Writer: Tim Stillman
Date:Monday November 27 2006
'There are a couple of things I would like to say from Saturday's game though. There were times during the match on Saturday when I could hear the supporters getting frustrated- which I completely understand, but I just feel better if we all stayed together- both when we are winning 4-0 and when it doesn't come off. We were all frustrated on Saturday.... But it really doesn't help groaning at the players...far from it actually, it can get on top of you. I don't want the fans to take this the wrong way. We talked about it as a team afterwards and I'm saying on behalf of the whole team. I saw some fans leaving early when we were looking for a goal, and I just want you to know that the players notice.'
It is wrong that Henry is held solely responsible for these comments, he made them on behalf of the whole team. They were right, early leavers and the 'shoooot' brigade are plain disrespectful to the team. But this is very much a two way street. I stood and watched and participated in an ear splitting rendition of 'we love you Arsenal' in the third minute of injury time of a game already lost, in the lowest moment of our season, in a cold Northern outpost following another kick off tampered with by sky. We appreciated that Arsenal had given their all, but it just was not enough on the day. It happens, defeat is something every fan has to experience, and when you lose as few games as Arsenal it has that little more resonance. But the supporters also recognised that at a morale sapping point in our campaign, the players needed our vocals more than ever. It's easy to sing when you're winning isn't it?
How did our millionaire players respond? Players paid six figure sums to play and players flown to Bolton and back in a luxury aeroplane? How did they respond to the adulation of supporters who had coughed up three figure sums? By trudging off and turning their backs on us. Only Gilberto and Theo Walcott stayed behind to acknowledge our efforts. So now my computer chair has morphed into a soap box, let me say this. I feel it would be better if we all stayed together, when we're winning 4-0 and when we lose. Funny how you all came over in triumphant glee following the dismantling of Reading and Manchester United, but selfishly swanned off in East London, Moscow and Bolton. We were all frustrated following the result, but not applauding those who pay you does not help, far from it in fact.
A personal anecdote to make my rant more pertinent. I left my flat at 7am Saturday morning, as a result of sky's tampering I missed my last train by minutes and had to wait at Victoria station for two and a half hours. I arrived home at 6am Sunday morning. In that time I could not help but think how Lehmann, Eboue, Toure, Senderos, Clichy, Hleb, Cesc, Baptista and Adebayor were all tucked up in their ostentatious beds with linen sheets. This betrayal is unforgivable following the statement attributed to them. It is indicative of the modern footballer, take, take, take, want, want, want. Really how difficult is it to execute a simple courtesy such as a cursory applause? Arsenal finished the game in Bolton's half, all except Lehmann were within spitting distance of the Arsenal fans, yet it was left to our two best performers- Walcott and Gilberto- to man the burden. At a point in Arsenal's history when our very survival relies on getting supporters through the turnstiles, their arrogance a and abject selfishness just drives a growing chasm between the players and the supporters. Especially when they have complained about early leavers. How delightfully unaware these insulated, pampered brats are. No more fumbled apologies and rhetoric laced statements, action is eloquence, and the Arsenal player's actions were disgraceful this Saturday. Because the way I see it, the whole Arsenal team left early on Saturday. LD.
Date:Monday November 27 2006
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