Friday, May 7, 2010

Next year? Are we done yet?

It's always next year. And I'm not even really all that concerned with *trophies*. Really. I promise that's not the sentiment of a someone who forgot what pretty, heavy, shiny and all engraved and shit trophies looked like (been five years and all that).

What I'm concerned with is a team playing like a team, playing to win, playing because they care and playing like they actually have an ample amount of self-respect and desire to win the games.

It's funny, in a way. I've changed my take on sports to divorce myself from any heavy concern over winning and losing. I'll mostly pass a shrug of the shoulders in place of a loss. A win is fun, loads of fun ... if it was deserved. But how much of that approach I've taken is a product of the times? How much have I been fooling myself because the team I support just isn't good enough?

In truth, I think much of that attitude comes forth in the fact that I want to be sure that I'm legitimate as a supporter. Not worth really enjoying a result when you know it's an illusion, know what I mean? Attendez la creme and all that.

I'm often both curious and bothered about what makes an American support one team over another. Why Arsenal and not Tottenham? Why Manchester United and not Manchester City. Why does that one fellow at the pub support Wigan? Why does that one fellow completely lose his mind over Blackburn? I mean, he can't really be *that* into the Blackburn result, can he? Wouldn't he just be resigned to mediocrity and then go nuts-o when he actually got a 'famous' result? Does winning and losing really mean that much to you when you're an also-ran? Look, throughout the year if we won, I knew it was it's just one more finger holding us on the cliff's edge. After September, there was never anything to truly get excited about. It was a slow march until the end. There was always a maybe, but it was a maybe steeped in the hope that someone else would fail and open the door for us. This Arsenal team were never Champions.

So perhaps, as I'm really looking deep inside here, I have accepted this air of "meh" for each result this year to more directly expresses that however the season rolls, I'm an Arsenal supporter and it's nowt to do with wins and haute success. A win, loss or draw, it's all same in the end. What does it really matter? I support the team. 

Sure I support the team and win, lose or draw, I also will and it'll always be fine. ... But in the end that's where I'm wrong. Yes, I'll always be there (Arsenal 'till I die and all that racket, great, whoopty-doo). But will it always be alright with me?


It's inherent in players who hate to lose that they fight to win. That's what we've been missing. You can't pay well, with passion, with gusto, with desire, with momentum and with imagination if you don't care enough to try to win. It's not possible to waltz through the game turning pirouettes around the competition and attempting lovely passes if the pirouettes see you dumped on your ass and the lovely passes have none of football's classically beautiful, "what comes next." Or if they pave the way to another opposition goal (that one was for Stevie G. and my Liverpool loving collaborator here, Jim).

Wanting to win, fighting to win and reaching for the win is the  difference between stumbling to a 1-nil win over Wolves and thumping Everton 6-1.

Funny thing is, I read from Arseblog recently that "We've learned a lot in recent weeks." Yes, we have. The supporters have learned a lot. Sadly, I don't believe the team has learned much at all. There are those in the side who will have their spirits further galvanized but for those who seemed like footballing zombies all season ... as the calendar comes to an end they failed to disprove our impressions.

I mean, did you ever really feel that Andrei Arshavin, for all his talents, actually gave a shit at any point this year?

Did you ever really feel that Emmanuel Adebayor actually gave a shit at any point last season? Never mind the actual big occasion when we needed even more out of him and he coasted along as if he was an under 8 player kicking daisies and marveling at the planes soaring overhead.

I've coasted through this season as a supporter. I shrugged with wins. Shook my head with losses. Felt morose anger at ties. It's been odd. Deeply, deeply odd. Especially given the fact that every couple of weeks Arsenal pulled themselves off the wall and actually flirted with the idea of joining the dance ... every now and then.  Sadly, constantly filling your punch cup and mingling on the way to the bathroom does not remove the tag of wallflower.

I saw something that really bothered me last weekend while watching Chelsea. A Chelsea supporter lost his mind after their first goal. Maybe it was two weeks ago. Chelsea continued their slow march to the title and this fellow in the crowd looked like he was trying to rip his skin off. 

I didn't feel that once this year (that's a good thing, right? wanting to rip your skin off in joy? i imagine it must be). I danced and sang like a four year old on a merry-go-round when Arsenal went gangbusters in the first two weeks of the season but I never really enjoyed it. Papering over the cracks and all that.

More to come on those feelings. For today, I just want this to be over. And I have wanted it to be over for months.


Jamie said...

good stuff.

although, i was pretty close to ripping something in the Bolton game, Stoke too... not forgetting the three goals on avg... they had me at hello. Maybe because we lost the major games, we acknowledged the fact the Arsenal were NOT actually cutting the mustard. how you say... riding coattails...

Jim said...

The only theme that carried through this season for me was Colin, way back in August, telling me that van Persie had said something like, "You don't win the league against (the big four). You win the league against the rest of the teams." It made sense at the time. After all, last year, Liverpool did the double against United and Chelsea, but lost the title in efforts against "the rest" of the league.

Well, this year, the league is going to be won, likely by a solitary point, by the team that took 18 out of a possible 18 points against Man U, Arsenal and Liverpool. Now, Liverpool's no longer part of the "Gang of Four" or whatever you want to call it, but my point stands.

Anyway, that's my 2009-10 season memory. Liverpool was shit and Chelsea beat the only contenders to the throne every time they played. Oh, and City cocked up their chances to make a major advancement in their project they're working one – where I'm tellin' ya, Kaká might still end up.

Jack said...

My only good memory of this season was being in the pub for the last 20 minutes of the first Liverpool-United match. Other than that, it was a good year for catching up on sleep during the weekends.

I'm just sayin'.

football gifts said...

As a Chelsea supporter my memories of this season will always be good, and as for Kaka (Jim) I hope for the sake of the City fan who had him tattoed on his back before the last time he nearly signed, let's hope he does end up there after all.