11 November 2014

AKBs, WOBs: by all means, let us both go for the jugular.

Well, we're at each other worse than a pair of starving, rabid pit-bulls after a measly scrap of meat, as if winning an abstract argument amongst ourselves off the pitch will amount to anything on it. If the "Wenger Out" crowd manage to shout down the "Arsène knows best" crowd or vice-versa, will Arsène himself notice? Will the board? Instead of insulting each other, the players, the manager, or the board, all of which will amount to less than zero in the long run, perhaps we could sheathe our swords an cleave closely to our cleavers. Abraham Lincoln once declared, "a house divided against itself cannot stand." Now, our divisions may be legion, and they are unlikely to spill over onto the pitch itself, but if we are to be the 12th man on the pitch, we have to get this house in order and soon, or, if you'll pardon the mixed metaphor, this ship will sink and fast. With that in mind, please read on...

First, though, a bit of comic relief courtesy of that timeless classic, Animal House:

For the AKBs…
For the WOBs
Bluto: HEY!! What's this lying around stuff?!

Stork: Well, what the hell we s'posed to do, you moron?!

D-Day: War's over, man. Mourinho dropped the big one.

Bluto: What? Over? Did you say "over"? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!

Otter: Germans?

Boon: Forget it. He's rolling.

Bluto: And it ain't over now. 'Cause when the goin' gets tough . . . the tough get goin'! Who's with me? Let's go! C'mon! [runs out of the room screaming. No one follows. He slowly returns.] What the feck happened to the Arsenal I used to know, huh? Where's the spirit? Where's the guts, huh?! This could be the greatest seasons of our lives, but you're gonna let it be the worst: 'Oh, we're afraid to go with you, AKB, we might get fall on our faces.' Well, just kiss my ARSE from now on!!! Not me! I'm not gonna take this! Mourinho, he's a dead man! Toure, DEAD! Di Maria—

Otter: DEAD! Bluto's right. Psychotic, but absolutely right. [Otter stands up.] We gotta take these bastards. Now, we could fight 'em with conventional tactics. That could take years and cost millions of pounds. Oh, no! No, in this case, I think we have to go all out. I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile, stupid gesture be done on somebody's part.

Bluto: And we're just the guys to do it.

[Boon and D-Day stand.]

Boon: Let's do it.

Bluto: Let's do it! [They all charge out.]
Bluto: HEY!! What's this lying around stuff?!

Stork: Well, what the hell we s'posed to do, you moron?!

D-Day: War's over, man. Wenger dropped the big one.

Bluto: What? Over? Did you say "over"? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!

Otter: Germans?

Boon: Forget it. He's rolling.

Bluto: And it ain't over now. 'Cause when the goin' gets tough . . . the tough get goin'! Who's with me? Let's go! C'mon! [He runs out of the room screaming. No one follows. He slowly returns.] What the feck happened to the Arsenal I used to know? Where's the spirit? Where's the guts, huh?! This could be the greatest season of our lives, but you're gonna let it be the worst! ‘Oh, we're afraid to go with you, WOB, who’ll replace the almighty Arsène?’ Welll, just kiss my ARSE from now on!!! Not me! I'm not gonna take this! Kroenke, he's a dead man! Gazidis, DEAD! Wenger—

Otter: Dead! Bluto's right. Psychotic, but absolutely right. [Otter stands up.] We gotta take these bastards. Now, we could fight 'em with conventional weapons. That could take years and cost millions of pounds. Oh no! No, in this case, I think we have to go all out. I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile, stupid gesture be done on someone's part.

Bluto: And we're just the guys to do it.

[Boon and D-Day stand.]

Boon: Let's do it.

Bluto: Let's do it! [They all charge out.]
Okay. All kidding aside, all of us down to the last Gooner has to ask him- or herself what we're really after. There's no change in sight until January at the earliest, at least on the pitch. Is a change off the pitch in the offing? Unlikely. Those who would have Arsène's head on a platter should ask themselves who, midseason, would be available as the the after-dinner apéritif. After nearly two decades of Arsenian (mis)management, who would step in? I'm not suggesting a post-Fergosian, Moyesian miasma, but it is worth considering the parallels: Moyes replaced one of the longest-serving, most-legendary managers in the Prem. He bombed. No one would sign for Man U under Moyes except for Fellaini on deadline-day. Fast forward to January or June 2015. Would an Arsenal, unlikely to win the Prem as Man U did in 2013, attract a manager more invigorating than Moyes or a player more inspiring than Fellaini? If the "Wenger out" brigade is serious about its goals, it has to ask itself if it's willing to consider a season or more outside of the top-four. Maybe it is worth it...

At the other end of the spectrum, those who would have Arsène cast in bronze should ask themselves what, if anything, they expect to achieve between now and January and between January and May. Can we get back on track soon enough to challenge for a top-three finish? Can we even hold for a top-four finish? Arsène's tactical stubbornness is only highlighted by our lack of options from the bench (Exhibit A: Swansea). Assuming we sign a DM and perhaps a CB, how long will it take for them to adjust? If they're from within the Prem, they may still need more time than we can allow. If they're from outside the Prem, they may need even longer. We can point to injuries and financial fecklessness all we want, but the product on the pitch hasn't produced. Against Swansea and Anderlecht, not to mention Leicester or Hull, after all, we really should have done better. Will the returns of Debuchy, Koscielny, Giroud, and Özil be enough to elevate us? If not, will January's reinforcements?

Either way you split it, we have to play the hand we've been dealt. Little sense in going back to previous hands and vituperating over what could have been or should have been. We're playing poker at the moment—against ourselves.  Instead of looking to slit the throats of fellow Gooners, none of whom has an ace up his or her sleeve, let's see each other, AKB and WOB and anyone in between, as a partner in a game of whist or euchre. Wherever we each fall on the spectrum, none of us is the other's enemy. We're playing against the Mancs and the Chavs and the Scousers and the Spuds. The sooner we sort that out, the better we'll all feel.

If nothing else, we need for the Emirates to be a bastion, not a petard. We still have a fair few fixtures to play there, not the least of which is one in a fortnight against Man U. If we can all redirect our piss and vinegar away from each other and towards those Mancunians, well, we'll all be feeling quite a bit better, whatever our respective long-term visions are. This club is currently centered, after all, around a motto: Victoria Concordia Crescit. I want this club to win, dammit, and I don't care who that benefits, Not Wenger or Kroenke or Gazidis, not Alexis or Ramsey or Wilshere (though it breaks my heart to admit). The bitterness in each camp bespeaks a passion that might cloud our senses, but that same passion shouldn't set us against each other. We all want the same though we disagree on how to achieve it.

We have two choices, one of them about as enticing as a moldy plate of overcooked spuds: one, we can turn on ourselves, reducing the Emirates to a festering, fetid imitation of White Hart Lane, where the fans' frustrations are sabotaging the squad's success. Two, we can turn towards our enemies, emboldening our lads enough that they intimidate and swash-buckle and win again and again. There will be time enough when the dust settles to determine whether we've raised enough of a ruckus for Arsène and others to return. For the next 6-7 months, let's channel our energies towards the chants and the charms that can change this season.

Yes, it's been a dispiriting week, and we have two weeks to chew on it. Let's circle the wagons and come out with all guns blazing—with our actual opponents in the cross-fire.