Tag Archives: Tattooed Football

A new dawn at the Emirates?

This article was originally published on the Tattooed Football

There is a new dawn at Arsenal. In the words of Gazidis this is a new era of “financial firepower”. Arsenal are fighting it out with the big boys, not just in the transfer market but, for the 17th consecutive season, the Champions League.  Could this be the season that Arsenal live up to their potential?

Of course bloody not!

Arsene+Wenger+at+AGMSelf-delusion is something central to a diehard 21st century Gooner. No more so than for Gooner-in-chief, Le Professor, Monsieur Wenger.

Despite the talk, the promises, the expectations, what do Arsenal have to show from the transfer window…a free transfer from Auxerre in the form of ‘next big thing’ Yaya Sanogo. He is a classic Wenger signing, off everyone’s radar apart from Wenger’s. Why? Because he shows promise, he shows talent, he might just be, to coin a phrase, ‘the next big thing’ (where have we heard that before)?

For all the talk of signing a racist Uruguayan (can’t see that one going wrong) Wenger is still dangerously close to not making the signing that everyone (literally everyone) says he needs.

Despite the demands from the terraces, the back pages and the pundits, Wenger is dangerously close to coming out of the transfer market essentially empty handed. Depressingly, you can picture him now at the first press conference of the season, brow furled, “my squad is strong enough, and they have a good mental attitude. I am sure we can win”.

Of course, the media focus on the (yet to materialise) centre forward misses the point. Arsenal are missing a solid centre back. I cannot believe that Steve Bould cannot see that. Oh and of course Arsenal could also do with a new goal keeper, left back and someone confident playing left wing.  But these are just side issues I am sure….

And so, they stumble ahead (the talk of unbeaten pre-season out of the window at the Emirates Cup), with Wenger defiant, proud and to the outsider, confident. The fans are still behind Wenger but they’re also still asking the same questions that hung over the squad at the end of last season– is there the strength, depth, spark, talent? Does anyone expect anything other than a scrap for 4th place?

Although talk of a mutiny is overstated the feeling of discontent grows within the emirates with every season where the trophy cabinet is left empty.

There is an irony of being the only top four club with the same manager as last season and yet simultaneously the club that seems most on edge, most likely to drop out of the top four, and most likely to fail to pick up any silverware.

The fans are calling for a big name player to be brought in but this will only be of any significance if, as Gazidis suggests, it marks a new era of “financial firepower” at Arsenal. Without this firepower, Arsenal, with all the managerial skill in the world, will not be able to keep pace with the big boys.

It is not just the 2013/14 season that depends on this but the entire future of the club.

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“The long slog through the desert of pre-season football will soon be over and at last the rains of competitive football will once again fall”

This article was first published on Tattooed Football.

20130730-100825.jpgOn 1st August, at exactly 19:45 British Summer Time something truly remarkable will happen.

Football fans up and down the country will breathe a collective sigh of relief, for the long slog through the desert of pre-season football will be over and at last the rains of competitive football will once again fall.

The cruelty of crushing defeats, the deafening roars of previous victories, and the inevitable inaction of the transfer window can, at long last, be put behind us. Now, as the summer heats disappear almost as quickly as they came, so to can the suspense, the anticipation and anxiety of pre-season.

The time for reflection is over, now is the time to look ahead.

This annual cleansing, the leaving behind of the past, is an essential ritual for football fans. It allows us to be simultaneously enticed by the possibility of the up-coming season whilst also, holding on to a near eternal pessimism that borders on fatalism.

Take my team, the Robbins as an example. No not Bristol City and defiantly not (spits on the floor in pre-historic ritual) Swindon, but Cheltenham Town.

The last two seasons have been stained by the enticing near success of play-off failure. So close, and yet so far away.

The present, the now, the days before the new season however build on this turbulent past. The players who battled to last season’s triumphant failure have now been joined by fresh talent and some tested experience.

The present allows us to reach out to the future in anticipation. It entices, it allows all who habitually take to the stands to start dreaming of the coming season.

Yet, despite these fresh winds of possibility that surround us, despite sitting at work and toying with the ‘what ifs’ that rest somewhere in the back of all of our minds, we are all also confident in the certain failure of our team.

There is a part of us that is certain we will slip up against [insert local rival here].

This cocktail of aimless optimism combined with pessimism bordering on fatalism allows us, the football fan, to exist in a reality entirely devoid of reality. Both simultaneously imagining a cup run alongside battling for draws away against the (spit on the floor) [local rvials].

This safety net of pessimism allows us to dream of the impossible, to escape the traps of the possible.

Some might read this and think that this level of self-delusion is a worrying trait. For me, someone who has been through this ritual one too many times, it is a sign of the eternal beauty of this so aptly named beautiful game.

Every year we are born again in our collective hope, our collective dreams, and our collective ‘what ifs’. Past failures matter not, we are levelled, equal and looking ahead.

If you are reading this and worrying about me, about us, football fans, don’t.

We – the football fan – are not so different. Think of the obese that plod the pavements sweating in the winter sun of New Year’s Day dressed in lycra convinced that this year will be different to all the rest, that this year will yield results.

We are all delusional – football fans are just better at embracing it and having more fun.

Here’s to 2013/14 season. Remember, anything is possible!

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We are Cheltenham fans – we have to be crass enough to dream

This article was originally published by the ‘Tattooed Football’ blog.

I cannot blame Mark Yates for trying to keep fans expectations low in the lead up to our 3rd round FA cup match against high flying Tottenham Hotspurs. The FA Cup has created a fever pitch atmosphere around the club in the last few weeks and the excitement levels are sky high. It is Yates job to guide us (the players, the fans and the media) through this high, and also through what many predict will be an inevitable low. He will be the one who has to focus on securing important results against Aldershot and then Bristol Rovers in the League.
 
His logic is clear, go there expecting nothing and anything will be a bonus. I cannot, and will not accept this.

Continue reading the full article here

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