This article was written for the Tattooed football blog.
Throughout the trip I started to come to terms with the fact that this feeling (was it anger?) derived from the continued frustration surrounding Arsenal at the moment. It is not that Arsenal are playing badly at the moment, its worse. We are nearly brilliant.
Worse still, Barcelona have shown themselves to be brilliant over the last few seasons.
I am not bothered about the silverware Barcelona has bagged (10 trophies in 2 seasons alone). I am bothered though about the football they have played. They have beaten the best in the world in a way that would make Wenger weak at the knees.
As I approached the formidable entrance to the Nou Camp, I was hoping that this might be a chance for me to move on.
It was a sunny day and I was surrounded by thousands of fellow football devotes from all around the world. The atmosphere was one of a family day out – almost no-one was scowling.
Once inside the Nou Camp I stood watching video highlights of ‘Barcelona’s greatest goals’. I sighed out loud at an 8 year old for pressing ‘play again’ on the video board showing Ronaldinho’s notorious overhead kick. I had the feeling I was being a smidgen petulant.
I knew what I needed to do.
I knew I had marvel at Barcelona’s extraordinary footballing success. The cabinets stuffed full with every cup the club could get their hands on. I knew though that this would only shine a spotlight on the dusty 7 years gap in the trophy cabinet at the Emirates.
I knew I had to go there and marvel at their illustrious roll call of football’s greats. Life sized photos of Messi, Ronaldo and Stoichkov were everywhere I looked. I knew however that this would be impossible without thinking about ex-Arsenal greats such as Henry of Fàbregas.
I knew I had to go there and marvel at their ground breaking partnerships with organisations such as UNICEF. I knew though that would only lead me to dwell on the overtly cooperate nature of the Premiership. We play in the ‘Emirates’ stadium for fucks sake!
All of this I knew and I will confess it did slightly hinder my ability to enjoy the “Camp Nou experience”.
Even the grumpiest of silverware deprived Arsenal fan though would be hard pressed to not be impressed with the biggest stadium in Europe (even after losing over 20,000 in capacity from its 120,000 peak). It is a formidable sight and the views from throughout the stadium are impressive.
Equally I enjoyed learning about the quirks of the club. Did you know that no Brit has played for Barcelona since Gary Linker? Interesting, well at least I thought so.
Equally, I was genuinely interested to learn more about the club’s history. Not only do they play beautiful football they also have time to develop a political opposition to fascism (Franco reportedly warned their players in a 1942 game Vs Madrid that “that taking the ball into Real Madrid’s half would be considered unpatriotic by the regime”).
For me however, despite the skill in which they play, despite the trophies in the cabinet, despite their social democratic principles…all I associate with the club is that fateful night in Paris back in 2006.
Why? 7 years of underachieving. Every Arsenal fan knows there is only one way to rectify this. Over to you Mr Wenger.