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Arsenal Versus Manchester United : Sympathy For The Devils

Ricky Gervais is a funny bloke. A far more talented actor than he is ever given credit for and pretty sound on several issues, most obviously our systematic abuse of other species. He also likes to wind people up. Not with the mindless trolling employed by those less cerebrally gifted than him but in a way intended, one suspects, to provoke us to consider what he’s saying and examine our own prejudiced positions.

Lately, via the medium of Twitter, he has been exploring the concept that while calling an individual daft or stupid can be insulting, describing an idea in such terms cannot. By definition an idea shouldn’t really be able to be offended or to take anything we say personally. After all, it doesn’t have a person does it? Many have refused to accept this argument and continued to hurl abuse and incoherent, frothing rage at their screens when he pours scorn on an idea to which they subscribe.

I broadly agree with Mr Gervais on this issue but feel he is a little disingenuous if he really is ignoring certain perfectly understandable human traits inherent in all of us. If, for example, I think an idea is pretty neat and you call that idea a bladder full of rancid rat’s offal then some of that mud sticks to me for holding the aforementioned offal in such high esteem. You are, by association, implying I have either failed to think the thing through or am too hopeless to spot how silly the idea was in the first place. So yes, an idea cannot take offence but the person who sees their idea under fire from the excrement gun is likely to feel smeared by at least a small amount of collateral ordure.

All of this came to mind as I was twiddling my thumbs wondering when the day would dawn when I finally wrote a match-day blog and actually failed entirely to mention the football. I am after all a rank amateur with no inside knowledge or special insight only hired because George enjoyed my ability to turn a phrase or two. Having your name above a newspaper column or blog page does not of itself confer upon you any particular status.

This is the same for celebrity fans who wield no more weight with their opinions simply because their theatrical careers have thrust them into the public eye. I like famous fans to be like Marc Riley or Bob Mortimer who’s public utterances are entirely impossible to separate from yours and mine. Simply supporters cheering their side on, singing when they’re winning and lambasting the ref when he gets it wrong. Just as it should be. Some of our own famous fans have failed spectacularly to realise their place on this earth and have flipped, flopped and issued verbal farts of a most distressing stink since the money which poured into Stamford bridge and Manchester so distorted the Premier League.

I don’t intend to name the one who leaped to mind – these graceless oafs have more than enough coverage without I add sticks to the bonfire of their vanity. I recall him being interviewed on TV just before a big game, possibly a cup final, possibly not. This was back in the golden years and he was purring over how Arsène’s team would pass the opposition of the park and revelling in his association with the club. Years later, during the Stadium Debt Years he only spoke to garner cheap laughs and to make sarcastic remarks at the expense of our players and of course the manager.

I used to despise people like this but then I thought of the whole Ricky Gervais thing and realised what was happening. These vacuous attention hungry whores were basking in the reflected glow of the team and its achievements. By association they felt more successful because their team was successful. When the trophies dried up and the media began their unrelenting campaign of negativity on the subject of all things Arsenal the poor dears felt smeared by that same association.

So this guy panicked and tried everything in his power to say “No no – this doesn’t reflect on me at all, look see, I too think the club is mismanaged, staffed by donkeys and without hope or value. Not only that see how clever I am when I take the piss out of them. Love me, love me, love me.”

He and his ilk simply didn’t want to be conflated with an idea which appeared to be held in derision. They were of course forgetting that a supporter’s role, no matter what their day job, is to support, through, as Bob Wilson’s quote at the top of this and every PA page reminds us, thick and thin.

Just as we supporters were delighted with Yaya Sanogo’s goal scoring feats against Reading yesterday so the failures and birth mistakes among our fanbase, whether famous or humble, greeted the news with sarcasm and scorn. It’s a shame that you and I and those malcontents are talked of by the fence sitters as being all as bad as each other. The one side of the divide does not support the club and we do. It is simply surreal to say a pox on both your houses as if supporting the club is as idiotic and counter productive as not supporting it.

There we are though. This is the fate of the modern fan and it is a burden we must bear with equanimity and good grace. I don’t believe we ought to puff ourselves up with pride when the team does well any more than we should take it personally when Arsène’s ideas are reduced to a hissing and a byword. Neither is down to us.

