Let’s sack all the managers (and close the grounds too)

By Tony Attwood

This article is a muddle.  It is a muddle because I am muddled to the point of despair.  We are in a time when it is seemingly normal to boo your own club’s manager, and to engage in anti-Semitic, racist and homophobic chants.  Two different issues, but as I try (with I admit limited success) to point out below, they are linked.  Linked because managers are trying to avoid criticising the supporters of their own club.

So, to the muddle…

If anyone expected the Chelsea fans to take to Benítez then they are obviously not following the situation closely.  If anyone expected the Tottenham/West Ham game to be peaceful, that person is not really watching how football is developing.  And if anyone expects peace and light in Scottish football, well…

To boo the new manager before his first game though, is unusual.  In fact I can’t remember the last time it happened, and doubt that is has happened ever at Arsenal – at least since we moved to north London.

Chelsea supporters didn’t muck about.  It was “Fuck off Benítez, you’re not wanted here”  from before the game started.   The manager claimed that he did not understand what the Chelsea fans were saying, and when he had it explained to him, said he would win them over.

In relation to the banners, Benítez added said, “How many people do you need to write a banner? Just one. Then two to hold it up. If we start winning games, the fans will come on board and they will see I’m trying to do my best. Some of the fans will realise that is not the way to support their team. They’ll know they have a professional manager in charge, someone who wants to win games, and the fans are the same. So we will win together.”

Meanwhile at Celtic Inverness won (reminding us all once again of the Sun’s best headline “Super Cally go Balistic Celtic are Atrocious) and Neil Lennon threatened to resign – not because of his team’s poor display but because of the fans’ reaction.  And this just a little while after beating Barcelona.

The manager was forthright: “Look, if they are not happy with what I am doing and they want me to go, I will. If the fans make it clear that they are not happy and they want me out then that’s OK, I will do the honourable thing.

“I can’t repeat it [what fans said] because it is public arena but there were a lot of expletives and heavy criticism, which I didn’t think was justified and [there was] a lack of patience with the team as well…. But they pay their money, they are allowed to say what they like.

OK – so Lennon will go, Benitez won’t.  Right that’s clear.

Part of the issue for Celtic was that the Green Brigade boycotted the match in response to oppressive police tactics recently.  The ground was half full.  Those in the ground applauded those who were not.

Meanwhile the racism and anti-Semitism issues continue.  Chelsea and the FA refuse to take proper action over the Clattenberg affair.  Untold, and our companion site Referees Decisions, criticise referees and their controlling body continuously, and through our constant review of referees we do pick up inside knowledge on the refs, and I can say, I believe on behalf of everyone working on both sites, that this knowledge made us certain before any investigation that there is no way that Clattenberg could have been guilty.  On this you might believe me or not, and I can’t reveal what I know, so that doesn’t get us far, but our view here is that Clattenberg was utterly innocent as the findings showed.

But it looks like nothing will happen about Chelsea’s complaint, which is frustrating if, as I believe, it was created out of nothing as a ploy to discredit a ref.

Elsewhere, and as I pointed out the other day the action of the  Society of Black Lawyers meant that the Arsenal/Tottenham game was played in the most poisonous atmosphere I can remember.  I even found myself wondering if it is worse for a group of Tottenham supporters to call all Arsenal fans “paedophiles” or for some Tottenham fans to call themselves a Yid Army?  Is it worse for Arsenal fans to call Tottenham fans Yids of for the Tottenham fans to call us Paedophiles?   I guess the Yid business is worse, but being called a Paedophile simply because one supports Arsenal takes us to a new low.

As far as I know Tottenham was not founded by the Jewish community, and has a tiny minority of fans who are Jewish – as does Arsenal.  But in Rome there was the chant of  “Juden Tottenham”.  And Uefa has done… well I will write it out in the next five lines.






So some (I stress some) WHU supporters thought it was a good idea to continue the attack, given Uefa’s lack of action.  After all when in Upton Park do as the Romans do.    “Can we stab you every week?” was their response. Plus “Adolf Hitler, he’s coming for you,”
Obviously I wasn’t there, but reports suggest that quite a few WHU supporters were involved.  Although WHU, like Tottenham and like Arsenal, have Jewish support.   But Sam Allardyce claimed not to have heard anything saying “They shouldn’t be doing things like that, but it’s the least of my worries. What do you want me to say? If I didn’t hear it, I can’t condemn it.”
What can one say?

The fourth official at Tottenham’s ground was Mark Clattenburg.   His report will be interesting – as will the continued refusal by anyone to take on Chelsea’s action in reporting Clettenburg for racism.

Tottenham’s manager said, “You know the animosity between Tottenham and West Ham. As long as it doesn’t reach stupidity, it’s a great rivalry.”

