I Should Never Have Joined Arsenal – The Novella

By Daniel Cowan
In Arsenal
Jul 26th, 2013
50 Comments

Sunlight streamed in through the tall windows gently warming his cheek. Floor to ceiling windows had always made him feel nervous, he wasn’t sure if it was the fear of falling through them or the fact that there was nowhere to hide. He shifted uncomfortably in his seat and started to tap his heel on the floor uncontrollably. What was taking so long? He glanced out of the window and imagined what passers-by would say if they looked in through the window and saw him in the waiting room of a psychologist. He thought it odd that such a place would have transparent windows in the waiting area but then again who was going to be able to look in through the windows eight floors up? “Maybe Per could, the lanky git” he thought to himself. He gave an involuntary snort and caught the eye of the receptionist, who gave him a sharp look. He turned away from her gaze, glanced at his watch and let out a soft sigh.

Sarah peered over the top of her computer screen at the man in the waiting room. She wasn’t much interested in football but she knew who this man was. She thought about taking pictures of him and selling them to the newspapers. They would have a field day if they found out he was seeing a psychologist, she thought. Her mind wandered to the shoes, handbags and sun-soaked holidays she could have with the money the tabloids would give her for those photos. Her daydream was interrupted by a loud snort from the man on the white couch. She glared at him for a few seconds when her eyes were drawn by the small box with a flashing red light on her desk. It flashed twice and then went dark. Sarah composed herself, gave a small dry cough and spoke to the man on the couch. “Dr. Schrader will see you now”

*

“Please, take a seat” said Dr Schrader, “I am sorry to have kept you”. Martijn Schrader was a bespectacled man in his late fifties with a modest paunch, greying hair and slightly loose skin giving him the look of a man who had recently lost a lot of weight. He took off his glasses, drew his fingers over his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. Schrader gave his glasses a quick wipe with his handkerchief and put them back on.

“I have just been speaking with Mr Wenger who tells me you have been suffering from some new issues” Schrader began. “We have worked for some time now on your anger issues and impulsive nature and we have made great progress”.

“You have been exemplary on the pitch and you have improved as a player as a result of your inner-calmness” Schrader continued. “You have shown great leadership and have brought success to Arsenal Football Club but your manager senses you are feeling troubled. Why do you think this is?”

He looked at Dr Schrader, unsure of how to express what he was feeling. Schrader was right; he had made great progress and his new-found calmness had brought success to Arsenal but he wasn’t happy. He got the feeling Schrader could see this but he always felt that Schrader could see right through him, x-raying him as he peered over the top of his glasses.

“Errm, well it’s just that, I don’t know how to put it” he muttered.

“Okay, let’s start somewhere easier, tell me how you feel” said Schrader.

“Tense. A little bit sick”. He stared around the room. It was so different in here from the waiting area. The waiting area didn’t seem so intimidating with the glass coffee table strewn with magazines, the calming pictures of the ocean on the wall, stylish white sofas and glass and chrome finishes. It could have been a waiting room for a marketing agency or a cosmetic surgeon, anything really but this room was different.

It was darker, strangely quieter without the noise of the foot traffic from other floors passing by the entrance or the computer noises as the receptionist checked her Facebook. The air felt slightly thicker in here and it smelled like a second-hand bookshop. The dark brown leather couch, antique mahogany desk and walls lined with books and papers were all so very cliché and added to the feeling of being scrutinised for every thing he said or didn’t say whilst in the room.

Schrader surveyed him for a second and then said “And why do you feel tense? Is it a work-related issue or a home issue?”

“It’s work. It’s just making me really unhappy at the moment” he said wearily.

“But you have just won a couple of trophies, surely you should be ecstatic right now?”

“That’s the problem Doc. I didn’t sign up for this” he protested.

“Didn’t sign up for this? I am led to believe that winning trophies is the raison d’etre for a footballer. If you did not want to win trophies why did you join Arsenal?” asked Dr Schrader.

“To be honest with you Dr Schrader, I just wanted an easy life. I wanted to play my football, have people chant my name, pick up my wages and not have to worry about expectation or competition”. He ran his hands over his face and pulled slightly on his cheeks giving him a look reminiscent of Munch’s The Scream.

Martijn Schrader leaned forward in his chair and rested his arms across his knees. His head tilted to the right in an inquisitive manner. With his sagging eyes and loose skin he looked a little like Droopy the cartoon dog, the footballer thought. He gave another involuntary snort.

