Monday, January 30, 2012

Wenger Out, Wenger In: Is The Glass Half Empty or Half Full?

Arsenal's 3-2 victory over Aston Villa in the fourth round of the FA Cup was a tale of two halves. Despite dominating possession, Arsenal found themselves down by 2 goals going in to the half. The booing at the Emirates was loud and the angst of Arsenal fans on Twitter filled my time line...with many "fans" directing their anger at manager Arsene Wenger and calling for his head.

Whatever Wenger said to the team at half-time worked. They came out and took control of the game and within 16 minutes were on top 3-2. They then held on and ran out the clock to secure victory and their place in the 5th round. Cheers were heard at the Emirates and true fans were filling my Twitter time line with positive statements and telling the "Wenger out" brigade to shove it.

RVP turns the jeers to cheers
In essence, the division among the fans mirrors the two halves of the half poor and one half great. Personally, I am disgusted at the vile things supposed Arsenal "fans" are saying about one of the greatest football managers ever. (Check out my last post for more specifics on the two types of fans.) Wenger has brought so much to Arsenal over the last 15 years and to see him treated with such disrespect is disgusting. There is definitely a spoiled "what have you done for me lately" contingent that call themselves Arsenal fans. These folks need a reality check.

These two tweets were my favorites of the day and represent exactly what I'm talking about with regards to the split that currently exists between Arsenal fans:

Well done AFC for getting it in from somewhere #InArseneWeTrust. I bet it was a Twitter of 2 halfs on here earlier. #COYG

@Piersmorgan I beg to differ I think there is a group that want Wenger out and a group that says #InArseneWeTrust. All fans want trophies.

Rather than go on and on, I thought I'd let the words of actual Arsenal supporters show the divide that currently exists. So here in their own words are the two halves of Arsenal fans:

The "Wenger Out" Crowd

Only gonna play football now, no more watching/supporting. Can't take this bullshit anymore #arsenal #WengerOut

Quality finish by Bent. Arsenal are a shambles. As always #WENGEROUT

Absolutely nothing about today's game lends support to the Wenger apologists. Quite the opposite. #wengerout #afc

Arsenal 0-2 Aston Villa #wengerout HT

The worst thing about my weekend is being an #Arsenal supporter, this shit is devastating. Hate to say it, but it's time. #WengerOut

There's literally no excuses any more #WengerOut

#arsenal #arsenallive enough is enough this, is going to far we need to win something #timeforchange #wengerout out out out

#arsenal #Afc this is bollocks!! Wenger your a complete cunt, just fuck off out of out club now. It's embarrassing. So glad I gave up my ST

#Arsenal Now do you AW backers see he has lost the plot. Time to move out. #wengerout

You can say what you want, but we are in fucking misery again with Wenger.... #Arsenal #wengerout

@mjallenjune what is happening to us?! It's a shambles!! #wengerout

Wenger has to go after this game, he is an actual disgrace to AFC #wengerout

Fucking terrible do the right thing and resign!!! Your taking us in one direction! Your time is up! #wengerout

I agree with everyone on my time line enough is enough & 7 years without a trophy with our club is not good enough #WengerOut

4th loss in a row?? #WengerOut

Same old shit #Arsenal #WengerOut

@MessiMinutes fuck this. I'm supporting Barca #wengerout

4th defeat in a row #Wengerout #WeNeedAMiracle

I've had enough of this rubbish, time to jump on the band wagon #WengerOut

@MaxBakerDFW #WengerOut I'm officially done and I'm 100% serious this time, not Arsene the board

Would happily buy Wenger a one way ticket to France #Wengerout

Oh FOR FUCK'S SAKE!!!! Switching the radio off now, can't be arsed listening to another #Arsenal humiliation #WengerOut

Safe to say Arsenal are out of the FA Cup...#Wengerout..??

4 defeats in a row? #spendsomefuckingmoney #wengerout

Glad I'm missing this fucker #wengerout #afc

The "In Arsene We Trust" Loyalists

This win is very good for our confidence. Also where are all the Wenger haters now? I don't see anyone screaming #WengerOut now. Dumbasses.

