I think the summer does funny things to people, you know.
I’m not sure whether it’s the sudden breakthrough of the sun from above the grey, Great Britain shaped, wall of cloud, or if it’s the lack of club football. Or if it’s a combination of both. Whatever it is, you get an effect similar to that which takes over a man if he hasn’t, um, been able to act on his basic biological imperative for a while.
You get someone who goes a little bit mad. I mean it’s understandable, right? For nine months of the year – whether it’s 3pm Saturday or 4pm on a Sunday or the myriad of kick off times you get during the league campaign – your weekend has a focus. That focus applies to everyone who supports Arsenal, or any football team, no matter whether you’re watching us in the stadium, on the television or online.
It is fair to say that some of us, even those who may feel a little disillusioned with the Arsenal, are a little bit lost without the boys in red and white to keep us warm. Even if they do also have you wanting to put your foot through your television every now and then, we want to feel that anger again, don’t we? Shouting at Harry Kane just isn’t the same.
This can be the only explanation for some of the nonsense that has been seen online in the last few days. Noises coming from Leicester City and indeed our own Arsène Wenger now suggest that Jamie Vardy has chosen to stay with the Premier League champions. It’s a good thing this website didn’t go big on a possible transfer, isn’t it?
So immediately, the situation (a situation nobody really knows anything about) becomes about Arsène Wenger. As we saw on the 21st anniversary of us signing Dennis Bergkamp. ‘Bruce Rioch persuaded Dennis Bergkamp to sign for Arsenal, Wenger can’t even get Jamie Vardy’, ran a popular theme. As if the two situations were remotely comparable. As if anyone really believes Bergkamp was sold on Arsenal by Bruce Rioch and not the vision of David Dein. As if Arsène Wenger hadn’t been a key factor in the signings of Petr Cech, Alexis, Mesut Özil and Santi Cazorla. Or in the years preceding those signings, those of Vieira and Pires and Henry.
It would be nice to think that we could have the summer off from the Arsène animosity. You know, for all that we’re all missing the Arsenal, there is still quite a bit of football going on at the moment. Okay, it doesn’t float my boat, but you’d think it’d keep the keyboard warriors quiet at least, wouldn’t you?
The annoying thing is that I suspect most of the people who are now berating Arsène for this, at this stage, perceived failure never wanted Jamie Vardy in the first place. However, the Leicester front man is now being set up as the next stick to beat our manager with. If it’s true that a new deal is being lined up for the Alsacian, his status as the foremost masochist in football is, in my mind anyway, all but confirmed. I guess his £15m a year salary* makes all the aggravation a little easier to bear. I’d be prepared to… no, I’m not going to tell you what I’d be prepared to do for £15m, you’ll never let me hear the end of it.
As Matthew alluded to earlier in the week, you’d have to be under a rock not to have noticed it, the EU referendum takes place on Thursday. I know it’s a divisive issue for some, so I’m not going to go on about it. However, for those of you still undecided, let me just say this and leave it there: Sol Campbell has come out in favour of the Leave campaign.
Of course he has.
Whilst we’re talking of Gooners past, I mentioned the anniversary of Dennis Bergkamp signing for us earlier. I remember the excitement generated. I remember the two days spent following the transfer on Ceefax. I remember not quite believing that we’d managed to sign him – we’d finished 12th in 94/95, why would he sign for us? I remember queueing for around two hours up Avenell Road, in the kind of sunshine we’ve been waiting for all summer, to get tickets for his first game. Poor old David Platt was a bit of an afterthought – imagine that, the England captain an afterthought!
I remember being disappointed that Dennis didn’t score in his first game, but Ian Wright more than made up for that by heading our equaliser almost directly in front of us, standing a few rows back in the North Bank. If you look very closely at the video of that goal, you can see us, my mate Gabs standing to acclaim it a fraction before everyone else. Yep, even ahead of me. Of course, Dennis would go on to shrug off the ludicrous “Hartlefool” jibes – and then some.
I know that it is a commonly accepted truth that his goal up at Newcastle is his masterpiece, but if I had to pick one Dennis Bergkamp goal to take to a desert island with me, it would be this one.
Forgive the poor resolution, but it’ll be twenty years old this autumn. Coming in the last minute of Arsène Wenger’s first North London Derby at Highbury, it promised so much. I think it’s fair to say both men delivered; a Bergkamp wonderland indeed.
- DISCLAIMER: His salary may not actually be £15m