Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Born of Frustration - What's Worse, Your Team Underperforming or "Fans" Turning on Your Team?

The meaning of fan from
an enthusiastic devotee, follower, or admirer of a sport, pastime, celebrity, etc.

The past ten days have been beyond frustrating and downright gut wrenching for fans of Arsenal.  After beating Barcelona 2-1 in the first leg of the round of 16, Arsenal have had a less than impressive run of form and luck...some of it of their own doing and some of it from HORRIBLE officiating. 

The Carling Cup trophy was there for the taking as Arsenal met Birmingham in the finals at Wembley on February 27th.  It was 1-1 when misfortune hit.  Arsenal gifted Birmingham the winning goal in the 88th minute as Wojcech Sczeny and Laurent Koscielny inadvertently crossed paths while trying to defend a Birmingham attack.  This one hurt and it was beyond painful to watch Birmingham celebrate and see the disconsolate looks on the faces of the Arsenal players.  Another painful element was seeing some of the vitriolic comment coming from Arsenal "fans" on Twitter, blogs, discussion boards, etc. 

Then a few days after Arsenal easily disposed of lower division Leyton Orient 5-0 in an FA Cup 4th round replay, they had the chance to get three points closer to ManUre who had lost to Chelsea earlier in the week.  Sunderland was the opponent at the Emirates and frustration reigned again.  A blatant penalty on Andrei Arshavin was somehow not spotted by the referee and then an onside GOAL by Arshavin was incorrectly called offside.  So, a 2-0 Arsenal win became a 0-0 draw.  One point gained rather than the deserved three.  This injustice was cushioned by ManUre's humiliating loss to Liverpool but the frustration was still there.  Again, daggers were out from some Arsenal fans calling for various players' heads on a platter.

Then came the second leg of the Champions League round of 16 at the Nou Camp in Barcelona.

Before even dissecting this debacle I have to vent: why do Arsenal always get the hardest draws no matter what the tournament is?  Every year Arsenal get Barcelona and every year Chelski and ManUre get the easiest draw.  No disrespect to Marseille or Copenhagen, but I would have much preferred to face them.  Then who do Arsenal get in the FA Cup next round, ManUre away.  Of course. 

So, to the Nou Camp it was.  It sucks to have to admit it, but Barcelona looked like Arsenal when we play Wigan, except this time we were Wigan.  Arsenal couldn't get the ball.  Add in that the ref was handing out yellow cards to the Arsenal players like the meter maids hand out tickets in Manhattan.  Meanwhile, the Barcelona players committed fouls freely without punishment like New York City politicians double parking at fire hydrants.  Despite this, the defense held.  Then in the dying moments of the first half the most unlikely of culprits, captain Cesc Fabregas, made a misguided back pass that led to a Messi goal.

The officials didn't see this choke hold but it seems the photographers did

Early in the second half Arsenal got a return gift from Barcelona as Busquets headed in to his own goal on an Arsenal corner.  Then the most ridiculous, insipid, pathetic, idiotic, moronic, f'd up call I have ever seen in a game came from some Swiss referee who's name I won't even take the time to look up.  Robin Van Persie streaks across the pitch with the ball at his feet and fires a shot towards the goal.  It goes over and wide.  The next thing you know, this d-bag ref is taking a yellow card out of his pocket and Van Persie is off as he was given an earlier b.s. yellow card for some b.s. reason.  What was the infraction here?  Well apparently Van Persie was supposed to know that the whistle had gone for offside despite a crowd of 95,000 cheering fans and Barcelona defenders clipping at his heels.  Yes, in that one second with all that noise he was supposed to not follow through on his shot.  For actually taking a shot and "wasting" one second of play, Van Persie was shown a red card and Arsenal had to play the remaining 30 plus minutes with one less man.  Yes, Barcelona were superior and yes they controlled the possession but this was a kick in the stomach and the worst bit of refereeing I have ever seen.  It made the ref of the Sunderland game look like Einstein.  Barcelona scored two more times and went on to win 4-3 on aggregate.  Frustration is not even the word. 

The worst referee in the world at work
Even worse though, "fans" ripping Arsene Wenger, cursing Cesc Fabregas, bashing their own team.  Frustration plus irritation = a term I have yet to come up with.  Come on fans, be fans.  Support your team through thick and thin.  I have to go back to my other team, the New York Mets to make this point.

The Mets have sucked for 75% of their 49 years.  Maybe even 80%.  They have 2 World Series titles and have appeared in the World Series just 4 times.  They are second fiddle in a city where the money grubbing Yankees buy titles on a regular basis and steal the headlines constantly.  When the Mets make the front page news, it's because of something horrible like their owners losing a bundle in Bernie Madoff's ponzi scheme or a clubhouse attendant being named in a steriod scandal.  In other words Arsenal fans, the Mets are the Tottenham of New York.  In fact, it's even worse.  They're like the Watford or Crystal Palace of New York.  The only saving grace for the Mets is that they can't be relegated.  They get to suck every year and still come back. 

One thing is clear, however, Mets fans are loyal.  Through thick and thin they hang in there with the team.  Yes, the fans bash their players and bitch on call in sports shows, however, the difference with them and Arsenal fans is that the Mets fans are entitled to complain.  Their team genuinely sucks.  Arsenal on the other hand are an amazing club run by one of the best managers in the world.  Perhaps Arsenal fans are too used to winning.  Yes it's been frustrating, but remember this is a team that competes at the highest level every year.  They did just beat Barcelona 3 weeks ago. 

Maybe I'm just trying to cheer myself up, but come on Arsenal fans.  Stay loyal, support your team and keep the faith.  Oh to be a Gooner.

If any Arsenal fans want to follow a real bad team and have reason to bitch and complain, I invite you to follow my beloved New York Mets.  The new season gets under way on Friday, April 1st.

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