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Arsenal – Everybody has an opinion!
After we drew at Tottenham, the following evening I happened to find myself at a dinner that had drawn a wide variety of people. Somebody, whom I later discovered was a Spurs fan, asked whether anybody had seen the match the evening before. A couple of people said no, but they had seen the score and read match reports, others said no and what was the result, others said they didn’t have any interest in football etc. There were a widespread number of comments covering most positions.
I have learned to stay quiet at times like this and see whether I need to defend a fellow Gooner besieged by opponents or whether I can launch a final attack on some outrageous comments made by, generally, a Spurs fan(s). Surprisingly, I managed to stay quiet during the whole of the following discussion.
The thing that really astonished me – I have got used to unbelievable statements by Spurs fans – was that everybody, and I include the non-football liking people in this statement, had an opinion about us. To listen to somebody whom five minutes earlier was admitting he was a self-confessed, card-carrying football hater, suddenly start to tell the assembled crowd what was wrong with Arsenal Football Club was a thing to behold. This spawned a plethora of comments about Arsène Wenger, foreign players, mental strength, pretty football and just about everything else as to why our club was at the root cause of all that was bad in the game today. But at some point during the discussion, the Spurs fan excluded, practically everybody admitted that we played great football and if they noticed AFC on the TV, they would watch the game.
People love the way we play football.
This started me thinking why we have become the club everybody loves to criticise.
Historically Arsenal has always been a kind of neutrals club. They have always been associated with the more middle class of our society and it is not unusual to find yourself speaking to an older person whose only knowledge of football is Arsenal. This gets passed down the generations. Grandfather says Arsenal, grandson remembers, even if he plays rugby.
However, if you read the very excellent “Englischer Fussball: A German View of Our Beautiful Game”, you will be aware of how the English are brought up to view football. Arsenal causes a dilemma. On the one hand there is a lot of the ‘he isn’t that sort of player’, while on the other there is the ‘that is a classic Arsenal goal’. Fed by a manic media and a hysterical contingent of Arsenal fans that believe we have some divine right to win trophies, the person in the street becomes as fanatical as the most diehard supporter.
In short, we will never live up to expectations. People love the way we play and expect us to win trophies. But we are up against a mental attitude, something that sits deep within our psyche, of how the English game should be played – and we don’t play like that. And this contradiction prompts all sorts of mixed messages within the fans, football lovers, football haters, the media and everybody else who isn’t included in the list!
There is more expectation of Arsenal Football Club than any other team in the country, perhaps even the world. If it is extreme with the person on the street, it becomes intense by the time it reaches the Arsenal supporter. Is it any wonder we squabble and bicker more than any other?
To finish, I would just like to say that the Spurs fan did himself proud with such statements as, “we deserved to win”, “Champions League place is in the bag” and “Harry is the most positive manager in club football”.
We may have expectations, but at least we aren’t deluded!
History of Arsenal including the series on the failures of Herbert Chapman
Making the Arsenal – the book of Arsenal death and rebirth
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