesn’t come on the pitch.

8 Replies to “Negativity is everywhere, but it shouldn’t be at Arsenal”

  1. Interesting! Even sitting top of the premier league isn’t enough these days for the average football fan!

    You’re right about Arsenal fans as well – let’s hope those at the ground show that support vocally. I will be doing my part despite being under the weather!

  2. CESC Fabregas’ Arsenal. That sounds a little better, doesn’t it?

    Of course he’s a risk, but which Arsenal captain of the last 20 years has not been? You had powder-keg Patrick Vieira and his regular flirtations with abroad, moody Thierry Henry and his regular flirtations with abroad, slightly mad Chelsea recruit William Gallas and 21 year-old developing alcoholic Tony Adams.

    To the best of my knowledge, Cesc does not get sent-off twice a season, did not play for Chelsea, is not mad and does not have a drink problem.

    Add to that the fact he is genuinely world class, is in his sixth year at Arsenal, is intelligent, articulate and plays with passion and you have someone who really does tick all the right boxes. His recent form has been poor, but to borrow that horrible but very true cliché, form is temporary and class is permanent.

    Cesc may leave one day, but he can stay here three or four years and still be only 24 or 25. That’s not old. He will remember how quickly things can change as well. Right now it feels like we’re back to where we were when Gallas took the armband 14 short months ago.

    I initially plumped for a Clichy captaincy, but the more I think about it the more right this feels.

    So what of Gallas?

    By that I mean every possible opportunity to jump on Gallas was taken up with relish by critics who steadfastly ignored anything positive. Even when they had no choice but to acknowledge a good performance against United, the footage of him instructing Walcott was twisted to suggest it was some kind of one off.

    St Andrews wasn’t clever, but just because the pictures were dramatic it doesn’t make true the implication put across that it was the primary reason for last season’s failure. Equally, Gallas has played his part in this season’s defeats. But to believe they would not have happened without him is wishful thinking.

    Imagine it. An away draw, one defeat all season, three points clear with 11 to play and you change your captain because he reacted over emotionally on a very emotional day? For all the flack Gallas took at the time, I can’t remember anyone saying he should actually be stripped of the armband there and then. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

    Whether he should have lost the armband in the summer is a far, far fairer question.

    But going back to the blame Gallas’ shouldered, can you remember a single instance in the written or broadcast media where Kolo Toure’s fairly obvious decline in form has been cited for things not going particularly well? I can’t.

    Every time there was a chance to paint Gallas as adrift from his team-mates, the opportunity was leapt upon. Footage such as this and the way a fair few players went out of their way to congratulate their captain after a meaningless goal against Twente painted a less obvious picture.

    No doubt there were tensions, but the black and white idea of Gallas being either liked or hated by his team-mates is an easy conclusion to draw. As a club, Arsenal are renowned for keeping things very much in-house. The vast majority of what goes on behind closed doors staying behind closed doors and much of what does come out is stuff they are very happy for people to know.

    Witness how no UK national media outlet broke news of the Gallas decision on their web-sites on Friday. It was only after agencies picked up a francefootball post that they got a sniff of what a couple of blogs were already reporting.

    And where were all those inside scoops detailing the furious half-time bust-up before Gallas opened his mouth? Nowhere.

    It means we have to sit through post-match analysis which taken seriously would constitute an insult to our intelligence, but I can live with that.

    So what kind of reception can Gallas expect tonight? A decent one I suspect. For those of you who don’t get to games, a fair gulf has existed between the carping in the media and on the blogs and what the fans at the games appear to think of our now former captain.

    If he can now fight his way back and be a positive influence, I for one won’t be complaining. In different circumstances his outburst would have caused far less excitement. He was not the right captain (in hindsight could any player less than a year out of Chelsea ever be?), but I just feel his mistakes have been misadventure more than anything malicious.

    The club yesterday wheeled out senior pro (!) Gael Clichy for the obligatory pre Champions League presser in a decent bit of PR. You have to love the Clich. He said all the right things: praising Cesc, admitting Gallas made a mistake but paying proper tribute to him.

    Tonight is a biggy. You sense that if we are to qualify, tonight might well have to be that night. In particular, it’s a big one for the defence. A 0-0 draw will see us through, while a 1-1 would leave us needing to avoid disaster in the final round of games to qualify by my maths. A Porto loss in Turkey would be handy too.

    The team will be something extraordinary frankly. We’re without our first five wide players (Rosicky, Nasri, Walcott, Eboue and Diaby) and our first three right-backs (Eboue again, Sagna and Toure). Two of our top three strikers are also out.

    Could we possibly see Djourou right-back, Song and Gallas in the centre and Silvestre left-back, with Clichy left midfield? Or will Song, Denilson and Cesc be strung across the middle? I don’t know.

    Come on you Gunners!

  3. Arsene Wenger had to be realistic in this situation.

    He had to bring Gallas back.

    And he had to make Cesc Fabregas his captain. He was the only candidate for the job.

    William Gallas, a world class defender, is an intense introvert who cares too much, as I’ve always said. And when Gallas became skipper, the pressure became too much for his particular temperament. That was why he sometimes behaved as he did.

    As Wenger explained on Monday, “He took all the team’s problems to heart.”

    Gallas has issues few people know about but he’s still the best defender at the club. And by far the most experienced. I feel sorry for him. He has been restored because the team needs him against Dynamo Kiev and Chelsea .

    Intelligent, loyal and honest, Cesc Fabregas is Arsenal’s best player.

    As a character, Fabregas is the finest footballer in the Premier League. He has achieved a helluva lot at 21 and won Euro 2008 with Spain on June 29. Having played in Spain’s balanced team, which has electric strikers who are far superior to Ade and RVP, and having played with Senna, a model anchorman, and Casillas, a superb goalkeeper, he knows what is missing at Arsenal.

    Will Fabregas wait around while a team is built round him? Yes. Should he wait around while Wenger grows a team around him? No. Because he only has one career. Fabregas should not have to babysit Denilson when he is only 21 himself. If the manager keeps buying kids, Cesc should go elsewhere and play in a team of men, a team that knows how to defend, how to win trophies.

    But I hope he stays for another two or three years. While I could never imagine Arsenal winning a trophy with Thierry Henry as captain, I CAN imagine Fabregas lifting one up.

    Recently, Arsenal has let Fabregas down by making him play in a weak team.

    They now need him far more than he needs them. But he is sincerely grateful for the opportunities Wenger has given him. And he would like to repay the club by helping them to win trophies. Nobody doubts that. Fabregas has never let Arsenal down. He’s contributed more to AFC than anybody of his age has ever done, so we all wish him well.

    It’s up to Arsene Wenger to create a team worthy of his new captain.

    Don’t say : he’s only one player. He’s far more than that. Just as you’ll never see anybody as gifted as Bergkamp again, and you’ll never again see any halfback as majestic as Patrick Vieira in his pomp, neither will you see another teenage midfielder who can read the game and pass the ball as astutely as Cesc Fabregas.

    Good luck, Cesc. We believe in your ability and character. We hope you stay at Arsenal. But most of us think you should be playing in a team of men.

  4. gubbygooner – the men have to start from somewhere and as Arsene points out on – “some teams are living in dreamland” because the coming 12 months when buying on borrowed money becomes less and less of an option some are really going to feel it.

  5. @gunner123
    Loved your post. It’s good to be reminded to take press reports with a pinch of salt.

    I am glad that Gallas is still in the frame as a player. It shows that Wenger is separating his performance as a defender from his performance as captain. It’s a good positive signal to send to Gallas. Maybe the fresh start that Clichy talked about can also include William Gallas.

    @ gubbygooner
    Interesting insight into WG’s personality. You make some pertinent points about Cesc as well, but as to this remark: “Fabregas should not have to babysit Denilson when he is only 21 himself” – I feel it’s hardly fair to Denilson to characterise their partnership like that. Denilson has been in better form and more consistent than Cesc so far this season.

    Great to see Cesc assume the captaincy so naturally, though. You know the saying, “Some men are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” In different ways, all those three forms of greatness apply to Cesc – natural talent, European champion and now captain of his club.

  6. gubbygooner:

    Why lift a whole post off arsenal news review. Well it’s that or arsenal news review lifted your comment. Whatever the case, that a load of you know what.

    Anyway, all I’ll say is Wilshere’s a genius! If for nothing else, we should qualify for champs next season so that he can have an extended run in the competition and lift the player of the year award at 17.

  7. The strength of this blog is not just the blog itself, but the quality of the comments.It was a good read all the way through today. Maybe Tony edits out all the crap or perhaps the blog just has more reasoned readers than you find elsewhere.

  8. As the chief writer of the blog, I wanted to clarify a point re an issue raised earlier – in fact two points.

    First, I never lift anything from another blog or elsewhere without recognising the source, and putting quotes in quotation marks. I do use newspapers as a source of inspiration, but really there is no copyring going on – to me it is pointless, and as one who earns money from his writing, I am a supporter of the 1988 Copyright Design and Patents Act.

    But I have come across several instances of people lifting this blog in whole or part. If you ever see such a thing could you write to me (Tony at and quote the location of the copy.

    Second, I don’t edit comments I don’t like. If you want proof of the openness of this blog, see the comments from Everton supporters after that game – particularly on the topic of the violence. They wrote in, I let them all go through even though they called me a few names.

    There is one exception – and this is more about my sensitivity than anything else. When I have criticised the Africa Nations Cup, or players who are black, I have had a load of emails calling me racist and more.

    To me this is not only incredibly rude and insensitive it is also stupid. If I have a joke about a player or competition it is because he or it is worthy of a joke in my opinion, not because he is black or white or because the competition is in Europe or Africa.

    The notion that a criticism of the Africa Nations Cup is racist is not only offensive, it is based on no facts, and it seeks to shut down discussion. If the guy who crippled Eduardo had been a black player, then my long running campaign against him and the club would have been dubbed racist – which is just plain daft – and it would have deflected from the point of my campaign.

    So I do cut most of the comments that suggest I am racist. The rest I leave in, no matter how offensive, because by and large I think they tend to say more about the reader than about me.

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