Social media is a wonderful thing in many ways. How it allows you to expand your vocabulary without your dad or daughter noticing it. Or how you could come across as a passionate fan aggressive egomaniac. Light on valid arguments and rather viscous with swear words. Its unfathomably cool to sprinkle F* & C* bombs once in a while just to declare you’ve not gone too soft, and the fire is still burning. You could be a young boy from Nigeria or a lady from Britain or a grown up man from India; SM allows you a sanction to be sparingly vile with words, without being branded an aggressive or too rude a person, as far as you’re swearing is directed at people outside of Goonersphere. Well good luck to all agendas here, but today’s exploration of the word C*nt is not in reference to a referee or a rival team manager or even Suarez. This is about our own, some who were and some who still are, gunners at heart.
I’ve always felt strongly against the trivial use of these words for players we loved at some point, and so I decided to put down my thoughts here. Perhaps at this point I should introduce a few names and discuss examples of their infamy. Samir Nasri, Robin Van Persie, Cesc Fabregas, Hleb to name a few.
But before we discuss their cases let’s step back a bit and understand the life of today’s footballer and the currency of loyalty. Undoubtedly today’s football is faster and more commercial. The former manifests in higher entropy or a shorter life/peak for the footballer and the latter breaks his heart by telling him, that less than his personal best is not wanted anywhere, instantly. It’s a mercilessly competitive world out there. A few games out of form and suddenly your stock has dipped. The clubs with interest have withdrawn into some abyss and journalists are already using words like ‘offloading’ ‘wage burden’ etc. And even erstwhile caring managers like Arsene now have no qualms about benching players of Vermaelen & Podolski’s caliber forget Arshavin & Chamakhs.
The time under the spot light is limited. Younger, faster players are queuing up behind you to dethrone you as the hot new striker, playmaker, dribbler, defender. I completely understand if the players want to encash their golden years. They have every right to. In their heads, is the inevitable countdown, then their own future & their family’s. Of course one can pretend to be loyal to QPR but what guarantee do players like Derry have, that presented with opportunity or a new manager’s approach they would not overhaul the squad and throw out all current players?
The argument of loyalty being a direct result of your origin and neighborhood does work to an extent. The longer the association, the stronger the bond and affinity. Well Arsene is almost English now, isn’t he? (shhh let’s not bring up the Guard of honor here). Then there are the homegrown thoroughbreds like Jack Wilshere, Carragher, Gerrard and *cough Cesc. And in such cases you expect local heroes to stick to the club & its cause over money & fame. But it’s a material world and Jamie Carragher cannot guarantee that the ambitious Liverpool will employ talent only from its own back yard. Or not sell their best players if the offers arrive for Mascherano, Alonso, Torres… ouch! Jack can’t use that argument either. So please don’t tell me that someone who has just arrived after having lived all his life in France, Germany, Spain and can’t even speak English properly has sworn loyalty to The Arsenal by some lame quote to some lame publication. If you are going to believe it, I cannot congratulate you because gullibility does not merit a certificate of appreciation.
One must accept that players live in a different world than fans. Our world has wins, losses, draws, trophies, chants, abusing rivals, points and then our lives. Their world has wins, losses, contracts, work permit, discipline, injuries, manager’s trust, market value, captains, bench, squad place pressure, team chemistry, form, personal brand contracts, fan support, interest from media & others… oh and their own personal lives and families.
A case in point with regards to Loyalty is this fight between Ronaldo & Shrek. They played alongside each other every week and trained together every day for 9 months, yet… in the immediate, in the context CR7’s loyalty was with Portugal and not with Rooney (Utd/Eng)
In this reality, one must accept that for a footballer it is essentially a job. And such a sanitised 3 letter word, bereft of emotions & bonds can also be used for the managers world over. I am certain everyone wants to win. Every manager, every player wants to do well. But first for themselves, and then the rest of the world.
To me loyalty today is more like a mutual understanding of respect which can simply be answered by:
1. Do you want me to work for you?
2. Do I want to work for you?
Everything else is collateral and peripheral. What were the circumstances under which the player left, bad blood press etc. are then useless straws we clutch at meaninglessly. It’s like chewing gum which has lost its sweetness long ago. You can keep chewing at it but…
Let’s go over a few cases and kick this hornet’s nest shall we?
Robin Van Persie. We wanted him. He didn’t want us. So he left. End of story.
Unfortunately not… for most of us. We hate him, and how! But let’s be clear why we hate him. That he did not want to play for us anymore after having one good season? No I don’t think so. The club took the risk when they paid the medical bills and only extended contracts to certain periods. It was a calculated risk for Arsenal. We also cannot complain about him leaving because he believes we won’t win any silverware anytime soon. Whatever is his current impression of Arsenal, he as a free person is allowed that, and specially after talking to AFC where we perhaps shared our grand plans and he failed to see promise in them. We were not attractive to him as a proposition. That’s it. That’s a truth. And once that’s established, there is no point of that player staying anymore with us anyway. Crying over it is like blaming your gf/bf who dumped you and be dramatic about it with hunger-strikes and suicide threats, instead of asking why did he/she believe it was not going to work?