We stuck together as ONE...Up The Mighty Gunners! #InArseneWeTrust. Night all

@piersmorgan Actually not everyone was booing the players off. Some of us were getting behind the team for a better 2nd half  #InArseneWeTrust

all fans calling for wengers head should be very careful what they wish for #inarsenewetrust

A very welcome return for Arteta and Sagna. A brilliant second half performance that has rightly silenced the doubters. #AFC #InArseneWeTrust

Just got back from the Arsenal, great game! #bouncebackability #inarsenewetrust

@samuelj29060 I love Arsene #InArseneWeTrust

#InArseneWeTrust take back my comments from early. Very angry at the time!! #goonerpower

This is why I'm an Arsenal fan! #InArseneWeTrust

arsene wenger you fucking genius, I'm sorry for ever losing faith .#inarsenewetrust #theprofessorcomesgoodagain

Two nil down 3 nil up. We're gonna win the FA Cup!! #InArseneWeTrust

RT @TheGoonerArmy: Dear Beliebers, do u mind loggin out of twitter for a couple of mins? We're trying to get #InArseneWeTrust trending

You guys have absolutely no idea of what it's like to be a Manager and what it involves...#InArseneWeTrust That's all I have to say.

The Professor gave #AFC a test and they fucking passed with class! #InArseneWeTrust

We never give up..have faith and the boys will surely repay your faith...#InArseneWeTrust #GoonerPower

Brilliant second half performance. Sorry was the "Arsene Out" at half time  #inarsenewetrust

Wenger doesn't have to justify his actions to anyone! He is a legend! #InArsenewetrust #AFC

By the way dumbasses we went 2-0 down to 3-2 WITH NO SUBS. Still criticizing? #InArseneWeTrust COYG

Just allow those negative Gooners who said Arsene out etc. Enjoy the victory. Those people will feel like fools whether they admit it or not.

The boo boys around always make me laugh. Spent whole of first half whining and spent the whole of second half squiming #supporttheteam

"Fans" who find joy in Arsenal losing to prove their point are a disgrace to the club, the other fans and more importantly, themselves.

So all of you who tweeted me and asked if I can find anything positive about I need to find anything more positive than this comeback?

Fuck the doubters. #inarsenewetrust

Hope that silences all the narrow minded people calling for wengers head #genius #InArseneWeTrust

Great come back from the boys what fighting spirit! #InArsenewetrust #AFC


I don't want to say I told you so but look at my tweet at half time...#IToldYouSo #InArseneWeTrust #ILoveYouArsenal

All Anti Wenger people, He changed the game with his team talk, Walcott was immense, Ramsey was superb #InArseneWeTrust

@piersmorgan start supporting and stop your moaning! You embarrass yourself every week! #inarsenewetrust

Hopefully all those who wanted Wenger out just after 1st half can rot in hell now...#InArseneWeTrust

Form is temporary, class is permanent! #LeaveItYeah #inarsenewetrust #AFC

RT @GIGIHOSNY: No other manager Could've turned a game Like This #InArseneWeTrust

I Love Arsene Wenger for everything he's brought to our club, including the high expectations of the plastic fans. #InArseneWeTrust

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Fan Loyalty - Die-Hard or Fair-Weather?

While Wikipedia is not considered the most credible source on the planet, I am turning to it for a couple of simple definitions:

Fan loyalty: is the loyalty felt and expressed by a fan towards the object of his/her fanaticism. Allegiances can be strong or weak. The loyalties of sports fans have been studied by psychologists, who have determined several factors that create such loyalties. Fan loyalty can be threatened by team actions.

Fair-weather fans: Fans who only follow their team when they are winning.
Die-hard fans: Fans who follow their team no matter they are winning or losing.

I have turned to these definitions as recent events for the teams that I support have been pretty abysmal and fan loyalty is definitely being tested.

Arsenal have lost 3 straight League matches (2 of them to weaker opponents) and the club is currently fighting for a top 4 finish which has been a given since the '95-'96 season. Weaknesses in the squad have been exposed and fans are starting to vent their anger at each other. I personally find both situations sad. As a fan of the club, I am definitely bummed that they are not as strong as they have been in the Arsene Wenger era. However, I am also bummed to see the nastiness of some fans towards the team, the manager, the players and each other when things go bad. (One example is the "fan" who threatened to "murder" Aaron Ramsey following last week's terrible loss to Swansea and another is the name calling Twitter "conversation" that I just saw in my time line between 3 Arsenal fans).

