So, the first half is done and dusted and in a couple of weeks time our brave lads will look to beard the enemy in his lair. I for one fully expect a repeat of some of our most inspiring and courageous second leg performances. It was Bayern’s great good fortune to play us during a lull in our confidence and form, and also when we were without a left back. Congratulations to everyone who helped hound out Andre Santos. I have no doubt that a run of good results in the Premiership will help heal the pain of falling behind in the Champion’s League and not having to play in front of a mass of hate filled booing and groaning will obviously make it easier for our players to perform with the freedom and élan we have come to expect.
There is nothing we can do against the barrage of abuse and the systematic undermining of our manager however. Any result this team achieves will be done against far greater odds than those faced by any other British side. This was brought home to me by a couple of comments I heard yesterday from non football fans. When I say non football fans I mean to the level where they didn’t even know Arsene’s name. What interested me was when, upon discovering I supported Arsenal, both people independently of one another, dredged up the only things they knew about the club. This was that we have a failing manager who is hanging on by the skin of his teeth and about to be replaced due to a decade of abject failure. It seems the media, aided and abetted by twitter twats, bannerwankers and anti Arsenal non support everywhere has done it’s job. It’s the reason we have pulled up the drawbridge and barricaded ourselves here into the PA citadel, it simply isn’t safe out there and in any event there is no point in trying to engage in intelligent civilised conversation on the subject of The Arsenal because the tide of misinformation has already drowned the gullible and there’s hardly anyone left without its polluted water in their ears.
If this is how we feel then how must Arsene and his players be affected by the torrent of unfair criticism and abuse? It doesn’t bear thinking about. Bob Wilson, that fine elder statesman of the game has recently been quoted as saying
“he (Arsene) puts his heart & soul into this club. It may come a time where he doesn’t put up with, frankly, this disrespect”
and frankly who could blame him? I hear lots of talk suggesting the current maelstrom of revolting lies and undeserved opprobrium being heaped upon our great club, its leader and his players may serve to foster a bunker mentality. The theory being that this could be the silver lining which bonds them and helps them find the angry determination to succeed . I’m not too happy with the idea of a bunker mentality. It conjures images of The Führerbunker of the Reich Chancellery. The scenes of debauched excess and suicidal despair of those trapped with their crazed leaders is actually the fallacy being foisted on us by the press and their craven agents in the negative Arsenal blogosphere. I’d much prefer it if the team could adopt a siege mentality.
Surrounded, without hope of outside relief, the besieged members of Castle Arsenal must rally around their brave and visionary leader and look deep inside themselves and to their comrades and find their strength and mutual support they need to see them through. The barbarians gathered around the Arsenal island think that by infiltrating the minds of the most feeble elements of our support that they have successfully installed a fifth column inside the Emirates. But these people aren’t traitors they are merely weak and fickle. We all know that a run of good results (regardless of the performances) and maybe a bauble or two will have them singing the great man’s praises once again. As much I am galled at the thought of sharing our inevitable success with those who have booed our players for the crime of being unlucky (eg versus Blackburn) or daring to return from injury (Eboue, Santos, Ramsay) I’d rather have them cheering than moaning. They don’t deserve Arsenal and Arsene doesn’t deserve them but they are a fact that we must accept.
In any case, buck up and remember not all sieges end in disaster, starvation, surrender and defeat. In 1944 India was saved from falling to the Japanese advance thanks largely to the heroics of an outnumbered group of British and Indian troops. Surrounded and cut off from the outside world by a massive Japanese army, they held out until their besiegers were forced to withdraw and the words of one historian bear uncanny resemblance to our similarly beleaguered troops today
“The British, Indian and Ghurkha soldiers stood up to the heavy and incessant strain, largely due to the high standards of leadership, the mutual confidence and friendship between all races and creeds in the Indian divisions, the magnificent work of the medical authorities – and by no means least, to their innate sense of humour in the most adverse circumstances.”
So get your heads up people, if the team can lift themselves after falling behind I’m damn sure we can, after all; we’re not the ones in the firing line.