The thing about Arsenal fans is that they’re one of the most fearful groups of supporters in Europe. They’re afraid of change, even if it’s for the better, and they’re afraid of potentially losing stability.
The Arsenal fan base has fallen to such hellish lows that people are defined by one opinion, and often heavily berated for it. It’s like picking a political allegiance, and even then how can anyone definitively say they’re absolutely one or the other?
But it’s to the point now where questioning of the Arsenal manager is not allowed – and what kind of world is that to live in? Football is so far removed from everyday life that a weekend into the depths of the game is like living in a fantasy world, and so what if a fan doesn’t think very much of the fantasy world someone else has created?
What you have here is blinded loyalty to Arsene Wenger. Sometimes it’s ok, and you know what, who is anyone to tell a fan how they should support a club? But how many fans can say with any deal of confidence that Arsenal are moving forward under Wenger?
The problem is you have so many fans who aren’t able to discern between criticism and disrespect. How dare someone question the current management style of arguably the greatest manager Arsenal have ever had? Well that’s not really what is it. And for starters, why should anyone in sports be immune from criticism? Sports and music and whatever else has created modern deities to replace what was once traditional. A lot of the time sports is gang warfare, and it derives from people not understanding the difference between the reality of Monday to Friday and the escape of the weekend.
You have Arsenal fans on Twitter moaning about the ‘moaners,’ which in itself is ridiculous. After all, aren’t we as football supporters really just consumers, rather than members of a club? People may argue otherwise, but there is enough evidence to suggest that theory has some weight. So doesn’t that give consumers a right to feel aggrieved when something is clearly not right? Just as some fans may say that certain sections of the support have no right to question Wenger, the opposing argument could be that the Wenger loyalists have no right to lock those with a vocal opinion away in a dungeon and throw away the key. It’s as if anyone with a valid opinion is a bastard for speaking up.
Arsenal are not a winning club, despite having the resources to do so. Champions League football every season is nothing to be proud of when you used to bring home trophies every year. And if you, as a fan, have no interest in winning then pack up, go home and watch ballet.
I don’t believe that there is even one supporter who is happy or even content with the manner of the performances and the year-on-year embarrassments. There’s nothing wrong with asking questions, and that’s what most don’t understand. People want to take offence to anything negative said about Wenger predominantly because they want to be seen as “real” Arsenal fans. It’s become Arsene FC rather than Arsenal, and his longevity has owed a lot to people’s misguided view.
Wenger was once great for the club, he did incredible things for the Arsenal and English football in general. But that was all 10 years ago, and there’s currently no sign of the rot ending.
One of the bigger problems for the Wenger apologists is that they believe the other side of the support actually want Wenger gone. Well that’s not totally the case. Most want the manager to stay, but under the condition that he changes his ways. Some are sick of the riddles in press conferences, the talking up of players like Gervinho, the infuriating lines that Abou Diaby will be “like a new signing.” I mean, who really wants to keep watching a team that are actively playing a hand in their own demise? Isn’t that far more perverse and sickening than anyone asking for a change?
And you get the sense that most of those who see a sunnier tomorrow under Wenger are those who have only known Arsenal during his reign as manager. It’s the blinded assumption that there wasn’t an Arsenal before Wenger and there won’t be one after him. But couldn’t many of the older fans hold similar sentiments towards George Graham? He was the one who brought success back to Arsenal after so long. He was the one that toyed with the idea of going through a season unbeaten, and he was the one who delivered the first few notable hits to the dominant Liverpool side, not Alex Ferguson.
But you have to be critical of a manager whose team gets worse every season. This is Wenger’s squad, no one forced any of these players upon him. He wasn’t sent in to fight the fire of someone else’s mistakes, but he’s the manager and he’s responsible for a club of Arsenal’s stature and resources sitting outside the top four and with no hope of silverware. And once again, Champions League qualification is no reason to break out the champagne. European football like that should be a given for a club like Arsenal.
Fans will complain about the lack of quality in this Arsenal team, but there are some very good players currently at the club. Maybe Wenger is working with one hand tied behind his back, yet there are managers in Europe doing much more with a lot less. I maintain that Santi Cazorla is one of the best midfielders in the country, but he really hasn’t looked it on a consistent basis.
A lot of people don’t like reading things like this, and that’s fine – cover your ears and close your eyes. But don’t belittle others who aren’t afraid to go against the grain.
Would Alex Ferguson waste so much time on Diaby? Would he refuse to sign Robin van Persie on the basis that he’d “kill” Danny Welbeck or Javier Hernandez? Would he surrender a four-goal lead when the game looked all but over? He’s a winner and wouldn’t allow United to fall the same way Arsenal have. He sees value in players like Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes when Wenger let’s go of Robert Pires and Gilberto.
The thing about Wenger is that you don’t have people questioning you without being great at one time. And the big loss here is that some are willing to accept that the greatness might have worn off.
As football fans, and as sports fans, who could ever grow tired of winning? But who turns up to watch a game of football saying it’s ok to lose today as long as tomorrow promises to be a little sunnier? The problem is they’ve been hollow promises for too long.
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