As a football fan (Arsenal specifically but what I’m about to talk about can probably apply to every football fan), you always want to be able to find comfort in the words of the players in your team, as well as the manager. If the team are talking about confidence, if they are talking up their own chances, you hope that you can seek solace in their words. You also want to hear that the team has a good camaraderie about it. That the players get on.
I’ve heard so many ex-pros saying that it’s not essential in building a winning team, that there will always be people that you don’t get on with as well as others and that it’s natural, but as a fan to me that always sounds like the recipe for failure. To borrow a cliché, football is a game of fine margins everywhere, so if there is anything about your team that doesn’t seem absolutely perfect i.e. The dressing room atmosphere, one starts to worry that it will be the team’s undoing.
Which is why hearing interviews like Nacho’s on the official site this week is heartening to this rapidly ageing Gooner (thanks to last-gasp goals and the stress levels that lead to them. Wouldn’t change it for the world though!).
Of course not every single one of them will be ‘bezzie mates’ and of course Nacho is hardly going to tell the official site that everyone actually hates Coquelin because he’s just as much of a bully off the pitch as he is on it (I’m sure he’s lovely though), but it’s still good to read and nice to hear. It’s a bit like Wrestling. You know that what you see on the TV is a bit of acting, but when those wrestlers draw blood, when they get thrown from high heights, they can’t fake that bit. So it is with stories on the official site, perhaps, where we get a sanitised version of the real truth. But I’m ok with that. Like I was ok with watching Wrestling when I was a kid. Because I think that what Nacho is talking about – however much it’s had a filter of extra happiness to it – is that ultimately the team are all pulling in the right direction.
I’ve seen some other fans pick up on the celebrations that have occurred when we’ve scored over the last couple of games. The Ox practically had the whole team run over to celebrate with him at a Bournemouth and when Welbeck scored his dramatic winner on Sunday it cued mass celebration from the players both on the pitch and in the dressing room. That kind of unity is heartening to hear and I for one, at this time in which we’re all desperately searching for reasons as to why Arsenal could/should win the league, am glad that we’re seeing that amongst the players.
Of course it could still all go belly up, we could balls up the rest of the season and the supposed team unity could amount to nothing more than what we’ve seen in the last ten years or so, but I’m choosing this week to think positively and believe those who have already suggested that this last week and the result last Sunday could be a catalyst for something special. We’re going in to an incredibly hard run of games in the next couple of months and so any modicum of positivity we can collectively muster ahead of it should be embraced like a warm hug from a kind family member you haven’t seen in a while.
So let’s hope that the team has this harmony across all 24 players. Let’s hope that Nacho is right and that the sum of all parts is greater than the individual. I hate to make comparisons but that’s what we’re seeing at Leicester and with the Spuds, so if we can get some of that for ourselves then with the squad we have (which I believe to be stronger as a whole than that of Spuds and Leicester), we have a fantastic chance of winning that league in May.
Back tomorrow with some early Hull pre-game thoughts and perhaps a little more positivity for you on a Friday.