Dr Schrader considered the person in front of him for a moment before speaking. “So the weight of expectation and success is troubling you?”.

“Yes, and it is only going to get worse. They say success breeds success and they are only going to expect more” he lamented.

Schrader took a deep breath and leaned back into his chair. “You say you wanted an easy life so why did you join Arsenal? I believe them to be a club with great potential and history”.

The footballer stood up and started to pace around the room. “Well, you see, the money on offer was good and it had been so long since they had truly challenged for a trophy I thought I could join a club that plays great football, put on a show and retire a legend without much effort.”

“But you have never been a lazy footballer, so why the need for a place to slow things down?”

“Not slow things down, just perform without having to bust a gut meeting expectations. Arsenal have pretty much been finishing fourth which would have been achievable without me so I thought it was a given with me and I wouldn’t have to worry too much about fighting for a trophy”. He stopped pacing for a moment and looked at Dr Schrader. “You know I’ve had a few issues in my career so I wanted to finish my career somewhere I would be remembered in a positive way”.

“Yes, I understand your need to feel loved by your fans” said Schrader. “But why choose to join Arsenal in such an uncertain time if you wanted an easy life? Arsenal had stability in playing staff and management and finally had significant transfer funds. Surely this was an indicator of a renewed challenge?”

“Not really. Arsenal had spent years selling off their best players whilst other clubs kept on strengthening. They came into some money but the other clubs still had plenty and everyone thought they were years off challenging even with the money. I mean, look, they had a decent team but nothing special and they had to spend most of their cash on me. I’m good but no-one can win a title single-handed and it was common knowledge that they needed 4/5 more players” he rambled.

Schrader pursed his lips as he searched for the words he wanted. “So let me get this straight. You wanted an easy life, where challenging for honours or league places was, less demanding?”. The footballer nodded. “And now you have achieved success, at a club where success has been so scarce, you are unhappy because it means you no longer have the easy life you craved?”

The footballer nodded eagerly. “Yes, that’s right. What can I do about it”.

“Well” said Schrader, “Allow me to ask you a few questions before I give you my advice”.

“Okay, ask me anything you like”.

“How was your route to the cup final and describe the final to me” asked Schrader.

“Well, it was relatively easy. In the early rounds the boss mostly played the fringe players and they got us to the quarter-finals where we played a championship team winning 3-1. We met Chelsea in the semi-final and won 3-2 with a goal in the 87th minute. The final was a great day actually. We ended up facing Crystal Palace who everyone was surprised to see in the final and beat them comfortably by three goals to nothing.”

Schrader nodded. “That’s good, very good. At any point did you feel as though you were up against it as they say?”.

The footballer paused for a second and glazed over as he searched his brain. “No, not really. The game against Chelsea was close but for the last 15 minutes it was all us. If we hadn’t scored it would have gone to extra time and they had no subs left and we had two so I think we would have taken it anyway” he said.

“That’s good. And how about the league? I believe you won the title as well. By how many points did you win it?” Schrader asked.

“7 points in the end. It was quite close until March but then we went on a bit of a run and won it with 2 games remaining”

“And at any point did you feel pressured to drag the team over the line or worry that expectation would weigh you down?” the doctor asked.

The footballer shook his head. “Again, not really. We knew we would comfortably finish 4th, ahead of Spurs, again but no-one gave us a chance of winning the league so there was no pressure. The boss was great about it actually and set us up for each game so we were really hard to beat. He didn’t pressure us or bully us, he just told us to focus on our own game and it worked. Before we knew it we had to win just one more game to take the title.”

“So” began Dr Schrader, “you were worried about expectation being an issue yet at no point did you feel under pressure or in dire need to break your back picking up points. It seems as though you were worried for nothing”.

“I guess so, but what about next year? It’s always harder to win again. What’s your advice?” asked the footballer.

“One more question first. Which of your team-mates do you think is the worst player?”

“The worst? None of them. They are all great lads and superb footballers. In fact, they have surprised me with how good they are” enthused the footballer.

“That’s good, I think I understand now. So, my advice. Are you sure you want it? You won’t like it, I’m afraid.” said Schrader.

“Yes. Please tell me.”

“You should never have joined Arsenal”.

“That’s not advice”.

