There truly is a fine line between being confident and being ignorant. Surely, as football supports, especially for Arsenal, we have learned from both sides of the result that you can never go into a match ignorant of your opponent.
This may be a little late to the party, but moving forward it’s something we should all strive to improve when it comes to the game. The Monaco result was one that most of us did not necessarily see coming, but anyone who is knowledgeable enough to know the game, especially outside of the Premier League, should have known that the Principality side should never have been taken lightly – not by us, the players or the manager…yet here we are, down 3-1 going into the second leg.
Perhaps it’s a little ironic that my first piece for ABW was inspired by a tweet from friend and fellow Bergy Blogger Jake (@JakeArsenal1). In short, our little Aussie stated how it’s unacceptable that so many Gooners didn’t rate Monaco at all, simply because of their lack of star power in their XI. To be honest, he was bang on the money, but this is not an isolated incident…and it’s not just us, it’s everyone.
You really don’t have to go any further than social media to find a plethora of examples of YouTube clips and Vines – fans relying on such nonsense for their source of information on clubs and players outside of the Premier League. To make matters worse, most supporters these days (especially the young ones) have only ever heard about a player from FIFA or Football Manager…it’s the sad state of affairs we’re currently in, and everyone should demand more from the community.
To cite a prime example, most people had no idea who Yaya Sanogo was when we brought him in, other than the fact that he became a demi-god in FM13. For me, I expect better from Gooners, and football supporters as a whole.
In all honesty, the moral imperative of any football supporter should be to know the game to the best of his or her ability. I am not the end all be all source for football knowledge, but my experiences with the sport have led me to have a deep knowledge base on the Bundesliga and the Eredivisie, while being able to more than hold my own in discussions about La Liga, Ligue 1 and many other leagues. If you’re passionate about something, put in a bit of effort in truly broadening and expanding your knowledge base.
Back to the Monaco match, it’s probably a little bit ironic that we took the pitch at the Emirates expecting to stroll – you know, that little bit of over confidence we often exude to our peril. As Jake had stated, the support had that same bit of confidence that bordered on ignorance. Apart from João Moutinho and Geoffrey Kondogbia, most Gooners hadn’t a clue about any of Monaco’s players. I’m sure this is a moment where Kris (@AFCfreddie8) would have wanted to shout from the rooftops that we couldn’t afford to underestimate them, but alas, such a happenstance did not occur.
Considering our history of coming out slow in matches because we feel we are entitled to a result because we are Arsenal and they aren’t, if anything, the slap in the face that Monaco administered to us should stand as yet another wake up call for the team as well as the support. Football is more than just a big name. We all love to drool over a mazy run by Messi, a Ronaldo free-kick, some absurd pile-driver from distance by whoever you like, but even the most no name Latvian footballer can have a bit of talent. If the world is hierarchical, then football isn’t far behind in regards to the assumptions that come with having a big name, whether you’re referring to a club or a player.
Everyone laughed when the Champions League group stage draw took place that saw Liverpool given Basel and Ludogorets…and then they failed to make it out of the group. Surely everyone knows Basel (though most won’t know any of their players aside from Fabian Schar), but you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who knew anything about the Bulgarian side from Razgrad who would go on to cause Liverpool headache after headache.
It’s undeniable that a sense of not only entitlement, but a lack of respect exists when you look at the footballing world in Europe. Certainly there is a tier in all of our minds of how we gauge clubs from certain leagues, and the leagues themselves. But do we, any of us, have the right to conduct ourselves as such? I am not referring to the blatant disdain we have for our rivals, that’s another matter entirely and it’s completely normal to show nothing but hatred towards them. However, should we have turned our noses up simply because Monaco are “in a lesser league” and because “who do they have other than Moutinho?”
If you claim to love the beautiful game, then surely you should look back at the many examples where names have been bested by camaraderie – Greece in Euro 2004, Atletico Madrid besting Barca and Real in the league last year, Porto’s Champions League success under Mourinho…the list goes on.
At the end of the day, when it all comes down to it, football is not just about personal ability; it’s about desire and self-belief. At any given moment, probably more than any other sport in the world, a no name player or a small club can create waves (see PEC Zwolle besting Ajax in the Dutch Cup final last season and their out of no where up and coming status this season) – truly, it’s the most beautiful aspect of such a beautiful game.
As we all continue our football love affair, perhaps we owe it to ourselves to truly dedicate more time in not only understanding the true nature of it, but also learning more about the game that just doesn’t exist within our own borders.
Andrew is our newest regular columnist here at ABW. You can find him on Twitter here (@AFCBvB1410). When not writing for us, Andrew also writes for Outside of the Boot and the Modern Gooner. He loves a good football debate; so don’t be afraid to chat with him on Twitter.