By Tony Attwood
But life goes on, there’s still hope (although less than there would have been had we won 4-0), and there’s a weekend to look forward to. Man U away. No problem.
I’ve done so many hundreds journeys back to my home along the M1 after matches, through countless lane closures and at times even road closures that one gets used to it, and at least the midnight news on Radio 4 reduces European football to just reading out the result. And so life goes on.
But what strikes me so strongly these days, and it strikes me over and over again, is the inclination of many commentators to reduce incredibly complex situations to something simple. Fix this, and all will be fine. Get a new manager / coach and we’ll at last train the players properly, buy the right players in the transfer windows and the owner will jolly well allow the manager to have as much as he likes, the because the new man is bound to get it right because he’s not Wenger. Ah well. If only life were that simple.
And yet it could be said that is exactly what it is like everywhere. Take politics. Get rid of May, with that buffoon Johnson, that one-thing-at-a-time Gove and the out-of-her-depth Rudd and things will be ok. But even I with my strong left wing convictions don’t think that. Getting rid is just part one; the next bit is the hard bit: having a government to sort out a diabolical reality while taking on such enormously powerful vested interests (the media, the 1% who own 99% of the country, the corporations etc). So great is the challenge that it might not all work out in the end.
With Arsenal the vested interests are also there: the ownership of Arsenal, the secretive PGMO, the incompetent FA, the impact of leaving the EU, the reputation for having a horribly negative support… And that is before we come to the fact that the rest of the world won’t just see our negotiating team appearing on the horizon and welcome them in like the cavalry coming to the rescue.
I thought on all this, meandering at 5 miles and hour along the single lane M1 last night, and was reminded of it this morning with a comment that I saw on Untold to the effect that the reason why we failed to win handsomely last night was simple. And then in looking through the comments that were made during and after the game I noticed a double thread. One saying, in essence, “it is simple we can’t defend” or blaming one player or some other one dimensional failing, and others saying “stop blaming the referee.”
The fact is that if Arsenal don’t get through next week it will be because of multiple reasons, and although some of them are bigger than others, not all of them are going to be under the new manager’s control next season.
Now that fairly obvious, and yet it never seems to be considered. It might be true that there are some brilliant managers out there who could go to any club and make them much better than they already are, but ultimately without vast sums of money, and without the willingness of players to come and play for their club, they are not going to have that success at the highest level.
Or take the refereeing situation: “stop blaming the referee every time something goes wrong” is a foolish comment at many levels not least because no one does blame the ref for each and every goal scored against us. But there are occasions on which the refereeing does look, what shall I say, how about “strange,” and nothing can be investigated about such strangeness because the PGMO acts like no other top level football refereeing organisation in Europe. (Likewise Fifa and the way it acts, and the way the media give them leeway when it comes to the occasional jamboree in the summer. It is not that the wrong questions are asked; mostly it is that no questions are asked.
The issue in the end is not that quite a few people think that some referees may be biased, not that Arsenal are never coached in defending, not that Wenger is the only top level manager who doesn’t know how to reform a team that is failing, nor that we have an owner who won’t put his own money into the club, nor that we have a large number of people who identify themselves as fans and then spend a lot of time attacking the club’s management and players… it is none of those single issues.
It is very complex in itself and the debate is hindered by the fact that football debates are primarily by people who believe in simple, single issues. Like the forlorn lady in a crumbling relationship who says, “If only he’d marry me, everything would be all right,” or the employee who seriously believes that his boss is the most appalling, disgraceful, inept, unfair, bullying, hopeless boss in the kingdom, and if only he could leave and get another job everything would be fine.
Maybe very, very occasionally each can be right, but 99.9999% of the time if such single-issue people do find themselves in another situation that is just as bad. Life is complex. Football is complex. And that is just the stepping stone on which one must tread even before the debate gets underway.
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