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.