Here at In Off the Ghost, we are all too aware that the body is a weak and frail vessel. But although the body is fragile and temporary, the mind endures. All we think and feel, as well as our memories and personalities, travel through space and time to the endless terraces of football’s Valhalla. Recollections of wheeling away in celebration after your first goal in the school playground, the intoxication of your first visit to a football match, the first time you realised that, unless you’re one of a privileged few, football is a hideous, evil addiction that causes little but agonising fear and worry, and everything else that your mind holds goes with you after the final whistle.
However, the mind is a complex beast. Rather than help you, it often goes out of its way to make things as difficult as possible. Ask Arsene Wenger. His Arsenal side proved their mental fragility yet again by pathetically limping to a 1-0 defeat to Man Utd this Monday. A turgid, unimaginative Gunners outfit couldn’t even trouble a United defence that has looked creakier than Rio Ferdinand’s knees this season.
Fans, pundits and commentators both in the world of the living and the dead are perplexed by Wenger’s boys inability to perform on the big stage. However, In Off the Ghost, can go one better than most football blogs and call upon a plethora of posthumous pundits for their opinions. This week, we have called in the controversial expertise of infamous neurologist and father of the psychoanalytic school of psychiatry Sigmund Freud in an attempt to get to the bottom of Arsenal’s mental misfortunes.
“Arsenal’s young players suffered a footballing castration at the hands of Man Utd on Monday” began Freud, “and they lacked the thrust and penetration they so clearly desired. Many people blame Arsenal’s players for their brittle mentality. This is wrong. Wenger is the father of this team. Young players are completely egoistic; they feel their needs intensely and strive ruthlessly to satisfy them, but Wenger is a master at restraining these needs and forcing them into silly, never ending triangles of fruitless passes. The tendency to aggression is an innate, independent, instinctual disposition in man, and many teams in the Premier League, including Man Utd, harness this instinct to Arsenal’s deficit. It constitutes a powerful obstacle to their cultured, yet trophyless style.”
Surprised by Freud’s diagnosis of the cause of Arsenal’s troubles, I asked Freud to elaborate on his theory that the Gunner’s lack of success is in fact down to Arsene Wenger’s mental state, rather than that of his players. Freud pushed his spectacles back onto his nose, and replied.
“Wenger’s incessant fixation on their style of play has become a form of neurosis. Neurotics complain of their illness, but they make the most of it, and when it comes to talking it away from them they will defend it like Nemanja Vidic defends a set piece. We have long observed that every neurosis has the result, and therefore probably the purpose, of forcing the patient out of real life, of alienating him from actuality. This is classic Wenger. He cannot face the reality that his choice of players is not good enough to bring major domestic and European success to the Emirates. So he blames the referee or the pitch, anything to nurture his neurosis.”
Finally, I asked Freud what he thought Arsenal need to do in order to finally break their trophy drought.
“It is a complex issue. Initially, being entirely honest with oneself is a good exercise. Wenger needs to confront his delusions of grandeur and style and rebuild his Arsenal side. Illusions commend themselves to us because they save us pain and allow us to enjoy pleasure instead. We must therefore accept it without complaint when they sometimes collide with the reality of Man Utd or Chelsea, against which they are invariably dashed to pieces. The opponent that Arsenal must defeat is Wenger’s ego, only then can they face up to to the failures that his sub conscious must already understand, and perhaps satisfy their long repressed desire for trophies. I think it highly likely that the Arsenal board will sack Wenger..oh no, wait, I meant back Wenger. Sorry my mistake!”
(All material in this blog is entirely fictional and does not represent the views or opinions of anyone, alive or dead, other than those of the author.)