Monday, May 11, 2009

"Hello, darkness, my old friend" or: What does it all mean

"Hello, my name is Colin and I follow the football."
"Hello, Colin." "Would you like to share anything?"

Good to get to know you again. Been too long. A number of interceding points of interest have kept me from expressing myself as I should here at this point when all things come to an end and into full focus at the onset of May. The end generally comes crashing down around us like a tidal wave, doesn't it? There's really no casual unfolding, as much as you might want it. Even if you feel like you expect what is to come, the end of the season will always be like a rubber band snapping across your unsuspecting forearm. 

Sorting these thoughts, divulging this emotion and admitting these feelings has been something I've dreaded for the last month - at least. In truth, I haven't even wanted to come to grips with it. How often have I, over the span of a decade, answered that routine and quite mundane question, "hey, how are you?" with something pulled directly from the early dawn hours of my life as a football supporter - in spite of the language barrier, as it were.

This season, these horrible, horrible 14 months since February, 2008 when Eduardo shattered his leg, Gael Clichy committed a clumsy penalty and then-captain William Gallas threw a tantrum that would impress a colicky toddler, has been pockmarked by brilliance. Little protruding teases of brilliance. "What's this?" you'll ask yourself as one comes on and passes you by. "Haven't had one of those in yonks." It's there, it can clearly come back, you know well that it used to be there. But then why does it just flitter away? Why won't it stay? You've clearly welcomed it, made room for it, put out some extra towels and such. Stay, won't you? I've got bachelor chow, and there's vodka in the freezer. Hell, I've even got ice. Just stay! Here, let me make you an egg. Why would you leave? Who leaves when you can stay!? Right, Brilliance? Right? I mean you're with me, right?

Pockmarked by brilliance. 

Fleeting and all-too rare glimpses of that brilliance we've known for so long as Arsenal supporters. The truth through the long season has been clear to all - the team isn't good enough. Scroll back through the Match Pricks archives, take a look at the fall and see just how I felt about many of the players and the situations.  Just not good enough. Still, did I get caught up in the hope that many of those moments would turn into something greater? You bet your ass. So did most everyone else. But then that's football, isn't it? Turn out, put in a performance and capture it for tomorrow. Bottle it, release it at will. Hell, don't even release it ... when you're in form rip the top off of that damned bottle and shake it out like freaking holy water for the whole world to rub it into every pore in their miserable bodies for the exciting essence of life it truly is ... a football team in form. A class football team, with class players. A team with values. A team that holds the blueprint. Good form is like the best, clearest, most soaring, most challenging, most inspiring, most encouraging and most outwardly sexual poem you'll ever encounter. It just is, it soaks in, takes hold and grips your entire body. You can see it on people's faces, when their team is in form, when they are there in that special place - when they have arrived.

Quite conversely, you can see it on people's faces when they've encountered some 14 months of stubborn refusal to accept, process and profess the truth ... that they simply aren't good enough. We're there now though, aren't we? The Arsenal, and their supporters have been climbing a veritable mudslide of fortune, only to find themselves facing the very bottom of that hill. Sure, Arsene Wenger, Arsenal's genius manager who has now been cast more in the light of stubborn emperor leading a parade in nowt but his bare glory, has been trying to convince us of the direction and planned outcome, but all the same, there will always come a time when the truth is just there for all to see on our faces. And we have hit it at full speed.

Fact is, the supporters know it. The non-supporters, the neutrals, the guy across the street ... they all know it. Those involved, though? Those responsible? They'll either not admit it just the now or they are - quite simply - idiots.

Arsene Wenger won't admit it. And in fairness he shouldn't. He needs to do his job as manager. He is not a mouth-piece, he is not the press agent for the club. The idiots involved? Let's put it this way (you'll have gotten this teaser if you checked in on the Match Pricks Twitter feed this morning) ...

-Faith in few
-Mistrust in others
-Apathy toward the rest

Faith in a few? Yeah ... there are a handful of players that see everything the way they should. Players who care, who exhibit pride and effort. Players who recognize the opportunity in front of themselves and want to take it.

Mistrust in others? Right ... there are too many players on this team who play for selfish reasons, who try and exert effort for selfish reasons. They are there not for the club, but to attain a stage of further personal glory. To write a new chapter in their career before turning the page to the next and challenging themselves to see if they can achieve in another manner. They say things that are purely counter-intuitive to the steps one needs to assert and find success as part of a collective whole (i.e. a team). "We need to buy good players, show ambition, win trophies." "I am here to repay the club for the faith they showed in me, I am here to win them trophies and after that point I will be able to think about leaving." Oh how very f&*$ing gracious of you to hang around long enough to bestow us with a trophy, your grace. All of the talk in the world yet none of the commitment. Get F%^&$D!

Apathy toward the rest? You heard me ... just. not. good. enough. You're fine, you play your role (poorly), you show up, you punch the clock, you toss out an idea or two in a meeting every now and again, you repeat someone else's good idea, you latch on to the leaders ... Yeah, you heard me, you're just not good enough. Thanks for hanging around though, I can't really hold it against you, can I?


Yeah ... me too. It's in there somewhere though. Just keep searching. And now that this has been done, I may finally be able to muster the energy to turn my attention to Patrice Evra and Cristiano Ronaldo. The latter, of course, the most-despicable human being this side of Silvio Berlusconi (who is, in the end, falling firmly in the 'Happy Fool' category) and the former ... I don't even yet have the words.

No comments: