After a busy spell during which I have found new employment opportunities, attended the wedding of my sister and enjoyed a drought-breaking premiership victory for the other sporting love in my life (Richmond FC), I thought it might be a good time to get back into the swing of things with Gunners Down Under and see what I’d been missing out on with Arsenal over the past few weeks.
Upon returning to a somewhat regular routine of reviewing the weekend’s league action as well as watching our games in full, it seems that very little has changed. I guess it’s difficult to act surprised and as Matty B has made quite clear recently there seems very little we can do from our comfy positions as distant fans of the club that could possibly impact fortunes on the field in any way. So the emotional investment that was so often the heart on his sleeve has, temporarily, been tucked back into his shirt.
For those of us watching and trawling the social pages week in and week out, this seems like a totally reasonable response to a club that has continued to act in a way that undermines the very confidence and emotional (as well as financial) investment that fans all across the world have made in the club. The relationship between any football club and it’s fans is fundamentally simple. We support the club so that they may prosper while they attract fans by ensuring that they show it will not be in vain for them to invest in said club. All over the world, people are looking for a team to follow as the world game expands and consumes all in its path. But even away from the world game and especially here in the sunny land of Oz, sports craving locals new to the scene will drain their mates over who they should follow and why.
As a long time/long distance Arsenal fan, I would have a really tough time spruiking the reasons as to why any new comer should put their eggs into the Arsenal basket. What kind of friend would that make me right now? It’s almost worth wondering if there should be a legislature forbidding that kind of behavior on grounds of mental anguish…
Still, it isn’t the fans who are to blame in the case of the pain being inflicted when it comes to following the Arsenal. This is a club spiraling around the edges of the plug hole, where instead of simply reaching for the plug and stopping the spin down the drain, we have been pouring more water into the tub as we helplessly try to cling to the ever receding waterline. Arsene has been endlessly running back and forth from the same old well, with the same old bucket given to him years ago. Well, Arsene’s legs aren’t what they were 15 years ago and the bucket is now more like one of those steely mesh things my missus uses for filtering my pubes out of our hot tub. Colin, der!
Meanwhile, as Arsene scrambles back to the well after an embarrassing 2nd half capitulation at Vicarage Lane (the first defeat at Watford in over 3 decades), the men with the power to put the plug in the tub are down at the pub, measuring dicks. Stan Kroenke & Alisher Usmanov have been firing shots across the bow in a quite public manner that only serves to further indict the current (lack of) leadership. Rectifying the current situation is not going to be as simple as getting someone new in to carry the bucket, or letting Wenger have a new bucket or finally getting Kroenke and the gang to put the plug in the tub. We are in a position now where all three of those things need to be acted upon. The delay in any action is not only hurting the fans but the reputation of a team that was, until very recently, held in lofty regard by many of the prestige clubs around the world and it’s coterie.
Now we are the punch line in many a joke. The whipping boy for malaise and inaction and mediocrity. The crux of media agenda to stir up a hornets nest with the knowledge that as long as the current regime sits in office, the clickable material will flow like glorious media honey.
We aren’t feared anymore, there is no air of confidence emanating from our squad, the manager or our home ground.
Troy Deeney picked our current frame of mind apart in several post match interviews, where he labelled himself “The Equaliser”, after coming on, taking it upto and then away from an Arsenal team bereft of leadership, confidence and prowess. As a fan, I couldn’t help but laugh. Not like in the way when you hear a particularly offensive one liner at the bar, but more like the laugh of a person who is quickly realising that this club is the laughing stock of the league. Troy fucking Deeney, give me a spell!
If that’s what it has come to, where opposition captains publicly lambaste the team after a late victory and no one bats an eye, then things really have passed the point of no return. Sure there was the inevitable retort from some of our senior players, but what we really needed was to see them respond on the pitch during the game, as it was being challenged from our grasp.
So now, we travel to Belgrade for a game which many of us on distant shores will have difficulty in seeing in any meaningful way ahead of an away trip to a sluggish but dangerous Everton, in what is shaping as yet another danger match in a season not even 10 games deep. For now there is nothing we can do but watch on as the exploding clowns car that is Arsenal FC drives headlong into the (un)known.
Join us early next week as we make a return to the airwaves with a few interesting announcements as well as a special guest to get you all smiling again.
Don’t forget to check out the Sports Writers Festival coming up shortly in Sydney and Melbourne. Some of your favourite journos, bloggers, podders and sports personalities will be in attendance – including Arsenal podding/blogging royalty, Andrew Mangan of Arseblog.
You can get all the relevant info for the event right here: