It's been quite a week for me and my relationship with this beautiful game. Last Sunday I saw my beloved team not try in the cold and it was unforgivable. They faced a tricky away tie on a wet Wednesday in Wolverhampton and I wasn't confident.
Wednesday afternoon is when the kid's football teams I am somehow in charge of practise and play matches. We are not good. As I stood on a sunny yet bitterly cold park pitch, worrying about what Henry might do to our brittle boned players that evening, my under 8's were taking a battering. I have no subs to turn things around with. Tactics are lost on them. One boys tells me he doesn't want to play anymore as his hands are dirty! He was told to go away from me before a torrent of anger reigned down upon him like shards of glass thrown by Hades himself. He looked at me, puzzled and just said, "What?"
What if Chamakh has a sudden panic about dirty hands? I'm not confident. My Under 8's faced another attack. GOAL! The keeper and his two defenders were standing in a self made circle with their heads bowed. In shame? NO! They were looking at a worm. A WORM! And they had no idea we had conceded! What if Fabianski, Squill........ No they wouldn't be that interested in wildlife would they?
As it happened dirty hand and worms couldn't stop us. A great start and end with some stout defensive play led to a fantastic 2-0 away win. Wolves were quite good and we were OK but we got the 3 points so suck on that Mr McCarthy and your dirty tackles they don't get shown on MOTD. Of course Cesc was hung out to dry but what do you expect?
Next up on my tour of falling back in love with the game was a trip with my son to Cambridge City vs Chesham. Awful. 0-0 with hardly a shot. City have been top of the league, won an award for best side in October, only lost one league game (we were there) and yet we have yet to see them score. A long drive, cold, no goals but that's the fan's lot isn't it. The highlights were half time and the sunset. I didn't want to go to football again after that. A brief depression during which I was checking the fixtures to see when their games don't clash with The Arsenal. Didcot away looks fun!
It was up to The Arsenal to win me fully back. Some of the kids I coach will always be more interested in the trees. Arsenal show me what they are missing. It was not the best game but that's OK. Two fairly even teams tend to do this but we have that little bit more class and it showed in the end. A crackery by Bacary got us off the sofa and an equally crackery strike from Cesc nearly made me spill my tea. Fabianski played well again. He is slowly getting his account into the black. He has proved himself to be a good shot stopper but his decision making and confidence at crosses (missed that corner today by miles) needs a lot of work. He is the best we have but until his errors become as rare as a well driven BMW he will still have his critics. I'm still not sure he's the long term answer but fair play to him as he's started to be a match winner rather than a points loser and long may it continue. Shame we conceded (not Wookash's fault) but, like Wayne Rooney with a crisp £20 note and an old lady on a Friday night, we struggle to keep a clean sheet.
Next up the North London Derby or should that be the Gareth Bale Derby. It will truly be an honour to be in the same stadium as the great man. Let's turn them over and put that mug back in his place safe in the knowledge that he plays for a half arsed club and will never play in a world cup finals. Before that the under 8's will be chasing the ball like a swarm of wasps, keeping their hands clean and talking to the animals. The future is safe.