I have no interest in judging how others should feel or show their support for a team. I am just questioning those that turn so nasty when things don't go their way.

English Football and American Baseball have very little in common but when I look at the New York Mets in comparison to Arsenal I see a glaring difference in fan expectation. The Mets have a 50 year history of underachieving. Mets fans have to have thick skin as we live in the same town as the Championship buying entitled Yankees. The 2012 baseball season hasn't even started yet and everyone is predicting last place for the hapless Mets...yet the fans remain loyal to the club (not the owners though who have further tarnished the club by their personal association with Bernie Madoff). Mets fans would be thrilled to not finish in last place. Yes we want the team to win, but there are 30 teams in the league and only one can win the title. The fact is that 29 fan bases will be left disappointed.  Most teams have their ups and downs. We live with the Mets and sadly lose with the Mets. Mets fans just keep hoping for that time when they will be on top. It will be that much sweeter when it happens.

Meanwhile, Arsenal fans expect trophies and a top 4 finish no matter what. I will always support Arsenal and I want the trophies and championships for the club as well. However, no team has a divine right to win everything. (Yes, even the Yankees). Arsenal have been a shell of themselves this season and yet they are in 5th place out of 20 teams. Overall that is pretty damn good. I can only imagine how hard it is to be a fan of teams such as Wigan, Bolton, Leeds, Blackpool, West Ham, Blackburn, etc. Yet, they have loyal fans that put up with the ups and many downs of the clubs they support. 

Don't even get me going on the New York Jets who haven't been to the Super Bowl since 1969. It would be easy to just turn on them and support the Giants who always seem to find a way to win. That would be easy...but it would also be seen as being a "fair weather fan" rather than a "die-hard".

I choose to remain a die-hard fan and support my teams no matter whether they are winning or losing. I'd prefer winning but die-hard fans don't always get the choice.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Return of the King...Thierry Henry Adds to His Legendary Arsenal Status

The King returns
Thierry Henry! There's nothing else to say. The name says it all.

Arsenal's all time leading goal scorer left the club five years ago to sign with Barcelona and has since moved on to New York and the Red Bulls. His heart, however, has never left North London and he is still and will always be revered by the Arsenal faithful.
Henry salutes the fans
So, when the MLS season ended Henry returned to London. His intention was to stay in match shape during the MLS off season by training with the Arsenal first team. It wasn't long before rumors started to build that Henry would return to Arsenal on loan until the start of the new Red Bulls season. Then last week, it became official
Henry shoots
Henry is now 34 which for a football player is considered "old". Despite losing a bit of pace, he still possesses more talent and skill than most players ever will. Plus, Henry's presence at Arsenal alone is enough to lift the club and its fans.
Henry scores
Then came today's FA Cup 3rd round match versus Leeds at The Emirates. Henry was named to the squad and started the game on the bench. Just the sight of him warming up made the crowd go nuts.
Henry celebrates
As too often seems to be the case, Arsenal were dominating the possession, but their finishing was awful. The crowd had been chanting Thierry Henry's name throughout the match and it was inevitable that he would come on as a sub.
1-0 to The Arsenal courtesy of Thierry Henry
Henry came on in the 68th minute along with Theo Walcott. Ten minutes later a brilliant pass from Alex Song found Henry who coolly slotted home the only goal of the game.  The crowd went nuts, the commentators were yelling and Henry showed such exuberance and joy that I'm sure many fans (even big tough guys) shed some tears. Seeing Henry salute the fans and immediately run over to hug Arsene Wenger was amazing. It was better than any Hollywood movie. It's as if whatever higher power there is out there is a Gooner. It was truly written in the stars. It was one of the greatest Gooner moments in recent history.

Henry celebrates the victory
One thing that does need to be addressed is the vitriol coming from the inevitable "haters" (mostly from Spuds fans). Comments such as "it's only Leeds" and "Arsenal were lucky to win" were interspersed with hundreds of tweets from happy Gooners. What these idiots seem to be missing is that this was a celebration more about welcoming back a hero than simply beating Leeds.  It is a feel good story that was magical and brought happiness to so many. It is worthy of a massive celebration.
The script was written
Here's the goal and what the press had to say about the return of "the king" Thierry Henry.

