Something that Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis said today got me thinking (I wasn't thinking before). He was talking about the increasing groundswell of opinion that suggests Arsène Wenger looks tired, and then he touched upon all of our roles in this:
"Believe it or not, he didn’t become a bad manager or somebody who is out of touch with the game - it’s absolute nonsense based, I believe, on the need to create crisis and drama. I think we are all complicit in that because it is part of what fuels the success and the interest in the game."
-- Ivan Gazidis on Arsenal.com
I am a rage-filled person. I have an extremely quick temper (some might call it a "short fuse", even), as anyone who takes a quick read through some of the game threads for Arsenal's more...dynamic...matches over the past year can see. While my remote control has survived all off Arsenal's thoughtless, insensitive, unprovoked attacks on it for years now, other sporting events have not been so kind--the Minnesota Vikings have actually caused me bodily injury, the heartless jerks. I rant about close to anything, at anyone who will listen, as long as they know me. However, I don't like to rant at strangers. Hell, I don't even like to have an OPINION around strangers. It's the cultural imperative of my entire upbringing: make sure nobody dislikes you to the point of extreme passive-aggressive behavior (and now you understand the Minnesota Nice). So while I smash all-caps strings of incoherent cursing and symbols in the moment, I rarely let loose later on in reports and analysis.
When it comes to Arsenal and soccer, this is something of double-edged sword. As Gazidis suggests, the human desire to narrativize, to DRAMATIZE, everything that happens around us is inescapable. Successful blogging is about making claims, and preferably bold ones, as the starting point of healthy analysis. Balancing out this need to read conflict into everything, though, is often boring, gray workaday conditions at the club.
In the case of Arsenal, I would suggest, following Chief Ivan, that a substantial dollop of the latter is needed. The reasons for this are: Arsenal is possibly the most-talked about club on earth, they have been near enough to "success" without actually "tasting" "it" for six years to ride on the sharp edge of drama, and they refuse to conform to stereotypical views of what English soccer should look like. So, in an effort to dial it back:
- There are still 99 points to play for
- All of our players have immense talent, if not immense powers of concentration
- We came through our hardest Champions League match with a draw
- We knew the first month or two would be rough when Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri went out the door, and we signed two of our back four on deadline day
- This time last year, we were cruising, and look how that turned out
- We are financially stable, and will always have a TON of revenue (i.e. we're not Leeds or Blackburn)
I know that our last 16 league games have yielded three wins. There is no denying that this is Wenger's worst-ever six months in charge, and it's not even close. This is the new reality. There is nothing to do but try to extract joy where possible for the moment. It can't get any worse.