“Misery, distress, indigence, adversity, calamity, disgrace, deception, ruin.
It is a card in particular of unforeseen catastrophe.”
Hmmm. Maybe I need to find a more optimistic Tarot deck. It’s behaving rather like a black-bag-Gooner at present… The urge to ‘cheat’ and draw another card was almost irresistible, but I guess there is an Arsenal-appropriate lesson to be learned by accepting the hand I’ve been dealt, and making the most of it.
“Misery, disgrace, deception”
Do I wish that our traitorous captain hadn’t issued his foolish and ill-advised Independence Day statement? Yup. Do I regret that he backed his Manager, his Club, into a corner – forcing them to sell him to the only club that showed interest? Yes, sirree. And most of all: do I regret that that club was our sworn enemy? Of course I do.
I would have loved to have seen him be true to his many words, and only win trophies with his beloved childhood club. For a gray-haired, glass-ankled donkey, he sure had a great last season – “dragging us over the finish line” (with a little help from his friends…) But the donkey has joined the Dark Side and gone off to join Shrek at you-know-where. Too sad. Too bad.
Would I have liked to have seen our bumbling, porcupine-headed strongman Song playing alongside new additions Cazorla (Sahin, M’Vila?) and not-so-new-signings Diaby and Wilshere. Of course I would. But the lure of Barca’s silver and gold has turned lesser-crested heads than his. At least he’s headed off to play in Thpain, so we don’t have to watch him lumber and assist his way through the Premier League, torn between wishing he hadn’t left and wishing him grievous bodily harm.
Any true supporter knows that the glittering prize is that much sweeter when a club has overcome adversity to attain it. Last season is a classic example. After a horrendous start – made all the more difficult by a tumultuous preceding transfer window – and crippled by a slew of injuries at crucial and inopportune times, Arsenal regrouped, found the most tenuous of footings, and battled its way to bronze. Not exactly the giddy high we experienced at the beginning of the century, but a prize none-the-less: securing our Champion’s League qualification for the 15th straight year, and giving us the ability to attract the world’s best players.
“Everything has a crack in it. That’s how the light gets in…” So sang Leonard Cohen, and as I write this, I am aware of how apt that is in our current situation. Robin van Persie, Samir Nasri, Alex Song, Gael Clichy all slipped through Arsenal’s perennial crack, but they were replaced by Mikel Arteta, Per Mertesacker, Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud, Santi Carzola and, quite possibly Yann M’Vila and Nuri Sahin… These new players have brought light with them, and will make Arsenal shine again.
One man’s poison is another man’s bread. It would behoove us to remember that it was the misfortune of Malaga that made Carzola’s signing a possibility. And, in the same way that we are perpetually despaired and disgusted by the poaching of our best players by the Oilers and the Mobsters – so too have we skimmed the cream off the top of lesser clubs. I’m sure we’re held in the same low esteem by those we consider ‘feeder clubs’. It’s a dog eat dog game, this passion of ours.
“Calamity, ruin; unforeseen catastrophe”
As neocon warmonger Donald Rumsfeld once said: “There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.”
Unforseen calamities are out of our control.
These are the things we don’t know we don’t know. Like the 1960 Munich air tragedy that decimated Manchester United’s 1960 “Busby Babes”. Or the 1985 Heysel Stadium disaster, where 39 regular people died unnecessarily after the European Cup Final clash between Juventus and Liverpool. The 1989 Hillsborough disaster, where 96 of us (supporters) were crushed to death during the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.
These are but a few of the true calamities that have caused us to pinch ourselves into acknowledging how truly petty our daily miseries really are. How can we profess to be made so truly miserable by the “loss” of a star player to another club, when there are such greater things at stake. The collapse of Fabrice Muamba last season was the splash of cold water that most of us needed, prancing around on our high horses, lost in the delusional world of our football addiction.
Every transfer window, I swear that I’ll go ‘cold turkey’, and wean myself of the addictively depressing media hype that infects the silly season. But it’s like the Boob Tube. Turn on the TV just to watch one quick show, and you’ll find yourself up at dawn, bleary-eyed and tooth-achingly numb, while some bozo tries to sell you not one, but two pairs of solar-powered, hydrogen-cooled, Teflon-coated underpants. (Like the Astronauts wear…)
Meanwhile, the starving starve, the disenfranchised rebel, and the rich get richer. Thanks, Twitter!
There is a time and a place for optimism. In the past, Arséne Wenger has made the mistake of crossing the thin line between optimism and denial, to his detriment. But this time round he seems to have learned his lesson. These are the known unknowns, for which we can at least prepare. Nobody knew if RVP would stay or go. Even after the shit hit the fans, there was a part of us that still hoped there’d be some miraculous turnaround: that after some contrition and much apologizing, along with plentiful goal-scoring, our hero would have his place rightfully restored in the Arsenal pantheon.
The known knowns are perhaps the most important. I know that Arsenal will continue, even thrive, without these ‘stars’. Success is tidal. Every club has its glory days, and then long, dark days of failure and doubt, where true fandom is tested. (As Dennis Bergkamp famously asked: “Do you love Arsenal? Or Arsenal with trophies?”)
I know that there will be times this season when I will throw my arms up in the air and curse the fact that I had even heard of Arsenal, let alone support it. And there’ll be days when the sun seems to shine that much brighter – St. Totteringham’s Day, for instance… Players will fly; they’ll fail; and our curious Manager will no doubt amaze and confound us. I know Arsenal will misfire – they never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity, after all – and then just to prove us all wrong/right, they’ll come out the next week, all guns firing.
I know the season will end too soon, silly season will last too long, and then it’ll all start again. Future me will be typing a new blog, probably on a new iPad (!), as I am now. Slightly exhausted before I’ve even begun…
That’s life. That’s Arsenal.