This morning when I was sat in traffic with the radio, I was relatively content knowing it was a better alternative than being stuck at my desk. But it’s safe to assume the bloke in the car next to me, whose arms were flailing as he unleashed a volley of verbal abuse in the general direction of those simply doing their job, did not share this sentiment. At one point I considered approaching his window to fling my Lucozade in his face tell him to calm down and think of the long game – it might be an inconvenience today, but in the future he would be able to get to wherever he wanted a little quicker. However, I acknowledged that this brave foolishness would have accomplished nothing other than having his way with words redirected towards me.
Patience is a virtue which is quickly disappearing from society, soon to become a forgotten phenomenon. And just as in every other walk of life, this is becoming more and more evident with football fans.
The explosion of social media is partly the cause, as reactions to every event (some of them completely fabricated) are instantaneous and multiple. Everybody wants to share their opinion with the world, often before they’ve had a chance to form it fully in their mind. But it is at football grounds themselves where the change has become most noticeable. We’ve reached the stage where it is now almost commonplace to hear booing from the home fans towards their own team – something I’m still unable to grasp the concept of.
I appreciate that reporters often exaggerate the volume, but it is occurring. On Saturday at the Emirates, the full-time whistle was greeted with a clearly audible round of boos, yet this was just a 0-0 draw on the opening day. I understand this was off the back of the frustration at losing another star player, but the world continues to rotate and life continues to go on. No one player is ever bigger than a football club and the fans would be better off focusing on those who want to wear the shirt, rather than those who don’t.
The three new signings, Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla, are going to need time to adapt to both the demands of English football and those of their new teammates. They lined up together for 45 minutes against FC Köln and put in a very promising performance, but that was the extent of their pre-season. As well as the chance to build match sharpness, they need time to learn to understand each other and 45 minutes is nowhere near enough. Due to the intricate nature of Arsenal’s attacking play it may take a little longer for the new players to gel than at other clubs. Few teams build attacks in the way they do, so heavily dependent on clever movement and exquisite touches, and this will require some adaptation. While it must have been frustrating to see their team dominate possession, yet create little, it should be recognised that this will only be a short term problem. With more game time this will undoubtedly improve.
And it may be stating the obvious (sometimes it’s necessary) but it will take time for Arsenal to react to the loss of Robin van Persie. The Dutchman was their go-to guy last season, dragging them out of all kinds of sticky situations on numerous occasions. There are obvious advantages to having a player like that, as even when the rest of the team underperformed he was able to produce that little bit of magic so desperately needed. But the downside is that players become inhibited and feel unable to express themselves, afraid that they should always defer to the better player in case they receive a bollocking from the fans or manager. It was evident at the Emirates during Thierry Henry’s final months (during his original spell), with some of the fringe players really coming out of their shell when he left, including Van Persie funnily enough.
So while losing him – especially to Manchester United – is obviously a bitter pill to take, Arsenal has three talented individuals for replacements to add to Gervinho, Theo Walcott and the ever improving Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. There will be a period of transition – a word Arsenal fans are sick of hearing – but whereas they were so reliant on one man previously they now have a variety of options. Whisper it quietly but they may at last have a plan B, and even a plan C (frightening I know).
Two tricky fixtures are ahead, with trips to the Britannia and Anfield, but the squad is looking stronger than it has done for a long time. If Arsenal fans can find that long lost virtue of patience and get behind their team, I anticipate that it won’t be too long before things get very exciting at the Emirates again.