08 August 2014

Open letter to Man City in which this Gooner admits defeat.

First off, I admit that I'll probably be preaching to the choir for the most part. This is an Arsenal site, and as such, I assume that most of the visitors will be Gooners. So it goes. However, I do compose this in earnest, hoping to wave a white flag, maybe even extend an olive branch, to our opponents in the upcoming Community Shield. It is clear that we are no match for you, on the pitch or off, and we are lucky to simply appear on the same pitch with you. Yes, we may be another Prem club, but on Sunday, we shall be as awe-struck and starry-eyed as if we were a mere Championship club, overawed at the idea of appearing at Wembley, more interested in getting a few autographs from opposing players than in nicking a trophy from them. Honest.

After all, who are we to stand up to the engorged, turgid behemoth that is Manchester City? Sure, for you Moonies or Cityzens or whatever else it is you call yourselves , Sunday's match is but a walk in the park, a chance to blithely scoop up a bit of silverware with the carefree ease of an Arab prince buying up clubs. The process becomes a bit banal, though, doesn't it? Just another trophy to throw on the pile, I suppose, much like Monty Burns after stocking his power plant's softball team with ringers.

Who are we to stand in your way, what with our penurious approach to the transfer-window? Sure, sure, we've splurged a bit, throwing £35m at Alexis this summer and £42m at Özil last summer, but—oh, I'm sorry. I'll wait for you to stop chortling and guffawing. It seems that these are transfer-fees you might pay with the shrapnel you'd find between sofa-cushions. A thousand pardons ("thousand" is a one followed by three zeros. It is three percent of your owner's net worth). For us, spending more than £15m on a player is a bit steep, a bit profligate, but for you, it's a walk in the park, something you might do a few times each summer, as the mood strikes and without a care in the world for what other business you might attend to.

You are like Midas, for whom everything turns to gold at a single touch. Who wouldn't want that life?

And yet.

Take a fingernail to that gilt surface, scratch just a bit. It's fool's good, isn't it? It's a cheap, £600m lacquer that barely conceals a hollow interior that no amount of rented mercenaries can ever fill no matter how many trophies they "earn". Sure, the Community Shield might pale in comparison to winning the Prem or the FA Cup, and you might be right in sneering at such baubles. Still, for all of the silverware your squad might earn, there has to be a lingering, nagging feeling of doubt, some unpleasant sense that all of this sudden glory is a bit fly-by-night, a bit dodgy. After all, how many players could honestly claim that they were Citizens as children? How many of them can rightly claim that they came of age, that they realized their potential, as a Citizen? For that matter, how many supporters could claim the same?

Look, I know that you've had to skulk in the shadows of another club. I sympathize. It must be hard to be an after-thought in one's one city. How do I know this? Some of my best mates are Spuds. By the same token, I don't put much stock in the idea of pedigrees. Too much of the "old money"/nouveau riche" there for me. However, even with that in mind, you have to admit that there's a suddenness to your success that should give pause. What does it mean to so-suddenly sweep away Man U, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal? At some level, you might be suspicious. We at Arsenal talk a bit about playing for the name on the front of the shirt so they'll remember the name on the back. In your club's orgy of acquisition, will any of your players live up to that?

I don't know, to be honest.

Success, to me, comes from more than actual success. If you achieve a goal too easily, the goal wasn't worth achieving. I look at Man City, and, yeah, I'll admit to a bit of envy. However, the facile nature of the success leaves me wondering, wasn't that a bit too easy to enjoy, to savor? To be honest, I don't rightly know what it's like to win and win and win and win, never seriously doubting one's chances at glory (as an American, I missed out almost entirely on Arsenal's glory days of the late 1990s and early 2000s). Maybe it's spectacular. Maybe each one feels better than the one before.

Maybe that feeling makes Sunday's Community Shield feel a bit like a tug after a shag. That's up to you to decide.