It was Christmas night. All was quiet at the Emirates, as the players trudged through the halls. It was Theo who first noticed the bust of Herbert Chapman change. The familiar face of the great man morphed the features of a man few of the current Arsenal squad knew well. Then it spoke or rather screamed at them.
“What the hell are ye daein’? And what the f*ck happened against Spurs? If I were still the boss, you’d all a been cleaning booots fr’ae week, ye wee slinkit timrous beaties, ye.”
“Mais qu’est-ce que c’est que ça? Aah, George Graham. T’as prend un bribe aujour’hui?”, asked Koscielny, as the French players sniggered and the English one/two looked bemused.
But then silence from the squad as the bust grew to the size of a man, its shimmering features turning purple. No-one knows what Graham whispered in Kos’s ear, but he would never speak of it, not even till his dying day.
“Come with me, and see how real men play”, the spirit spoke, and all of a sudden the squad were at Wembley, 1993, FA Cup Semi-Final vs Sp*rs. The squad were amazed by the collective passion, the organisation at the back and the workrate throughout midfield and attack. They jumped for joy as Adams scored the winner.
“Nous pouvons jouer comme ça. Peut-être un peu plus de la haîne à Sp*rs – ce n’est pas un mauvais idée, ils sont vraiment les bell-end” said Squillaci.
“Speak English you Fritalian bell-end,” retorted cheeky Jack.
“He said we could play like that, and maybe a bit more hatred for Sp*rs wouldn’t be a bad thing. They are scum after all,” translated Sagna.
“Aye ye can, and aye, ye should play like that,” said Graham. “Now, let’s look at the present. Ye haven’t beat Chelski or ManUre for a few years now. So pull ye fingers out ye arses and start playing like we all ken ye can. Time tae look to the future.”
Everything shimmered for a moment, but nothing seemed else seemed to happen. Then Robin looked up and saw a sign above the ancient bust of Chapman – Property of UzbekInvest.
“Oh my God, what happened?” said Robin.
“Can’t ye guess Robin,” the ghost replied, “Ye all f*cked oop. Ye played like boys against men, ye lost your Champions League place at the end of 2011 – tae fookin’ Sp*rs – for shite’s sake. And so ye lost yer captain to Qatarçelona, and yer gaffer to the same place. And the noo, Arsenal is mid table shite. Fans are leaving in their droves, and some fattie from fook knows where owns oor club. So fookin’ wake up, play with some spirit and beat that rabble from Fulham!”
And with that, the ghost of Graham vanished, and the squad left for their homes in Hertfordshire with an ever-burning desire to play better. To compete all over the pitch, to defend with organisation, to track back properly, and to make the most of goal-scoring chances.
And they did beat Chelski. All the players were on top form, playing with the words of Graham burning in their ears. Alex Song got one, so did Cesc and Theo. Ivanovic scored for Chelski, though. Some say Koscielny thought he saw Graham in the stands and was paralysed by fear. From keeper to striker, all played well, and the spectre that was our record against Chelski and ManUre was buried.
But would they forget the lesson they learned that fateful Christmas Eve at the Grove when it came to play the likes of Wigan? Time will tell, dear readers, time will tell.
Apologies to anyone Scottish! I’m off to spend the Arsenally quids I won yesterday – 13-8, 5-2, and 18-1. Ker-Ching!