I am writing this as a response to the recent ‘The AKBs Are Back!’ article. I am not backward in coming forward, and I was going to launch a rebuttal so full of invective that it would make the Wiley v Stormzy beef seem like a quarrel in a kindergarten. Then I thought “NO”. Firstly, the editor would not publish it and, rather than get angry, why not rise above the provocation and counter the piece of an author I know nothing about with a reasoned argument.
I actually felt insulted by the opening to the article. Rocky The King was never an AKB. In fact, I suffered from the pain of writing negative blog after negative blog on this page about the group of Gooners affectionately known as AKBs who, in my personal and perhaps unfair opinion, were deluded.
I found myself turning away from all things Arsenal. I refused to write any more blogs knocking this great club because of the attitude and behaviour of Stan Kroenke. I say this as a life member of the Arsenal Supporters Trust. So how dare GB tar us all with the same brush because we believe in Arteta?
I have not defended Arteta from criticism, nor did I defend Unai Emery before him. So, whether you like it or not, GB, we do have a poor squad defensively; this is a valid observation. Like you, no doubt, I have watched the recent games very carefully and I disagree with your choice of Rafa Benitez and your comment about the appointment of Arteta in that “it showed a lack of long-term thinking”. As for “a lack of foresight and ambition”, I shall mention the player Pablo Mari from Flamengo nearer the end. I shall not do a point-by-point rebuttal as it will take too long and give credibility to some of your very unfair observations. It suffices to ask a very simple question: how do Gooners out there in the GoonerSphere feel about their club now? Not about the respective personalities or skill-sets of Arteta and Benitez. Recall the Black Scarf movement? I joined that because I wanted my club back. Well, despite the wretched Stan Kroenke still being at the club, we are, like the Gooner FA Cup chant, “On our way!”.
Arteta’s words alone could have been spoken by every Black Scarf member, every WoB (Wenger out Brigade) and every hardcore Gooner who, like me, turned our backs on the club that we loved because of the pain. How dare you after such a short period of time try to open those wounds that might never heal for many of us? Whatever Arteta accomplishes at the Arsenal, he has in his short tenure of the club restored our pride. The draw against Chelsea with just ten men had me dancing and screaming “YES, YES. We are the pride of London!”. After so many dark and depressing months of Wenger and Emery, it was like being let out of jail as a convict into a brave new world. Don’t take away our joy, don’t steal our dreams, GB, because after the past torment, Gooners deserve a bit of good feeling. Being a Gooner is like being a manic depressive on the tallest rollercoaster in the world. The therapy that we are getting now is long overdue.
I am preparing a blog about Arteta’s style of tactics, the pressing game, the choice of player to lead our attack, his welcoming back of Xhaka. But I need to get this off my chest. We have had two appointments since Emery’s departure. I blogged about our legend Freddie, and why he was not the answer. I measure great clubs by their history and ambition. Arteta has ambition in spades. Arteta has a vision of the club and what it stands for that reminded me of Rocky’s words.
If anyone is to bring the Champions League Trophy to Arsenal, then Arteta will have a better chance than the likes of ponderous and cumbersome Benitez. As for Rafa, by the way, did Newcastle United win any silverware? Not even the FA Cup. As my later blog will point out, there appear to be four Ps that define Arteta from this short experience - Passion, Pride, Pressure and Persistence.
The time to judge Arteta is following a season’s campaign after he has made changes to his playing squad. Which brings me to Pablo Mari, a six foot three inch 26-year-old centre-back from Brazilian club Flamengo, who Manchester City turned their back on after acquiring him in 2016. He went out on loan to the Dutch Eredivisie with NAC Breda and the Spanish Liga 2 side Deportiva de La Coruña. He was a steady defender by all accounts and, if you watch the TotalFootball 10 minute vid on YouTube I am sure that Gooners will like what they see. His interceptions, his ball-heading and long-ball distribution make him, for me, a cross between Paddy Vieira and Mr Arsenal himself, Tony Adams. If this is the calibre of player that we can expect to arrive at our mighty Arsenal under Arteta, then the future will prove you wrong, GB. So, when you state “We won’t get top four in the league” or that “We needed a coach who could give structure, tactics and improve our defence. Whilst Arteta can do the first two he certainly can’t do the final one”, the expected signing of Mari will make your personal criticism of Arteta look silly in games to come.
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