Well, well. Well, well, well, well, well. WHAT were we playing at last Saturday? And by “we” I don’t mean those on the park. I’m mean “we” in the stands.
First things first. I think Emmanuel Eboué is a nipple. I hate his whinging and whining. I don’t think he’ll make a midfield player while I’ve got aperture in my rear end. He did make a VERY reasonable start to his Arsenal career as a quick, decisive right-back. I still think he could do a job for us in that position, although I think anybody who would pick him over Bacary Sagna when fit would be on drugs.
He also played HORRIBLY against the Pie-Eaters on Saturday. As the game wore on and we failed to increase our one goal lead courtesy of the wood-work and some good goalkeeping from Chris Kirkland in the visitors’ goal, we looked more and more nervous. You could just see an equaliser and even worse happening. Not that Athletic looked like they were going to create much in the last third. They were compact and organised with Wilson Palacios (a big old unit, but a fine player) again impressing. They didn’t look to have much of a cutting edge however. Anything they were going to get was likely to be courtesy of our pub-team defending.
Eboué, introduced for the injured Samir Nasri on the half hour, brought the normal groans from the Gooner Nation’s Victor Meldrew tendency. He’s the latest in a long line of players some Arsenal fans love to hate. He had a completely pants performance apart from one good pass going forward.
I was amongst those who were irritated (to say the least) with some of his lack of concentration and engagement in the game, not so say sheer stupidity. A couple of passes had the bed number on them. As the clock, oh so slowly, wound down, he stood holding his appendage in his hand as his compatriot Kolo Touré bought the ball out of defence. Kolo shouted at him to break wide to the wing. Still he stood, appendage in hand, exuding brilliance like a diamond. Kolo points, “break to the wing! Widen it out!”. Our hero stands firm. Result? Lost possession.
At this point the mutters and scattered booing becomes louder. In the end Arsčne hasn’t got much choice. Up goes the board and the substitute is substituted by Mikael Silvestre. The game ends with us hanging on to a one goal lead for the three points.
Others have extensively covered the Arsenal boo-boy phenonomen. I won’t say too much more. I do want to say AS LOUD AS I CAN however, that I think this sort of behaviour is dummy-spitting of the worst sort. I for one am sick and tired of Arsenal fans booing their own players. I’ve been sick of it for forty seasons. All the excuses about sky-high ticket prices just won’t wash. Admission charges were reasonable when I started going in January 1968. Jon Sammels was still being booed every time he made a mistake. Admittedly it’s got worse but we’ve always had an element of our support who will throw all the toys out of their pram at the first excuse. It is true that players do themselves no favours generally these days by displaying little or no self-awareness.
Big Bad Bill Gallas’s recent tirade about the “insulting” contract offer he received from Chelsea before he departed to us is a classic example. Yeh mate. I don’t know how they had the temerity to make such a degrading proposal. It only amounted to more wedge in a week than I make in two years. Cashley Cole was no better. When his agent told him the Arsenal board would ONLY offer him £55,000 a WEEK he had to pull the car over he was so outraged. On the other hand the clubs make no attempt whatsoever to develop self-reliance in players. They are deliberately shielded from the real world, to nobody’s advantage, least of all the players themselves.
All that said I’ve never seen a player perform better with a large part of the crowd screeching at him. I remember our great centre-forward of the late 1960s and 1970s John Radford saying that when he broke into the first team the crowd would start booing the players in the kick-in before the match.
I too am heartily sick of the craven greed of all too many football administrators. The game has been carpet-bombed with £50 notes by the broadcasters for nearly two decades now. Result? Ticket prices that give me a nose-bleed they’re so high. This excludes the young and the not so well-off. It tends to attract bell-ends with plenty of money but absolutely no class. There’s also a species of Nouveau Gooner who started going in the Arsčne Wenger who has a self-important sense of entitlement. They assume we have a right and duty to constantly win trophies. Don’t get me wrong. I want to see one true Arsenal dynasty before I die. But I want it to come from having the best team with the best manager. Not because we’ve got a bigger ground and more money than most.
I’m so old-fashioned I also appreciate the opposition. One of my greatest ever nights as a Gooner was a 5-2 home defeat. Spartak Moscow thrashed us in the second leg of a UEFA Cup tie at Highbury in 1983 with a thrilling display of eastern European fast pass and move, all pace and movement. I was so proud when the entire ground rose to give them a standing ovation as they left the field. Pure class on our part. Yes, we all desperately wanted Arsenal to win, but we recognised a great performance from the visitors when we saw it.
· Memo to fellow Gooners:
· More support less booing
· More pro Arsenal and less anti-opposition songs
· More support, less spectating
In short, more class. We’re the Arsenal. Let’s remember that. We stand for something. I bumped into a leading light from those NICE people at Arsenal Independent Supporters’ Association (AISA) after the game. He was very down about the booing. He’s right. It’s just not worthy of our great club and it traditions and history.
Off the park my spies tell me our new chief executive Ivan Gazidis was at the game on Saturday, sitting next to Chairman Peter Hill-Wood. Clearly eager to get his feet under the table which is a good sign. Those seekers after truth at the News of the World have him wanting to urgently review our sponsorship deals with Nike and Emirates. Good. Even in these times of severe economic problems we need to make sure we’re not left behind in these crucial areas.
Memo to Mr Gazidis:
· Urgent meetings with Arsenal Supporters’ Trust (they’ve got some REALLY great ideas mate, trust me. Serious people worthy of being taken seriously), AISA and the supporters’ club. They’ve all got things to contribute as the voice of the hardcore fans who will stick with the club through thick and thin.