So, the morning after a night of beer and rum and Jaegermeister, please choose from one of the following options.
1 – Sit on the sofa and hold your head and go ‘ugh’
2 – Sit on the sofa and hold your head and go ‘ugh’ and drink some delicious coffee
3 – Sit on the sofa and hold your head and go ‘ugh’ and think about coffee but your train of thought is broken by the sight of a 35 kilo German Shepherd flying through the air, landing in your lap and slobbering you all over the head.
If you chose 3, welcome to my world. And today we have no football to think about or to take the pain away. Or make the pain worse, in fairness. Monday Night Football sounds like a great thing but in reality it’s annoying because you have to wait until Monday and you’re looking for other teams to do badly to make the weekend interesting (from a footballing point of view, at least).
From an Arsenal point of view there’s little of real interest going on. The Mirror runs a transcript of Wenger’s chat with the print media, after yesterday’s press conference and there are a few interesting snippets. The manager is quizzed about players who haven’t excactly set the world on fire, like Chamakh, Squillaci, Park and Gervinho.
Q: Some of those players were big buys. What’s happened to Park? It’s an extraordinary situation.
AW: “Who are the big buys?”
Q: Well, Gervinho?
AW: “How much?”
AW: “He was £8m.”
AW: “Chamakh was a big buy? He was free. Squillaci nearly free. You cannot say that we have a squad of no quality. They are international players.”
Q: I could miss from two yards, but Gervinho is not supposed to?
AW: “You can and everybody can.”
Q: What’s the difference now between this team and other teams which have won trophies?
AW: “The difference is that we have created a new team. I believe that some players have come in, some players have come back from injuries and we have to show now until the end of the season that we have the quality that I think we have.”
All of which makes everything as clear as mud. If the manager didn’t want to get into individual assessment of players then he probably shouldn’t be asking journalists to name names. I also fail to see the relevance of Gervinho costing £8m instead of £11m, other than it’s a bit less money wasted on a player who just isn’t of the requisite quality. Chamakh free? Thank goodness.
In general it’s very difficult to find any solace in anything he says these days. There was a time when Arsene spoke and you could see the sense of what he was saying, or at the very least the rationale behind it. Now, there’s talk of these players being super serious and of high quality and so on, and it’s difficult to reconcile with results and performances. And then I remember my head hurts and I’d rather be leapt upon by a German Shepherd than think about this on a Saturday morning.
There’s just so much ire and anger and bitterness and, at times, nastiness to everything that’s going on right now. Folk are fighting and scrapping and hurling insults and abuse and at the end of the day we all want the same thing. How we achieve that is obviously a bone of contention but it’s increasingly disheartening that reasonable discussion seems more and more difficult.
Fans putting each other into divisively named categories justifies name-calling and the kind of accusations that would never be made face to face. Every statement made by anyone, from the club or beyond, is used as evidence of something. It doesn’t really matter what, it can be twisted to suit each side. And the thing is, as I’ve long said, if people stopped to listen to each other properly, and there was a willingness to accept that one position is not absolute (in terms of right or wrong), we’d probably find there’s not such a gap after all.
But people are people, the Internet is the Internet (for better or worse, and let’s face it there’s a lot of worse out there), and never the twain shall meet. That so much depends on 11 men wearing a red and white shirt kicking a football is quite funny really. It’s hard not to be reminded of Bill Shankly’s life and death quote, but while we can all see the passion behind it, it really couldn’t be further from the truth.
There are lots of things more important than football. Like where the fuck did I put the Solpadeine? And why is this slice of toast so dry? The game drives us, shapes us, brings us together and forces us apart.
And what’s my point? Who knows. I don’t think I have one. But let’s have a beer sometime. That’ll solve it all.