Sunday, 27 October 2013

“If winning isn’t everything why do they keep score?”-Vince Lombardi

“Individual commitment to a group effort - that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work”-Vince Lombardi

Vince Lombardi Head Coach of the Green Bay Packers in the 1960s and one of the great thinkers in sports history had a plethora of quotable adages about team work, sporting excellence, motivation and the qualities in life that count for so much: almost embodying what team sport is all about.

Commitment as a group is key, particularly when there are forces massed against you. Enemies from without is to be  expected so Alan Hansen's negativity on MOTD is par for the course particularly given his past status with Liverpool FC (haunted by ghosts of '89 perhaps?). Personally I record or pause MOTD on Sky+ and FF through the inane punditry as I do the commercials, so rarely pay heed to such nonsense. What did make me pause for thought was an interview on ArsenalFanTV with a rather negative Arsenal supporter following our 0-2 success at Palace.

Now I'm not one for name calling of fellow supporters and I do think that we all have opinions that we are entitled to but, and it's a big but, this chap seemed to show no comprehension of the realities of the Premier League in 2013. I think that making comparisons with the Henry, Vieira,Pires, Ljungberg, Bergkamp team only gets you so far, as does plucking names of players you want to join the club out of thin air (yeah, let's have Ronaldo, Messi and Maradona). We won. Yes we won a game in a Premier League that is an arduous journey rife with banana skins and the accumulation of points is everything. Good teams aspire to play the beautiful game to achieve success but good teams are also prepared to win ugly.

Our away support is, and has always been, magnificent and I don't believe this fellow is indicative of Arsenal supporters en masse. What he represents is hard to say but his views certainly pushed a lot of people's buttons. To my way of thinking the reaction to his interview is due to the lack of individual commitment to a group cause. At this time in Arsenal's history unity is vital. The team look unified and yesterday showed a resilience that, so far this season characterises why we have been so successful. There is also a unity among the support which promotes that elusive feel good factor. Guys like this chip away at that and unlike Hansen, you expect fair and reasonable comment and yes, criticism, not out and out sour derision. There was no discussion, no rational argument just invictive and I think the interviewer kept his cool where others may have acted differently.

Anyone who has read arsenalism before will know I do not opt for the 'everything's great/everything's terrible' approach but I would like to believe that pausing for reflection would bring context to any result and a victory to retain top spot in the league following a loss in the previous game to one of the best teams in Europe would be something to crack a smile minimum.  

Enemies from without are par for the course, particularly as, for a Northern centric football media we represent the suave urbane Londoner stereotype, but we can do without enemies within; particularly those who will not enter into a debate. Debate may have led to the realisation that the win at palace could be three points that have genuine meaning come the end of the season. Commitment to the cause from all can reap rewards, and commitment is hard for supporters; freely chosen but hard, and maybe this time a reward will be reaped that is tangible. Vince Lombardi embued this philosophy with his teams and the support alike and through unity of purpose a philosophy came out on top.
"The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand."-Vince Lombardi

Sunday, 20 October 2013



"Enjoy the moment" That's my current mantra. We are currently riding high and receiving plaudits, and rightly so, for how we have apparently surprised everyone. Yesterday's game against Norwich featured four of the best goals you are likely to see in a game and the defining element in all the strikes was confidence, a level of confidence that we haven't seen in a while. What that's down to is hard to say but clearly the arrival of a genuine world class player has enabled others to have more breathing space and adapt to the challenge of matching the level of quality of our number eleven. Next month there are some mouthwatering fixtures to look forward to and 'looking forward' is the optional phrase as in the past there has been something of a feeling of dread surrounding playing our direct competition. The Liverpool game is a throwback to the era when the two clubs were slugging it out for top spot and Snap's I've Got The Power was top of the charts. The European games are an opportunity to gauge how far we have come and a fixture against a Mourinho led Chelsea has been a bone of contention previously and a chance to turn them over is much anticipated.
At the moment the Gunners are firing and in the famous words of Brian Moore "we kept our powder dry" in the sumer and the team are doing all that we could ask of them. So let's have one eye on the future but remember to enjoy the moment.

Friday, 4 October 2013


1. The power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity.

2. Ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy

Ability takes you far as does team spirit, a little bit of luck: the cliché that is ‘the rub of the green’, but perhaps the most valuable asset for success is resilience. In a league that is very much a marathon not a sprint and in cup competitions where 90 minutes can decide your destiny resilience is key.
When we were top of the league and Eduardo was maimed the Arsenal folded. When Newcastle did the unthinkable and overturned a 0-4 lead in minutes the Arsenal crumbled. This time around we seem to have that elusive buoncebackability (a lovely phrase that) that has resulted in a tremendous run of form. The time to collapse was after the loss to Sp*rs or the home loss to Aston Villa, but on both occasions the Arsenal rose to the challenge: the sort of response we haven’t seen since the days of the Vieira captained glory years.
The away fans have been tremendous even in the darkest moments but now the Emirates faithful seem rejuvenated which makes home advantage palpable. I think that most sensible supporters will always acknowledge real effort: triers, and this set of players tend to give their all which, alongside the improvements in certain team members, makes for a team that can be believed in.
That the press and Sports media are praising us (for now) I couldn’t give two hoots about, as they are a fickle bunch who will jump on any mishaps. What’s really important is that as supporters a sense of unity has broken out. Heads are being lifted even if some refuse to be anything but down and out about things.
Enjoying the good times is as important as wallowing in the bad and one thing hold true for both staes of mind: perspective.
The real test awaits. If our momentum stalls or if we fail to respond when an inevitable setback crops up will the team be up for the fight? You know what? With this lot I think resilience may be here to stay

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