The only claim to footballing glory on a personal level that I have is being selected for my university team. The nature of me being selected was little different from everyone else. They held a trial process where every man and his dog can attend and show what they are capable of. I did not attend trials because a) I did not know when it was held and b) I was sure before that I wouldn’t be selected even I went. Part B was largely because there was a certain clique that exist in the team and the way the coach ran things. A particular race group normally dominates the team, not 60% but closer to 95%.
Now, this is a multi-cultural country where I’m living. In general, we do live in harmony and co-exist with each other fine. However when it comes to things where you get to choose who you want to hire/work with, there’s an element of preference for that person to be of the same with you. It could be racism or it could just be on a comfort purpose. I don’t begrudge that fact (not entirely true, I sometimes can be bitter about it). In fact, I can understand the need to choose and individual whom you believe you have the best chance to make it a success with. Cliques exists whether we like it or not and sometimes a group response better when everyone is on the same page.
I have missed our the part where I was selected, haven’t I? Well, to cut the long story short, they invited me to join the team after the trial process ended. I can only guess that they saw me play with my own team and thought I could be an useful addition to the squad. Or it could just as easily be because they wanted to make the numbers look nicer and a person of a different race would make the composition of the team, looks a little better. In any case, how I fare isn’t where I intend to go with this piece. Neither would you be interested in my life story.
Have I lost any readers at this point? If you still have not close the page, here’s where I’m actually going with this.
If you can hark you memories back to the first title winning season under Arsene Wenger’s charge, the team was filled with a good group of English players that formed the backbone of the team. From the greatest back five ever to Ray Parlour in midfield and Ian Wright in attack, there is a spine within that team that comes from the same nationality/background/what have you. Players who would fight for each other and cover each other’s weaknesses. It’s a solidarity that the other players who doesn’t come from the same nationality/background/what have you not can also gleaned from.
The next title winning season was built on another strong core group of players that were of the same nationality. A French core this time with Patrick Vieira, Robert Pires and Thierry Henry taking over the mantle. Smaller group of players compared with the previous example but to their own, each were exceptional players. Not often does a team have world class players but at that time, we have 3 in our ranks. Just like it was previously, players that comes in are able to perform a job because of the confidence that these 3 produces when playing alongside them. Not forgetting the majority of the English core was still there to back them up.
Now, I’m not down-playing the importance of the other players like Emmanuel Petit, Vieira or Dennis Bergkamp was in the first title winning season. Nor am I trying to say that Freddie Ljungberg and Sol Campbell wasn’t instrumental in our second Premier League title. Each and every player in those squads played their part to bring the titles to Highbury. It’s just that those squads have a steely determination about them and the togetherness that every successful squads need. I’m not saying that it’s because they are English or French either. It could be German, Armenian or any other.
Which is what makes me excited to see Wenger trying to replicate that, by tying up the deals with a core of British players. Over the course of this barren run, we’ve had our share of some really fantastic individual players that comes from all over. Again, if you didn’t get it the first time round, I’m not putting the blame on these players because of where they come from. However, the bond within the squad and the togetherness isn’t as strong when the players do not share the same understanding, the same roots as the others.
I doubt I have delivered the message as well as I intended to but I hope that the message I wanted to deliver with this piece is clear enough. Yes, it’s part of another “building” process and that word does anger people because just like you, I’m sick of that word as well. On the flip side, this building I believe will form a strong structure for whatever success that is going to come our way in the future.
Sign them up.