BBC Football - Arsenal 1-0 Leeds   
The Guardian - Thierry Henry Revils in 'dream' return to Arsenal against Leeds United           
Guardian Blog - Fans go wild for Thierry Henry, the genius who writes his own scripts
Daily Mail - It was written in the stars...Henry's sensational return to Arsenal in pictures
Red Bulls website - Photo Gallery: Thierry Henry's Return To Arsenal

Henry celebrates with the boss
Telegraph - Arsenal 1 Leeds United 0
Daily Express - Arsenal Boss Arsene Wenger In Dreamland At A Legend's Return
ESPN Written in the stars - Written In The Stars
Telegraph - Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger says 'it was like a dream' when Thierry Henry scored winner 
Daily Mail - Arsenal 1 Leeds 0: Va-Va Boom! A classic touch, a clinical strike. King Henry reigns again
Daily Mail - Henry Savours Magical FA Cup Moment After Netting Winner on Stunning Return to Arsenal

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Festive Holiday Period Brings Upsets and the Return of Thierry Henry

The festive holiday period and all the fixtures that it brings has come and gone. There were a lot of upsets and some crazy games. One lesson that I learned is don't laugh too hard at the failure of others as it may come back to haunt you. However, it is fun to see mercenaries, dirt bags and arrogant overpaid prima donnas lose and even get humiliated.

My favorite results from the holiday period:


*Chelsea 1-Fulham 1 - Clint Dempsey scores to give Fulham a point at Stamford Bridge.
*Liverpool 1-Blackburn 1 -  A Charlie Adam own goal at Anfield gave last place Blackburn a point.
*West Brom 0-Man City 0 - Crisis in Manchester. Overpaid millionaires fail to score.

John Terry misses again and Ireland scores 

*Chelsea 1-Aston Villa 3 - More dropped points for Chelsea & "the new special one" Andre Villlas Boas.
*Man United 2-Blackburn 3 - At home, Fergie & boys lose to last place Blackburn. A very enjoyable result.
Fergie increases his gum chewing after loss to Blackburn                  

*Sunderland 1-Man City 0 - Happy New Year big time! My favorite result. Mancini must have wanted to tie that scarf a bit tighter.
Ji Dong gives fans of every other team something to cheer about

Newcastle 3 - Man United 0 - My second favorite result. Not only did Newcastle rip United apart and expose many flaws in Fergie's team, they played one of the best all around team games that I have ever seen.

Demba Ba scores and Phil Jones will score for the other team later
As for Arsenal...drawing with Wolves 1-1 was somewhat annoying. They then went on to beat QPR 1-0 and I was confident that they would easily beat Fulham. Well, here's where karma got me. Up 1-0 with about ten minutes left in the match, Arsenal threw away the lead and the game. While I would like to blame Sebastien Squillaci (who actually came on as a sub when Johan Djourou was sent off after a soft second yellow card), there was plenty of blame to go around. Outside of Robin Van Persie, the rest of the team seems to have forgotten how to score. Walcott looked lost, Ramsey made a lot of bad passes and Arsenal's back line is in shambles with injuries to Sagna, Santos, Vermaelen, Gibbs and Jenkinson.

The return of the king
Some good news was delivered to Arsenal and the team's fans this holiday as the rumored return of Thierry Henry for a six week period was confirmed. Just having Henry around the team is enough of a boost to hopefully drive the team forward. Sagna, Wilshere and Gibbs are expected back soon and hopefully Wenger will bring in some talent during the transfer window. #COYG.


Bankruptcy could be good news if it gets rid of the Wilpons
As for the Mets...well there isn't much to say. The only good thing to happen to the team lately is that everybody's favorite mascot, Mr. Met, was profiled in the New York Times.

Also, there is speculation that the Wilpons may file for bankruptcy. You know your team is in trouble when filing for bankruptcy is treated as good news.

As for the baseball, pitchers and catchers officially report to Port St. Lucie on February 15th. Whether we're ready or not, Spring Training is coming and so is the season.

The face of the New York Mets...not Bill's Mr. Met