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Right time to wear the colours

A fair few years back now, I can't remember how many nor whether it was a birthday or Christmas gift, my son bought me a replica Arsenal shirt. It's one of those vintage style ones from the 49-50 season. Quite a nice shirt I'd have to say. 100% cotton and made in the UK the label says. A decent cloth and rather a smart cut I feel unlike the clingy synthetic ones. I've never been one for wearing replica shirts to games and I can't recall ever having done so. In fact apart from the odd attempt to wind up Spurs supporting mates at house parties I've hardly ever worn the thing. That would also have had something to do with it being a size too small for me and the image of obese Brits wearing replica shirts on Spanish beach holidays was too strong for me to feel comfortable with the look of my previously portly frame crammed into one. Having managed to shed a bit more than three stone over the last year though, it now fits like a glove. With its lack of use it hasn`t ever had to endure excessive washing or suffer the fading effect of the sun`s rays while shielded from daylight at the bottom of the shirt drawer. The red is still vibrant and the white still gloriously brilliant. I expected to feel a tad self-conscious walking to the station to take the train to the game but as it adorned my painfully acquired sleek, athletic figure I felt quite the part.

Andy in the ticket office, a long term gooner whose faith, along with most others, has been sorely tested of late, gave me the thumbs up as I approached the counter and prayed to the office ceiling as I said "Keep your fingers crossed". I met my son at Victoria. He, more often than not, would be wearing an Arsenal shirt but this time had opted for his funereally black Ray Parlour 'Romford Pele` t-shirt. He smiled broadly as he saw me wearing the shirt to a game for the first time. "Now is the time to be wearing the colours" I told him.

It`s been an odd time for gooners. The realisation that for all the clubs strengths and the resources we have added over the last 5 years we still sit behind clubs, domestically and internationally, with, for the present at least, far greater resources to call upon than we can muster is just beginning to dawn on the wider support. The frustration that for all those advantages others have we`ve still made a pretty good challenge for the major trophies, though the challenge has ultimately proved unsuccessful, has added to a spiralling feeling of negativity around the club. It`s an effect that Wenger had already referred to a couple of seasons back when claiming that the club had to work much harder to instil and build confidence in the team and players because of this negativity. My feeling though is that we may just have reached a level where expectations are now lower than they have been at anytime in the Wenger era which perversely enough is not a wholly bad thing.

As the big screens played scenes from past Bolton games and we watched Bergkamp hit a scorcher to win a game against Bolton at Highbury in Rioch`s reign sealing 5th position and a place in the Uefa cup the scenes at Highbury were of unabashed joy. Pat said to me "Can you imagine the same joy at sealing 5th place now?" It was a pertinent observation given the way expectations have changed. It seems we no longer know what good times really are.

As the game ended in a mixture of delight and relief some of the crowd started chanting 'There`s only one Arsene Wenger` perhaps recognising that, though he claims and probably is strong enough to 'take a distance` from all the negativity that currently afflicts the club, he is human and needs lifting too. At that precise moment Walcott collapsed on the pitch his injury adding the merest of sour notes to an otherwise positive afternoon. A reminder that being a great manager doesn`t guarantee that you`ll be a lucky one.

However this season pans out it`s hard for me not to find some agreement with the view Niko expressed in the forums that too much water has flowed under the bridge for Wenger himself to recover from the unfulfilled promises and expectations of the last few seasons whatever justification rational analysis would bring. The club is now strong though and maybe the possibility of a changing competitive environment, albeit slowly, will strengthen the club even more in relative terms over the coming seasons. But that may still not be quick enough for Arsene. His current contract runs until 2014 but the present imbalances may not shift enough for Arsene even if he stays that long. If they don`t then, as someone said earlier this week, with great pride and trailing clouds of glory we`ll still be able to carry him out on his shield. Someone will replace him - no-one is irreplaceable. Some said that we`d never be able to find another manager as innovative and with such a profound effect on the club after Chapman passed away but in fact it only took us a little over 60 years to do so.

For the moment after denial comes acceptance and maybe with that acceptance we`ll see a good part of the current negativity dissipate and the value of positive vibes along with an appreciation of what the good times really are will take its place. That could bring us more benefit than we currently realise. I think I`ll be wearing those colours again.

