The Ship Be Sinking

Mouth Almighty

Rain of Toads

I have no brain today after spending the weekend out of town taking the LSAT, but I will note the convergence of two stories: Arsenal lose two more players due to injury including Denilson for 2 months, alongside Arsenal make record profits.


You know, it’s September, and this is already the 4th Arsenal player (Fabianski, Djourou, Nasri and now Denilson) to be ruled out for two months or more by injury. There’s been additional injuries of a game or more to Rosicky, Fabregas, Arshavin, Bendtner, Van Persie, Almunia, Walcott, Eduardo, Vela and no doubt a bunch more which I’m not recalling off the top of my head. The manager was boasting a few days back about how he has money to spend and how he refuses to do so for his own reasons; today he’s quoted as saying more or less that results are meaningless without profit. It’s not that he’s wrong- financial stability is immensely important. But when the club has announced record profits, transfers are heavily in the black, there’s been umpteen new contracts handed out to players who’ve won nothing, and the squad is again being ripped up by injuries both long-term and niggling, the optics of it are really, really bad. Things like this are why people leap to the conclusions that Wenger doesn’t really care about winning anymore, or that he’s obsessed with his personal project players instead of doing what’s best for the club. Those conclusions are probably unjust; but it becomes harder with each season to figure out what else the explanation is.

The fact of the matter is that given Arsenal’s track record of injuries, it takes 3 players to do the job of one for a full season. Sooner or later the manager and his backers need to come to terms with that instead of hoping that it just won’t happen next year or deciding that it’s better to have money than a player to do a job.

And here’s a brutal truth: Arsenal and Arsene may have to ensure their profits, but it’s not incumbent on Andrey Arshavin and Cesc Fabregas to help them do so any more than it was on Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira. Players play to make money for themselves, and to win things; if they get an offer to play for a winning club for equal or better money, loyalty will only keep them for so long. On the day when those two players come to the manager and say “Barcelona has made me an offer”, do you think talk about how profitable Arsenal are will keep them? Do you think talk about how good of a replacement Jack Wilshere will be for those two in 5 years’ time will sell season tickets? That whole game worked once, when fans were sold on Emirates+Project Youth+Cesc’s Team, and so far it’s produced a healthy bottom line and no sporting success at the level which Arsenal are accustomed to. Fans just aren’t going to buy into that line of salesmanship a second time with anything like the enthusiasm they did the first time, and it’s hard to blame them- no one grew up hoping that their favorite team would have a healthy bottom line or that their favorite players would be well-compensated with improved terms every year, they grew up dreaming of their team topping one league or another or going all the way in a cup competition. It doesn’t make fans spoiled if they hold to those motivations, or if they’re tired of hearing about how Nicklas Bendtner is unavailable because he ran his Aston-Martin off the road at 10 AM on a Sunday morning after being photographed pantsless in a nightclub last year following a major defeat. It’s a fucking football club, not daycare, which you can tell because only one of those socially useful institutions sells tickets.

That’s the real rub here: it’s not that the club isn’t winning trophies alone, it’s the sense that winning trophies is somewhere down the list of priorities below making a profit and taking care of the current group of players financially and emotionally. I hate to sound like Le Grove or Myles Palmer here, but the manager is having one of those weeks where he makes those guys’ caricature of him sound all too plausible, and the players are doing him no favors. After a while, you just get tired of the rain of horseshit that comes with Arsenal; after a while, and five years is a while, you want the team to just fucking win already to remind themselves that winning is supposed to be the point of this exercise. No more talk about the future, no more talk about how wonderful the bottom line is, no more citing the inevitable injuries as an excuse, no more talk about how well the team played in big game losses, no more “two semifinals is good enough”, no more benching one of the two best players on the team in one of those semifinals to prove a point, no more talk about long undefeated streaks which go nowhere, no more hiding behind how pretty the football is, no more giving out 3 or 4 new contracts to a player before he’s done anything, no more distractions of boardroom turmoil, no more whining about “anti-football”, no more demonizing of players who’ve left the club to distract from any success they may have, no more niggling about every last penny on every last transfer deal to the point where deals don’t get done, no more dodging tough questions with mock horror and indignation at their even being asked, no more Abou Diaby. Just fucking win something already, or find someone who can, or throw in the towel and admit that winning isn’t the point of your sports club right now, which they appear just this side of ready to do. Arsenal are one of the ten richest and biggest clubs in the world, and it’s time they acted like it for once instead of behaving like a heavily-indebted feeder club with dreams of playing above their station one day. This team’s spent five years with half a hard-on but not enough to fuck with.

Does my head in. Just does my head in. If you take the Mighty New York Football Giants out of the equation, I root for 4 other teams in 3 different sports and I’ve seen them win a grand total of 1 championship (New York Rangers, 1994) in my lifetime. There have been stretches of 5+ years for both the Knicks and the Rangers in which they were arguably the worst and most shameful teams in their respective leagues, the Nets have been in that boat as well back in the Derrick Coleman/Kenny Anderson/Chris Morris/Yinka Dare days, the Jets are a byword for goofy failure who, yes, won the league in black and white, and yet somehow 20 years of following those teams hasn’t been as frustrating as the last 5 years of Arsenal. It’s astonishing. At this point if Arsenal ever make another cup final I fully expect the manager to find a religious objection to playing in the game or the fixture to be canceled by a rain of toads, that’s the level it’s gotten to. I’m starting to sound like this guy when I talk about this team. Can I afford to care about this team? I DON’T KNOOOOOW

Anyway. I need to get this kind of rant out of my system roughly quarterly so expect another of these in about 4 months, or possibly sooner if another adolescent player on his 8th professional contract crashes his very expensive sports car into the ditch under questionable circumstances before then. You never know!

(you never knnnnoooooooooowwww)


September 28, 2009 - Posted by | The Arsenal

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: