Amateur Arsenal tactics & my little football brain

The average fan is probably pretty unsophisticated when it comes down to tactics and formations. I’m an average fan, but I’ll still look at the team sheet before the game and pick out the flaws in the selection.

We’ve all had the discussion in the pub: Why is Lucas not playing after he scored another goal & got another assist? Why is Welbeck up front? Why is Sanchez not up front? Why is Ox not playing after such a good game? Why is Rambo on the wing?

As soon as the first problems emerge during the game I’m the first to point out how obvious it was from the start (no such discussion will be had if my initial observations were completely wrong, of course). At half time I will go into greater detail about where xxxx player is going wrong, and what player should be brought on to improve the team (followed by the usual joke about the substitute not coming on until 70 minutes no matter what the circumstances are). At 65 minutes I will predict who the manager should bring on and who should go off. If I’m feeling particularly clever I may even offer my wisdom on how the formation should be changed.

The problem is that when it comes down to it I don’t really have a clue. Not that this is a problem. I don’t have to. I’m not there to be right. I’m not paid to be right. I’m just there to have fun and watch my team. Part of that experience is the chat & the debate. This is one of the reasons why football is so accessible & enjoyed by so many fans.

When I read articles by people that actually appear to have some understandings of tactics, I realize my folly. Now, when I read these articles I’m having to assume that they know what they are talking about, because my understanding is not good enough to know if they are faking it but just saying it more confidently! However, I’m pretty sure that there are people that do actually understand tactics and formations. Take Tim Stillman (@stillberto) as an example. His tactics column on Arseblog is so in depth that I can be left feeling as if I’ve never properly watched a game of football. It’s a real eye opener to what managers are paid to do.

Another thing I’m guilty of doing during the game is pretty much entirely ignoring the opposing team! I can’t be the only one. Come on, admit it, do you really watch the other team? For those of you that are sophisticated football thinkers, you will probably find this hard to understand. I spend my time watching Arsenal. I’m worrying about what our players are doing. Have we committed too many players forward? Why aren’t we shooting when we get the chance? Why isn’t xxxx covering for xxxx if he’s just made a run? Etc, etc, etc. There is just too much Arsenal going on in my little football brain to concern myself with what the opposition is doing.

Maybe if I devoted more of my brain to thinking about these things I would get a greater understanding. But fuck it, I don’t go to the game to sit there and be a deep thinker. I go there to have fun, feel the rush of scoring, shout, sing, swear (although not as much as I used to because now I’m older there is a part of me that feels guilty giving it the full “cunt” when there are kids around!), celebrate, and enjoy.

Yes, enjoy (I realize how utterly ridiculous that sounds at the moment). I don’t go there to think. I’ll leave that to others and just continue pretending along with the other 59,999.