Perhaps it was time for a bit of a wake-up call.
Admittedly there are wake-up calls and wake-up calls. I am usually roused from sleep by the gentle vibrations of a Fitbit watch, thrumming silently on my wrist at the appointed time.
Our Arsenal wake-up call was more like a glass of icy water in the face of a deeply sleeping innocent.
Defeat at home to Olympiacos, an all-round poor performance and out of the Europa League (our best chance of making it into next season’s Champions’ League). Splash.
The comments on Arsenal Arsenal yesterday aptly captured my mood and reaction: the sense that whatever uptick in performances we have seen since Mikel Arteta arrived has merely papered over fundamental cracks; that our squad needs root-and-branch changes; that our club probably needs new owners who care whether we win or lose; that our return to being properly competitive looks as distant as ever.
Writing this more than 24 hours after that horrible game I feel I have a bit more of a sense of perspective.
In the early years of this blog there was a wonderful contributor called Dandan, who wrote Posts and commented most days.
Dandan was not exactly in the first flush of youth, but a long lifetime of supporting Arsenal had taught him many lessons: lessons he gladly shared with us.
His time with Arsenal had more ups and downs than the Andes. He had seen success and failure; boring mediocrity and ecstatic highs; he had seen our greatest rivals gloating in triumph, and he had seen them ground to dust beneath our boots. All of this gave him a level-headed outlook and a zen-like ability to never get too upset about a bad game or a bad run of games.
Dandan is sadly no longer with us, but if he were, what would he be saying today? I suspect it would be a reflection on what it is to be a football supporter (a commitment that is both a blessing and a curse).
Perhaps he would muse on the attitude of fans of clubs like West Ham or Fulham, supporters who have never come close to experiencing the sort of successes with which we Arsenal fans have been spoiled, yet who still follow their team through thin and thin.
Or how about those who follow teams in the lower leagues? What must it be like to support Stevenage or Macclesfield, down at the bottom of League Two? Yet both these clubs have loyal fans who turn up week in and week out and take their medicine.
The point is not that, as Arsenal fans, we should accept failure without caring. Rather it is that, at a time like this, the Dandan voice whispering in my ear would probably be reminding me about what it is to be a supporter.
We are not like the many American sports fans I know who shift their allegiance depending on which team is doing well. We stick with our team for life. It’s like a marriage contract, where the crucial line is “for better, for worse.”
As it happens, and with the pain of losing to the Greeks having subsided somewhat, I don’t feel things are as bad as they appear to be.
We had a bad game. Some fans seemed to categorise Olympiacos as a bunch of semi-pros who barely had a right to be on the same pitch as our Arsenal heroes. Yet the Athenians were in the Champions League this year (unlike us) and they are running away with the Greek Super League. They were never going to be a pushover.
And disappointing though our boys were, they are still the same players who, since Arteta arrived, have thrashed Manchester United and Newcastle, outplayed Chelsea for most of a match which ended in an unlucky defeat, outfought a good Everton side barely a week ago and have been generally solid and difficult to beat.
Almost every team has a bad day at the office now and again. Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool currently look unbeatable, but in his first couple of seasons on Merseyside the Dippers had some terrible performances and results. Klopp and the club learned from them and continued to improve and build. We can do the same.
Indeed, many of the wise commentators on this blog made that very point when Arteta arrived, saying we must expect ups and downs and that we needed to keep a sense of perspective. Well, we’ve just had one of the downs.
If we despair now, what does that say about our belief in the new coach? Are we really saying that there’s nothing he can do to fix things? Do we really have that little faith in him?
Undoubtedly there are problems. I am not arguing that we could not have better players or that we might be better off with owners who actually invest, but I am also prepared to wait and see how Arteta responds to this challenge. If he is the man and manager we all hope he is, then times like this will be the making of him.
Can I also just add that I am not criticising anyone who commented yesterday. I agreed with pretty much everything I read and I’m certainly not trying to pick fights, just to get a bit of emotional distance, that’s all.
If Dandan were still with us he would have said all this in a much more articulate way than me, but as he watches from the great North Bank in the sky I would like to think he’s nodding in agreement with the general sentiment.
Food for sober thought.
“Watching from the great North Bank in the sky”
It’s so vivid, I can easily picture him there…….
Thank you Rocky, we all needed that.
I agree with you and Dandan by proxy. Strangely I felt a slight sense of relief the day after the game in as much as the hope of winning the EL is now one less thing to stress over …. I’m already beginning to look towards next season rather than pin any hopes on this one.
I believe in Arteta and his vision for our football. so I’m going to enjoy our football for the rest of this season in the hope that top 6 is achievable. I guess the old adage about just focusing on the next game applies as much for us as it does for Liverpool.
Well done, Rocky, a neat Post that reminds us not to be too opinionated so that it becomes difficult or impossible to listen to or give credence to anyone else’s differing opinion.
I first encountered dandan circa 2010 and initially we did not hit it off, because each felt the other was ‘too opinionated’, (oddly enough) but after butting heads for a while, I realised that opinionated, or not, he was a voice of reason who abominated boo-ing of the players, or the castigation of young players still learning their trade in the first team, etc.
We subsequently got on famously, and I applaud you for mentioning him, and his ethos.
