Supporting The Arsenal can be a very difficult job at the best of times. Since 2005 when Patrick Vieira lifted the FA and we all yelled with him (why do we do that anyway) it has been slim pickings on the trophy front. We got to the champions league final in Paris in 2006 but lost to a Ronaldihno inspired Barcelona after being ahead to a Sol Campbell header close to the end of the game. We also go to the Carling Cup final in 2011 where we met Birmingham and lost at the very last minute when goalie Sir Chesney and Laurent Koscielny conspired to allow that Naija striker Obafemi Martins to sneak in and lose the trophy. There have been some pretty bad loses too. 8-2 against the Mancs. 4-4 against Newcastle (we drew but I still count it as a loss of two points). Wigan 2-1 at the very last minute.
There have been some positives in spite of these few mess ups. Without the league, accessing the UEFA Champion’s League every year and getting to compete against the best in Europe (which in truth is best in the world) is a salve that helps to keep my mind away from the pleasure of yelling alongside as an Arsenal captain lifts a trophy. Halfway across the planet.
The 2013/4 season looked different than the others I have been experiencing. This vintage was very much like the previous league winning side known as the “invincibles.” The team stayed at the top of the table most of the season and it was a four horse race with Arsenal joined by oligarch funded Chelsea and petrodollar infused Manchester City and surprise package Liverpool.
It was Saturday that I headed to Marabou Lounge to watch what many considered the make or break game of the season for Arsenal’s title ambitions as they met Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea as you are aware is led by probably the most odious individual in world sport (yes, even more that the Nike boys – Oscar Pistorius, Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong combined). He has never lost at home in the league and we were up against it.
The event was brought by our friends from Gillette who have been associated with sports for a long time; Gillette World Sport Special is a huge part of my Saturdays as a younger fellow. Gillette are also the folks who also seem to add their blade numbers every so often as is shown by this wonderful tweet;
@mcalvey: *Gillette meeting*
Sales are down again-ideas? Jim?
*Everyone leans in*
Dammit Jim ya saved the company again.
I am not the Jim mentioned in this tweet by the way.
This time the team from Gillette had gotten Elias Makori to ask some of his friends to catch the game. The ones who I remember include Philip Etale who is ODM director of communication and regular contributor of that paper that smart people read. Also there was David Mbatia who I knew as a top dog at the K24 TV station although on chatting with him he mentioned that he had left very recently to be a consultant. It was times like those I missed Bogonko Bosire and his salacious Jackal News Website as if he was around we would have been given the behind the scenes story about why Mbatia isn’t at K24. The real reason this happened according to conspiracy friendly Bogonko would have been along the lines of a curse biting the executive because the company fired a pregnant woman. Ah well.
You don’t have to be told the result of that game. We were spanked 6-0. 6-0. That’s the worst performance I have seen from an Arsenal side since the 8-2 loss in Manchester before the Skunk took off to the Filthy Mancs. It was very depressing. The only thing going for me that day was that I interacted with many pals I haven’t seen in a bit; Nairobi moves so fast that when you look around you haven’t seen a pal or family member for one year.
Then there were the lovely Gillette girls. Optical nourishment never hurt any man.
The Arsenal title challenge ended on Tuesday when that ball went in off Flamini for Swansea to get a draw at the Emirates on Tuesday.
For those who complain bitterly about Arsene Wenger I feel your pain. The old man is no saint. I am still mad that he chose bottler William Gallas to be captain over Gilberto who was captain for Brazil at the time. If he had made that decision the fate of The Arsenal would have been very different from today. Of that I am certain. There have been many times I have been unhappy with his line outs and purchases. However he does have something going for him that I don’t have. For one, he is the one of a small elite group of football managers who has led a football team to win the English Premier League. They are so few I don’t mind listing them; Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho, Kenny Dalglish leading Blackburn Manager in 1995, Carlo Ancelotti at Chelsea manager in 2010. Did I miss anyone? Yep. That’s one of 5 guys on the planet to pull of this feat in the premier league era. It’s not simple winning that trophy.
Even without the league no one has stayed in the elite of Europe for so long who for intents shouldn’t. More people have been given more money than him but he is there every year with his shoe string budget teams going to the second round of that tourney. Don’t knock that. Liverpool failed to win the league in 2008 and then faded. Its only now years after spending gazillions on players and changing managers that they are contenders. Even Man Utd are feeling the heat without their legendary manager; are you willing to bet that they will be in champions league next (winning the league is out of the question) year?
We’ll get them next year. Really.