World would have fallen out of their Arsenal after hippy crack headlines – Dave Kitson
WHEN those Arsenal players woke up yesterday morning, the world would have fallen out of their a***s – and footballers across the country would have been thinking ‘Thank god that isn’t me’.
If you think the Gunners’ hippy crack party, exposed by The Sun yesterday, is an isolated incident in football, you are mistaken. They are just the ones who have been caught.
This is Arsenal’s problem today, but you can be sure it will be another club’s problem tomorrow because that is just the nature of the beast. That’s football.
Other players see these things, and just think ‘thank god that’s not me – there but for the grace of god’.
Because ultimately every single squad has been in a situation where they know they have done things they shouldn’t have done. The difference is that they got away with it and the Arsenal lads haven’t. They will have been sheepish yesterday at training.
You can feel so institutionalised sometimes as players, when you want to release the pressure, it manifests itself generally in ways that are unfortunate and are going to be in the newspapers if they get found out.
Whether it’s women, gambling, laughing gas or drinking, it’s all vices and never anything different.
When you’re in that group environment, you lose all sense of normality. It’s the alpha males coming out and you get the sheep following and before you know it, it’s total chaos.
Once the first person goes it is very easy for the second person to go, then the third and fourth follow.
You’re almost waiting for that licence. It’s that mentality.
We’re either all in it together or we’re not. We’re either all trying to win a game, or we’ll all get in trouble. It’s that safety in numbers where you think ‘well, if it does all go wrong I won’t be on my own’.
And it’s always the senior one who takes the rap anyway – they’re the ones who should supposedly know better.
Those players caught out will be mortified. You know when you have made a mistake, a big one. That feeling in your stomach is the worst feeling in the world.
Now they will be thinking ‘it’s one thing for it to be seen in the paper, but what’s going to happen when I walk out in front of hostile fans in the new few weeks?’.
They won’t know what to expect, what chants are going to be aimed at them, what kind of abuse. But they know it isn’t going to be easy.
You can bet that managers up and down the country will be holding the Sun up in front of their players saying ‘don’t let that be you’
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They are going to have to face the music, and when you make a mistake you have to swallow it. But it doesn’t make it any easier.
I remember an incident while we were away on a pre-season tour with Portsmouth when the squad ignored orders from the manager to stay in their hotel rooms.
We snuck out which is not a good thing to do and it completely undermined the manager.
You do it because you are desperate to get away from that regimented existence as a footballer and you have to blow off some steam.
But I remember we gathered in one of the player’s rooms and the captain sent all of the youth team players and young pros back to their rooms.
He didn’t want them involved and once that happens you know you are doing something you are not supposed to be doing anyway.
It was a bizarre line between not being responsible but being responsible at the same time.
The manager found out and we had to apologise to him.
He was really hurt by it and I did feel really bad for him as he was a fair man and we just took a complete liberty with it.
He would probably have let us go out for a night anyway.
The Christmas party season is on us, and you can bet that managers up and down the country will be holding the Sun up in front of their players saying ‘don’t let that be you’.
This gives every manager the perfect opportunity to tell the players to remember themselves.
But it’s so easy. You go out and have a few drinks, you slip into that feeling where you’re just a normal person.
You forget you’re footballers and you become what these guys are, lads sitting in a bar talking nonsense as a group. It’s very easy to forget your job in those moments.
It’s a hard way to lead your life, always having to think ‘imagine if someone is watching me now, what should I be doing? How should I behave?’
That’s not a nice way to live your life, and the bigger the player, the more famous they are, the harder it is. I’m quite glad I never reached that top level, I don’t know if I could have lived like that.
Most people, footballers or otherwise, have done things they look back on and they regret. But you do learn from it. You have to.
But in its own strange way Unai Emery will see this as a real opportunity to make his mark.
Like any boss, he would have worried about something happening off the field.
This one has happened now and it gives him the perfect opportunity to lay down the law to his players.
He can now tell them that if that’s the way things happened before, it’s not going to be the way it works in his club going forward. He will actually get some benefit from it.
He won’t scream and shout, he will just make it very clear that the players have let themselves down, that the club has certain standards and that they need to remember. They are playing for their careers every single week from now on.