Instant judgement is not the best way to view football: we need perspective

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By Walter Broeckx

Usually during matches I try to stay away from the internet. Of course not when I am looking at a match on a stream. But I try to avoid the forums and message boards as much as possible.

But last Saturday when talking with another supporter who was looking at the messages that were published it was so amazing to see how people change their attitude almost on a second per second base.

A player doing something good: the best player ever. The same player making a mistake: the worst player ever to have worn the shirt, sell him, get rid of him, why does the manager play him. Oh, that’s right the manager is to blame: sack the manager. I think anyone who is using social media like twitter or facebook will have seen it.

Our last match against West Ham was another perfect example. Giroud got himself in a scoring position in the first half but he completely missed his shot. It was a rolling effort with the outside of his left foot when he should have used his right foot. Like he did in the second half.

But after that missed chance the second managers had their final verdict ready. “Take him off”,  was one of the more kinder reactions. Never let him play again was a bit more harsh but there was far worse than that.

Giroud was not interested they proclaimed, and I can imagine the determined look on their faces when they let the world know this message. It only needs one such comment and immediately others jump on the bandwagon. So you then get a dozen replies all falling over each other and all wanting to express the fact that they were just about going to say the same but where beaten to it by the first poster.

Now I didn’t see a disinterested player. I saw a player missing his attempted shot. Those things happen and of course I would have liked to have seen him bury his shot against the back of the net. But I don’t go out and state “what a bad player” if not “the worst player ever” as was proclaimed that he is, was and will be for ever and ever.

And if Giroud was really disinterested against West Ham I hope to see him play many more matches in that way. As it was his pressing at the corner flag that forced the West Ham player in to an error that lead to the equaliser. And it was his disinterested control and finish that led to us taking the lead. And it was  his pass to Ramsey that was the introduction for our third goal. Not that bad for a disinterested player.

Of course when he did those things they tried to forget what they said just a few minutes before. And then they keep silent about Giroud. And as someone said later on: if that control and finish would have been done by Messi the whole world would be standing up and applauding it. If that would have been done by Bergkamp we would say it was the work of god. We would call Bergkamp god even though Bergkamp himself doesn’t like being called god at all he said.

Now I’m not saying that Giroud is or will ever reach the same status as Bergkamp. Should I have written statue instead of status? Not important.  Back to that goal. I must say that the goal Giroud scored was a nice bit of skill for a big lump that is called an average striker. A French striker. We need to add that, don’t we?

But it is that attitude of ‘get rid of him’ after a mistake that I really cannot stand. I have always learned that a match is played over 90 minutes. And I really will not draw any conclusions about a player’s performance till the ref has blown the final whistle. And even then I usually don’t judge a player on those 90 minutes alone.

I always try to look at the long term. I try to look at his whole Arsenal career. A good example might be Thierry Henry. I really think that it is his fault that we didn’t win the CL against Barcelona in 2006. He had the chances to put us 2-0 in front even with a man less on the field. I still remember him going towards goal on his own and shooting it wide. How could he miss it? Of all people you expected him to score at that moment.

Should I have gone out and shouted what a miserable prick Henry was? As that is what ‘fans’ do these days or would do. Many people have never forgiven Almunia and blamed him for the loss. I think Henry should have scored a second goal and given us the win as I think that would have been the final blow for Barcelona.

But I can’t really blame Henry for missing that chance. It happens. I know he would have loved to score that goal at that moment in time. But it didn’t happen. I’m sure he didn’t do it on purpose or because he was disinterested. It just happened and it is something that we have to accept. Shit happens.

When I look back at the career Henry had for us I hold him in high regard. I remember all the highs he has given us. I remember the miss but no use in calling him names for that. Just as there is no need to call names when one of our players makes a mistake. I think the players are probably more down after a mistake than we can imagine. So no need to add to their misery.

Instead of kicking them further while already down we could try to put our hand out and help them get up from the floor. And help them in making up for it. Mostly players do want to make up for their mistakes. As Per did against Wigan. He gave away the penalty, but got to the other end and I have never seen him so determined when we had corners and moving around towards the ball as he did that day. And finally it got him the goal.

The most important thing is that we support our players. Most of all when things go wrong at some moment. So no ‘get rid of him’ from me. I will save that for when we got rid of ‘him’ (whoever him might be). All and every player wearing the shirt is important and loved by me. And even when they make a mistake, I will forgive them. As that is what supporters will do at the end. Because that is why I call myself a supporter.

Oh and it also saves you some blushes when you write off a player based on one moment and later that player makes vital contributions to our win. But alas some people like it to look silly I guess….


This article is published on the Arsenal History Site as Untold Arsenal is currently off line.  If you’ve not been here before, please do visit the home page and scroll down through the various indexes we have.    You might well find it interesting…

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