Could it be disappointing if it weren't so good?
Here we are at another point of no return. Or some would like to think so. I can relate to that, seriously. Every finals loss, every point dropped and every cup exit hurts like a bitch - my mood changes, I'm disheartened and numb. My missus and my dog avoid me for a minimum of 12 hrs while I feel lost and ask myself when is it going to stop - 2005 and the FA Cup final win, which I so appropriately celebrated in a proper shithole of a pub in Athens, seems like… well, 6 years ago.
The online warfare between the two polarized factions of Gooners is interesting to observe, maybe even study within the frameworks of some social systems theory. Myself, I try to keep as Switzerland of a position as possible, carefully considering both sets of arguments. In that sense, I never have and never will support anyone resorting to disgusting insults or petty name-calling of any of the members of our squad and staff, and this has been going seriously out of control lately.
One of the main (counter) arguments of those who staunchly defend Wenger's way of running Arsenal Football Club has been that Gooners have either been spoiled by him or are 'plastic' fans that should bugger off and support Chelsea. Is being spoiled that bad? A Gooner friend of mine recently wrote to me saying 'not to be spoiled is not to respect what AW has done for the club'. He even went as far to say 'Not to be spoiled, to paraphrase it somewhat, is to be Tottenham' I understand that, and largely agree with it. Arsenal as a club has always aspired to improve, reach new levels and set high standards for themselves and the competition, and in our 'era' all of this was epitomized in the first part of Wenger's reign via great football, trophies, the Invincibles and finally, the move to the new stadium, all built on a self-sustained model of operating. Unfortunately, everything else after that tends to be characterized as decline and the titles that AW won - the point of no return. No return to what, I ask?
The answer is hidden somewhere amongst our participating in the Champions League for almost a decade and a half, top 4 finishes, some solid Cup runs with a couple Cup finals to boot. These are supposed to render us as also-rans, non-competitive and ultimately weak/crap side. I beg to differ. Again, I concur that it would be false modesty or perhaps even blind loyalty not to expect Championship-winning or at least challenging sides, but seriously, how far are we from that?
Admittedly, the last 6 years have taken their toll on us, some like to point to their wallets and others to their emotional distress. We're severely hurt from being so close to reaching that box of candy sitting pretty on the top shelf, only to have the rug pulled from under our feet at the last moment and ending up with a broken jaw. Therefore, the rhetoric of an average Arsenal fan now swings from 'quadruple winners' after 3 wins on the trot to sack Wenger after two consecutive losses. Arsenal is world's most blogged about football club. We have two dead-serious, professional blogs on our Youth team. We know of Angha and Sead Hajrovic. We know who our 6th and 7th string goalkeepers are. Vela has a personal fan website. Isn't this a tiny bit screwed up in a good kind of way?
On the other hand, I don't remember when was the last time I had a discussion with or read something from a fellow Gooner about chants, songs, fan choreography, (except LD, who can sometimes bring the game atmosphere to your home), fan experience, stadia, memorabilia - stuff that is also part of the supporters/fans life. We have all fallen into the trap (myself included) into proving to each other our tactical awareness, transfer market knowledge, scouting capabilities, financial expertise and marketing skills. We all know who needs to be bought, who needs to be sold, who needs to cook the food to our youth team, what formation Neil Banfield should play, where we should tour next preseason, etc.
I wonder, are there any Arsenal fans left that are not experts in all these areas? Or have all those gone on to support the Leytons and Stafford Rangers'? Is there still anyone who supported Arsenal from, say 1971 till 1989 (apart from Goonerholic)? How did they survive the 18 year drought, after the side had set such high standards of winning the division? Was it pure luck? As far as I have read, not only there were no trophies after, say a certain George Graham, but there was also crap football complemented by mid-table mediocrity, bung scandals, empty stands, etc. So how does that decline compare to Wenger's Arsenal decline? And furthermore how does that compare with mighty clubs such as Chelsea and Sp*rs, who've had to wait for 50 years (and some are still waiting) for their 5 minutes of glory? 6 years in 125 years of a football club is exactly 4.8% of the clubs history.
Finally, I firmly agree with my mate's statement that Arsenal and Wenger need to change again in order to get back to the top. Still, there's no better man to do that than the boss himself. And we all have to keep in mind at all times that in spite of everything and everyone, the ball is round and can fall to Martins and Fabio, and not to Bendtner or Chamakh. Hope this rant made some sense to you. Peace.