footy musings from a (relative) newbie

Archive for August, 2011

whither wenger?

I’ve previously written about the fact that I don’t support any teams in the English – sorry – Barclays Premier League. Mostly, I enjoy the soap opera that comes as the season unfolds, and right now, followers of the Premier League cannot escape the soap opera that is Arsenal. Unlike most soaps, this one has no need of sex scandals and the like in light of Arsenal’s dire performances and player exoduses.

Watching this particular story unfold, I’ve noticed a few things getting on my nerves. For one thing, football pundits suffer from the same affliction as other media types where they refer to “the media” as if they’re not a part of it – e.g., “The media are calling for Arsene Wenger to be fired.” If folks want to call for Arsene Wenger to be fired from his post as Arsenal manager, that’s their prerogative, but can they at least own that opinion instead of hiding behind this nebulous “media” label? (Side note: I get that seeing Wenger fired might be cathartic for fans who blame him for the club’s woes and pundits who are frustrated at his perceived obliviousness and stubbornness, but on this topic, I ask the same question I always ask when calls start coming for a manager’s head: with whom would you replace AW? Frankly, given the bashing both the manager and the club are getting, who in their right mind would want the job? And if – as some have accused – Arsenal are a club lacking in ambition, what top-flight, elite manager could the club’s owners convince to take the job? This is my problem with the knee-jerk “fire Wenger” wailing. The wailers rarely think their complaints through to anything resembling a logical conclusion).

Also, I understand the urge to kick someone when he or she is down, but I am over the heaping of scorn on Arsenal, not because I’ve suddenly developed an attachment to the Gunners, but because it’s old, tired and unproductive.

What this boils down to for me is the replication of the same complaints I always have about news media in any discipline: lack of perspective, fixation on belaboring a single point (Arsenal are playing awfully now. We get it. Move on. Are there no other teams in world football to mock and bitch about?), and my personal favorite: incessant regurgitation of the same damn narrative by multiple sources. (This also was true of the “When will Fernando Torres score” nonsense and the just-concluded Cesc Fabregas Saga). Can someone offer this consumer of football news something beyond, “Arsenal are terrible; Wenger must go?” Because once you’ve read one column mocking Arsenal, you’ve kind of read them all.

If the media are there to provide unique and special insight into events (be they world events or sporting events), how special and unique can that insight be when everyone essentially says the same thing?

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why football?

It’s hard to articulate exactly why I fell for football (soccer to us fans) in the summer of 2010. I’ve tried to narrow my reasons down to the following top 10.

1. Zinedine Zidane

2. Xabi Alonso

3. Mesut Ozil’s Eyes

4. Cristiano Ronaldo’s Thighs – c’mon, you know it’s true.

5. Champions League

6. Steven Gerrard

7. Wayne Rooney’s Love Life, although even without it, football would still be one big soap opera

8. Clint Dempsey

9. Hating Manchester United & Chelsea

10. Football pundits – even though they drive me crazy with their uncanny imitations of high school mean girls.

A couple of other things you need to know about my football fandom

  • While I’m an avid follower of the English – sorry, Barclays Premier League, I don’t support any of the league’s 20 teams. I tried in vain to find a team to support last season and found that I derived most of my enjoyment from watching the whole shebang unfold over 9 months. I do hate Manchester United and Chelsea, though, so I don’t know if that really makes me a true neutral.
  • Following football is a largely mediated experience for me, which means my view of the game will be influenced by that. I never grew up playing the game in streets and parks; I only went to my first live football game this year (Chicago Fire lost 1-0 to Portland Timbers in case you were curious).

What else?

Stay tuned!

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