Monday, August 4, 2008

A gooner scorned

You play well and show that you are ready to fight for the shirt and for your team. You know how it is - if you score goals people forget the frustration quickly."

- Arsene Wenger, about Adebayor, after the Real Madrid match

I fully understand the reaction Adebayor's getting from us gooners.

Love, in the purest footballing sense, is unconditional. We can love skillful players, we love poor players, we even love ugly, bald players. As long as they try their hardest on the pitch, aren't complete tossers off it, and remain loyal, we'll like them.

However, hell hath no fury like a gooner scorned.

As Wenger says, most of the ire regarding Adebayor stems from our profound sense of betrayal. We loved him unconditionally - well, most of us did. We loved him for his work-rate, his athleticism, for that physical presence that none of the other players provided. We shrugged off those horrible misses as an endearing, lovable foible.

And then he prostituted himself to Milan and Barca.

Football morality is simple. There's a clear delineation between heroes and villains. You can swear and boo and abuse Ashley Cole and not feel like a complete prick. You can believe that your football club is the champion of all that is pure and good in the world, and every other club is a bastion of corruption and evil. For ninety minutes each week, you and regress back to your ten-year-old self and pretend the fate of the world hinges on a football game.

From that point of view, it's clear cut. Adebayor did us wrong, so he's evil. Therefore, we boo him. Wenger's right, though - this hatred is momentary. It'll fade. We'll love him as soon as he starts scoring goals and giving his all to the Arsenal.

In short, we'll love him again as soon as he starts loving us.

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