We saw a recent lecture series on club loyalty. I believe that those fans who abandon their club when they are down don’t understand the core point of football, or any team game, or any game, for that matter. I admire Barca, not for their style of play, but for the sheer talent and skill some of their players have. I admire Royal Madrid, because of the impunity with which they play Fantasy Football. I admire Manchester United, because they have grit. I admire Tottenham Hotspur, because they fought to grow out of the shadow of their neighbours and succeeded.
But I am an Arsenal fan, not because of their style of play (which I do love), or because of their players (though Robin van Persie is my favourite), or some other such detail. In a team game, the principle of superposition doesn’t apply. The whole != sum of the parts. I love Arsenal, because I see in them a reflection of myself. The first Arsenal match I remember watching was the Champions League final of 2005-06. And that match epitomizes their seasons since. They get themselves in a mess. Then by sheer luck, or pure skill, or by some combination thereof, they get their arses out of that mess and get on top of things. And then it all unravels, while you watch on with a sinking feeling.
Like Arsenal, I have talents and skills. Like Arsenal, I can be the best. Like
Arsenal, I have had a string of bad choices ruin it for me. Like Arsenal, I have
managed to save my arse from really being fried (though mostly through sheer
luck). I feel a connection to Arsenal, because if, despite all this, they manage
to win, then it tells me that I can too.
(And one of my friends, a Liverpool fan, had an interesting dip in grades that quite closely followed Liverpool’s dip in form. Though perhaps that is a bit too much for me. :) )
I hope that Arsenal win.
I hope that Arsène Wenger finally constructs a team where each player, no matter how skilled or talented, is truly loyal to our club.
(cf. Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption)
Wait! Nay, I believe that Arsenal can win, and be the best.
Because that belief is tied to my belief in myself.