“I told you, you wouldn’t like it” chuckled Schrader. “In all seriousness, joining Arsenal when you did with the impression that your addition would not be enough to make them serious title contenders was both stupid and ridiculously self-deprecating. You undervalued your own abilities and those of your new team-mates. Your issues are no longer with the pressure of winning trophies, you are actually well-suited to success. Your issues are actually with guilt”.

Schrader took a breath and continued, “You feel guilty because you undervalued people you now call friends. You consciously joined Arsenal thinking they weren’t good enough to win anything and were just a good pay day for you. Over the past year you have come to see what a fantastic club they are and what wonderful people they employ. My professional opinion is that you are scared of not winning anything next year because you want it for your team-mates so badly.”

“My suggestion to you is to go celebrate with your team-mates. Enjoy the success and worry about challenging for honours at the business end of next season. Don’t worry about undervaluing your team-mates in the past, you were not to know how good they are and you quickly changed your opinion so there is nothing to feel guilty about”. Schrader stood up, walked over to his office door and opened it.

The footballer walked over to Dr Schrader, shook him by the hand and said “Thank you Dr Schrader, I feel much better now. I’ll see you next month for our regular session”.

The footballer left the room and Schrader closed the door behind him with a soft clack. He strode over to his desk, picked up the phone and pressed redial. The phone rang a few times and a voice resonated from the other end with a simple “Yes”. “Arsène, it’s Martijn, it is as you suspected. Let me tell you everything”.

*

The footballer looked up at the large red double-decker open-topped bus adorned with the clubs colours, badge and banners with the words “DOUBLE WINNERS” standing out like a lighthouse beacon in the dead of night. He felt a little sick still but for a different reason. He felt lighter, stronger… happier, he felt, exonerated. Was that the word? Yes, exonerated. He felt free from burden, free from guilt and free to enjoy himself. He took a deep breath, took another look at the banners, felt a smile spread across his lips and he boarded the bus.

He passed through a group of club employees patting him on the back, shaking his hand and telling him how proud of him they were. He reached the stairs and started to climb, as his head appeared at the top he heard a raucous cheer from his team-mates.

“Hey hey, here he is! The man of the hour”. He felt a strong hand pull him up to the top of the stairs faster than his legs were going. He stumbled slightly, gained his bearings and looked up at the man who had dragged him to his feet.

“Woj” he said smiling. “Yes mate, golden boot Mr Golden balls, get your lips round this” said Wojciech, pressing a cold bottle of beer into his hand. He took a swig, it tasted good, refreshing, and gave him an instant mellow feeling that quelled the uneasiness in his stomach. He thanked Woj and continued along the bus toward the front passing Santi Cazorla and Per Mertesacker who were laughing raucously at Lukas Podolski’s jokes.

As he neared the front few rows of the bus he felt hands on his shoulders. A voice he knew only too well said “What kept you mate? We’ve been waiting for ages”. He turned to look at Jack Wilshere. “I had an appointment” he said. “Oh yeah, that’s right, I forgot. How did it go mate?” asked Jack.

“It went really well actually. I had a quick chat with boss before I got on the bus as well.” he said.

“That’s great mate, glad to hear it. Talking of hearing things, can you hear the roar of those Gooners? This is amazing isn’t it? It’s only going to get louder” smiled Jack. The footballer looked at Jack, they’d become good friends over the past year. “Yeah, it’s crazy. I guess they’ve been waiting a long time for this”.

“Too bloody long” said Jack. “Here, look at those beauties down there” he said, pointing at the trophies. “I can’t wait to lift them in front of our supporters”.

“Yeah, it’ll be something special” said the footballer, grinning like a Cheshire cat. Jack smiled back. “Do you think we’ll hang on to them next season?” asked Jack.

“Well” said the footballer, “the gaffer has just told me who he’s buying this summer so it’ll be harder to lose them”. Jack laughed and clapped him on the back. “It’s going to be incredible to play with him next year” said Jack.

He smiled at Jack. The bus roared to life and the passengers broke out into cheers as it started to slowly pull away to start the parade through Islington.

“It certainly will Jack” he said, “it certainly will”.

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About "" - 189 Posts

South London Gooner born and bred now living in Bristol. Trainer enthusiast and aspiring author.

50 Responses to “I Should Never Have Joined Arsenal – The Novella”

  1. Winner Matahula says:

    Nicely written. Saw the insight therein and felt the glory that is to come.

  2. noni says:

    wow.talking about suarez.but I still think we need a cdm who can also play central defence.

