denies any wrongdoing and claims we were robbed yet again. It would be extremely interesting to see how the players might respond if the club as a whole owned up to a disastrous spell and apologised to the fans. That would be much more impressive after losing 2-1 to Spurs than hearing Wenger moaning about Van der Vaart’s alleged handball. Likening things to a relationship that’s gone sour, a couple would not be able to move forward and find good times again without clear-the-air talks; to sit down around the table, everyone say their bit and get their feelings off their chest could be a start. To keep things bubbling inside is emotionally and mentally draining. I wonder how much the players are allowed to contribute to discussions and decision-making? It must be extremely confusing to hear nothing but optimism from your boss. No matter how confident of their own ability, it must get to the point where they feel embarrassed after losing 4-3 to Blackburn and the boss doesn’t reprimand anyone and blames everything on bad luck. Their heads must be spinning. They must be crying out for help. One thing’s for sure; players with clouded heads do not make effective footballers. These days, it seems that they don’t trust one another, and whenever the opposition attack, we seem to accept the fact that we can’t defend and let them find space and the back of the net.
I must emphasise that I don’t blame the players. They appear to be left entirely to their own devices. Get some more coaches in. Get a sports psychologist in. Talk to these players and help them, because if the club doesn’t act soon, it may be too late; not only in terms of salvaging any kind of respectable season, but in terms of some players never regaining confidence and fulfilling their potential without leaving the club.
We have conceded, in seven games, almost the same number of goals as we used to in an entire season. We have had multiple red cards and conceded multiple own goals. And then Wenger snaps at those who wonder if we need a defensive coach. What must this do to the players’ minds? They are surrounded by people who bury their heads in the sand. The only other explanation is that Wenger and co. know exactly what’s wrong, but keep silent and effectively lie about everything in order to save face. Not exactly a trustworthy environment.
I also feel that some fans don’t help. Sure, I hear you cry that we pay a small fortune to watch our team, and deserve value for money. But are you ‘new’ supporters; the ones who don’t know we had a ground before the Emirates and have never had a pie at a match? The ones who follow Arsenal the business, not Arsenal the football club? You expect reward for your expenditure as though it is a business deal? Well, that’s not how football, or being a fan, works. There are many of us who have endured many years of mid-table mediocrity before Wenger and still loved the side back then and got behind them. Real fans support their team through thick and thin. But a year of seeing some of us get up and leave when we go a goal down, as hundreds of morons did at Wembley that February afternoon, or ten minutes before the end when we’re only a goal behind for an overpriced hot dog and a rush to beat the crowds home – that can’t help the players’ fragile mental state one bit, particularly as they must now be beginning to agree with the disgruntled fans more than their own stubborn manager. They must feel small, embarrassed, and the weight of the world on their injury-prone shoulders. Who can blame Robin van Persie for not wanting to discuss a new contract?
6 onlinegooner.com Smells L i ke Arsenal Spirit
One of the ingredients which seems to have been missing from the team in recent seasons is what is often referred to as the “Arsenal spirit”; the all-for-one and one-for-all, never-say-die approach which has typified so many of our teams in the past. Maybe the current team could learn from some (but perhaps not all!) of these confrontations and the next time one of their team mates finds himself in a sticky situation, as Robin van Persie did recently against Bolton, they will be a bit quicker to come to his aid.
Stick Your Two Points 20 October 1990
The seeds of this ruck were sown two years earlier when Nigel Winterburn mocked Brian McClair for missing a last minute penalty in an FA Cup game at Highbury and there had been bad blood between the two ever since.
attendance, tempers boiled over instantly and suddenly twenty other players became involved in a lot of pushing and shoving with a few sly kicks (by McClair on a prostrate Winterburn, mainly) and punches thrown in for good measure as officials from both sides rushed from the benches to join in or, if you believe the after-match excuses, try to restore some order.
Although the referee opted not to flash any red cards, the FA took a dim view of proceedings and threw the book at both clubs, docking Arsenal two points, and United one, for their players’ behaviour. As it was the FA and United we were dealing with, I guess it shouldn’t have been a surprise we came off worse.
So, when Nigel went into a full-blooded tackle on Dennis Irwin in this game with McClair in close
Publicly Arsenal expressed their regret and fined five of the players involved, as well as the manager, George Graham, but behind the scenes George was delighted with the spirit and camaraderie his troops had shown on the pitch and used it to galvanise the team as they stormed to their second title in three years. Mike Francis onlinegooner.com 7