By Tim Charlesworth
So the Goonersphere is full of hysteria and disappointment again. Olympiacos was a horrible game and a horrible performance, however you look at it. We’re all full of blame and recriminations.
The hysterical attacks on Wenger for picking Ospina are plain silly, as if to imply that it was predictable that Ospina would make a mistake, or than Cech is immune from mistakes (West Ham anyone). Untold has discussed the pros and cons of rotation on a number of occasions. I have yet to see a sensible argument that Wenger should never rotate. So, if we accept the principle of rotation, it is then a judgement about how much and how often. This is a difficult judgement, that Wenger has to make without the benefit of hindsight.
It is important for any top club to have two high quality goalkeepers, but goalkeepers don’t get that many injuries, and it is difficult to retain a good keeper who never plays. Lots of club manage this situation by playing one in the league, and one in the cups. It is quite common practice. We have won the last two FA Cups with this policy (Fabianski and Szchezny playing in the finals). Real Madrid won the 2014 Champions League doing this (using Casillas in the CL, but not La Liga). So its hardly an unusual rotation policy and, arguably, is one that has proved very successful in the past.
My last article on Untold defended Mourinho after the Chelsea game, for which I received quite a lot of negative feedback (Actually I just tried to look at him from a different point of view, but passions were running high, and senses of humour running low). So perhaps it is a little risky to write about another well established enemy of Untold, Piers Morgan, but here goes anyway.
In some ways, I quite like Piers Morgan. He quite often says what I am thinking. Watching Arsenal lose is a desperate situation for me, and I hate it. It provokes all sorts of negative thoughts in my head about Wenger, our players, and life in general. As a rule, I keep these to myself and try to subject my thoughts to a filter of ‘common sense’ and ‘rationality’. However, I must admit, thoughts such as ‘Walcott is useless’, ‘Klopp would never let this happen’ and ‘Wenger’s past his best’ do fly uncontrollably into my brain. Actually (like most Untolders), I disagree with all these opinions, and soon remind myself of my disagreement, thereby banishing the silly thoughts.
Piers appears appear not to apply a ‘common sense filter’, and, as a result, some of his comments are not very well thought out. During the Olympiacos game he engaged in a torrent of Twitter abuse. He didn’t think about it, and save it up for the end of the game, after having a chance to reflect on the matter. He just regurgitated his gut reactions in real time.
The result was some very daft comments (of which, a claim that he could run faster than the BFG was the highlight), drifting into his old ‘Wenger out’ mantra. Piers is a man who likes to run with his gut reaction (he is, after all, a tabloid journalist by background). There are only so many times that you can complain publicly about Arsenal’s performance and remain faithful to Wenger.
If you have complained too many times in public (and he has), then eventually you can only maintain credibility by demanding significant change. Eventually, you have to publicly call for the manager’s head, and this is a difficult position to back out of once entered into (if we win the premiership this season, I am really looking forward to seeing how Piers reacts).
I sometimes wonder what would happen it you could talk to Piers privately. I have a sneaking suspicion that he would confirm that, in Stan Kroenke’s position, he would stick by Arsene as well. I suspect that, even he, deep down, really knows that Arsene is the right manager for Arsenal. Unfortunately, he has backed himself into a position that he can never admit to such an opinion.
Tony recently wrote on Untold about a man who complained about Walcott during the Olympiacos game. I am extremely impressed by Walcott this season and I even wrote a pre-season piece for Untold, that we didn’t need another striker, because he would be the solution. So, I can certainly claim to be a Walcott loyalist. However, when I see him miss a chance toward the end of the game, the thought ‘Walcott is useless’ comes straight into my head (actually my subconscious brain uses less polite words than that). No matter that I actually think he is brilliant, no matter than every striker misses chances, the angry thought still comes to me.
Now, to my mind, part of being an adult is learning not to say the first thing that comes into your head. But I also recognise that, in the name of sanity, we all need to escape from the ‘real-world’ on occasions. Some people escape the real world by going to a football stadium. Perhaps the chap who was yelling about the ‘useless Walcott’ the other day, knows that Walcott is not useless. Perhaps he goes to football to escape the real world, and was just expressing a gut reaction. Perhaps he is normally a rational and sensible human being, but suspends common sense when he crosses the Ems threshold (or bridge).
So let’s not be too harsh on Piers Morgan, or the chap who shouts ‘useless Walcott’. Its not the way I like to behave. Like most Untolders, I believe in positively supporting our team, but the inner, angry me, can see their point of view and feel their pain. Maybe, by expressing their ill-considered gut reactions, they avoid the need for me to do so, thereby freeing me to have a sensible dialogue about the world’s greatest team. Football is all things to all men. I can forgive someone for venting a gut reaction, even if it is Piers.
PS – please can someone arrange a BFG v Piers Morgan 100m race? I would pay good money to see this.
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