”I fell in love with football just as I would later fall in love with women: suddenly, without explanation, without exercising my critical faculties, without thinking at all about the pain and shocks that the experience would bring with it” .
Nick Hornby describes in the opening lines of his celebrated novel
—translated in Spain as
Fever in the stands
— his relationship with football and life through Arsenal and the carousel of emotions that derive from that passion.
There are teams incapable of dealing with indifference, one of them is north of London and won its last Premier in 2004 after no one managed to beat it.
He forged the legend of the Invincibles, caressed the Champions League two years later, beaten in the final by Barcelona, and little by little he fell.
Since then his record has been made up of five Cups.
His last game in the Champions League dates back to February 2017. Then Bayern beat him 10-2 on aggregate and closed a two-decade cycle in the elite.
In 2021 he stayed, for the first time in a quarter of a century, out of European competitions.
Today (9:00 p.m., Dazn), after six seasons without qualifying among the top four in the Premier, Arsenal begins the exercise that they consider to be their return at the Crystal Palace fiefdom.
“We have increased the level of energy and ambition.
We want to be very high up”, assumes coach Mikel Arteta.
A year after that traumatic exit from the Champions League, and at the time that Arsène Wenger left the club, the North American company Kroenke Sports & Entertainment took over 100% of the club, of which it already had control after increasing its shareholding since in 2007 it had acquired 9.9%.
That was a traumatic move for a crowd that scoffed at Manchester United by cheering him on.
!” they yelled at the Red Devils when New Yorker Malcolm Glazer landed at Old Trafford.
The Kroenkes (Stan, the father, and Josh, the son) are viewed with suspicion by the
The Kroenkes were regarded in London as owners who were reticent about investment and busy with business.
“Do we matter to you?”, an important
of team supporters snapped at them in the summer of 2019 in a tough campaign that talked about money, but also about feelings.
Since then, only Manchester City has surpassed them in transfer investment.
And in the last two summers nobody has spent more than Arsenal, which is going for 300 million euros.
Gabriel Jesus came for 52, Zinchenko, Fabio Vieira and Odegaard for 35 each.
Center back Ben White shot up to 58. "Now we have more specific and better footballers for our style of play," admits Arteta, who warns: "Everything is still open.
There will be movements.”
The San Sebastian coach was recruited by Edu Gaspar, that Brazilian midfielder who was on the Invincibles squad and then went through Valencia.
Today he is the club's sports director, to which he returned in that initiatory summer of 19. One of his first decisions was to liquidate Unai Emery in the middle of the season and call Arteta, who was Guardiola's assistant at Manchester City.
Arteta won the Cup in the gray summer of 2020, but a year ago he was under discussion by the fans after a disastrous start to the campaign.
Those days return to memory now with the premiere of the documentary recorded by Amazon in the guts of the entity, a work that flirts with hagiography, but shows the coach as a leader capable of piloting the emotions of his men.
Arsenal has not been concerned about paying transfers but rather lowering the wage bill with departures such as those of Aubameyang, Özil or Lacazette.
"We were out of Europe with Champions League salaries," lamented Josh Koenkre.
Edu warns that everything is part of a five-year project and is supported by the mentality of some owners who assume this type of process as something natural in sport.
The Kroenkes have the most complete franchise portfolio on the planet: Denver Nuggets (NBA), Los Angeles Rams (NFL), Colorado Avalanche (NHL), and Colorado Rapids (MLS).
In American football and ice hockey they are the current champions.
But before they lost a lot.
Impossible to sustain that dictation at Arsenal: “We already understand the mentality of the football fan.
He has nothing to do with American sports.
Nor the way of working, with big clubs that are financially superior to the others”, admits the young Koenkre.
Arsenal are not looking at the title, but they do want to believe they are in a position to return to the Champions League.
He failed to recruit Raphinha and Lisandro, who preferred Barcelona and Manchester United, but he is excited about Gabriel Jesus, who has just scored three goals against Sevilla in the friendly that closed the team's preseason.
"We are surprised by how quickly he has adapted to the team," explains Arteta, who has handed over the captaincy to Martin Odegaard, who has barely played 60 games with the cannon on his chest.
“He is only 23 years old, but he is a player who represents the values of this club.
He is passionate about the game and enjoys the responsibility.”
Today the road begins against Crystal Palace led by Patrick Vieira, another of Wenger's Invincibles.
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