It’s backs to the wall…

It has been a very difficult day for Gooners everywhere. The sight of Fabregas walking onto the pitch at the Camp Nou in front of thousands of cheerings Catalans was difficult to take. It felt something like that reaction when you saw your first proper girlfriend hanging around with some other gobshite immediately after she dumped you. You both knew the break-up was coming, your friends warned you about the other bloke and you prepared yourself as best you could. But the sight of them happy together still hurt, and there  wasn’t a damn thing you could do about it. Not without making a complete tool of yourself, anyway.

Then it got worse. The FA charged both The Arse and Newcastle with ‘failing to control their players’ following the events of last Saturday, and Song himself was charged with violent conduct. ‘Failing to control’ always sounds like a ludicrous charge to me, when applied to a match incident – what is AW supposed to do, run onto the pitch with a fire extinguisher? Anyhow, the club have until 18th August to respond (I suppose a really obscene voicemail message probably wouldn’t be acceptable) and the appeal againt Gervinho’s suspension and response to Song’s charge will be heard on 16th August.

While all this was happening Samir Nasri took it upon himself to complain via his official Twitter account that he was the subject of ‘disrespectful’ treatment by supporters during the Newcastle game. If he thought that was disrespectful, I’d love to know what he made of the response from Gooners to his whinge – I wouldn’t be surprised if he never Tweets again (not for an Arsenal audience, at any rate). But perhaps that is just the point. It seems safe to assume his departure is imminent, so he has nothing to lose by alienating supporters at this stage. Like most, I’d be glad to see the back of him. Show us the money City, and we might even do something useful with it.

Unfortunately, at the very point when we might have hoped for some reassurance from the club, the manager has been voicing his concerns over the level of support exhibited by Gooners for the team:

“I am worried our fans are not behind the team…The players deserve it…It is important there is a love between the fans and the players and the players have shown their commitment which deserves the support of our fans…Sometimes the credit players get is linked with the amount of money you paid for them…It is frustrating sometimes because it looks like players are judged just through the money they cost.”

This was greeted with more than one “lost the plot” remark by Gooners on Twitter this afternoon. This is clearly a reference to the exhortations of away supporters at SJP last Saturday, urging him to get the chequebook out.  But when have we failed to acknowledge players who show commitment? And when have we failed to support players who were not purchased for large transfer fees?

The reality is the squad needs strengthening, as he has acknowledged himself. The fact that the overwhelming majority of Gooners want to see the quality of the playing staff improved by the acquisition of new players does not infer that the current squad are not supported. AW would do well not to confuse frustration with disloyalty.    But it hardly needs repeating that the reason most players have a higher value is because they are better players than those who are cheaper. There are many obvious and recent exceptions – Carroll, Downing, Henderson and so on. Whether any of us like it or not, if you want to improve your squad by acquiring new players of experience and proven ability, you are probably going to have to spend more than you would like to. Will he do so? Here’s what he said on the club website today:

“We are not scared to spend money if we find the right player. But spending money is not the right target in itself. We want to find the right player and whether it is for £2 million or £20 million we will do it.”

How, we may ask, will he determine who is the right player? He asserted:

“We are not frightened to spend money but we have to be convinced the player is better than what we have…That is our main concern, to bring quality. We have quality, but want to add more quality.

The manager is feeling the pressure at the moment. I have some sympathy for him but he does himself no favours with observations like these. No-one wants ambiguity or general observations. Is Cahill, or Jagielka or even Dann better than Squillaci? It doesn’t matter what you or I think – it’s up to him.

Tomorrow we face Udinese in an absolutely critical CL qualifier. I hope that the team get the best possible support – but if we go behind things could get ugly, and I worry that defeat will leave us in a pretty desperate condition to face Liverpool next weekend. It seems almost daft to say it but our season could be defined by the events of the next two weeks – and it’s only August.

So make as much noise as possible and get behind the lads – show Udinese, Barca, the manager and the rest of English football what supporting Arsenal means to us. And if that entails dropping the money chants so be it, at least while the match clock is running.


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