Ever wished you didn’t have a game to watch quite so soon? Usually I find a quick turn around to be the best medicine, get the stench of defeat out of the emotional laundry with the fresh breeze of a new fixture. Unfortunately I also like to spend a few days convincing myself that it is after all only a game and asking why am I getting myself so worked up about it and telling myself there are many more important events in my life with which to concern myself. All the usual self deluding froth with which one hopes to obscure the windscreen of one’s thoughts.
After a wholly unexpected and unwelcome result at the Old T however I needed more than these past two days to want even to think about the round ball game. I had the distraction of the rugby which helped enormously as it gave me and my Man U supporting pal some safe ground over which we could walk together, deftly avoiding the potholes and land mines of football.
All credit to him. He knows I don’t talk footy to friends or enemies after a defeat. I don’t find shouting and arguing and looking for someone to blame as cathartic as others do and so prefer to change the subject and he didn’t mention it even once. Given the season they’re having and the fact that he thought we would clobber them, that must have taken some restraint.
So when I glanced at the fixtures and saw we are opening the doors and welcoming visitors from over the bridge tonight I greeted the news with slumped shoulders and a weary resigned sigh. Of course we all know that the best antidote for disillusion and regret is a thumping good victory. Should we pull one from the bag then, like you, I shall wake up on Thursday morning and place my hat at a jaunty angle before tucking into the eggs and bacon. Such are the shallow, insecure vagaries which dominate the psyche and personality of the football fan.
It is bloody silly placing our happiness in the hands of others isn’t it? I don’t mean those we trust at home, work or at play I mean people we neither know nor are ever likely to meet. Distant millionaires who know nothing of our existence and who’s lives would be entirely unaltered were you and I to perish in a freak ballooning accident over the Pyrenees taking with us all of the readership of Positively Arsenal in the resultant cabin fire.
The more I think about it the more it seems akin to that nasty habit and dangerous addiction, gambling. You decide that your mood, and that of those about whom you purport to care most, is best served by flinging all of your hopes on a bonfire set by people without your best interest at heart and who will only profit from your weakness or affliction.
And still we come back for more.
Of course if you were thinking of quitting and trying to change your life it doesn’t help when Leicester go and drop two points at home against West Brom on the eve of our next fixture. Suddenly they have extended their lead over us and the Spuds but we can, with the right result, claw back a couple of the lost Old Trafford points.
We ought not to be surprised by this. I don’t see any reason to suppose that such a topsy turvy, fairground ride of a season should suddenly level out and become predictable just because there are only ten or eleven games to go. A return to form for our men, a little help from the Hammers and Jurgen Klopp’s Flying Circus and Thursday may dawn bright and cheerful after all. Of course the reverse is equally possible and there would be many a mattress in need of changing in many a cot were that to be the case. Sales of Sudocrem would no doubt rocket judging by the infant out pouring after Sunday’s result.
In among all of this emotional wreckage Swansea FC are quietly making their way along the M4, stopping no doubt for a go on the Space Invaders and a family sized bag of Revels at Leigh Delamere, and rocking up to N7 in time for this evening’s 7.45 kick off. What mood will they be in I wonder? Buoyed by our indifferent results and their history against us they should be in the right frame of mind to give us a game tonight. I certainly hope so. I don’t want us to be faced with another packed defence, it makes for such an excruciating match.
Swansea looked like doing us a favour when they took the lead at WHL recently but according the readers of the South Wales Evening Post they are incapable of defending a lead which given our propensity for conceding the initiative is music to my ears. We all know what is wrong with our side right now, a couple of key players horribly out of form and the necessary rotation during the fixture clog disrupting the rhythm of the rest. The question is can these things be put right in such a short space of time? Who the hell knows? Not me.
It all depends how deep the malaise actually runs. It’s all too easy to look on from the outside and presume there are seismic issues here. That is usually because we are so desperate for the team to do well that we fear the worst and allow that fear to overcome our reason. The side might be just one goal away from clicking, a couple of slick moves away from rediscovering their balletic, telepathic poise – it would not surprise me one bit.
So come on boys and girls, mums and dads, let’s not allow the occasional setback to spoil the fun of following the finest team in the land. Let’s not invest so much in success that we are robbed of our dignity in defeat. Let’s try instead to remember why we are all here in the first place. To enjoy the game of football played by some of its finest practitioners, and maybe, just maybe, see them come away with a trophy every now and then. Sounds like a plan to me. You in?