16 November 2021

MIchael Oliver, we hardly knew ye...

Oh, Michael. Michael, Michael, Michael. Where did our paths depart? Where and when did we go astray? It seems on one hand like just yesterday you were sending Di Maria off as we won at Old Trafford to advance to the semifinal before somehow squeaking past Tim Sherwood's Aston Villa side by a narrow, bum-clenching 4-0 scoreline. 

With that as our backdrop, how could any other encounter feel like like anything besides rainbows, unicorns, and lollipops? Such was the reaction of many a Gooner (well, mainly, me, myself and I—so that's three of us, at least). However, to be honest, Olllie—can I call you Ollie? It feels familiar, fitting, even—you've not done us quite so well in recent memory. What gives?

In your defense, you've been pretty reliable of late. Under your sage stewardship, we've won six, drawn one, and lost two over the last three seasons. Not bad. Not bad at all. Not great, though. Imagine a season in which you oversaw all 38 matches. We'd end up on 69 points. Nice. Very nice—but not nearly good enough to see us meet our goals (well, maybe one of them, but I digress). I won't even touch the 2018-19 season, and I swear on my mother's grave although she's hale and healthy that I'm not doing that thing whereby I point out that I'm not doing something whilst doing it. That's the season in which we lost all three matches you pranced about the pitch while we lost by a combined 10-1 score. I'm not going to bring that up. I will say, however, that it felt ever so slightly like you had forsaken the sacred bond we had forged together on that magical day in May 2015 when you saw the light and Di Maria saw red.

You've been unreliable, Ollie—some might even say unfaithful. No longer do you romance us, seduce us, bed us. It's as if that red card you flashed was merely a cheap dalliance offered by a rake to an ingenue. Yes, I blame ourself for our succumbing—but I blame you all the more for your scheming. Please don't tell me that you were playing some kind of long con, catfishing us into believing you to be sincere. It has been long since we have pined for your presence, your affection, and long since you have shown us succour—an extra booking to our opponent, an overlooked foul on our part, but nothing of substance, Ollie. I seem to remember a certain Northern Irishman defender hugged a certain Gabonian striker to the ground (that's affection, Ollie. I'm not shouting. I'm just saying). You only saw fit to caution him. Was this a bit of projection on your part? Were you envious of Evans for showing us the public affection that you yourself couldn't bring yourself to bear? Hm. All I'm saying is that I can't remember the last time anyone embraced me like that.

It's enough to have me wondering about my options. Anthony Taylor is not unpleasant to look at. Kevin Friend—well, the name says it all. Even Mike Dean seems to tread more lightly ever since Arsène left us. I'm not saying we'll cheat on you. All I'm saying is that we feel jilted, just more than a touch. After all, Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, no hell a fury like a Gooner scorned. What's that? "What's wrong?" you ask. Nothing. I'm fine. Honestly. I'm just...it's been a long day. We're fine, you and I.

Last thing, here. Sorry to drag this out. I know how much you hate talking these things through. It's just that Liverpool are flirting with us, what with Henderson and Mane and Firminho and Milner rumoured to be unavailable. It just feels like Liverpool want us to be happy, maybe more than you do. That can't be true, can it? Prove us wrong, Ollie. Prove. Us. Wrong.