By Tony Attwood
The Guardian headline, “Leicester City 0-0 Arsenal
The paper did manage however to quote Mr Wenger saying, ““Unfortunately, nobody speaks about the performance of Rob Holding… You should be happy – he is English, he is 20. But I am sorry he didn’t cost £55m so he cannot be good. He had an outstanding performance for a young boy who has never played in the Premier League up against a great player. We don’t talk about the players any more. We speak about anything else than football.”
The Telegraph was more measured with “Leicester City 0 Arsenal 0: Arsene Wenger faces more calls to spend after Gunners are held by the champions”
What actually happened was that on 89 minutes, under a pre-ordained arrangement, some of the travelling fans chanted “Spend some fucking money”. There was a secondary chant by a smaller number of “We want Wenger out say we want Wenger out.” The first chant was carried by maybe a quarter of the visiting fans, the second by fewer.
Of course those chanting are also the ones who were chanting and singing to great effect all the way through the match – but as anyone knows looking around, there are those who chant and sing, and those who don’t. The away support, which is very noisy, and had a very jolly rehearsal as usual in the bar before the game (although not of the money out and the anti-Wenger chant; mostly “What do you think of Tottenham” and “Mesut Ozil”) continued to great effect through the game. They make a lot of noise, and some grouping in the away corner have everyone singing. But equally there are groups where no one sings – be it to point out Leicester’s lack of historic success or to support Ozil.
But the singers know they have some of the media, like the Guardian, in their pocket and that even a minute or two from a minority of travelling supporters would get the headline. And so it did – the media will follow their every word. That’s what they do.
Away support, in case you are not aware, is now a highly restricted operation – you can’t just try to get a ticket for the odd match. Indeed I was talking with one of my Belgium friends before the game on this subject and I was reminded that maybe ten years ago it was possible to buy away tickets just by being a Red member. Then there was a period when being a season ticket holder gave access to away games. Now you either have to be registered with the away support scheme (which is full up so you can’t get on it) or a season ticket holder with over 25 away tickets bought in the last two seasons. Or a member of one of the regional Arsenal supporters clubs, which will be allocated tickets occasionally.
So it has become a closed shop – a group of mates who travel the country and can organise their protest. But they are no more representative of the whole support than any other group.
What I would say about them was that their support for the 89 minutes or so before the moment of protest was excellent, as it always is.
Of course in newspaper reports, the construction of sentences reveals everything – just as it did with Amy Lawrence comment about only four Arsenal players getting into double figures with the goal tally last season. The Telegraph is currently running, “By the end of the game they were calling on Wenger to “spend some f****** money” and they sang it over and over again in case he was under any illusion as to the point being made,” and the “by the end” makes it sound as if the whole thing was spontaneous – although I suspect had we won 0-2 the chants wouldn’t have happened.
After the game Mr Wenger asked the rhetorical question “if I buy you for £45 million have I done well?” It is a valid point for behind it comes the point that we do have some expensive players in the team, and others who although costing nothing are now worth rather a lot.
Recently Walter wrote the article “Arsenal never spent anything much on transfers, or do they?” which the media and the chanters could find helpful. And Mr Wenger was virtually saying much the same as I wrote in “I doubt if anyone has ever had their minds changed”
Simple stories now run the day, anything that needs evidence and which draws on information gathered across time is dismissed. Now is everything. History is bunk (although I suspect a very large number of “Remain” voters like me, are never going to forgive those who voted “Leave”.
But for Arsenal – a run of wins as we normally at some stage in the season will help a little. Of course, as we have seen, aspirations morf. The “no trophies” became “not winning the league” after two cup wins and coming runners’ up in the League. When we do win the league, then that will not be enough, we will need to win the Champions League. And having done that, win it every other year at least.
There’s no end to this galloping vision that somehow we have a right to win. And no one will change their minds because of debate or analysis.
Still, maybe there’s something good on TV.
(If you feel like commenting please do read “I doubt if anyone…” first – it sets out our editorial policy too).