They're cuddly little furry creatures (or so I believe) that for no apparent reason press the self-destruct button and hurl themselves off a cliff for the hell of it. Life is just fine and dandy at 12.37 one sunny day...and then presumably one has the bright idea of ending it all. Like a bizarre internet suicide pact the whisper spreads, the idea catches fire, others are swept along and then...cue pile of late lemmings at bottom of cliff and a dramatic reduction in the commodity price of lemming fur. Or so the story goes. Sorry if this is all not strictly as David Attenborough would have told it.
I believe "Lemmings" was the headline used in the WO in 197something when the Horns were relegated into the Fourth Division after a defeat against, possibly, Bournemouth. I don't remember this as I was a young, happy and contented Arsenal fan then (bar a couple of Cup Finals in one of which Paul Allen should have been booked for diving), but I'm sure I read a later article in the WO that referred back to that report.
Seems somehow quite apt now.
By 4th March, we had won as many league games as we had lost, and experienced a great cup run where we had won many admirers. We had H and Danny Webber banging in the goals (okay, the latter had dried up a little...) amid whispers of Premiership interest and big fat cheques. There was even talk of a playoff surge, perhaps over-optimistic given that we had slipped back down to a mid-table position. Then a bit of a wobble against Coventy and Forest and suddenly...free-fall, as we race to the edge of the cliff. Last one there's a big cissy.
At the start of March, we had an experienced, popular manager who had worked miracles over his reign on a shoe-string to keep relegation to no more than a fleeting concern, and who still had the goodwill of most supporters and the players. By the end of that same month, we had a twelve year old manager who is very very, very positive...a winner...always looks forward and upward and believes he can take us into the Premiership...in fact, everything you'd ever want to hear in a job interview. We have lost the use of a pacy natural goalscorer (who scored a great goal the other night against Saturday's opponents) in a swap with a defender who's not been able to play for us yet due to injury, along with our (admittedly sulking) most creative midfielder at a time when we really need goals.
Anyone who knows me will tell you I am a complete pessimist and if all my predictions had come through over the years we would now be playing local derbies against Tring. However, we only have five games left...two of which are against hungry, motivated playoff contenders. Don't bank on points from those games. Which leaves Leeds at home and Stoke and Rotherham away. Having looked at the others' run-ins, I believe we need to win three of these last five to be sure of safety.
Anyone who thinks we'd bounce back stronger if we did fall through the trap door should note we have only been promoted under one manager's stewardship in the last thirty years...and if my memory is correct have only twice finished in the top half of any table under any other manager since GT was first appointed in 1977 (courtesy of Glenn Roeder and Steve Harrison). Pre-GT, Division Three was our usual hunting ground, at best.
So, boy, is this Saturday's game important. Once lemmings are up and running, I'd imagine its very difficult to stop them and turn them around. Better ask Mr. Attenborough. When you are running downhill, it's easier to just carry on running....
Good luck, AB. You'll need it.