Yesterday thanks to Dave Seager who kindly obtained two tickets for us, my son and I traveled from Belfast to London to see our beloved Arsenal play Swansea. It was also an opportunity to spend some time with a seriously ill relative who is about to undertake major surgery. She is my only surviving relative from my generation, outside of my own family and she lives in Wimbledon. For widely differing reasons, these were momentous moments.
Unfortunately, the day did not go well. I booked the flights a day early and I had to re-book. Those charming people at Easy Jet do not take your circumstances into consideration, so effectively I paid double the price. When I arrived in Gatwick Airport, I did not have the confirmation for the train tickets I had paid for online though I did have all the details relative to it. The Ticket attendant at Gatwick succeeded in tracing my application but he could not ascertain that I had actually paid for the tickets. Once again, I had to pay for new ones. I reckon that it cost me over £600 and a day of travel beginning at 5.00am in the morning, to be at the match.
I do not mention these matters to elicit sympathy. I simply say that the people at a game are faces in a crowd but they are not just numbers. They all have their story to tell. I met up with Dave and his friends at The Tollington Arms and my son and I enjoyed a lot of time discussing the current state of the Club with those present. The conversations were atypical of those we see in Gunners sites and are generally for or against Wenger. Anyway after a very pleasant evening we took our places in the Emirates and prepared to enjoy the match.
It wasn`t too long before Joel Campbell put us one up and we were even happier than we had been. Sometimes it takes very little to lift the gloom and at that time, all my troubles were forgotten! Alas, the moment was not to last. The team deceived us. They let Swansea back into the game and to my dismay, they equalised. It was not that Swansea suddenly grew skills that they did not have before the game. They did not have to play like champions. They simply ground their way to an equaliser. I was dumbfounded. I checked the team sheets and I tried to explain how this was happening. I could not find a single person on Swansea`s team who Arsene Wenger would have taken on a free transfer yet here they were, level in a match which we needed to stay in contention for the championship. I watched Wenger gesticulating and screaming at the referee, the players and to God it appeared.
Fate had once more cursed him with a blind referee who had not seen the foul committed by Williams on Ozil which led up to the goal. How could this be his fault that the referee had been stricken with the same blight to his vision that he is famous for when he is asked to comment on an alleged foul against one of his players?
As the game progressed his so called champions elect could not find the skill to unlock the determination of these journeymen of Swansea who simply kept their heads down and put in an honest shift. Their honesty and effort was rewarded with a winning goal and once more Wenger was left to his ranting and gesticulations while his team trooped off the field heads down to the sound of booing from the fans. At least the players had the decency to show their shame but Wenger subsequently has shown no remorse or responsibility for his role in the defeat. It was the referee`s fault, it was bad luck, we hit a cross bar twice which refused to get out of the way of the ball. It was anybody`s fault but his it seems.
He picked a team made up of players who he picked. He coaches them. He apparently does actually have a plan which he conveys to them before and during the game but alas more woe is piled upon him because they do not follow it. WHOSE FAULT IS THAT? At what point in this miserable season will he finally accept that his failures in this and previous seasons are largely because of his obduracy and refusal to adapt to the fact that his methods of ten years ago are now outdated. His lack of flexibility in his tactics make it easy for opposing coaches to predict how Arsenal will play and the best of those coaches do it repeatedly. His abject failure to motivate players means they rarely overcome adversity.
To those fans that still cling to the support of Wenger and I take no pleasure in seeing many blogs today confirming that their authors have finally had enough. I was shocked to see that our own Alex Baguzin is one of them. To those of you who continue to say that they will always support him simply out of gratification for what he has done for the club and out of simple loyalty. I say that when Arsene says that he does not pay attention to criticism, then I believe that as a person who made a concerted effort to be at the game (and I know that many others have made much more concerted efforts ) then my concerns deserve consideration as do those of the thousands who go to all the matches. No doubt if every plan that he made was to come to fruition and we won the championship, he would be happy to make himself available for the adulation which would follow. It is only fair that he should accept the criticism of his failure to deliver what the fans long for. These games when we are inexplicably beaten by much inferior teams are far too common an occurrence as far as more and more of us are prepared to endure. Please Arsene, do the decent thing and retire.
For the “Wengerites” who would abuse me and possibly call me a plastic supporter, I say that your attitude to berate those of us who feel as I do is to deny us our ambition of seeing this great club mounting a realistic opposition to the real greats who regularly beat us in the vital challenges. Are we never to join the party? If you are content to remain permanent also rans then go and support a club with no ambitions. The purpose of building a magnificent stadium is not to house a team of also rans who flatter to deceive. Unless Arsene Wenger radically changes his ways, we are never to enjoy the rewards of champions. That is fact. The evidence is before you. I for one do not intend to stand and admire the Palace he has built only to find that there is no soul inside it. I will not leave this club in rancour. I will remain an Arsenal supporter for life but I will continue to highlight the wrongs that are being done to the real fans who simply want some success for a club they love and which deserves it.
A sophisticated, articulate Arsenal Man of Mystery. Aged 70 and a bit.