Before I fell from the fifth floor of Danny Murphy’s mock Tudor mansion in Worcester Park, I used to do the windows of a delightful Arsenal fanatic Nigel whose family live off Wimbledon Common. As often as not we would repair to the Fox and Goose for a few ales and discuss the travails of our respected teams . One of my lads Steve who had taken over the contract, a Charlton supporter told me that after Arsenal’s home defeat against Villa on the first day of the season my client Nigel was pessimistic. We had won away at Sunderland and under a new regime felt confident. How things have changed since then, Arsenal top the league whilst we are in the bottom three
Nigel kindly called to invite me to Arsenal v Marseilles . He and his friend Cliff who generously hosted dinner beforehand were in the Corporate level. Any criticism that those that inhabit the expensive seats, the prawn sandwich brigade as Roy Keane termed them were lacking in passion might have have their view changed by events.
Firstly though the match. The swagger and fluidity had returned to Arsenal but also the tendency to over elaborate in front of goal and to fail to convert possession and passing into the hard currency of goals. The Gunners were one up through Wilshere in 27 seconds, the fastest goal scored by an English side in the Champions League and could and should have scored many more, including a missed penalty. In such games there is always the nagging feeling that the oppressed team might just equalise. Much depended on the result as even with 12 points Arsenal may not qualify . They certainly would not wish to go to the bear pit that is the San Paolo stadium in Naples to need a result. As it happened Wilshere added a second , the Arsenal were home and hosed .
Arsenal still contrived to miss many chances one of which was a strike from Walcott which went narrowly wide. A supporter sitting in the row in front with his son audibly moaned which set Nigel off ” you said Ramsay is no good either. You would have sold him” I watched the jaw harden of the fellow’s son as Nigel continued on this theme of fans who don’t support the team but moan. With a few minutes to go the fellow left and commented ” I’ve been going for 42 years.” It always makes me laugh that when fans ring in on call ins they have as a badge of honour to state how long they have supported the team. The general murmuring around us was my friend was in the right but I could not help feeling that equally they would have preferred the incident not to take place. .Nigel did not swear nor menace but was visibly annoyed that a player of his team which was doing so well should be subjected to criticism . I don’t sit in the corporates and generally agree with the moods and comments around me. With 8 home defeats in our last 10 games our boys need all the support they can get.
I like a bit of passion too though we have not had too much to arouse us. In fact as fans who knew Cliff and Nigel came up to them to organise some trip I thought how good r it must be to support a team both successful domestically and in Europe and to close the chapter of unrest and speculation on Wenger. It did not take too much for more contrary feelings to spill over.