  3. Ricky says:

    Fantastic work. Bravo.

    Can’t stop smiling now, after reading that :)

  4. Milk says:

    It is very nice article. I like it very much and i cant wait to see him and those trophies in next year and also year after years!

  5. manny says:

    Wow! Great write-up, great vision. I hope we sign the man (suarez) eventually… Nd i hope it all comes down to this too

  6. wenkev02 says:

    Great enthralling blog ,kept me glued to my I pad. You have a great mind . What a creep I here you say…..

  7. Roooooooooooooooooney!

  8. Egyptian Gooner says:

    This is by far the best piece of writing i have seen all summer. At the risk of sounding like a wimp, this actually made me shed a tear. This was not because i think Suarez is the answer to our problems, but because the articled made me imagine an extremely plausible scenario of success. I have and will forever stand by my, our, Arsenal and the trophies are a very welcome bonus too. For the time being, lets all hope that Suarez, if he ends up signing for Arsenal, is as good of a person as that story suggests.
    Excellent work

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      Thank you very much for your kind words. I am glad you liked it.

    • Jon Shay says:

      If we sign Suarez, and he turns out to be as a good a person as this piece suggests, I will go back and print out my own diatribes against him and eat them. video at youtube and all.

  9. Mann says:

    Fantastic piece!

  10. Sadiq says:

    Great piece, got me n kept me smiling
    Suarez….

  11. Marv says:

    Ist time on this blog! But I must say this article bloody makes sense. Good 1 mate.

  12. Sas says:

    What a utter load of tosh

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      Thanks. Please direct me to your published works so I can strive to improve and model myself on your brilliance.

  13. Israel says:

    Graet piece of shit man. I jst pray it all ends wel wit arsenal 4rm nw on, so dat we can hav a course to smile back at our past years of drought.

  14. Martijn Schrader says:

    I am getting my lawyer to write a cease and desist letter. Either pay me for using my name and image or remove this heinous article at once!

  15. Randy Pan the Arsenal Fan says:

    Who would’ve ever have believed Kevin Phillips would make such a big difference to our season…

  16. Siyan says:

    Wow! Nice one. Like an excerpt from a bestseller

  17. Muiz says:

    What a lovely piece,I was so drowned in it I tot it was real…I hope it happens

  18. Mpumilembz says:

    Brilliant mate, that’s exactly what I needed

  19. zico59 says:

    Brilliant piece of fiction. It actually had me glowing with pride, then realising it was’nt true, i sulked for a while, then i thought, Could you write about me meeting Tulisa, then banging the arse off of her? I wait in eager anticipation, with bog roll at the ready. Cheers Dan twas a fantastic read mate.

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      That has to be one of the most disgusting yet hilariously original comments I have ever received.

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      The room was dim, lit only by scented candles that flickered in the soft breeze coming in from the open window.

      Zico looked at the bed he had delicately covered in rose petals earlier that evening and smiled. He had waited a long time for this night. A few muffled noises filtered through the door of the bathroom where his soon-to-be lover was slipping into something sexy, as promised.

      The door of the en-suite creaked open to reveal the object of his deepest infatuation. He stared at her, awestruck at her natural beauty and equally enthralling outfit. She was wearing a tight red basque that squeezed her already ample bosom into a deep, inviting crevice. He felt his instant arousal push hard against his jeans.

      His eyes scanned her face. Her soft, creamy complexion, big eyes and full red lips that were parted in a smile across perfect white teeth made his excitement grow.

      “So what are you waiting for big boy? Come over here and show me what you’ve got” she teased.

      Zico took a deep breath, the harsh perfume of the scented candles burned his nose. He found the smell offensive but he didn’t care, for nothing could ruin this perfect night.

      He strode over to her, pulled her tightly in his arms and kissed her firmly on the mouth. Her lips were moist, soft and warm. He felt her tongue slip into his mouth and push gently against his. He replied eagerly with his own tongue and ran his hands frantically all over her body.

      He grabbed her pert, firm bottom with both hands as he kissed down her neck and along her collar bone.

      She gave a soft moan that turned into a delicate squeal as he pulled her in closer and she felt his hardened manhood against her hip. The noise she made excited Zico and he gave a deep growl that seemed to emanate from his loins.

      He swept her off her feet and pulled her into his chest, his strong arms cradling her gently as he took her to the bed.

