One life, one game, one team, one invincibles

One life, one game, one team, one Invincibles (So far)

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Clive P Thoughts: Never as good as the first time

Was on my road bike pretending to be Lance Armstrong up in the Bedfordshire hills over Bank holiday - listening to this Sade song

‘Never as good as the first time’

Got me thinking…..Got me thinking about the make-up of Arsenal fans and why we react to today’s football/team the way we do.

Arsenal as a set of fans are on average the oldest in the PL.

By that, I mean the ones that actually go to the games. Many reasons for that, chief one being the cost of entry. Younger fans and these days older fans struggle to go as regular as they would like to – But it’s the older fans that are more likely to afford it. – Those same fans also pick and choose games even though money has passed over to the club -  Hence the gaps we regularly see in the stadium. Those fans have other pulls but their love for Arsenal means they cannot give up that season ticket

My belief is as a fan we buy into a life contract when you support a team but I also feel there is a time – ‘a special time’ or 2 that we use as a natural reference point when we judge our  team/club. Normally that time is dictated by the amount of emotional investment that is put into supporting your team at that point in time.

My time was 1989 – that season I attended over 30 games home and away. I felt I earned my stripes that year. I was there outside the Gunners pub the Saturday after Anfield. Drinking outside for 8 hours, singing ‘we won the league on Merseyside - There was about 300 of us who all knew each other. We had done the miles there was a bond between us as a group and with the team due to its youth, vitality and being absolutely the embodiment of all that is Arsenal.

I had more a Sky TV  love as I reduced my games in 2004 but nothing will for me ever match 1989 – that was my first time.

Does it shape me as a fan – maybe.

I think 2004 I was tactically more aware about what made a team, what made a team win. That was for me embodied by Patrick Vieira, my favourite ever Arsenal player. This time definitely shapes my views. I remember the tension v Liverpool I remember the 2005 Cup final drunk in Cardiff and totally believing we would win. We had so many characters we couldn’t lose.

I look at today’s team with a natural comparison – thinking back to those times – Song’s bad time is very fresh in my memory. That sloppy stupid pass before Norwich’s third goal could cost the club £30m.

Song – decent player but to me he never will be a Vieira.

Maybe I forget how many crucial red cards Vieira got just before big games. Song plays every game. Pat never did. My views are shaped and will not be changed. Pat had street smart. He knew what to do when to control a game. He knew how to buy a foul, when to make a foul. Song, just as strong, fantastic athlete and improving but it’s that ‘street smart’ he misses.

The whole team misses this Arteta brings this assurance – talent alone is not enough. It’s about being professional and creating a standard of performance based on stability of game. But I’m sure the 2004 team was as emotional and flaky. I used to moan that Pires never tackled, Freddie could not dribble, Gilberto never shoots

Taking this further, Walcott will never be  Ljungberg, Nasri/Pires and so on. Does this make us fickle as we have seen how this can be done, how this should be done and in very recent times. We know what worked and we were sold the dream of being able to compete – have we moved on since Lasagne gate.

I sometimes wonder if we did would we even notice – What is the success criteria for the new Arsenal.

What I do feel is 2006 was pivotal for Arsenal – move ground Paris for the CL final, Henry nearly winning it for us.

2012 is as pivotal and Sunday is HUGE. There are rumblings that we are re-focussing top to bottom.

Board - looking at Renewal
Coaching Staff – looking at Renewal
Playing staff – looking at Renewal.

Qualifying for the CL will make us all believe something is likely to change.

If we mess up Sunday the relationship between the fans and the club/team/Wenger could be damaged beyond repair unless there is fast tangible  change.

A change to something most of us can relate to.

That time.

Clive P

Twitter #clivepafc


  1. Good call Clive, am enjoying your thoughts. I always compare teams to our '71 Double team, especially defences. Only one defence has ever measured up. But if we compare teams to the Invincibles then we'll always be disappointed as that sort of team only comes along once every 100 years.

    I'd suggest another reason we have old fans is that with 38,000 only at Highbury it was nearly all season ticket holders - those mostly transferred to our new gaff.

  2. good points Clive,
    It strikes me looking around the premiership - who is there who could measure up to Paddy? Do either of the manchester clubs have anyone comparable? I don't think so. I hear what you say about street smart, it does strike me sometimes that Alex will try an unlikely pass at times when you're really hoping the team will just retain possession for a spell, though he does pull off some remarkable passes. I would like to see someone in the team tear a strip off Ramsey, Benayoun, Gibbs etc when they come strolling back into defence when they should be busting a gut, I was disappointed with some of that lack of commitment against Norwich. Like Brian I think back to the old double team, (and they really were a _team_), and if someone didn't pull their weight Frank McL would soon let them know!

  3. You can't compare poor old Alex to Patrick Vieira, who was a world-class player and one of the the best ever to wear the shirt. By the way he too gave away a sloppy pass and that cost us the FA cup semi v ManU in 1999. The captaincy issue was writ large on Saturday it really needed someone to get hold of the side after 10 minutes when we we're purposeless and needed to buckle down to work instead of letting them back into it.

  4. Difficult to compare indeed Jack, but that's no reason not too. Besides which Wilf Copping was tougher than either of them according to my late Granddad. All comparisons are possible but like you say Jack maybe not always fair.