Having said all of that I must confess that there are few real absolutes in football. Apart from the first commandment “Thou shalt not support Bristol City” and the second “Thou shalt mock any team from Middlesex” the whole thing demands a certain fluidity of thought, a malleability of prejudice from its followers.

Imagine for example Jose Mourinho taking over at Arsenal. I don’t say it would ever happen but if it did we’d have to find something positive not just to say but to think about the man. A man we have held in contempt for so long the habit must be engrained in us like the name of a resort in a stick of rock.

Imagine if the manager of Manchester United took such an exciting and justified stance against the revolting lickspittles of the British press corps that we feel like jumping up and applauding him. Imagine if his side suffered the kind of injury blight usually reserved by the fates only for Arsenal. It might be impossible not to empathise and even sympathise with a club who so recently made our lips curl at the mention of its name. Imagine if they sunk so low in the table that they were no longer a threat. We might find ourselves in a less vituperative mood towards them. Odd how things change. How some of our fans are already turning on Leicester for their tactics, individual players for their cheating, referees for their leniency towards them, the media for fawning over them.

I don’t suggest we should rush out and hug the first Man United fan we meet in the street but today sees us visit a ground no longer reeking of sulphur. A fixture I used to detest over all others has been eclipsed by visits to Stamford Bridge and to the Potteries.

I am not predicting victory, I haven’t, I hope, an hubristic bone in my body, but we do not travel to Salford with anything close to the trepidation as that in days of yore. They are a side unable to put a decent run together so disrupted have their manager’s plans been and we are a side capable of great football but with our goal threat blunt and our scorers misfiring. They will field youngsters eager to impress and we will face a choice between an out of sorts Theo, a delicate and recuperating Danny and Joel a man in danger of becoming sidelined once again. I prefer to see Aaron farther forward and Santi or Jack partnering FC at the base of our midfield but that can’t happen and anyway I’m not a football manager – thank God. Neither am I famous enough to have an opinion that matters.

I just support the club, win, lose or draw. It’s about all any of us can do really. Oh, and I’m going to try not to take it personally if someone thinks that is a stupid idea.

About steww

Arsenal, books, photography, bass guitar, dog walking, mountain biking, being on the radio, writing, talking too much, failing, making mistakes, buggering on regardless.

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91 comments on “Arsenal Versus Manchester United : Sympathy For The Devils

  1. HT: Man Utd 2-1 Arsenal

    awfully soft goals let in, Welbeck has got us back in the game, but a much better performance is required, Walcott should be taken off, he has been woeful again. Alexis not much better. Get Grioud on. Utd look a very ordinary side, but we have played very nervy. Bellerin finding it very tough v depay.

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  2. My picture wasn’t great but our players seemed convinced about the penalty there. Would have been a sweet end to the half but I’ll take the one we’ve pulled back. As long as we just calm the fuck down and realise how much better we are I think we’ll be fine.

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  3. HT: spurs 0-1 swansea

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  4. come on Danny give us a hat-trick.

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  5. On occasions like this you appreciate the importance of sticking behind the team and not engage in mindless player bashing. Come On Arsenal.

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  6. Theo off for Giroud for me…he’ll score now..

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  7. Nice read up Steww, thanks. With respect to the game, I must say that as much as our boys have been off the pace, united have defended well by shadowing our players and closing them down. Whenever a player comes deep to get the ball there is a united player on him, thus cutting out passing options and impeding our transition. We need to work harder in the second half in order to lose markers and create space. COYG!!!!

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  8. walcott has not improved this half

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  9. about 30 minutes left, Giroud on for Walcott

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  10. come on you Gunners.Come on Larry.

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  11. pathetic defending even if it was a powerful strike with a big deflection, the defending before the shot was awful.

    The performance today has just not been good enough.

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  12. game on again?