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The Journalist

Writer: Amos Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Saturday September 24 2011

Time: 10:09PM

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Good article Amos. The fans have to realise that Arsene has been overachieving if anything (despite the fact we've not had a trophy for a few years) when you actually compare our resources to the other clubs that have finished in the top 4 in recent seasons. We're going through a rough patch but we are going to get financially stronger and hopefully if the FFP rules are enforced properly we will have a better chance of competing soon.
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24/09/2011 22:33:00

That's not to say I think the manager and the board have done everything perfectly but they have done a pretty good job. I still think we need to look at our wage structure where mediocre players seem to be rewarded with generous wages and it seems as a result we can't pay our top quality players enough to keep hold of them.
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24/09/2011 22:38:00

like all things time has to pass and perhaps we see things in different lights. To listen to Spuds during the early sixties Leeds laughing at us at the end of the sixties and Liverpool who seemed they would rule the soccer world forever. A Dad who said I would never ever see a team like the thirties Arsenal team brings with it the realisation that time does march on. But they managed in times gone past this manager has brought another equation to the table that none of them could bring and I very much doubt we will ever see his like. We have a system to bring future young men into the team (IMO) second to none. With finances that will ensure the club remains strong and will not have to rely on Middle Eastern/Russian or american get rich sell poor money men. This game I love is, unless action is or will be sold ruined for good or be looked upon like WWC. When you can buy a title /silverware the game is devalued and everyone loses. I hope AW does not go for a long time but alas he will if attacks against the best without doubt manager we have ever had seen in this country let alone this club is forced out. Mark my words we will be the poorer for it.
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25/09/2011 01:51:00

Nice article Amos, leaving aside the content it's really nice to read such an open piece from you offering a bit of an insight to another Gooner. I kinda of agree with your sentiment, but for me, it's always a time to wear colours. We have to keep wearing them when we're down (I remember making a point of wearing them after we got whooped by Man Utd. I did not wear them after we lost the cup final as that was my nan's funeral and I didn't think it would be appropriate ... lol), and if we're wearing them through the bad times, then we've earned wearing them in the good times. I was really happy to hear Wenger's name being sung yesterday, sure he's made some massive mistakes, but he is still the greatest manager the club has ever had and if he is to turn this around then he will need all our support.
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25/09/2011 10:06:00

Excellent article Amos. Hopefully the emphatic scoreline (as well as the second half performance in particular) yesterday will help restore a positive atmosphere around the club and coincide with a more "Arsenal-like" league position in the coming months. Excellent point about the joy at securing 5th place at the end of Rioch's season, the fact that a similar league position this season would be an incredible disappointment shows just how much expectations have changed in the last 15 years. And Arsene Wenger is the man solely responsible for that.
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25/09/2011 13:45:00

I'd still like Wenger to turn around the current negativity and regain the fans' faith he has lost a bit over the past 2-3 seasons. Sure, he has made mistakes, but we just need a period of steady (not spectacular results). And changing the manager is not going to change the other parts of the club that are not doing so well right now - responsibility for this summer's mistakes can also be attributed to the Board, Gazidis, our scouting department, our deal finalizing team....If Wenger can be around while those issues are being fixed while remaining competitive with this team, that will be just great.
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25/09/2011 14:21:00

Nice read mate! If anyone is going tuesday and fancies some pre match bevvies PM me.
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25/09/2011 15:37:00

You buying Niko? :)
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25/09/2011 18:34:00

Nice piece Amos. I think Wenger is intelligent enough to go before he's ever forced out. He'll of course see his contract out, but I don't think an extension is as straightforward as previous have been. I definitely think the atmosphere at the ground yesterday is one where expectation has been lessened. Consequently there seemed to be more support for the team. I half expected groans and boos at half-time, but to their credit the fans didn't. IF we can get 2 wins this week, well that would be just sweet.
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25/09/2011 18:43:00

I'll stand a couple mate ;)
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25/09/2011 23:13:00

I think Vin's right, I've really detected that the atmosphere has been much better this season. I do think that's down to expectation being lower. The hammering at Old Trafford just seemed to be this big thunderstorm that's cleared the air a bit and the support, home and away, has been superb all season.
Little Dutch
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26/09/2011 09:09:00

A period of austerity will help clear out some of the fair-weather supporters but I still haven’t written this season off yet!
Sir Henry
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26/09/2011 14:11:00

Excellent Article Amos.Perhaps the good times are heading our way again.Fingers crossed.A good win over Olympiakos Wednesday,coupled with a 2-0 win over the Spuds will be just the kick-start we require.C'mmon you Reds!!!
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26/09/2011 15:14:00

The team can only get better. The improved atmosphere will help to let the lads know we are in this together and if they can draw strength from that, who knows.....
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26/09/2011 16:17:00

Niko - I don't have a ticket, but if that changes, will be sure to PM you. Btw, the game is on Wednesday.
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26/09/2011 16:17:00

Heh Vin, so it is, I'd have still had fun running round the grove on me tod :)
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26/09/2011 18:14:00

Have only just now read Amos' piece - I think it strikes the right tone for this "acceptance" phase we're all (or most of us) are in. It's kind of liberating, actually, these lower expectations. Tho if we finish below spurs that might be the one thing that ruins it. Amos' comments on Arsene are also quite welcome-realistic on every level. Great piece.
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27/09/2011 14:31:00


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