By Tony Attwood
Some Arsenal supporters get very angry at any match that Arsenal does not win. This is true both home and away. I have often wondered why.
Of course some of the people who were at the Bournemouth game might be saying that their moaning resulted in Arsenal waking up and scoring three late goals. On that claim, if it were made, it would be hard to make a judgement because there is no evidence. Maybe it is so, but if so, one has to point out that it often doesn’t work.
But I wonder why people do get so negative about Arsenal, and indeed I wonder how these supporters would have been if they had supported the club in that long period between 1954 and 1968 when we didn’t win anything but got defeated by Swindon Town at Wembley. Or come to that if they had been around between 1893 when Arsenal entered the league, and 1930 when we won our first major trophy: the FA Cup.
We are in fifth place, having lost the same number of games as Chelsea, but for some this is a time for calling for a new manager, and a replacement of some of the team. Worse, because the news has just come in that Coquelin will be out for a month, Mr Wenger is now being blamed for not having a deep enough squad.
Such talk ignores the fact that we actually have a full 25 man squad – we are just about the only team to do so. Plus we have five additional players who are available for the first team but not counted in the numbers because of their age: Holding, Iwobi, Bellerin, Akpom, Reine-Adelaide. If one wants to be pedantic we might remove one of the “25” as he has either dropped completely out of favour or is injured (Sanogo) but otherwise everyone is part of the squad. 29 players.
We’ve now lost one to the Africa cup – and he could have taken over from Coquelin – but it is only one. Is anyone really saying we should have refused to sign any player who could be called up for Africa?
So we have fans who get very angry, and I continue to wonder, does this do them any good? Does it do the team any good? Does it do anyone any good getting this angry, and having co-ordinated anti-Wenger chant routines as they do sometimes.
I am not saying that I can feel joy, contentment, pride, optimism, enthralment, or an overall feeling of having a jolly good time when Arsenal get beaten when I’m at a game, but I don’t seem to get the negative depths that some people (like the two guys behind me at the Ems) do.
Of course it is difficult if the team loses, or plays badly, but if there is anything we can do, it surely must be to stay positive to the team and encourage them on.
The only argument I have heard to counter this is that if the supporters don’t make a fuss, then the directors will never sack Mr Wenger and we’ll be like this forever. So, they claim, their negativity is done for the right reasons.
But in reality the board are not going to sack Mr Wenger, and even if they did, there is no guarantee that the new man would achieve anything like the success Mr Wenger has had. In the last three seasons we have had two FA Cup wins, and a second place in the league. I know the people who get so angry complain that this is not enough and I am sure someone will soon come up with the notion that second is not a trophy, and the FA Cup is not a trophy, and that it would have been better to have been the laughing stock of the league as Chelsea were last season and to have risen to the top of the league as this time this season.
However I have to repeat, nothing is guaranteed. Manchester City have the money of one of the richest oil and gas states in the world behind them, and supposedly one of the greatest managers in the world, and they have lost more games than we have and scored fewer goals than we have.
We need the support to be positive in supporting the team – at the very least during the games – at least to counter the mad editing that Sky employs to give a football match sanitised into its own curious vision of reality. We need the support to encourage the team and make them feel good about playing for Arsenal.
I have now heard some supporters say that they want Alexis and Ozil to leave because that will show the board that Wenger is useless and so get someone else. Personally I think that it is more likely that the board are wondering what on earth they can do about people who pay very large amounts of money for tickets in order to make themselves incredibly morose, if not downright depressed.
My two pals who I sit either side of at the Ems have a laugh at the games. OK, not if we lose, but much of the time we have fun, we enjoy being there, we like each other’s company, and we enjoy watching football.
The guy behind me looks and sounds like he is about to have a heart attack, one screams abuse the other shouts out one or two word instructions to the players in anger if he thinks they are not doing things right, and I never hear any expression of enjoyment.
Blacksheep tells me of a lad who stands near him on the North Bank wearing his “enough is enough” t-shirt looking morose, waiting for Arsenal to lose.
What on earth is the point of that?
I wonder, out of an act of human kindness, should there not be places where such people can go to learn to be happy? Of course they might say they will be happy when Mr Wenger goes, but given that Mr Wenger is the most successful manager we have had in terms of such things as percentage of league wins, number of trophies, consistency, best ever season, not being caught out doing anything illegal etc etc, I suspect the chances are we might not be much better off. Of course we might, but the chances are slim.
Anger and related emotions like fear, sadness and jealousy tend to generate further negative emotions. They don’t let the negative feelings out but just make people feel worse and worse. It doesn’t do the individual any good, but because of that it is very hard to break out of. Indeed perhaps we should just feel sorry for the negative supporters. They are trapped.
For those of us who enjoy football, there is always a laugh to be had somewhere. For the trapped there is nothing but an ever increasing blackness.
New from the Arsenal History Society – all the player histories indexed. The AHS player histories tend to be more detailed than those on the official Arsenal site – especially for players from the early part of Arsenal’s history. Now we are undertaking the huge task of indexing the main articles. Players with surnames A to J have been linked to their main articles and we are continuing the task day by day.