Less Is More For Arsenal (A.K.A. Grasping at Straws)

August 7, 2011 — by Rob Kirby

Gervinho, one name and a five-head.

I am an Arsenal fan. (It sounds like one’s first words at the first address of a self-help meeting.) I check the Web every day to see if finally the drip-drip waterboard torture is finally over and we’ve either signed someone (I quadruple finger-crossed on the Juan Mata deal; I’m still doing so) or resolved anything with regard to Fabregas and/or Nasri. But sometimes, you just have to let go. And on that note, time for something different.

By the standards of soccer allegiances and soccer fandom, I’m a newbie. And American, to boot. In 2006, an NYC friend who supported Arsenal wove a magical tale of a manager who could conjure success on a shoestring budget. He spotted the diamonds in the rough time and time again. He built a team that fought the good fight, sidestepped the slide tackles and nutmegged the thug teams with flowing, attractive play. Perhaps the team did not note-for-note emulate the total football of the 1970s Dutch national teams, but then, who did? Furthermore, we had Henry, the best player in the world, or so the song went. [Editor’s note: he was. Okay, that wasn’t the editor noting, it’s still me. But look at Henry’s goals on YouTube sometime. Cagey, cheeky Frenchman.]

Anyway, it occurred to me moments ago that for the first time in my tenure (obsession) with Arsenal that we now finally have a player who goes by one name. And he’s not even Brazilian. Just a good ol’ boy from the Ivory Coast named Gervais Yao Kouassi. I mean, Gervinho.

OK, caveat number one, we have/had Denilson, but I’m choosing to ignore him. He’s on loan, he’s disappointed greatly as a player, he causes nightmares in soccer dreams…so the assertion stands.

Caveat two, we had Eduardo, and Eduardo ruled until some Cro Magnon from Birmingham mistook Eduardo’s leg and ankle for a brick wall and mistook himself for the brick-busting Kool-Aid Man/ Pitcher. Nothing about it is funny, and it still pains me to have lost Eduardo, but I can’t help myself: “Oh yeah!” (I really do love the Kool Aid Pitcher guy.)

I should have chosen a different metaphor.

But my love for Eduardo’s fox-in-the-box style means that I have wholly blocked out this memory. He scored against us last year with Shakhtar Donetsk? What? Is that even a real team? Who are we talking about again? Ed-what? Crozillian? Doesn’t ring a bell.

Onward and upward. It can’t be denied that sometimes less is more. And please do me the favor of not reading this as some tired rationalization I’ve trotted out through the years re: endowment, or lack thereof. Get your minds out of the gutter and stick with me here: one namers bring success.

Barcelona won La Liga and the Champions League last year. Four words for you: Xavi, Pedro and Maxwell.

Spain won the Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup. Xavi, Pedro.

Mark my words—and I know it’s crazy talk—but this Brazil country, it may just go places. Maicon, Lúcio, Fred, Ganso, Neymar, Robinho, Alex, Sandro, Rafael, Fábio, Hulk (possibly the best of them all), the single monikers go on and on. I wonder why no one ever mentions them.

You’ve got your Ronaldos, Rivaldos, Ronaldinhos, your Cafus, Didas and Dungas, your Romários, Bebetos, Kakás, and of course the original bicycle-kicking one-name wonder, Pelé. Weird. They’re all Brazilian, aren’t they? Hmm.

So, after all the doom and gloom about having only signed one semi-well-known player (Gervinho) and an unknown (Jenkinson), look on the positive side. Arsène is simplifying and bettering our lives. And as a card-carrying simpleton, I appreciate it. No more wasted words, no more need to get all fancy-schmancy, just Jare-veen-yo. And let me now share, and I have to admit that I’ve stolen this from something I read somewhere, that one of the funniest things I’ve heard in recent memory is Gervinho has a forehead so unimaginably large, it’s a “five-head.”

It is indeed a thing of freakishness…

Anyhoo, a corner has been turned. Let us praise the exceptional, the oddities of the earth with but the one name only. Prince, Rockwell, Falco, Taco, Cameo (am I dating myself?). Obviously Madonna, Slash, Rihanna, and Bono. Sting, Sade, Usher, Beyonce, Aaliyah, Tiffany, Beck, Bjork, Cher, Moby, Nelly, Pink, RuPaul, Shaggy and Yanni. (I’m not saying they’re all five-heads, but you draw your own conclusions. Nor am I saying they’re all listenable.)

People kept saying, “Arsène, do something major.” Ladies and gentlemen, I believe that the collective will has been done.

But let’s be honest. I will check any and all news sites tomorrow to find out what the hell is going on with this team. The season is moments away. And Udinese is who we drew for the Champions League qualifier. Awesome. Van Persie, Nasri and Wenger all serve one-match bans. Dope. And the games come midweek, sandwiched between Premier League games against Newcastle, Liverpool and Manchester United, making for the absolute minimum in resting time against the domestic competition and the maximal room for catastrophic error. Stoked.

“Good to, good to be, good to be a, Gooner…”

Sometimes. But now that we’ve got a (real) one-namer, lady luck will smile her radiant toothy grin upon the red and white North London boys and see them bring a trophy to the Emirates. The phrase “haven’t won a trophy since the 2005 FA Cup” will never be heard again. At least, that’s the dream.