By Tony Attwood
Reasons to be cheerful? At a time when…
Some Arsenal supporters have recently behaved appallingly in my opinion, booing the captain, and writing articles which seem to have the premise that the manager is a dodo who is as good as gone and the only debate to be had is Mourinho or not Mourinho.
The media of course fed into this with their utterly false claims that Mourinho had met Arsenal directors. How odd that the media should make that up.
Meanwhile we slipped out of the top four, Liverpool’s first team are striding away at the top, the authorities look incapable of dealing with Manchester City’s financial situation, the newspapers and blogs have become so negative that they are in real life more extreme than Sir Hardly Anyone portrayed them in the stories of the Toppled Bollard pub, and match fixing is (according to Uefa but unmentioned by the English press) now utterly out of control.
And yet amidst all of this, yes there are, quite extraordinarily, some positives. Here’s a little list of eight positives that just came to me…
We started raving about Martinelli on this site a little ahead of the curve, and now the curve has gone right round in a circle (sorry that metaphor got out of control before it even got going) and everyone is raving about him. Even the Arsenal hating media admit he’s got something (although they seem to have an undercurrent that suggests it is just a matter of time before we cash in on the player and sell him to Real Mad).
But whatever happens, for the moment, and as long as it doesn’t result in the young man getting carried away with it all, he’ll be fine and Arsenal will benefit. Just as we are already benefiting from seven goals in seven games.
2: Joe Willock
Joe Willock has been surging forward in terms of his performances and the game against Liverpool saw him reach another peak. Another extraordinary talent. Stay with us Joe. The noisy turnips who worked to get Wenger out and have now turned on Emery, are not all there is to Arsenal support. Some of us are a little less wild. Some of us are actually quite nice guys.
3: Nicolas Pépé
The criticism of Pépé earlier in the season was ludicrous; he was a player moving from god-like status to a new stadium, a new style of football, and perhaps most importantly a new style of refereeing (!) and a new style of antagonistic crowd, so it was bound to be a while before he fully found out how to play in this alien system called the Premier League.
4: Arsenal Women…
…are a sensation under Joe Montemurro, and Joe is a fantastic guy. I did a little piece on his appearance at the AGM of Arsenal Independent Supporters Association and there he was phenomenally impressive, as is his team.
And just recently they went and got into the quarter finals of the Champions League with the score Arsenal 8-0 Slavia Prague (13-2 on aggregate). Sadly under 1000 were present to see the affair, but still, 8-0 is 8-0.
OK they don’t win every match, but they are doing good.
5: A glimmer of realism
At last one or two blogs are recognising just how awful some Arsenal fans are.
- Ceballos: Getting used to English football, slated.
- Pepe: Getting used to English football, slated.
- Lacazette: Back in the team immediately after a 2 month injury, slated.
- Holding: Back in team after a year w/ injury, slated.
- Martinez: Keeps 3/5 clean sheets, slated.
That just about sums it all up.
6: Excellent piece on Xhaka and fans booing their own club’s players
I criticise the Guardian at lot, not because it is the worst newspaper (quite the reverse in fact) but because despite all their liberal honesty when dealing with social and political matters they cannot and will not acknowledge that their choice of stories and their silly side-swipes at Arsenal represent a form of bias all the more insidious for being hidden.
But fair’s fair. When they do get it right, as they absolutely did with Granit Xhaka they are very good.
7: Even Charlie Nicholas changed his tune
Charlie Nicholas is quoted as saying something positive about Arsenal, which is, well, not that common.
‘I am a massive fan of playing Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Nicolas Pepe, with Dani Ceballos just behind.”
That was in the Metro! And that’s not a misprint.
8: Thierry Henry
Our own Terry ‘Enry has just had a terrible time as a manager, but even as he licks his wounds he is able to be open and honest about how difficult a time he had when he first came to Arsenal. Football.London have published a very garbled version of his comments; I’ve extracted the key moments and cleaned the piece up a bit.
“People don’t remember but [when I first came to Arsenal in 1999] I never used to come on. The game that changed everything for me was Middlesbrough at home in November, [in] my first season. We won 5-1 with three goals from Overmars and two from Bergkamp. Kanu was playing and Suker came on. I stayed on the bench….
“I left with bag and tracksuit, I was alone really and nobody cared. I was on the tube and I remember that I went to my room and said ‘this has to stop now.’ I was listening to the voices in my head. ‘You should do this and that.’ [I thought] I have to be myself and make people understand my game.
“By doing that you have to be good, you can’t be sitting here saying this and that. You play and don’t score… [So I thought] before people are accepting of what you are, you have to give them something to allow you to be yourself’.”
Thierry is thus talking about the side of football fans and journalists love to ignore: the fact that players are human, not machines. They have emotions and feelings. They make mistakes, their play is below par. They can be lonely in a foreign land not having mastered the foreign language.
Before 28 November 1999 he started just seven games out of 24. There were four consecutive starts on his arrival, and after that he was dropped, hardly getting a look in.
Then he scored both goals against Derby in a 2-1 win on 28 November, and after that he was pretty much a fixture. In the end he made 26 starts in league games and was our top scorer in the league with 17 goals. Thankfully, for all our sakes, he listened to his own advice and pulled himself together, blanking out the criticism from the crowd and journalists. (And remember these were the days when journalists were still writing xenophobic rubbish about how these wretched foreigners were stopping good decent English players getting games).
We’re all grateful Thierry stayed. We’re all grateful Martinelli is here. Now let us spare a moment’s thought for those going through the sort of difficult times that could have led Thierry to give up and go back to France. And just once in a while, let’s remember, these players are humans who have emotions and feelings just like the rest of us.
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