By Bulldog Drummond
I am not a psychologist, and so I have been asking people wiser than me in terms of explaining human behaviour, what the benefit is to Arsenal, or indeed to Héctor Bellerín, for him to be booed and jeered by some Arsenal fans.
It has been hard to find an answer. There is an advantage to those who do it, of course, because it makes them feel more macho, more manly, more grown up, more like being part of the gang. But to Héctor or come to that Arsenal? Certainly it hasn’t improved his game – and as we know he has had an ankle injury which has undoubtedly not helped.
If the booing does make him decide he’s had enough and will take up the offer to return to Barcelona, I think he will be badly missed, and we’ll struggle to find another such talent – or at least another such talent willing to come to Arsenal (once the story of what happened to Héctor spreads. If the booing could stop and we could hold onto him for five or ten years, I reckon he would be a real benefit to the club.
Arsène Wenger said of the issue, “Was the fans turning on Bellerín unfair? I think yes, as he is a guy who is genuinely Arsenal and wants to do well,” Wenger said. “He is ready to play with pain and I think it is unfair, yes.”
Of course matters will get worse because once the season is over there are the under 21 championships in Poland organised by Uefa – the bunch who need no booing to encourage them to wreck players careers. This will probably be a case of Bellerínin harming himself by choosing to go, and that will be his fault. But still I don’t think we should boo him on the pitch, even if he opts for the quieter life back in Spain.
On the issue Mr Wenger said, “He has not come back to his best level since he has been injured. I think for a while he was feeling the ankle. You get bad habits and you forget that your job is, first, to defend and win challenges because you protect yourself a little bit. Then you realise you have to come back and I think now he is trying to focus again on what is important – to defend well. After, he can give us that extra bit that is important as well. I agree that, for a while, he was not the Héctor Bellerín we had seen at the start of the season.”
Speaking of the reaction to the travelling fans he added, “The players are focused and they are conscious that they want to respond. They accept completely that we were not at the level.”
Louise Taylor in the Guardian says that the chances of Mr Wenger being at Arsenal next season is “pretty slender” which will probably also encourage the Guardian reading members of the “Let’s boo Bellerín” club.
Mind you she says the same about the Middlesbrough manager but Steve Agnew is defiant when facing the media, and cites the case of Leicester two years ago who were looking forwards to relegation with only four wins in the season. They then got 19 points out of 24 and stayed up and won the league next time around. Agnew commented, “Arsenal have conceded goals, particularly away from home in recent weeks, and that gives us confidence. Any game under the lights at the Riverside is exciting. The crowd will be as vibrant as ever and it’s a really exciting fixture.”
Of course last minute revivals are not new – they seem to happen most seasons, as when, in 2013/14, Sunderland won four of their last five to avoid the drop.
Certainly the media and the bloggettas are doing their best to knock Arsenal back, with comments such as “it’s a trip to Middlesbrough which is striking terror into the hearts of Arsenal fans everywhere.” Of course it isn’t. Anyone who thinks the emotions facing a match are akin to “terror” really hasn’t experienced terror. Or lived that much.
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The constant in the last four matches is not just the defeats but the loss of three goals each time. Like I said at the top, I am not sure booing Héctor Bellerín has actually helped us very much.
I suppose in the end some fans put their support of the club first and hope it helps the team to win, while others demand that the team does well in order to earn the support. It’s just a different view, a different style, and a different approach to football.
- Middlesbrough v Arsenal; 17 April 2017 – The Match Officials. If we end up with 11 on the pitch we’ll be lucky.
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