Is there a team that oscillates more wildly than Woolwich Arsenal Football Club? From an incoherent, flailing mess who held on to a draw at BLOODY BUGGERING WATFORD despite having the league’s finest attacking players on the pitch to incoherent, flailing mess winning three nil away from home in Europe, these past few days have been quite the microcosm of the last few years. We shall not dwell on the Watford result as much ink, both black and red, has been utilised to work out how we have become a very ordinary team despite the resources available to us.
I would rather concentrate on the foray into Frankfurt, in the German state of Hesse. It is Goethe’s birthplace, and I was drawn to the words of Germany’s Shakespeare in the build up to the match.
“You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.”
If this is true then Mr. Emery is merciful. In leaving our number 10 at home, he has shown great compassion for a player whom he finds totally useless. And having played 71 long minutes, he is due a period of rest and recuperation.
“Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward. They may be beaten, but they may start a winning game.”
Oh, for a daring idea. Pushing Mr. Torrance into some kind of peculiar box-to-box free-roaming number eight role is not it.
“Courage is the commitment to begin without any guarantee of success.”
Has there ever been a more apt description of the singular feeling we Woolwichians have going into a match? We must be a ruddy courageous lot.
“To think is easy. To act is hard. But the hardest thing in the world is to act in accordance with your thinking.”
Sadly Mr. Goethe never lived to see Mustafi play but it would be difficult to think of a better summary of his psychology. The more frightening notion is that Mr. Mustafi is indeed acting in accordance with his thinking.
“If you treat an individual as he is, he will remain how he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.”
Which brings us on to one of the few positives of this season: The emergence of The Young Lads. The Academy, a fine institution, has borne wonderful fruit this season. Last evening we witnessed a trio of whippersnappers state the case for much more regular inclusion in the starting line up. If, dear reader, you are already familiar with their backstories, please forgive me. But herefollows a little biographical detail on the two The Young Lads who shone.
Barclay Sackville, ‘The Buckinghamshire Firecracker’
What a player this lad is! Ever since he was spotted at prep school in Buckinghamshire as an eight-year-old he has shown great promise. He prefers to play on the left tine of Neptune’s Trident*, but can switch to the other flank as casually as you like. He has exceptional close control, appearing as if the ball is pasted to his foot. On one occasion this was in fact true. His good pal Joseph de Willock secreted a jar of glue down his britches during an Under 15s game and literally glued the ball to his teammates boot. Nobody noticed. He has blistering pace and as demonstrated yestereve, real composure in front of goal.
The Most Honourable Joseph de Willock, The Midfield Marquess
He literally is a Marquess. De Willock grew up in a castle in Rutland, the eighth son of Joseph, the 12th Baron Rutland. He had an extremely privileged upbringing, but nevertheless enjoyed the company of peasants. He was often found in the village, playing football with the stinking and impoverished locals. We could see traces of the hardiness this experience brought to bear on his game when rather than throw himself onto the floor under a sturdy Frankfurt challenge he chose to continue his run. Is he our best ball-carrying midfielder? It is hard to think of a better player in that regard. His movement off the ball is splendid. He is always looking to move the ball forward. He provides a welcome outlet for David Lewis. He reminds me of… dare I say it? That wonderful warrior of yesteryear, Patrick O’Feery. Dare we dream that we have finally replaced him?
*A front three