By Patrick Grove
This is going to be a little reprieve from the match analysis I usually do because I ran into a topic this week that really got my blood boiling. It got me frustrated to the point that made me sit down with my laptop and start writing immediately. It fueled a fire that had to be put out and could only be accomplished by writing down my thoughts, so here goes.
Has anyone else noticed the hysteria that seems to be seeping into everything these days? Personally, I think the media and their constant need for headline-making material generally fuel this pervading trend. After every win, no matter how small or insignificant a team is a “bona fide title contender” and after every loss, they are “destined for relegation” or better yet, and more applicable to Arsenal “mid table mediocrity” or “non-entity”. Even draws become “a huge dent in title credentials” or “massive result for the away side.” Does this not bother anyone else? If not, I apologize for what follows.
When it’s just the media saying these things I tend to find it comical and silly, but when people that call themselves fans or supporters start believing this stuff it becomes scary. If it were up to the vocal majority, (and by this I mean those that seem to comment on every website) every team this season would have a new manager and would have unrecognizable teams. In fact, most teams would probably have 2 or 3 new managers per season and probably completely new squads barring 1 or 2 star players. That’s how impatient and unrealistic we have become. Instant gratification has become the name of the game.
Speaking as an Arsenal supporter specifically, we haven’t won a trophy in 7 years. That may seem like too many but ask Birmingham City what they would rather have, a Carling Cup Trophy or staying in the Premier League? How about Manchester City’s wait for a trophy? If I’m not mistaken it had been over 50 years for them until they won last year’s FA Cup. It’s been 6 years since Liverpool has won a trophy and they haven’t been playing in the Champions League for each one of those seasons. How about Tottenham? Or Everton? Or Newcastle? Or Blackburn? I have no doubt people will say that these clubs don’t have the history or aren’t on the same level as Arsenal. But they are all established Premier League sides (maybe not Blackburn for long) with history and I’ve seen these sides beat some of the best teams in the world.
Am I saying I don’t like winning trophies or that I’d rather be mid table than fighting for top spot? Hell no, I’m not saying that. What I’m trying to say is it all seems a bit melodramatic. We live in a world filled with poverty, war, crime, disease, and hate. Not all of these things apply to football but all are very real things and for most of us, they are things that are taken for granted or forgotten about. Do we forget what we have? Do we forget who we are or where we came from? This is the 125th anniversary of our beloved club’s formation. How many fans know the history? Yes in the late 90’s and early 00’s we sat at the top of the perch. Yes, we all loved it there. Were we always there? Would we have ever made it there without support?
To drill down to the grist of what I am trying to say, this world is full of gray area. Humans love to paint things in black and white. Football fans seem to only be able to see in black or white. We love to be able to say best or worst, amazing or terrible, and sign him or sack him. The reality is almost everything falls somewhere in between. Sometimes we need to change our perspective a little to realize it. Some people may never realize it, but the truth remains that the world, no matter how black and white we want to paint it, is full of gray. Every loss doesn’t require a sacking, every win doesn’t declare a league winner, and every goal doesn’t destine someone to be the best player of all time.
To try to make an argument that patience should not be wearing thin would be foolish. Even for me (generally an optimist), it’s a struggle to find patience at times this season. After a result like Wednesday night, stoking the fires became very easy for the press and for those of us who are reading about our team constantly, it’s tough not to become infected by it. But hysteria is not the answer to the problem. Every once in a while, try to step out of the moment, back into reality, and assess perspective and prospects. We’re supporters of Arsenal Football Club. Home of the Invincibles. Winners of 13 league championships and 10 FA Cups. We are in 4th place in the Premier League. We are in the last 16 of the FA Cup. Against all odds before the season, we are still in the Champions League (only just, and unlike either of the Manchester duo). And don’t forget…
So what’s all the hysteria about again?
You can follow Patrick on Twitter @PGrove1.