When is a chant not a chant? When it’s a shush.
Index finger to lips. Lips pursed. The manipulation of tongue to create that slow, deliberate push of air. Shhuuuuussssh.
We’ve all heard it and never does it sting more then when it’s aimed at us, us Gooners, when at home.
Highbury the Library some called it, but that place could rock when we tried. Stands seemingly heaving with desire, noise and passion. Whole rows seemed to become liquid, bouncing up and down, throwing you off tilt and landing on the person next to you. Songs, loud, proud and painfully off key. Those bitterly cold midweek nights; 4 layers of clothes, hats, gloves, coffee and a pint, made all the more warm by the crowd in unison, singing and oleing.
“We’re the North Bank…
We’re the Clock End…”
But that “shhhhuuusssshhh”. We hear it, the team hear it. It echoes around and lingers in the air, an omen of doubt, a signal of worry, swirling and taunting us; “where’s the noise?”. We still hear it now, at The Grove. Enough, I say.
6 conceeded in two games is a concern, no doubt, but look at the quality of the starting back 4-all superb defenders, without doubt. One or two of them look uncertain though, stray passes, easily beaten, shaken by the opposition and their relentless push. And look at the players in front of them, a midfield that, when fit, is as good as any team in the League, probably Europe. Strikers all superb, uniquely gifted, tremendously talented and ferociously hungry.
And yet a doubt, a lingering worry. Why 2 losses? Why 9 points behind Chelsea?
There’s a doubt in the air, in the minds. There is an elephant in the room, a piece of the jigsaw missing. There’s a sliver of worry, of nervous pressure, a need and a demand for success. Years without a trophy and a team coming into fruition; doubt shouldn’t be a concern and yet, players of incredible talent making silly mistakes, basic errors and decisions jaded by worry, of expectation and false entitlement.
After last season’s home game against Wigan it would have entirely appropriate for Eboue to never play for the club again, not because of his poor performance but in protest, at disgust at the shameful indignation of the so-called fans who dared to jeer, boo and hiss him. He had every right to walk away from the club in protest and stick two fingers up to those morons who forced him off the pitch. But he didn’t. He’s a bigger person than that, which is a lot more than can be said for those fans.
We have injuries, issues and fans, quite unbelievably, calling for Wenger to be sacked. The media are once again looking at us and criticising a team who have the potential to beat anyone in Europe and yet we still wonder, worry and look for answers.
In all of this, who do we never look to? Who or what is that one missing piece? Analyse the team, the club, the players, the manager, the transfers, but that one element missing is you. And I. It’s the person sitting behind, telling us to sit down. It’s the person leaving 10 minutes early, the couple off to beat the queues for a latte 30 minutes in.
You want the team to win? Tell them. Support them. Tell the players how much we want the win, but support them. Chant, cheer, jump up and down, scream and wear the colours. Shout down the opposition, their fans, the media. Don’t let the sound stop. Don’t give the team reason to doubt. Don’t doubt them. There is no error in football anymore, the players have to be on their best form for 90 minutes, why shouldn’t they expect the same from us? It’s no excuse not being at the game. You still count. Why the doubt? Why the concern? You support the greatest football club in the world and you should be telling people this, not pretending to know the details of the club’s finances. Tell others about how great we are, the players are and how our Manager will deliver us trophies, because it’s true. We have to believe.
Today Wigan are back at the Grove. This one we have to win. No more excuses, no more doubt. The season has begun and the doubt is creeping back in again. Don’t let it. Let’s banish the doubters and the worries, shout down the shushes and make sure the team know, it’s us versus the world, Arsenal against everyone else. Show you care, show you believe: stand up for the Arsenal.