"Dad, I think I'll go to the party on Sunday."
"OK, err, right, so you're not coming to The Arsenal? Err. OK. "
As I searched my phone for the email invite I joked that The Arsenal can't compete with bowling and Nandos while my son seemed to be plucking up the courage for what he wanted to say.
"What's the point? We never challenge for anything."
He turned and headed back to the Xbox. I shrugged slightly wounded.
Now this is a difficult blog to write. My first since Christmas as I just ran out of things to say. The Arsenal have been part of me for what seems forever. Every room of our house has something Arsenal related in it. My wife is a season ticket holder. Fixtures are the first things to go on the calendar. There is no escaping it. It's a huge part of who we are.
My son had little choice. That is The Arsenal son and they are your team. His first game was at the tail end of Highbury. There are pictures of his huge grin as he looks on that immaculate pitch in awe. In those 7 years we have huffed and puffed to get top 4 and messed up a couple of cup finals. On top of this he's had to watch his favourite players, the names on the back of his shirts, leave. Why didn't I buy him a Gervinho shirt?
I'm worried that my apathy has rubbed off on him. Over the years since the move to our sponsored arena The Arsenal have started to lose me. The football has become boring to watch. There are less crucial games as we aren't challenging. The players have dropped in quality. Every year our club has been chipped away at. Our season now consists of trying to qualify for a competition we can't win & finishing above Spurs. It's a far cry from the days of kicking off in August with hope in your heart.
And to me it's the loss of hope that's changed everything. I don't think we have a right to success. I don't even crave a trophy as such but I do think we deserve the hope of one. We have no hope of a title or Champions League win. We have no hope of domestic cup success. This season's FA & League cup exits were shameful yet were just accepted by the club as is the gulf between us and the champions. Where is the hope we will sign players to correct this? We won't and next season will be the same as this.
It's a simple equation. The best players leave just when we are building something so we replace. They take time to settle in so every season we sod about for the first half. As the team finds its feet we finish strongly or at least scratch out the right results. I'm hoping this season the mould will be smashed as I can't see many in our squad who, if they left, would rip the heart out of the side. This summer we might actually build rather than replace.
You are probably expecting me to want us to fail to force change. I understand the perversity of that but don't agree. Why fall so low that recovery is impossible? Look at Liverpool. If we can keep the better players & add better ones the hope returns.
So on Sunday I really want us to win. Not for another pointless (yet moneymaking) go in the Champion£ £eague but because I hate those bastards who've sailed to the title above all other teams. We were once their rivals. Now they can pop over to our house and help themselves. Whoever had the final say on that transfer should never sleep again. However, he was right to leave. Until the hope returns it will keep happening. I'm bored watching a team whose only ambition is 4th. It must be equally dull playing in one.
This leaves us open to accusations of moaning gits from supporters of nearly every other team in the land. We might end up 3rd. Not bad eh? The problem is we are incapable of better. Maybe the real problem is we are doing well and we have a constant feeling of narrowly missing out. If we were 10th we couldn't claim to be a couple of players short.
I don't know what the answer is and I hate feeling like this but football has changed into a mass money making effort where the old fashioned idea of real success on the pitch is old hat. So if we get 4th and you stand to applaud remember what you're clapping. You're celebrating another round of revenue generating and probably tedious group games. If that's your thing then enjoy it but I've seen what The Arsenal can do and the lovely feelings they can give you and I miss that. I miss that a lot.
- Posted using BlogPress in a car park.