There was a time, not too long ago when football wasn’t about money, it was about a manager, assembling a squad of players to challenge for titles, promotions and avoiding relegation.
In those times many teams could win the League or FA Cup given the right manager and the right players. The manager would choose the playing style and would build a team to compete, in those times everyone started the season with a glimmer of hope star players were spread throughout the top league, some even stayed with their teams when they were relegated or not doing as well.
Fans who went to games and watched their teams discussed the players on the pitch the decisions of the manager on the day, the news during the week was not much to do with football, it might have had the odd reference to an injury or the occasional transfer (as this was pre transfer window).
Players contracts were irrelevant as the club held the registration even if the contract had expired, that was up until Bosman.
But mainly post game we discussed who had the best players, which team had employed those players best, and what an idiot the referee was or otherwise.
Normally we were biased towards our own team, and rightly so like anything we love we forgave their flaws and focus on the good. I mean I used to defend George Graham’s long ball tactics because it won us trophies? No because my team were using them. Just like Stoke fans did under Pulis.
Maybe I’m wearing rose tinted glasses, maybe I am just fed up with being out manoeuvred by Oligarch clubs, afterall most football clubs were owned by a few wealthy individuals, who normally had to reach into their pockets to find the money to fulfil the managers ambitions.
Maybe part of me wishes Arsene Wenger had never come to the club and given us the greatest football I may ever witness as an Arsenal fan. Because even if it hasn’t happened I would still be going to the Arsenal when I could, I’d still be watching every game we played on TV, but what I wouldn’t have to deal with is defending the club from those from outside and in who think we are somehow entitled to expect more than we currently achieve.
When I first started going to Highbury challenging for titles was not on my mind, all I cared about was going to football to watch my club play football. I certainly wasn’t thinking about the business side of the club, now admittedly I was a kid, why would I, but the thing is I still want to be a kid when I go to football, I don’t want to think about the things I can’t control. If we had the fortune to put a good season together of course I was excited to try and win stuff, who wouldn’t be.
I love talking football, the various tactical nuances the pros and cons of defenders and goalkeepers, but I can’t remember the last time that’s all I spoke about, now it has to be about transfers, spending, ticket prices, profits, owners etc. Things I understand admittedly, but not really what I want to be discussing. I try and explain the situation we are in to alleviate the frustrations felt by others, because seriously I couldn’t give a shit if we never win another trophy in my lifetime, I’ll always be an Arsenal supporter and they will always be By Far The Greatest Team, and I know I’ll now be labelled as the problem the unambitious type that allows the club to say 4th is a trophy, but here is the thing it wouldn’t bother me if we finished 10th I’d still go, as many of you would. In fact I think we’d all enjoy it a little bit more.
I want to discuss the one thing we can see on the pitch, the performance, the team selection and the tactics.
Take Saturday’s defeat to Villa, we missed Arteta, we were done by the ref, Wilshere and Ramsey need to find a way to work together, Sagna had an off day (even before he was moved to left back), Theo disappeared. They should have been the discussion points, but it turns into an argument about what the club have or haven’t spent who is or isn’t responsible. Is this why anyone started following football? Is this why anyone loves football, is this what got you hooked on the beautiful game?
I’ve signed my son up for Junior Gunners, I’m starting to think I made a mistake, living in Norwich I see the majority of lads wearing Norwich City shirts, the fans enjoy the ride, yes I hear them moan and complain about performances, but they are happy to go to games together as a community, if I’m near the ground on matchday I hear On The Ball City ring out across the City. I’m jealous, jealous that they still go to football for the right reasons, a sold out ground with little chance of success, but they enjoy it. I hear the moans after defeats, they are not talking about how they should’ve signed x y and z, they are talking about which players did well, what the manager should have done. That’s not to say they haven’t had issues, Season Tickets being thrown at Bryan Gunn, but this was a team that two seasons earlier were in the PL and were having their asses handed to them by Colchester in League 1, just a bit of a comedown (still a sold out ground though).
I think I need a break from blogging, I need to enjoy football again. I’m not doing that on blogs, I’ve had more rational conversations with Liverpool and Spurs fans over this weekend than I’ve had on the web.
Gooner in Exile