|Don't kiss the badge - Femaiden
On July 17th I received an unexpected e-mail from an
old friend who
just happens to be going out with a relative of an Arsenal
e-mail essentially said that Patrick Vieira had told
some of his team
mates he was leaving for Real Madrid this summer.
after this I had conformation of the same story from
reliable sources. A day later, all media began covering
clears locker' story.
Arsenal fans, fans of rival teams, printed media, internet
television pundits went on what gamblers refer to as
'tilt'. The media
feeding frenzy became self-sustaining. 'Marca' would
speculation in 'The Sun' as fact.
The Sun would then
take the Marca
story as confirmation of their own scurrilous rumour
pinched from a fan web-site. How do I know this to
be true? Well I
watched some of these fake rumours at their conception
on a web-site.
Yes it's true, a bunch of fans on a web-site can write
headline for The Sun!
During this month long media free for all, Vieira remained
aloof, and did not take part in the pre-season games
due to a
mysterious thigh injury. Wenger, remained defiant,
seemingly pledging Vieira's loyalty to the club on his behalf. I listened
to many Arsenal
fans' opinions, and many have asked mine. I remained
firm: I had been
reliably informed his intention was to leave, I wouldn't
view until I had information otherwise.
My own "source
close to the
player" (Isn't that fun to write!) had gone mute.
The range of fans'
views encompassed the entire gamut of feelings from disgust
to complete defiance. We've had debates on who should
and who should be the next club captain.
As the saga progressed it became clear that both clubs
and Vieira had
entered negotiations. Arsenal played hardball over the
price, as is
Rumours circulated that one board
particular had decided that enough was enough and the
had to stop - take the money and run. Wenger and Dein
opposite view: Vieira is the best player in his position
in the world
today, and we're not about to lose him without a fight,
Finally the story looked to be over, the Madrid mouthpiece
claimed that Vieira would be paraded as a Madrid player
August and the English press gleefully followed suit.
it looked like it might not happen.
On hearing that
the Vieira talks
had stalled, I wrote:
Vieira Woah oh oh,
Vieira Woah oh oh,
He nearly joined Madrid,
But Michael Owen did
Today, in August, Friday the 13th of all dates, Vieira
finally spoke. "The ties that I have here were too strong for me
to break. I'm
staying at the club. I'm proud to be captain of the club
looking forward to achieving my ambitions."
Terse and apparently final.
Will this appease the fans? I'm not sure it will. Many
I know feel
weakened by the whole episode, several even suggesting
should have the captaincy taken away. Some have suggested
are disappointed he's staying, questioning his loyalty
of a repetition of these events in coming Januarys
have cheered loudly and suggested that this is the
perfect spring-board for the new seasons and that it's
almost like having a
new world-class signing - a view I have some sympathy
for, having long
prepared myself for his departure.
I keep being reminded that this is not the first time
toyed with our emotions, and it probably won't be
the last. We've had
the Real Madrid saga once before, and let us not
forget that he
probably did come very close to signing for Manchester
tautologically challenged friend would say, "It's
Déja Vue all over
Personally, I feel very empty over the whole epic saga.
commercialisation of football has concerned me greatly
over the last
decade, this is just another episode that weakens the
innocent love of
football that I once had.
As the years pass, I find myself
more cynical about the game, I wince less at a
Pires dive than I once
did, I no longer register surprise when I read
of young footballers
sexual expoitations, I now only shrug my shoulders
when I hear an
agent persuading his player to move on, and I have
long given up on
the notion of one club for life or that players
feel the same sense of
club loyalty as us fans.
So in this cynical age, I guess I should welcome
back Vieira as the
top player that he is. There is no doubt that
Arsenal are stronger
with him than without. I'll look forward to his
battles with Keane and
Gerrard and I might even convince myself to sing
his song again.
Welcome back Patrick, but if by chance you ever
come across this
little note of mine, I would ask two things
of you: make sure you lift
the European Champions League Trophy in the
red and white of Arsenal;
and please, don't kiss the badge.