If your TV isn’t working you can go out and buy a new one. As long as the cable connection exists, you just have to plug the new one in and it starts working. In short, you can spend money and fix the problem almost instantaneously.
There are a lot of things in this world that work on the same principle. You could buy a new phone, a razor, pretty much any product. In some marketing classes I read the concepts of a consumer’s willingness and ability to spend. As long as those two exist, the salesman’s job is not too difficult.
But what if your marriage isn’t working? Can you just discard the old one and go out to buy a new one?
I’m just short of my third wedding anniversary but have had enough experience to say that making a marriage work is not easy. Even when both parties are madly in love, want to do the right things, and try hard to live for each other; there do come moments when things get rough. Often it is due to unforeseeable circumstances and external factors beyond one’s control. In other instances it is due to complex issues beyond one’s understanding.
For those who aren’t able to make it work, it’s not often a case of being blind to the issues, or of missing the obvious, or of being too stubborn or arrogant. Sometimes things don’t work despite one’s honest and best efforts. People are not stupid but things go wrong in virtually everyones lives.
Even if one has the ability and willingness to spend whatever it takes (time, money, etc), can they simply get rid of one marriage and find another. What is the guarantee that the next one will be better? How long will it last? Will it actually bring the level of happiness that the heart desires? How many times does one have to try to get it right? Not easy questions to answer, are they?
These thoughts came to me while reading some of the pollution on the Arsenalsphere.
Many people seem to think that football teams work in a plug and play fashion. Pay good money for new players to replace the old ones that are not functioning as desired and everything will improve instantly and dramatically.
It is a logical way of thinking no doubt. If something doesn’t work – fix it. But as we saw with the two examples above, something issues are easy to fix while the others are not.
This is precisely the reason why the likes of City, Spuds and others have spent hundreds of millions without going past Arsenal. It is not easy to buy players and make a great team. Some transfers work while others flop. If someone actually analyzes the success and failures of transfer, it is quite likely the number of flops will be higher.
In the Arsenal context, Déjà Vu is a two way street as well. I have never denied the fact that many of Arsenal’s errors have been repeated far too often and it can get annoying. I’d say I truly understood terms like ‘gut-wrenching’, ‘mind-numbing’, etc. only after certain horrendous bloopers by some Gunners.
At the same time, it’s been four or five years now, perhaps more, since I’ve been hearing comments like “Next season Tottenham will spend more and go ahead of us”, “Aston Villa are improving and will go ahead of Arsenal next year”, “City will continue spending and will overtake Arsenal”, and so on. Every year there is a different kind of Déjà Vu when these statements are proven wrong.
It’s not that these teams don’t have the ambition, ability, or willingness to improve. They give it their best every year but it doesn’t work.
It just highlights the fact that creating a football team and taking it to the pinnacle is not the same as buying products off the shelf. This is corroborated by the fact that there are millions of fans and pundits with an opinion on the game but barely a handful who can actually create and manage winning teams.
Real Madrid have spent insane amounts in search of glory. But even they had to come looking for a manager who hasn’t won a trophy for a long, long time. Why didn’t they go to the likes of Alan Hansen, Emmanuel Petit, or scores of other pundits who seem to understand Arsenal’s problems better than Wenger? Surely if they know more about Arsenal than Wenger, they’ll make better managers than Arsene, no? Perhaps, they did so because they understand the difference between having an opinion and actually achieving something? After all, they’ve tried hard enough with all their might/cash.
One obvious reason for the dearth of quality opinions and actual understanding is that too many people rehash the same lazy statements. To be fair, very few have the time or the resources to look at all the details but at least they should temper their opinions to acknowledge this. Very few actually do.
In this wonderful piece 7amkickoff analyzes some telling stats. It busts quite a few myths around Djourou and other misconceptions surrounding Arsenal. Unfortunately, most people will just continue to propagate the misguided notions till the point their universality seems like proof that actual facts are wrong.
Of course, players and pundits are just as guilty of this as the fans. After the West Brom game Mulumbu repeated the tired line that Arsenal lacked mentality. He went on to claim that Manchester United would have come back to win the game but Arsenal couldn’t.
It comes down to mentality. Manchester are very strong. In a game like Saturday’s, I think they could come back and equalise and then win the game. I believe that’s what Arsenal is missing a bit.
Now if we look at the facts, this season Arsenal and United have both won 9 points from losing positions. More interestingly, Arsenal have dropped 9 points while winning whereas Manchester United have dropped 14!
If mentally could be accurately ascertained from dropping or gaining points, not that I think it can, these stats would contradict the popular opinion. But it does show that those who think the games like the ones against Tottenham or Newcastle show Arsenal’s weak mentality haven’t paid much attention to the relevant details.
I guess these perceptions get built over time. If a team has been winning regularly the perceptions about them will tend to be glorifying. It probably comes from the human tendency to put the winners on a pedestal. Similarly, if a team has been struggling or has been thereabouts without actually being ‘there’, the negative opinions gain strength. These aren’t always based on facts and don’t really offer practical and usable insight, but they do have the strength of popularity.
In the case of Arsenal one could also say the negativity in the media is driven by other factors like xenophobia, jealousy, etc, while that of the fans is fuelled by a fixation with trophies and the banter of their mates who support other clubs.
There is a lot that can be said on this topic but as I’ve said before I don’t have any interest in making people change their opinions. It’s a futile exercise and I’d prefer to put my time to better use. And since I don’t want to spend every day going around in circular arguments there will be fewer articles on the blog during this international break and the coming weeks. Arseblogger and some others do a fantastic job of covering the daily happenings and I can’t add much to that. I’ll post only when I find something worth discussing.
Have a good one…