Emirates Cup Weekend Did Us No Favours

For a weekend that began with such hope and promise, the Arsenal fans were left hungover this morning from yesterday’s late finish, that saw the New York Red Bulls claim the 2011 Emirates Cup.
A late own goal from Kyle Bartley was enough to hand Theirry Henry’s side the trophy. After winning the tournament for two consecutive seasons, Arsenal were forced to hand over the cup, after a very disappointing weekend for The Gunners.
I attended both days and watched all four games – and excluding the football, I had a fantastic weekend. But having to watch us throw away the trophy like that, in such predictable fashion was unpleasant and uncomfortably hard to bare.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand that it’s not a real trophy and I’m certain we can all admit that it’s not exactly the most prestigious club honour in the world.
But with just under two weeks until the new Premier League season kicks off, it’s hugely concerning to see that our squad are still suffering from the usual frailties.
Generally for both games, we dominated for the majority of the match, but come the final whistle, we had blown it.
After many years of watching us fall right at the last hurdle, it’s perfectly understandable to suggest that this problem will cost us the title again next year.
For now, I’m not going to talk like that. I still believe Wenger will add to the squad, and invest in the players that we need.
But more to the point, I also understand that time is running out and it’s beginning to seem rather daunting that all of these apparent signings might not happen, in the end.
Although at the end of the day, we must not forget that Arsene Wenger is the master, when it comes to signing players in the very last moments (hours) of the transfer window.
For now, I’ll take the news as it comes and continue to take all rumours, no matter how illogical, with a pinch of salt. Moving on…
When the referee blew the final whistle on Sunday, a echo of boos rang around the stadium.
I was sitting in Club Level and when the Red Bulls equalized, I saw one frustrated fan start to vent his anger directly towards Ivan Gazidis, who was sitting in the block next to us in the Director’s Box.
He repeatedly chanted “spend some f*cking money”, and continued to rant at Gazidis for a good few minutes in a rather feisty public protest, where Gazidis’ own faith in the current Arsenal team was questioned. It finally ended when the stewards stepped in.
Fortunately for the fan, the stewards were incredibly lenient. For an Arsenal fan who has come close to seeing his season ticket get taken away (for standing up in the back row, despite there being literally no one behind me), I would have expected the club to call for the return of the death penalty, just for this guy!
I assume the Arsenal-supporting stewards didn’t want to cause him more suffering by ejecting him from the stadium, as they too also shared his passionate opinions.
I didn’t agree with his actions, but as a fan who has seen his team lose out on multiple titles due to the squad lacking one or two players, I understood where he was coming from.
Admittedly, a letter could have done the job, but the passion would have certainly been lost in the post.
Of course, this was a rare sight for Club Level. And I don’t expect to hear any more situations like these to occur too often in the corporate clouds of club level.
But with a club as big as Arsenal who have millions of fans who have started to naturally inherit demanding needs, there will come a time where changes will have to be made – whether it’s the right decision or not.
It’s not blind faith, but I will always defend Arsene Wenger. Why? Because he’s the best man to run our club. I will admit that he’s not perfect and makes mistakes. But for now, for our club, there’s no man who could do a better job.
When my mind changes, I’ll let you know. But until then, Arsene has my full support. Trophy drought, or another Invincibles side, it will be a sad, sad day when Arsene Wenger isn’t the manager of Arsenal Football Club.
Although working in the dazzling English media spotlight, there’s no doubt that the rope will start to lose it’s fibres, and if things don’t change, we’ll soon be hanging by a thread – some more than others!
I understand that this article may be premature. But like many of you I’m sure, the weekend has totally slashed my confidence for the season ahead. I still believe we’ll get a top 4 finish, but I will also admit that my level of concern is beginning to increase.
A month ago, I genuinely believed that we could win the league, with a successful transfer window.
But with the distracted duo of Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas, our team could fall victim as our side still possesses too many suspect players, who seem to crack when any deal of pressure, no matter how big or small, arises.
But like any intelligent (I’m sure you’ll agree…) football fan, I’ll be fair and wait until the season starts before I start making concrete judgements on the campaign ahead.
For now, I’ll give the players the benefit of the doubt…
In other news, I was able to attain a place in the press area after the tournament. For obvious reasons, I had to keep a low profile, but I was able to hear from a few players.
Kyle Bartley stated that he had “no problems”, if he had to go away on-loan again for another year. Promisingly, he seemed a genuinely nice lad, who just wants to play and enjoy his football.
I was also able to get a few words in with Jack Wilshere and Wojciech Szczesny, who both seemed very excited about the season ahead.
Thierry Henry was the last player to leave. Disappointingly, he only gave one interview to the entire English press and he only had one photo – taken with a couple of French journalists.
For someone who idolized Henry for the majority of his childhood years, it was upsetting for me, to see that he gave very little time for the people that wanted to talk to him so much.
Finally, and probably most importantly, I saw Ivan Gazidis exit the stadium and enter the car park. Obviously, I was surrounded by press which included various journalists from Five Live – as well as all the major newspapers. Naturally, they were all keen to talk to Gazidis, but unfortunately for them, as soon as he entered the car park, he signalled that he was in no mood to talk.
Certainly, he’s had a bad few days at the office. Fortunately for Ivan, he’s not the only one.

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