An Emotional Roller-coaster

 What is Football to me?

Football, one word that means so many different things to so many different people. To some its just a recreational event, something they enjoy doing in their spare time, maybe attend the odd game or two a season, have a few beers at the pub if the games on & after that game is done it’s all forgotten. I know many Arsenal fans of an elder generation who have in recent years (last 6/7) decided that they wont be attending the matches any more as everything has changed vast amounts both financially & their disbelief in the current regime. Then there are a core of fans who almost in a way dedicate their lives to our club. The working week is all about the next game, home & away the feeling of supporting the club you love cannot be matched. It’s in your blood, from a very young age people are brought up by families, born into this situation & you adopt the feeling of being a part of Arsenal football club. Me? I’m certainly one of the later, I’m lucky enough to have been held aloft by my old man in the North Bank for my first ever game on a Wednesday night the 29th November 1995 at the age of 6 as Ian Wright converted a penalty, from that second on i really understood what it meant to support your side. The feeling of release, of excitement & happiness when a goal is scored, that feeling doesn’t dull down, each and every match means so much to some. Being an away fan, in the minority travelling all over Europe & England to represent that cannon on our chest, it’s a feeling that can’t be matched. After a defeat I cannot listen to the radio, find myself avoiding newspapers, it’s almost a sickening feeling that lasts until the next one comes around. Football is a game for me that evokes so many emotions; Elation, sadness, confusion, anger, joy, disbelief, every single one of these can be felt inside the 90 minutes & no matter who you are, how much you support the club we all feel these emotions and we all want exactly the same, success for the Arsenal. I’ve met people in my life through football that will stay with me until the day I die, special people who I would otherwise never have known had existed, its more than just a game.

“Life, it can be difficult. You know that. We all need someone to rely on, someone that’s going to be there, someone that’s going to make you feel like you belong, someone constant. Its ecstasy, anguish, joy & despair. Its part of our history, its part of our country & it will be part of our future. Its theatre, art, war & love. It should be predictable but never is, its a feeling that can’t be explained but we spend our lives explaining it. Its OUR religion, we do not apologise for it, we do not deny it, there OUR team OUR family OUR lives.”

At the age where a full kit was acceptable.

At the age where a full kit was acceptable.

Talking of emotion, look at my face during that infamous Adebayor incident.

Talking of emotion, look at my face during that infamous Adebayor incident.

Where do we go from here?

 Onto our current situation, this is more of an emotional opinion from me this time round, if you’ve previously read any of my blogs you’ll know that I’ve been disillusioned by Arsene Wenger for a little more than the last few weeks, here’s how I see it. First things first Arsene Wenger is an idol, a legend, a man who has achieved greatness for our football club. He brought us the invincible season, 3 premier league titles, 6 FA Cup’s & for me quite possibly his biggest achievement was maintaining Arsenal’s position amongst the top 4 for the duration of the transition to the emirates. I venomously backed Arsene Wenger in adversity for years, clearly the funds were not available to him for a prolonged period, we were selling our best players year after year yet still regrouping, he deserves a hell of a lot of credit and respect for that. BUT we then went on to complete the signing of Mesut Ozil, followed by the acquisition of Alexis Sanchez the following season, 2 FA Cup’s in a row but still no real progression, champions league is stale, knocked out of the capital one cup far too early every year, this was our year to move forward onto the next level but Arsene Wenger decided otherwise. We make more match-day revenue than ANY CLUB in the entire world of football, were the 8th richest club in the world, we have HUGE cash reserves available yet Arsene Wenger doesn’t believe there is a player in world football that could have improved our squad who was as he says “Available”. Relying on Flamini & a 33-year-old Arteta who had been out for over 8 months previous was a laughable mistake, Ozil and Alexis must wonder what dream they’ve been sold.

Tactically I’ve been disillusioned all season, but midweek was venomous. The vast majority of the stadium in unison booing substitutions, it’s not just Swansea, his substitutions & decisions all season have been a joke, I mean your losing at home against Barcelona in the champions league, 1-0 down still well in the tie and you decide to bring on Flamini who in turn does a Flamini & knocks us out of the champions league in 2 minutes. The worrying thing for me is the attitude of the players, the lack of belief, not only that we can win the title but for me it seems there is a lack of belief in the way Arsene Wenger is attempting to play football. If one or 2 were under-performing you could suggest they may need dropping as they are to blame but its a whole team of players who are off the boil. In 12 months Wenger has turned an aggressive South American WINGER who takes the piss out of people and scores for fun into Oxlade-Chamberlain’s clone, get the ball run narrow cut inside run into people lose possession, repeat. Theo Walcott & Aaron Ramsey are 2 players who have been receiving a huge amount of abuse but are also 2 players that clearly aren’t benefiting from Wenger’s approach. Mesut Ozil is getting by because head and shoulders he’s world-class. Olivier Giroud is very low on confidence, lacking supply, lacking width & players to link with. The full backs are consistently caught ahead of play, Bellerin again twice being used as a right-winger against Barcelona Suarez pulled into the space he vacated and we were exploited and more recently midweek Routledge found himself in behind Hector who was advanced. This current system isn’t getting the best out of anyone, I seriously believe that if Arsene was to save this season we need to revert to the old Arsene Wenger. The one that used to be aggressive, fast paced, direct.

In 14 premier league home games this season we’ve had more than 2 shots on target in the first half on just 2 occasions, we’ve also only scored in one of those games in the first 15 minutes of either half.

Retain width get your WINGERS to hug the touch-line’s, creating the space for Ozil and Ramsey to operate. Get your full backs defending not getting caught ahead of the ball out of position. When the wingers come narrow Olivier Giroud has to move out onto the wing into the space to actually be able to receive possession, it then means he’s always too late when arriving into the box. Tell Giroud to stay CF, get your wingers wide and supplying Giroud, tell your full backs to be more disciplined and go back to basics. I wrote more in-depth about this here My Tactical View

Despite my criticism of Arsene it breaks my heart to see him struggling, to see him storming off in an interview, providing strange answers to questions, making crazy subs and looking tactically lost game after game. He looks shot, devoid of ideas, unable to motivate & get the best out of the fantastic group of players we have at the club. This season isn’t over yet, but he needs a drastic change & it needs to start at the Lane. After the game midweek I sat in my seat actually considering if I wanted to put myself through that anymore, when the reality is nothing would stop me from being at the Lane.

I’m wounded but the nature of a football fan picks you up & you go again. Saturday is a must win not just because its Spurs, but its a must win for Arsenal Football Club.

 

 

 

 

 

Warren Ratcliffe

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