By Dr Billy “the dog” McGraw.
On the A52 road in Derbyshire there is a sign that says “Street lights not working”.
Most people just drive past it, seemingly without giving the sign much thought. However those people who have the more inquisitive brains tend at this point to ask the question, “why?” In fact the most inquisitive of people ask “why?” twice.
The first “why?” is asked about why the sign is there at all. “If the street lights are not working,” they say, “it doesn’t really matter in the daytime because there is the natural light in the sky so we don’t need a sign. If it is dark, it is patently obvious that the street lights are not working because there is no light shining on the road. So again, why have the sign?
“Yes indeed,” say the most enquiring of minds. “And there is a second question. Why, if we do need the sign, is the sign saying ‘Street lights not working’ not illuminated? Because surely the main time when it is needed is when it is dark, and since the street lights are not working, the sign telling us the street lights are not working, needs to have light shone on it.”
“Ah yes,” says the man at the Highways Agency with a nervous giggle, “that old thing. Well you don’t need the ‘Street lights not working’ sign illuminated, because it is patently obvious that the street lights are not working, as it is pitch black,” and he walks away with a knowing smile.
That’s really how it is with Arsenal at the moment. We can all see that the club is not performing as well as we would like and hope. Clearly given the 19 consecutive years in the Champions League, seven FA Cup wins, and three League titles – an average of one trophy every two years – this season is indeed not up to standard. The average attainment of one trophy every two years is in danger of slipping.
Likewise everyone can see that last night Arsenal did play well. It is a bit like the A52. If you drive down it at night and it is dark, you can be pretty sure it is because the lights are not working. If Arsenal lose a game like last night’s it’s fairly clear the team did not play well.
But now the question pops in? Why go on mentioning it over and over when it is totally obvious? Why make a big fuss and call for the manager and the board and a number of members of the team to be removed?
Is it because that will do any good? Presumably not, because it has been tried for at least 10 years – the length of time Untold Arsenal has been running, and it patently hasn’t worked. Untold was started at a time of remorseless criticism of Arsenal, the players and the manager ten years back, and that criticism has increased with the subsequent huge increase in the number of anti-Arsenal-Arsenal blogs, and of course ArsenalFanTV.
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So, rather like the Highways Agency that goes around putting up signs telling us that street lights are not working, the question still is why? Why criticise and criticise when year after year it is clear that at best it makes no difference and at worst it could be making things worse.
And by making things worse I mean making the players ever more nervous, making players who might previously have wanted to play for Arsenal now shy away, while encouraging the mass media that had quoted Arsenal fans during the unbeaten season as saying “this is the worst Arsenal team we’ve ever seen” to increase their relentless and ceaseless attack.
In psychology when we ask why people do things that clearly are not in their interest we get interesting answers. We ask that sort of question, for example, about a man who desperately wants his wife to love and respect him, and when she doesn’t he shouts at her, abuses her, drinks too much, falls asleep on the sofa, and then in the morning leaves the house without saying goodbye and slams the door as he goes waking the baby who was sleeping peacefully.
We find the answer to that question in various areas of human behaviour. Personal habit is one – it is what the guy has done for ever and he just slips into that behaviour. Stupidity is another – he really can’t see the connection between his behaviour and hers. Self-denial is another – he wouldn’t shout at and abuse his wife if only she loved him more. But ultimately we come back to a complete inability to connect the results of behaviour with the behaviour that caused it.
“She is the one who is causing me to behave badly so it is her fault,” the abusive husband says.
“It’s up to the players to perform, then I’ll give them my support,” says the anti-Arsenal-Arsenal “supporter”.
And the writing of all these non-supportive blogs and the running of the little video show? Why do that? Basically it becomes a case of self-gratification. Of feeling good because one is part of the gang of abusers. It’s a bit like the youngsters in a playground who gather around two kids having an argument and encourage the fight to take place. They were part of it by chanting “Fight” and kicking the loser when he is down.
Of course the aAA will say that they are pointing out the problems at Arsenal so that things will get better. But this has been going on for well over ten years, and things haven’t got better. Indeed I’m reminded of that fake Albert Einstein quote that says the definition of madness is failing, and then doing again the same thing as was done last time around, in the hope that this time it will work.
Criticising Arsenal, the players, the manager, the board etc hasn’t helped improve the club for over 10 seasons, so why would anyone think it would help now? It’s a bit like putting up a sign that says “street lights aren’t working.” If it is day time we don’t need to know. If it is night time it is patently obvious. And anyway, the sign isn’t illuminated.
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