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  13. ozil with an odd finish makes it 3-2, come on Arsenal one last big effort

    Elneny on for Coquelin

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  14. COME ON ARSENAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  15. Ramsey and Herrea both booked in a flare up

    spurs have made it 1-1 v Swansea

    man utd fans showing their class with their disgusting song aimed at Wenger

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  16. Elneny booked a couple of minutes into his BPL debut

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  17. a bad day has got worse, spurs now winning

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  18. come on Arsenal!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  19. Can we get something out of this?

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  20. about 10 minutes to save the game

    Welbeck off, Iwobi on

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  21. come on Iwobi smash a couple in mate!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Nows your time.

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  22. COME ON ARSENAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  23. Özil aggro!

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  24. important substitution by Manure.

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  25. FT: Man Utd 3-2
    an awful result, with a poor performance all round by Arsenal, walcott was downright awful, Ozil despite his goal and assist was not in the game enough, Alexis continued his recent poor form, we lost the midfield battle. Defense was shaky. Welbeck put in a great shift and got a goal.
    Arsenal were far too timid and never imposed their game on utd. The first goal was vital and we gave it away, then gave them a second, its not hard to see why there are doubts about Arsenal’s ability to win the title.

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  26. Bugger.Happy times for the WOBs.

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  27. A bad day all-round. This hurts.

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  28. gotta say that was poor from most of the team

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  29. An utterly disgraceful performance. ManU deserved that victory. We were anhilated by kids. Make no mistake.

    Here is my write up: we were shit…

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  30. That’s another brilliant preview, Steww. Thanks.

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  31. The midfield is the problem. It’s always the problem when we play badly and lose. We hardly ever won a second ball. They were all over us. It was horrible. Arsenal were either to confident or tired. The latter is no excuse AT ALL. It’s not looking good now.

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  32. other than Welbeck none of our outfield players was at the required level. All the rest played well within themselves. This season our lads have spurned many chances to go top of the table, each time putting in a below par performance, and now when a win badly needed to keep pace with Leicester and Spurs, we get another below par performance. I’m a big fan of Walcott’s but his performances lately have been dogshit, with his worst being midweek as a sub v Barca and today v utd, and he is usually a big game player, what is going on with him. Ramsey playing a more defensive way has totally limited his performance and worth to us. alexis is well below his best since returning from injury, we need these guys to find their best form very quickly or we can wave goodbye to our title chances.

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  33. I’m in pain and nobody can take it away….

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  34. One cannot single out players. We shouldn’t single our players. The entire team were well below par, but they shouldn’t be. I cannot understand how a team with so much talent can fall to such depths. It makes no sense.

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  35. I dont think manure were good today, infact I thought they were poor its just we were worse. That was a truely miserable performance, the passing was bad, the movement was stale and the decision making was bad.
    In hindsight playing two out of form wingers who both left their full backs was a poor decision and Arsene will have to hold his hands up to that. It’s difficult to see Theo coming back from such a woeful run of games and losing the ball for the first two goals didnt help. Some will say we were unlucky for the third goal however we had so many players back how they even got a shot away is beyond me.
    There is still a long way to go but with two teams ahead of us in much better form and city still there waiting to pounce it doesnt look good.
    The thing that worries me most is when both us and the spuds were a goal down i expected them rather than us to come back and win, although I suppose thatb might be the macarbeness of being a football supporter.
    Normally as soon as we lose there is lots of shit on twitter but today there is much to agree on, I feel almost relief as if the tension of a title challenge has been lifted from shoulders and thats not because of the result but because of the worst performance ive seen for a long time.

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  36. In hindsight, we should probably have started with Olivier. Also, we miss Santi badly. This loss hurts, and we really have to beat the spuds next.

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  37. Oh come on Positivas. Stop being hysterical like the twitterati. We lost fair and square but It wasn’t a disgraceful performance. We made mistakes and were punished. My biggest concern today is unlike vs Leicester we didn’t create many clear cut chances despite superior possession. Apart from Welbeck none of the starting front three looked like scoring and even Giroud came on he must have got one header directed at goal. AW won’t beat up on any individuals but therein lies the problem.

    PS: I hope those who mindlessly chat shit, note that even without scoring goals, Santi Cazorla provides that extra creativity in making gilt edge chances for our forwards. Absence makes my heart grow even fonder.

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  38. New post up boys and girls

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