      He dropped her onto the bed and a waft of rose petal puffed into the air. He climbed onto the bed and kissed her deeply again. His hands slid down to her lacy black French knickers. He fumbled around the edges until he found the lip and gave a soft tug but the fabric did not move.

      “I can’t wait. Just rip them” she breathed.

      Zico felt down between her legs, she was wet and this only served to increase his urgency. He grabbed the lace with both hands and pulled sharply. The sound of the stitches in her gusset ripping filled the air.

      He fumbled around with the button on his jeans until it popped open. He unzipped and removed his bottoms before awkwardly taking off his spongebob squarepants boxers. Unsheathed and erect, the moment he had dreamt of for years was finally about to happen.

      Zico looked into her beautiful face and swam briefly in her intoxicating eyes. “I can’t believe this is happening” he said, “I love you Tulisa”.

      He pushed his lips up against hers and entered her with the ease and purpose of a much more experienced man. Tulisa let out a scream of pleasure as Zico filled her.

      “I love you too Zico” she whispered into his ear, “now ruin me”.

      Zico did not need to be asked twice. He thrust himself as deeply as he could go into Tulisa and proceeded to make masterful yet frenetic love to her.

      *

      Zico stirred as the thumping of flesh against wood hummed into his ears. He felt a little groggy and sound seemed distorted.

      The thumping grew louder and he could hear a woman’s voice growing clearer.

      “Zico, have you used all the fucking toilet paper wanking over those Tulisa posters again?”.

    • zico59 says:

      LMFAO. Dan me old china, you sure know how to write a good epic mate. Had me tear arsing back ‘n’ forth from the bog. You should truly take up writing full time as it’s obviously something you’re really good at. And, what’s refreshing to see as well is, and i can’t emphasis this any greater than what i’m doing now is, your grammar is spot on! Ultimately, you’re a gooner that is of a higher learning that puts these other bloggers to shame. Keep up the good work mate, as i’ll be keeping an eye out for writings from now on. Have a good day. Cheers.

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      Thanks mate. I may ‘write’ write more in the future. I try my best to keep my grammar on point. Glad you enjoyed.

  20. Yusuf says:

    This is an absolute classic. You kept me glued to my tablet till I finished reading this master piece. Brilliant, brilliant article. More ink to your pen!

  21. Samir Gelb says:

    Please write the rest of this book (i.e., the following season). This was absolutely fantastic.

  22. Wakefield Gooner says:

    This is the reason for me to stay glued to your writing. Terrific. Reminded me a little of our olden days though..

  23. Kay Bee says:

    Brilliant..just brilliant!

    There’s not much else I can say but that.

    Thanks for sharing, Dan!

  24. Alex says:

    This was… quite something :)
    Masterful writing Dan!

  25. naked goon says:

    I doff my millinery apparel mon ami.
    Now if Suarez joins I will put a fiver on an Arsenal v Palace Cup Final.

  26. crispen says:

    Dan . You are the Man!

  27. Damilarey says:

    What a nice write up. But in real fact, I don’t think We’ll sign Suarez with all Wenger’s antics we knew in the past. Fooling us, pretending to be wanting to sign a player, in order for the fans to think he actually wanted to, but eventually pull back with flimpsy excuses. I never trusted him, but stand to be dissapointed by seeing him change his policy.

  28. mav361 says:

    First time viewer got redirected over by the “ArmchairGooner”

    Thought it was Absolute class

    The main article made me smile
    The Zico v Tulisa bit was absolutely hilarious

    Keep it up and good luck

  29. Naija_gooner says:

    Beautiful piece, Dan. One of the best I’ve read this silly season. Filled me with nostalgia, . . . and hope!
    As for the Zico/Tulisa piece, SMH.

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      Shaking your head? Why? He was kind enough to read my blog and leave a unique comment so I felt compelled to write him a personal story as requested.

    • Naija_gooner says:

      Really like the way you write. As for the SMH, just a way of saying “don’t know what to comment”. But I think you are a creative writer.

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      Ah I see. I’m not one for using Internet speak often so I’ve always associated SMH as something negative. Glad you enjoyed anyway.

  30. esubi says:

    Never had my eye glued word by word on a football blog before this…
    Salute…

    Ps: spongebob made me laugh in tears :E

  31. esubi says:

    Oh, and if i may guess, is this footballer used the phrase “c’est la vie, non?”

  32. Are arsenal gonna buy grath bale

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