I wrote a note yesterday in a similar vein, and this yank is not for moving – Arsenal ’till I die. 😁
Looking forward to the game on Monday, I hope Mikel will include Gabriel in the team, or bring him on as a sub much earlier as it was evident his belated arrival on the scene on Thursday led indirectly to Auba’s wonder goal equaliser, because his energy and constant running unsettled Olympiacos — and something the rest of the team might learn from him. 🥺
Rocky you are a very good writer. Thank you
I’m sure he’s nodding agreement, Rocky
Of all the things we agreed on this site at the start of Mikel’s reign, it was surely that he must be given significant time – at least three seasons for me.
Players can come and go, but Mikel must be unchanging.
Blimey – Watford one up against Liverpool.
They couldn’t, could they?
But still half an hour to go…
Given the number of comments that loss on Thursday affecting the lads and lasses more Tham I thought!!
[I am not making any reference to W*****d in case I put the black eye on them. ] 😜
Yes – everyone is feeling a bit subdued I’m sure.
When we bounce back in the FA Cup on Monday everyone will perk up.
By the way, I know you know my comment about some Americans having somewhat loose sporting affiliations did not apply to you.
But I found it funny when I lived there that people would quite happily say things like “I’m supporting the Lakers this year…”
To be honest I think it tended to be the people who were less passionate about sport.
There are plenty of devoted one-team US sports fans too (I’m thinking of Green Bay “cheeseheads”, Boston Celtics fans etc).
Holy moly – Watford now three up!
Shhh listen, can you hear that? Nothing, nada, nowt, silence!! Yes, finally the car jackers have been silenced!!! Get in there!!!
I am soooooo happy, the smile on my face is bigger than the cheshire cat’s!!!!!
Thank you Watford… I will love you forever (except Troy Deeney 😂)
Don’t jinx it Sue
Am a Lions fan, have not won a playoff game in 28 years! My team, secondary to Arsenal of course.
Go Watford, will change my mentality this week if they can do it!
Watford FC… take a bow! You have made my year!!!!!
We are Invincible 😊
Between the illegal monied up $h*tTy and pooL that was close.
As Sue said….
Going to be a great week.
That just sums up football — anything can and does happen.
Rocky I know exactly what you meant by peeps following the latest ‘hot’ club/sport – and you are right! 😁
And I never thought you were including me in a very fair observation – the last 14 years or so have been hard for Gooners – but me still here!! 😄
That Sue, eh? Could have put the evil eye on Watford – she owes us both a pint.
[You’re OK, Sue, we could do with more fans like you — and because of the meds I take, I am prohibited from alcohol imbibing! ]
Well in that case RA, I’ll down yours – be rude not to hey?!! (Hope you’re ok, btw 😊)
Roll on MOTD 😜
Happy Invincibles Day everyone !
Aaron – I take it you mean Detroit and not Millwall 😀. How come you have that attachment?
I, on the other hand, have no such problems consuming alcohol…
Haha Rocky, I thought as much 😜
Sue that is one hell of a birthday gift Liverpool has given me, didn’t watch the game cause I was so frustrated with football and couldn’t stand to see them win another game
Was a suprise when I checked my pc just now and saw the score
Thank you Rocky for a fabulous post about a man that I think of so often during Arsenal’s ups and downs. It’s true that for those of us who knew him – I was lucky enough to meet him – he left behind a legacy of thoughtfulness. He was always kind and balanced to everyone after a disappointing result.
If you gave his spirit a nudge this morning I suspect he headed to Vicarage Road 😉
And here we are, what a brilliant day – Happy Invincibles Day everyone ❤️❤️❤️⚽️⚽️⚽️❤️❤️❤️
Absolutely brilliant, Fred…. Happy Birthday to you!!! 🥳🎂🥂 Couldn’t ask for a better gift!
There may be more losses before the season ends 😉
Happy Birthday Fred 🎈🎈🎈🎂🎂🎂🍻🍻🍻
Your happiness is so infectious Sue, so we didn’t get to blow bubbles on Monday but hey we’re here now 😃😃😃
Thanks peaches, it was actually on Wednesday
But Liverpool game me the best present ever
Now I can forget that league cup lost to Birmingham which actually happened on my birthday day
I have also forgiven deeney for his comments
We are indeed, Peaches….. and what a beautiful feeling it is, hey?!! 😊🥰🤗👍👍👍
Yea just hope we could be them next, or am I being greedy
Hello. A great post.
I was absolutely gutted about Thursday night having gone with my son to watch it. Having lamented over our exit and the nature of our defeat, I then thought about the flipside of that match. Probably somewhere in Athens, an Olympiacos fan is still buzzing from the night before and in years to come will continue to relay their story of going to the Emirates and watching their team beating us. Fast forward to this evening and Thursday night is, to some degree, old football news. Watford have made my day!!! That, to me, is also one of the beauties about football. Even more so I now can’t wait for Monday night!
Was ox that bad?
Just seen it, thought I was seeing things for a moment, brilliant, was seriously worried about that one……..
Weidetor… shame Thursday wasn’t meant to be, but today has brought a smile to all of our faces!
And yes, roll on Monday night! COYG
Ohh, just noticed they went 44 games unbeaten, so close, I feel for them……….must be heart breaking………….
That was a helluva goal from Deeney! Think I’ll put the 49 unbeaten dvd on now 🥰👍
Yes, the Detroit Lions, unfortunately, but at least if I had chosen Millwall, they are a side that have won some trophies.
My better half, Brenda, is from Detroit, and I have always liked the team’s uniform colors.
“Hark now hear the Arsenal sing,
the Scousers threw it away.
And we will fight for evermore,
because of Leap Year Day.”
Post coming …… back in a bit.
And a very, very good morning to you Peachygirl!!
New Post ……………