I've been a die-hard fan of The Beautiful Game since 2002, when South Korea, the country I was living in hosted the FIFA World Cup. I watched in awe as France and Portugal painfully crashed out of the Group Stages while the United States and Germany progressed, and as South Korea, aided by the referees, made it all the way to the semi-finals until they were finally beaten by Germany. After this World Cup, the excitement of watching was still felt in me. I thirsted for more of the sport, but thanks to the wonderful dial-up internet we had, I had little opportunity to do so.
In 2005, South Korea started to broadcast the games of Manchester United. Why? In the summer of 2005,a South Korean midfielder, Park Ji-Sung, made his move across the English Channel from PSV. South Koreans are always fiercely patriotic, and saw this as a sort of honor to their whole nation. I started watching some of the games and appreciated the brand of football played by the Red Devils. I couldn't understand why someone who looked like a human Shrek was playing, but I just went with it.
It was in the 2006-2007 season that I found my first and greatest love. September 16, 2006. Manchester United were hosting Arsenal FC and the commentators predicted a win to the Red Devils. I was thoroughly enticed by the game, as I found the logo of Arsenal amusing. A cannon? How strange. Twenty minutes in, I fell in love with the passing of Cesc Fabregas, and the artistic flair of Tomas Rosicky and Aliaksandr Hleb. I felt myself gravitate to the slick passing game that Arsenal play and to the funny man in the suit waving his arms around, Arsene Wenger. When Adebayor scored in the 86th minute, I got up and cheered. I felt wonderfully warm inside, and knew that THIS was what I had been longing for. Arsenal FC, the Gunners. I became a Gooner.
With this relationship with the club, I've had some of the greatest high points (Arsenal 2-1 Barcelona, Arsenal 7-5 Reading, and many other great wins) and some of the most depressing moments (leg-breakers, shameful referees, failed cup finals, etc.). Even so, I've been a faithful Gooner as any.
However, the past few seasons have been frustrating. The club I had expected to challenge for trophies was not doing so. The young world-class players we built up left for sizable sums, but I kept my temper in check, even as I watched Toure, Adebayor, Nasri, Clichy, and Fabregas crumble away from the team.This last summer, however, finally cemented my utter resentment for the board, who seemed content only turning profits. It was out of this frustration, my friends, that I conceived this challenge.