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.