Gunning down ambitions….

…..things have really changed since The Arsenal moved to the Emirates….. there was a time when Highbury could attract Legends like Bergkamp… higly effective brilliant players like Pires, Petit and Overmars…. Competent stalwarts in the mould of Wiltord, Gilberto & Ljungberg, and nurturing to prominence the likes of Anelka…..while making Vieira and Henry world class….they even created an atmosphere that made Sol make a life-threatening decision to switch London alegience……and collectively at their peak they were INVINCIBLE!!!

Players dreaded their 30th birthdays because it signalled the beginning of the end of their stint with one of the best Clubs in the world…as Aresene famously remained resolute that contracts would NOT be extended by more than a year at a time.  Such was the desire to remain linked with The Arsenal that many tried (in vain) to eke out a few more years as Gunner.  There was no restlessnes or frenzied eagerness to leave for greener pastures (or green-backed ones), because one would have been hard pressed to find many, if at all.  The Arsenal was delivering on all fronts…..playing attractive football….winning trophies….churning out talent with ridiculous frequency that even as stars departed they were soon forgotten as they were replaced with ease.  The Arsenal’s fixtures with United became show stopping events that commanded the world’s attention, and I dare say at their zenith were more eagerly anticipated than their contemporary Spanish El Classicos.  When Anelka sulked away to Madrid it was roundly criticised as a bad move and even his winning of the Champion’s league did not do enough to sway people’s collectively held oppinion that he had left a club that would have allowed him to toy with the world at his feet; at pace.

Players gave their best years to the Arsenal cause and even when they left they were not consigned to the scap-heaps of has-beens at their new bases, but instead were still effective enough to justify starting positions at those teams.  They very rarely left to become cameo players, or pension boosting bench warmers.  They arrived with the pedigree of genuine winners who were there to dictate terms and not to be mere star-struck squad members, grovelling for scraps of attention and playing time.

That Arsenal held their own in a valliant effort against Barcelona in a Champions League Final whose result could have been different had it been contested by a full complement of players.  That Arsenal had the freedom of the city of London and it took the billions of a Russian to force them to share it.  Though they called Highbury their home they were just as comfortable operating out of Wembly which had become a second home due to their numerous Finals appearances that more often than not resulted in Highbury silverware polishers and trophy cabinet makers, always being actively employed.  That Arsenal consistently, and somewhat arrogantly, played it’s “juniors” in the Carling Cup and nobody questioned the obvious wisdom of this policy.  That Arsenal allowed it’s fans to sit confidently in pubs and other social gatherings and dominate banter without a hint of apology.  They irritatingly were quick to spot and giggle at the desperation of their “rivals” when they started to play more recognised players in that very same Carling Cup.  That Arsenal’s fans NEVER found cause to boo their heroes or their manager, who was beyond reproach.

Fast forward to today and the Departure Lounge at the Emirates has become an uncomfortable blur of activity as players fidgit & continuously queue up for the next flight out.  The arrivals though, this time around, have been of a notable standard and also come in good time without the a hint of the panic that associated the last trading session.  BUT unfortunately what was supposed to have been a bolstering effort may eventually fall short.  If Alex Song follows RvP in checking out of the The Arsenal, they could very well end up in a net deficit position with regards to the talent pool, and that could leave a lot of other players sharing RvP’s sentiments and questioning whether or not The Arsenal do indeed share their ambition.

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