We hate him because he went to United, our direct rivals for such a long time. When possibly he had other options to go out of England. I agree, and for this bit of greed and insensitivity to Arsenal fans he deserves the treatment he gets.
Samir Nasri. We wanted him. He didn’t want us. End of Story.
And ideally that’s how it should have been. He was here for 2 years. He served us to the best of his ability I thought, and played till his last game with all his heart into it. (That smashing goal against Utd and that unbelievable solo goal against Porto… sigh!) As an individual he did not find our grand plans convincing either, specially with Cesc departing and no replacements being promised. You could say he left for the money. I don’t see any wrong in that. You could say he left for Silverware, I don’t see any wrong in that either. He served the time of his contract to the best of his ability and that’s that. He always respected AW and the fans, and has always held that status officially. Unofficially though… its up to you if you want to believe a certain Tom, ____ , Harry who heckled him on the streets or when he was driving his car.
He saw promise in us and he came to us. He left when he changed his mind. Perhaps he will change his mind again, when he realises money can’t guarantee success all the time. And if we have a room in the squad I don’t see why we can’t accommodate him. Because again one needs to get this out of their heads that we want Nasri for 10 more years, and even when he is shit. We might just want him for 1 or 2 years and I see no wrong in that.
Cesc Fabregas. We wanted him. He didn’t want us. Ran to mama.
We knew this one was coming. He wanted to play alongside teammates from his home town, and experience football of the highest caliber (*in 2011). We can call him names, but if his heart is not here, then what’s the point in looking at a long face, that too of the captain.
May be his heart would change again someday, may be just for a short period. Who knows. Till then, one could choose to call him names but I would like to remember all the glorious moments he made for us.
Emmanuelle Eboue: He wanted us. We didn’t want him. End of story (for him)
I do not remember a livelier character in our team or even in EPL in the last 2 decades. A great character to have in any team. Always gave his 100% and never hid. What he lacked in skill he tried to compensate by being a nuisance to the opposition. Over time we saw him spending more and more time on the bench. And then eventually he got up and left for a playing opportunity, for he is still young.
But for gooners Eboue is not a C**t and never will be. Just because… we didn’t want him. We didn’t need him that bad. His departure did not hurt the squad. There are many other examples like Eboue, who are not finding enough game time with us and will eventually leave for a playing opportunity elsewhere. But we won’t be calling them C**ts, because we are selfish bastards who want to win and we want this club to do well. Because we don’t need them. Bravo!
If you condemn greed, I could site more examples of hypocrisy viz. Thierry Henry who also left us for greener pastures. Being our captain at that time mind you, and switching sides to the side which broke our hearts in 2006. And then there is Theo Walcott who (or his manager) was greedy enough to hold our Jan transfer window to ransom and compromised our squad enhancement.
If we are not attractive enough to retain top talent, perhaps we need some soul searching at the Board level. Season after season if our best players have been leaving, it’s clear what our market report looks like to most. The concern for that however, is buried deep beneath the greed for cash and profits. Some of the monsters we created I suspect were convenient ways to mask our greed. e.g. we could have refused to sell, taking a 20mn prospective loss? Also who knows the real story behind the Song’s swift departure. Over a scuffle with the manager you say? Overnight you say? For 15mn you say? To Barcelona you say? Fishy I say.
Your sail, you choose.
Everyone has their own unique way of venting and I am not going to preach you about what’s the most scientific way to let your steam out. We’ve almost sailed through a big sea of frustration. Some have done it calmly so far, others by swearing at the manager & board, some at the former gunners. It’s not been an easy ride of course for any one. So you make your own survivor kit by all means. Just make sure the reasons are your own and not concession to general agreements. You don’t have to join a camp if you don’t want to.
Also we must continue to have the view that all players are just the employees of The Arsenal. No one lives forever, and no one is indispensible. This… we have learnt. Haven’t we?
One of the most peaceful scenarios for fans is to be true to our situation and be realistic about our expectations from results, players, other clubs’ fans and the media world over. We are here by our own doing and we will get out of it by our own doing too. And that day may not be too far now. I believe we did well, sailing and surviving through torrid times and soon it will all be in our hands.
Victoria Concordia Crescit.
PS: 1. I apologise to those who are disappointed that this article with its controversial heading did not display inappropriate graphics and anatomical diagrams.
2. And if you’ve reached this far, bravo! thank you for reading.