Sorry to interrupt your Sunday morning with talk of a football match but there is one scheduled to kick off this afternoon and some of us used to consider it a fairly important occasion. I presume that in a few years when my generation are pushing up the daisies there’ll be no one left to care at all about matches played during the Transfer Window. It must be a terrible bore and unnecessary distraction for those of you who see this as the penultimate day in the single most crucial and exciting time of the season. I suppose you’ll have January to look forward to but the January window is really Europa league to the summer one isn’t it? This is the big one coming to a close right now and I must say it seems to have been a real humdinger with Spurs looking like runaway winners. There used, once upon a time to be an exciting rivalry between our two clubs back in the day where performances and results on the pitch were considered more important than following the activities of agents, ‘In The Know’ fans and sports journalists. Some of us actually enjoyed those days. For one thing our side generally came out on top whereas now we have to hide our Arsenal scarves in shame and just hope that the board and manager will commit mass hara-kiri in order to spare us the embarrassment of languishing at the bottom of the table yet again.
I remember so well when Queens Park Rangers thrashed us last season buying so many players and spending so much money, replacing managers with a breathtaking aplomb that quite simply dazzled us poor Arsenal fans. I even considered giving up on the years I’ve wasted following Arsenal and buying a hooped blue and white shirt, this time I might start supporting Spurs.
Twitter and football blogs have really taken the thrill of following the fortunes of a Premier League team to new heights haven’t they? I was reminded of this just yesterday. In a quaint flashback to the pre internet days I bumped into an old acquaintance whilst we pushed our respective wives around the supermarket laden down with essential supplies. As the trolleys, or carts if you prefer, chatted about this and that, he asked if I was looking forward to the match tomorrow. He is a Tottenham fan and I’m all Arsenal so you might have imagined he’d be more than a little smug about their imminent victory in The Window. Curiously though it seemed that we preferred to chat about today’s match and how much we were both looking forward to it. He acknowledged our historical supremacy and I pointed out their relative improvement in recent times and in due course after receiving the laser beams from our partners we parted with mutual bad wishes for each others teams and their respective prospects. It was like a scene from pre-history, a land that time has forgotten. Real people discussing actual football with a healthy rivalry and a shared and genuine love of the game.
Then I returned home and turned on my computer. Oh boy was I brought back to earth with a bang. I quickly realised how silly I was to simply look forward to a physical on pitch encounter with our oldest rivals. To be wondering if the unpredictable and shattering number of first team injuries we have suffered would cost us dear should our substitutes be needed and whether the opposition might struggle to accommodate so many new faces and miss their talismanic simian mascot. These were surely the deluded fantasies of a crazy person. For here on the internet the true meaning of football was being played out.
People were falling over themselves to outdo each other describing how nervous they were as the Deadline Day approached. Others were comparing how they coped with the righteous anger they felt towards the club which has so badly betrayed their trust and support. Many saw no reason to even try to cope with these overwhelming emotions and just lashed out at the manager, the board and any fan letting the side down by not expressing his indignation in the most bald and unambiguous terms. I couldn’t decide whether I felt let down, betrayed, lied to, disappointed, outraged or sickened. I panicked that I might choose the wrong emotion and be thought less of by my fellow fans. I realised how utterly silly I would sound if I dared to voice my private opinion that the depth in our squad was there for all to see. If we could field such a strong side against Fenerbache and comprehensively destroy them despite missing Thomas Vermaelen, Abou Diaby, Lukas Podolski, Alex Oxelaide Chamberlain and the division’s outstanding midfielder by any measurement Mikel Arteta then surely we couldn’t be so badly placed. Could we? As I say, luckily I came to my senses and refrained from pointing out that this weak and obviously failing squad had now lost a grand total of one match in the last sixth months. I realised that the days when such trivialities mattered had slipped into history along with bear baiting and Penny Black stamps. These distracting irrelevancies might interest drooling old men like me, senile and out of touch but in the real exciting world of The Window all that mattered is the number of signings, the amount they cost, which players journalists want fans to talk about and how appalling and inept our hapless management is, its inadequacies laid bare by their inactivity.
The latest body blow to those of us unfortunate enough to follow such a feeble, backward and useless club as Arsenal is the signing of Mathieu Flamini. In a move now universally recognised as a deliberate and personal insult to every single fan in the world, made by a board that is at once out of touch and simultaneously devious and spiteful, they captured a player who failed to meet any of the criteria for a Window winning signing. Not only is he not an internationally renowned player with a Name but, and I can barely bring myself to type this, he didn’t cost anything. OK so he has bags of top level experience and once upon a time not costing anything would be a reason to celebrate the canny business minds at any club, and he knows the manager and his system perfectly, he can play well in multiple positions including those where injuries have left us needing experienced cover and he’s been training with us for a while now so knows the other players. Granted he made up a quarter of our most talented midfield of recent seasons and played right through to the European Cup final but all these mean nothing. His suitability, the precise way he fills a need , the fact that he didn’t cost us an obscene amount of money are all just sidetracking, bushwhacking baloney designed to distract from the fact that his signing means the club hate you and your family and would like to see you all drown in a vat of acid and piss.
Luckily enough everyone on Twitter put me straight and prevented me from looking forward to today’s match. I’m sincerely grateful to you all, everyone who has played their part in helping this poor deluded old man to see what really matters in the modern game. Regardless of the result or the final placings come next May, Tottenham have already beaten us, and were relegation from the Window possible we’d be going down and deservedly so.
Dark days to follow the Arsenal. I just hope the close season goes well between Tuesday and the January tournament and we come back stronger and ready to spend some money, faster, earlier and above all more and on the right names.