Friday, April 23, 2010

Arshavin's Problem

This post goes off on a couple of tangents, so please bear with me.

We're 3rd and our season's fizzling out. We're playing Campbell and Silvestre in defence, and Fabianksi in goal. We've got 3 more games to go, and for the rest of this season I'll be watching the Arsenal with a certain grotesque fascination. Watching the Arsenal is like slowing down on the road to witness the aftermath of a car accident. You know it's wrong, and it'll make you feel sick, but you just want to see it unfold.

Arshavin doesn't share my taste for the macabre. Instead of revelling in the horror of it all, he's calling for changes:

There's a certain philosophical bent to this statement that I find interesting. It (the problem) exists, so therefore something (a solution) must be done about it. Arshavin's been out injured for a while, so he's obviously thought hard about it. Arshavin's Problem states that we're hoping for more than third place, and we're not going to achieve it. However, there are two possible interpretations of this problem; either we're hoping for too much and should scale down our expectations for this team; or, we've under-performed this season and we should do whatever is needed to make ourselves competitive for the title.

Over the past few years in the Arsenal blogosphere, fans having be coalescing into two distinct camps of optimists (who believe we should be happy about a 3rd or 4th place) and pessimists (who believe nothing short of titles can be considered a genuine achievement). The interesting thing is that Arshavin's Problem sums up the divide between the two camps precisely.

I think a lot of gooners are confused about this situation. Are we able to spend money on experienced recruits? Are there hidden financial restraints on our transfer policy? Is the short-term focus of Arsenal FC to reduce our debt, or is it to challenge for the league? The statements we get from the board and management contradicts our actions in the transfer market, and in the absence of information, speculation grows and confusion reigns.

I don't know the answer. I've been thinking about it for a few years now, and while the money's in the till, it's not being spent. I don't think anyone outside of Arsene FC would know the reason. If I was to hazard a guess, I'd say that Arsenal's on the side of caution - they're happy to cruise along in 3rd or 4th as long as the Champions League spot isn't at risk, and if it is, then they'll spend as much as needed to preserve it. Wenger's still a great manager who can provide a challenge every few years or so, so why bother rocking the boat?

Of course, the answer to that is that it's a bit gutless.

There's a real life application in Arshavin's Problem as well. Is it better to stay content with what you have and play it safe, or do you risk everything you've got in order to get your heart's desire? It brings to mind something Shakepeare wrote once in Julius Caesar:

I'm saying this because I'm thinking long and hard about Arshavin's Problem. Pretty soon, I'm going to have to figure out what it means for me. Like Arsenal, I'm going to have to figure out whether I should be content with 3rd or 4th, or to take an chance and make a genuine bid for 1st.

For what it's worth, I think Arshavin's in no doubt about Arshavin's Problem. He wants trophies, titles, everlasting glory. He's 28, and at the peak of his powers. He wants to take the flood onto fortune. He doesn't want to be left stranded in the shallows and miseries of regret. From what I'm read about him, he seems like a thoroughly pragmatic fellow. He'll stay with us if we can provide him a genuine shot at success. He'll leave us if we can't.

After all, isn't this the look of a man with destiny in his eye?

No comments: