Monday, November 16, 2009

History repeating

"You're still going to do it, aren't you? It's the funniest thing - even after talking about it tonight, you're going to go ahead and do it anyway. You don't learn. You know it's a bad idea, but you're still going to go after her."

- my friend, a couple of hours ago. 

It's not a good idea to go after a friend's hot sister.
I know it's wrong to go after her. It's very, very wrong, and there are so many potential pitfalls that my head reels. Intellectually, I can grasp that it's a bad idea. Emotionally, I can understand it. Even viscerally, I get a bit queasy as I think about her, and I realise she's not for me. I've been down this path before, and I have no desire to go back down it, but then again... 

There must be a special sub-section of Hades reserved for people like us. Sisyphus rolls his boulder up the hill all eternity. Tantalus bends over for a drink from the pool, just to watch it disappear from his grasp. I keep chasing girls I really shouldn't be after. And Arsene Wenger cobbles together a potentially championship-winning side, only to watch it crumble through injuries.

It's all so clear when you're on the outside looking in. Take the Arsenal and our current run of injuries to our strikers. Before the weekend, Bendtner and Walcott were out, Vela wasn't not match-fit and Eduardo's in rather sketchy form. We were doing okay with that. But now that van Persie's out until Christmas, we're left with just one fit, poorly-performing striker for at least a month.  

The tragedy is that it was pretty obvious this could've happened. 

We sold Adebayor for £25 million and didn't feel the need to replace him. Instead, we relied on van Persie being fit for a full season. van Persie has had one injury-free season in all his time at Arsenal. Odds are that he wasn't going to last the season. They say he's out for six weeks, but you know with van Persie that those six weeks can easily stretch to three months.

Why did we do that? Why did we put our faith in van Persie's dodgy hamstrings and frail ankles? With that £25 million, we could've bought an Aguero or a Benzema or even a David Villa. We could've got a striker of van Persie's quality, but without van Persie's injuries. But we didn't.

It's happened before, and we're all a bit bemused by it. Losing Vieira, we dallied around and never bought the DM we needed. Losing Lehmann, we prevaricated and never got the great 'keeper we required to win the tight games. Losing David Dein, it took us three years before we got our act together and hired Ivan Gazidis. 

I think Wenger has this idea that we can keep recruiting from within: Diaby can replace Vieira; Song can replace Gilberto; Walcott can replace Henry; Bendtner can replace Adebayor; and so forth indefinitely, like a Fibonacci sequence that keeps on expanding. It works to a degree, but it doesn't. We drop too many points and lose too many games to ever be good enough to win the league this way. 

The problem is that we never learn. We like to think that we're creatures of logic, but really, we're still governed by chemicals and tiny, hard-wired electrical signals that don't give a fuck about things like logic and rationality and good common sense. Wenger might go into a transfer period resolved to make a clean sweep and buy the players we need, but the minute he steps out on the training pitch he sees his proteges, his heart surges with pride, and he wants to give them one more chance. 

Hope springs eternal. This time might be different. You never know unless you try. There's always one more season to gain experience, and one more unsuitable girl to chase. And after all, she is very attractive. 

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