Arsenal Gentleman’s Weekly Review
Dear Arsenal Players and manager,
It is difficult to know where to begin.
I have been an Arsenal fan since the late 19th Century. I have seen some terrible things. I have seen Igors Stepanovs regularly observe average opposition forwards breeze past him whilst he battled his own elbows and attempted to work out how his knees work. I watched on agog, for three seasons, waiting for the punchline, as Sébastien Squillaci illegally occupied an actual squad number. I looked on as Amaury Bischoff appeared, like an arthritic will-o’-the-wisp.
I saw, close up, Paul Merson’s extraordinary hair. The tailoring of Emmanuel Eboué. I cannot erase the memory of Francis Jeffers’ four goals in two seasons. I was there for Arsenal 0- 5 Chelsea in 1998. Manchester United 8-2 Arsenal in August 2011. 0-6 agin Derby County in January 1899, a defeat which necessitated the slaughter of three of my domestic staff. 0-8 against the mighty Loughborough Town just before Christmas 1896. 0-5 against Huddersfield Town in 1925. The list goes on.
And yet these past few weeks have been as painful as any of those heavy defeats. The pain has been long and drawn out, rather than sharp and brief. If losing eight nil to Loughborough Town was like a paper cut on one’s bell end, then the defeats to Barcelona, Newton Heath, and now Swansea Bloody City have been Chinese water torture. Please, make it stop. I’ll tell you anything. Just … make it stop.
What is it with you chaps and particular months of the year? Are you all consulting an astrologist? Does Mystic Meg sit in a darkened side room at London Colney, advising you to not bother for a few weeks because Saturn is waning? Last season it was Leo, before that Pisces, Aries and Taurus. In 2016 it is Aquarius and Pisces.
Barcelona was understandable. They are a formidable band of unpleasantly talented reprobates and entitled hedgepigs. They will probably win the European Cup this year. But Newton Heath, with the most expensively assembled team of average hoofers yet assembled? To lose to them is an utter disgrace. You should go and read about Ted Drake, McLintock, Vieira, Dixon, Adams, Brady, James, Bergkamp, Bastin. Watch them playing. Look at their body language. Observe closely how they communicate with each other.
Gabriel: Buck your bloody ideas up. Mark your man. Fenton: Don’t dribble the ball out of defence. Go on a retreat with some monks and work out what you’re doing with your life. Goring-Hildred: BE BETTER. Cockleton and Ramsara: You are currently as much of a nuisance to opposing midfields as a pop up advertisement upon the internet. A click and you’re gone. Pull your ruddy socks up. Saunders. Take the mask off. It is time to become a man.
The Swansea match. You should all hang your heads in shame. Try and imagine how the half-time dressing room would have been if Mr. Adams were in charge this weekend last. Bell and Meatlocker. WAKEY BLOODY WAKEY, HANDS OFF SNAKEY. This is Arsenal you play for. Gabriel – again – you’re acting like a wet-behind-the-ears academy player. Immediate improvement is required in all areas of your game.
Arkwright: I know you weren’t playing, but even when you are, you are not a captain. Hand in the armband to someone who can roast backsides with the breath of a mythical dragon in the last half hour of a game. Fenton: This was the game in which my opinion of you has been cemented. You should be dispatched abroad on the first day of summer. Mr. Campbell should be retained in your position. I like you, but you are not consistently good enough.
Mr. Windsor. You have been a sterling servant of the club, but I do not believe you can guide us to the summit again. I desperately hope to be proved wrong in May but somehow my astrological instincts tell me that the annual desperate struggle to third is in our future.