Cooling on this Arsenal cycle is like global warming

From Ravi Parmar :An Ode To The Fans

Dear Myles,

I have been an avid reader of your site for over 7 years, I\’ve always wanted to email you to thank you for what I\’ve gotten from you.

I\’ve read The Professor and have read many of your suggested football reads.

Inverting The Pyramid changed my practical thoughts on the game.

Like many of your readers I haven\’t always agreed with your perceived negativity but, like a lot of them I am coming round to your way of thinking. I haven\’t read your site for a while because it\’s about Arsenal and, to be honest, I\’ve not wanted to think about Arsenal.

And that\’s saying something. I grew up a Junior Gunner and used to go to as many matches as I could at Highbury. I still remember the days in the Family Enclosure, £8 a ticket a spitting distance from the players.

The first time I saw Marc Overmars I couldn\’t believe he was there in the flesh.

As I got older I went to less matches but I started reading blogs and football books. I always wanted to be a writer so I loved reading footballing histories, techniques and coaching methods.

As well as being a Gooner I started supporting Holland in 1998. At the time most of the team played for Van Gaal\’s Barca so I naturally started supporting them, especially after the Champions League Quarter Final against Chelsea.

After the tie I ordered the Centenary Shirt online with Figo on the back, he ended up leaving a few months later which left me ridiculed whenever I wore it (I\’ve never had luck with names on the backs of my shirts, I also got Reyes as well!). I then read ‘Barca, a People\’s Passion by Jimmy Burns.

After reading that book I realised that , although Arsenal was the team of my birth, Barca were the team of my choice. Since Barca have become the team they have recently I get mocked for being a glory supporter. I still remember the days of Saviola and Christianval, and playing Liverpool in the UEFA cup while Real were winning the Champions League. I couldn\’t celebrate the 2006 Champions League Final because it was against Arsenal.

I find the success they have now had, the system they have built. and the manner in which they have accomplished their achievements even more remarkable after learning about the history of FC Barcelona.

English fans cannot comprehend the importance of the football club in everyday life for people in Barcelona. It is a symbol of their identity and defines who they are. This has been used against the people by political regimes who had taken to controlling the club as a means of dampening this Catalan national identity.

When Arsenal fans complain of Barca players tapping up Arsenal players they don\’t realise that Alfredo di Stefano, Real Madrid greatest ever player, signed a contract with Barca first but were robbed of his services.

They tried a similar thing with Cruyff but he refused. Imagine if the decisions at Arsenal were made by Alan Sugar or Daniel Levy, that\’s more or less what happened to Barca during the Franco regime.

I went to the Nou Camp for the first time this year. During the tour I sat and watched a video of Pep\’s first season. He had just won the World Club Cup and, in doing so, had just won every major trophy he could possibly win. He had his head in his hands and was visibly sobbing. Apparently when the lights came back on I had tears in my eyes. I have never been in awe of someone as I was at that moment.

As much as an impact that Pep had as a man and a coach had on the team I believe his most remarkable accomplishment was refining and exploiting a system that had been in place since he was a child.

Since Cruyff brought it as a player Total Football has now been redefined for a new era. It is no coincidence that so many of the players have come through la Masia and that he was a youth coach.

Pep was always told as a child he was not big enough to be a top professional.

Not only did he prove everybody wrong, in doing so he became an idol for the most talented crop of footballers I\’ve seen in my lifetime (although I\’m only 27).

I know how important he was as a player, an inspiration and as coach to all his players, he is a born winner and he\’s achieved almost everything he\’s put his mind to.

Obsession can be the downfall of a lot of people but when channelled in the right way it can lead to almost unobtainable perfection. Obsession can also only be sated for so long until it leads to a collapse of some kind or another. I don\’t think it\’s a coincidence that the two most obsessive and successful managers in the last 10 years in Pep and Mourinho haven\’t stayed at a club for more than 5 years.

Sir Alex is the only consistently successful manager who has stayed in a top post for a vast length of time.

This leads me to the current situation at Arsenal.

Clearly it, whatever it is, does not work any more.

Whether it\’s the coaching methods, the contract negotiations, the lack of desire to win from top to bottom or the drop in form all our talented players eventually suffer (unless they\’re playing for a contract from either ourselves or others).

There is a general malaise at the club that stems from either lethargy or incompetence, likely a mixture of both.

Some people claim greed to be the mitigating factor but that\’s endemic in all walks of life. There should be systems in place to deal with it. I find it absurd to expect a player brought in at the age of 16 to have the commitment to put the clubs interests over his own career. Some players will carry the burden but it is unfair to expect it of them.

Good players are ultimately good players and will always show their class, whether when they\’re 20 or 30, whether at Arsenal or not. They also want to win. If they see players in their position at other clubs or national teammates winning trophies, and they don\’t feel they can at their club, then it may be in their best interests to move on.

As much as had been made of Wenger being able to offload players after their peak, the best players had continued success after they left the club, they just did not play to the level they used to.

Now we seem to lose our best players at their peak, or even before (I believe that once Cesc takes over Xavi\’s mantle for Barca and Spain he will become the best player in the world).

Financial responsibility is the obsessive focus the decision-makers at the club currently adhere to. I understand that whole heartedly.

It is also becoming my aim now. I do not see it financially responsible for me to spend money going to see a club that refuses to compete with other clubs for either transfer fees or wages for the top end players but then asks me to then pay the highest of ticket prices.

I do like the Emirates as a stadium but I grew up at Highbury.

I saw Dennis Bergkamp for £8, I refuse to pay £50 to see Gervinho.

In the past year I\’ve seen Ajax, Barca, England and the Olympics Gold Medal Match.

I\’m going back to Barca in March and might start watching Fulham at Craven Cottage. I\’m quite an obsessive person and Arsenal, and football in general has been a large part of my life.

With what\’s happened at the club recently, every season and transfer window has been torture.

I had been disillusioned with football for a while but I\’ve now realised it\’s the game that I love, not Arsenal.

I\’ve had my share of bad experiences in my lifetime and I\’m the sort of person who drops something if it isn\’t working for me. I think that\’s the point it\’s come to with me and the current regime. If something\’s dying and you have either no way or no hope of stopping it then you have to come to terms with it and let it perish.

I feel Arsenal fans are much like the Earth.

People complain about global warming being harmful to the planet, it\’s not. It\’s harmful to our existence on it. We could do our best to destroy the world but it will eventually regenerate after a cycle, we just won\’t be there to see it.

The same can be said of the fans. Arsene Wenger and the board can continue to damage the fans faith in the club and they will eventually dissent. Ultimately though, the fans will return, they just won\’t be there at the time.

It\’s unfortunate that it has to end in the way it will but unhealthy obsessions rarely turn out for the best in the long run. I\’m only just learning that, but now that I  have, I know my best days are ahead of me. Arsenal\’s are too. It\’s a comforting thought.

P.S. Thanks for reading this, I\’ve always wanted to email you but never knew what to say.

Wenger\’s comments about ticket prices recently tipped me over the edge.