This might be a short one today. Mainly on account that quite simply, I can’t really be arsed with Arsenal at the moment, pretty much reflective of the attitude of the players.
The official website is, quite sensibly, keeping schtum and the lead stories are related to the gloats, great, David Rocastle. At a time in which the current crop of misfits are collapsing so dramatically without a fight, it’s somewhat of a shot of footballing morphine to see what a real battler looks like. Rocky wasn’t paid as hansomely as our current crop of over-induldged pre-madonnas and he’s also responsible for one of the most iconic lines that we cite so often when talking about pride of playing for The Arsenal:
Remember who you are, remember what you are and who you represent
That was said to Wrighty when he joined and shows you a player who knew exactly who he was and who he represented. It is also widely known that when Rocky was told he was being sold to Leeds, he cried, because he didn’t want to leave Arsenal. That is a hero. That is a warrior and that is somebody every fan wants to see playing in their colours. Somebody who leaves it all on the pitch, as they say, not somebody who doesn’t bother on the pitch and then provides hollow words of apology afterwards. Theo was the captain (ha!) that evening and so he stood in front of the camera and whilst he is certainly as much to blame for his inept performance, the rest of them can hang their heads equally. The only difference is that they got to scuttle out on to the team bus with their headphones on whilst starring at their expensively purchased trainers. Probably purchased by an agent or assistant.
It’s funny how when a team faces such trials and tribulations, how sometimes some of the underlying issues – like how ridiculously some of these people get paid for their underperformance – suddenly feel so much more relevant. Had we won five out of the last six in the league then I’d probably mention nothing of the sort. But when things are down you always look for reasons, more arguments with which to throw at the players, which perhaps isn’t right but because your emotions run so much higher you don’t care.
I think the media don’t help and the access to information that we have also doesn’t do the modern day fan any favours. Back in the 90s it wouldn’t have made any difference how much greater our wage bill was compared to last year’s champions or this season’s Spurs team. It was just noise that surrounded the football. But nowadays it’s another angry stick to be beating them with. I’m sure given the choice they’d all take the money ahead of the lower wages and greater adulation of the fans though, so let’s not seem like we feel too sorry for this sorry lot. They have their ever-increasing bubble with which to live in so what do they care?
They probably should care, because when the football bubble bursts for them and most of them are left with their money and no real support structure around them, that’s when you hear stories of footballing depression. One of the key points about life that I’ve learned is that money – or the lack of – helps you to actually grow as a person if you have it in the right quantities. It helps you to understand what is important, plan your life, make sacrifices but also have greater aspirations. It helps to be a driver for an average human.
But when you’ve got it thrown at you in buckets, where is the aspiration? It comes from winning I suppose. Which is why you want to shake some of these players, because they don’t have the drive to win. Theo Walcott is a classic example. He’s 28. He’ll be retired in the next six or seven years I’d expect. So he’s already played most of his games since arriving on the scene at Southampton at 16 years old. He has less and less time before that winning drive is taken away from him, so why do we still see underwhelming performances on a weekly basis?
Because the human being can also be a creature of habit and Theo is just that. Comfortable, rich, probably thinks that his life is pretty good and probably doesn’t seem that fussed about winning. Certainly based on what you see on the pitch. But that will soon no longer in his life and if you had a time machine and took a 45 year old Theo back to his mid twenties self, I bet you would find old Theo shaking the life out of young Theo, because he’ll know that the drive for winning can never be brought back like it was when he was playing.
But he’ll carry on doing what he’s doing. As will most of these players under Arsène. The manager has made them rich men and has given them the comfortable environment with which to enjoy their lives and feel little pressure. They all love him now but deep down, when they are older, I wonder if they look back with disappointment and say
I wish he’d have pushed me harder. Or I wish I’d have pushed myself harder.
Only they will know that.
Catch you tomorrow.