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Arsenal Is My Team, After All

September 13th, 2010 · 1 Comment · Abu Dhabi, soccer

Finally have realized this. I am an Arsenal fan.

Now, I don’t live and die with the Gunners. That will never happen. I’m far too old and far too American to have that level of attachment.

This is the end of a process that began in Hong Kong nearly two years ago when I did a post entitled, Who Should My Premier League Team Be? and got lots of advice.

About six weeks later, I did a second post declaring, And My Premier League Team Is … Nobody! … explaining how I decided I couldn’t decide. How Queens Park Rangers and Nottingham Forest, teams that amused me … would not be relevant for a long time.

Well, a year and a half later I have decided … without actually deciding.

Here’s why I am an Arsenal fan:

1. I like the names. Arsenal. The Gunners. I like both of them. Catchy. Evocative. When you’re starting from scratch, these things have meaning.

2. I like the coach. Arsene Wenger seems like a class act. I saw him at a France-Romania World Cup qualifier in the Stade de France a year ago, and I remember thinking, “That handsome tall old guy looks distinguished. He looks intelligent.” I thought he looked familiar, and then I realized, “Oh, it’s Arsene Wenger.” The French media were chatting him up, and he was politely chatting back. He was there to do color commentary, I believe, for French TV.

3. I like Arsenal’s style of play. This is a function of Wenger, I’m sure. They always want to score. They want to entertain and not just get a result. The planet is infested with frightened, timid, dull, negative soccer clubs (professional and national) whose only intent is “not to lose.” If they score and win, well, that’s an unexpected bonus. Arsenal seems to want to score and win at all times,  and to be colorful in the process. Not quite Brazilian, because their players don’t have that sort of flair, but more in a sort of internalized, this-is-the-process sort of way. If that means not being able to hold a lead now and then, so be it. I’ve seen enough 1-0 matches to last the rest of my life.

4. I like their uniforms. Well, I don’t hate their uniforms, and that already leaves them ahead of half of English soccer. Pretty much red and white. With a dark blue as the alternate uniform. (Some goofy “away” outfit seems to be rarely worn, thank God.) This matters. I could never root for Aston Villa because of their ridiculous unis. A half-dozen teams in the Premier League seem to have been outfitted by color-blind haberdashers or wardrobe people who dressed the Munchkins in “The Wizard of Oz.” Bizarre stripes and freakish colors. Hideous.

5. I like their crest. The cannon. Cool.

6. I like several of their players, beginning with Cesc Fabregas (and, yes, I know he probably will be with Barcelona, a year from now), and including Van Persie, Theo Walcott, the loutish lad Jack Wilshere, Niklas Bendtner … I also decided that “they’re not English enough” doesn’t matter to me. Arsenal has almost no English because English players are boring. They don’t fit Arsenal’s style. If/when Wenger sees some who do, he brings them in. And the team now has 3-4 Englishmen. Not that I actually care, as long as they can play.

7. And a silly thing, I like that the first five letters of Wenger’s first name are the first five letters of “Arsenal.” What are the odds? (And yes, I am overlooking the oft-noted “how can you support a club with ‘arse’ in their name?” thing.)

And I have problems with nearly all the rest. Chelsea is a sissy name. I will never get past that. Won’t happen. Manchester United, too cliche. Everybody is a ManU fan. So that’s out. Liverpool … I don’t like the city, even if I haven’t been there in 28 years. Aston Villa has ridiculous outfits, Manchester City just spends money recklessly with no thought for chemistry or teamwork. Tottenham seems low-rent and thuggish to me. Fans and players. Fulham is too weird. I could like Everton, but they aren’t in the news quite often enough and I’m not sure they will ever win anything before I die … and the rest of them … just on a treadmill to nowhere, right? Are Birmingham/Wigan/Blackpool-burn/Newcastle/Stoke/Bolton/Wolverhampton, et al … are they ever going to do anything? So what’s the point if you’re an outsider, just dropping in as a fan late in life?

So this comes down, really, to a name … to success … and to a coach.

But, really, I never consciously chose Arsenal. I realized one day that I would prefer them to win all their matches. I cannot think of one team I would like to see defeat them, aside, maybe from Everton. And if I were in England and had $100 I didn’t need and decided to see a match … it would be Arsenal. That makes me an Arsenal fan, doesn’t it.

So, I decided without decided. I am an Arsenal fan … at least as long as Wenger is there and they keep doin’ what they’re doin’, playing to win.

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1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Brian Robin // Sep 22, 2010 at 11:56 am

    Well done, Paul! Very. Well. Done.

    You saw the light, sifted out the rabble and chose wisely.

    BTW, aside from instilling a style of play that evokes the way the game is supposed to be played, Wenger IS intellgent: Economics degree from the University of Strasbourg. So your instincts on that front were dead-on nails.

    GO GUNNERS!

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