As long as it doesn’t reach stupidity????
So what do we do?   Sack managers because they are not taking us top of the league?   Chant racial and anti-Semitic chants?  Have managers resign because their team can’t win every game? Leave it to the FA, the League and Uefa to do nothing and thus think everything is ok?  Allow accusations of racism to be made and then find there is no basis for them and do nothing?  Allow racists to take over as away supporters?
The strange thing with this total, hopeless mess is that while Celtic fans stayed away because of heavy-handed police action, for the first time in years at the Arsenal/Tottenham game I felt unsafe and wanted more police around.  There was one copper in Arsenal police station 20 minutes before kick off.
Of course I don’t want massive police movements all around the ground as we used to have.  It was shown then (and I am not sure it is changed now) that the police can’t control their own men when under challenge from a mob.  But I do know that I don’t want racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic chanting, nor do I want managers turning a deaf ear to what the supporters of their team do.
Maybe we should sack all the managers, close all the grounds, and just give up.  Or maybe those of us who are really fed up with the whole thing should take a stand against racism etc etc and the bodies such as the FA, and Uefa who allow clubs to continue to participate in football when their supporters engage in this behaviour.


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17 Replies to “Let’s sack all the managers (and close the grounds too)”

  1. Taking a stand is the right thing to do, but how?

    Clubs don’t care about fans – they have not cared for quite some time. Gate receipts and shirt sales make up the small part of the revenues now, and new TV deals and sponsorships over the next 2-3 years will make fans even less relevant.

    Football is a just a giant gravy train for the rich – with the FA and UEFA (plus managers and players) snorting all they can out of the trough whilst it lasts. Its a gold rush, and no one is stopping to consider anything other than how much they can get.

    Sad but unfortunately true. Some people have quite noticed it yet – but football is dead. I hope soon it is reborn into the sport it should be.

  2. what a great article. all this ‘paedophile’ business regarding wenger… the french call us ‘rost bifs’ I know which is worse. if ferguson wanted to do anything about it (not the rost bif) he could

  3. Mr Attwood ..please dont become despondent….we are living again through a dark period when the whole world appears to be imploding….football as always plays out peoples frustrations and enhanced prejudices in a public place. Remember the 70,s with football riots in and out of the grounds. Remember that Government blamed football for societies ills….it was an easy target particularly for readers of the Daily Mail! UEFA the FA and other governing bodies are not capable of dealing with racism…its not their
    job. As unemployment and indebtedness increases regretfully people just seek ways of apportioning blame for their own problems.

  4. The FA seem to have their hands tied with the Chelski affair. If a player thinks he heard racial abuse he should report it. If it then turns out that he just misheard something then the FA can’t punish him since it gives the impression that you could be punished for reporting discrimination if you can’t conclusively prove an accusation. It would be an incentive to ignore discrimination, which would be wrong.
    No matter what the fans think about Chelski and their accusations, we can’t prove that they maliciously reported Clattenburg to the FA just to discredit him. Although we all think they did!

  5. Tony,
    Yet again, another sobering article about the decline in standards in football supporting.
    As someone in the twilight years of life, I can look back to the days when following a football club was a very self-centred affair and attending a game meant cheering your team and little else.
    Then came WW2 and the need was created to hate your enemies (especially if you were in the Armed Services).
    I may be wrong but when peace was restored, there was no-one left to hate…….except, for active football supporters, all clubs other than your own, and particularly those rivals near at hand, in daily life.
    It is noticeable at the end of matches, regardless of the result, how the players genuinely shake hands and hug each other…..while rival supporters continue to rave and shout abuse from the sidelines.
    Although WW2 ended nearly 70 years ago, it seems that many of us, parents then and grandparents and greatgrandparents now, have, maybe unwittingly, instilled in our children a replacement for those we had to hate. It may take another generation or two to rid our national game of extremes of hatred but it must come, or we go headlong down into the Armageddon of sport from which there is no return.

  6. I appreciate this website for taking a stand and saying racism is wrong! Keep it up. I appreciate that you are taking a stand against the football executives that are inconsistent, often weak, compromised and not taking steps to make football better. I appreciate that you are a voice of reason about manager criticism. While managers are at times shacked justifiable this is rare. But it is easier to shack the manager than it is to shack the players who under-preform!

  7. “Chelsea supporters didn’t muck about. It was “Fuck off Benítez, you’re not wanted here” from before the game started. The manager claimed that he did not understand what the Chelsea fans were saying, and when he had it explained to him, said he would win them over.”

    So what’s the problem then? Benitez isn’t stupid, he must know that his apointment would be controversial, and didn’t have some silly hurt emotional reaction to it. He manned up and said he’ll win them over, and didn’t cry about it. And being well paid will surely soothe any hurt little feelings, hence I’m sure he had zero problem with jumping into this expected fire. It’s truly not the end of the world if football fans are disgusted with something and are vocing their opinion about it, life goes on.

    Racism etc is a whole different argument and personally I think due to your admission that you “muddled” it together with the issue of fans being angry with their club management, perhaps means you know that these two issues shouldn’t be muddled together, and issues about racism/prejudice deserve not to me muddled with far more trivial issues such as Chelsea and (some) AFC fans chanting against their managers over the weekend.

  8. I take my hat off to you Mr Attwood for trying to highlight these issues.
    @Nicky I think maybe you’re taking on more responsibility than is needed if any, my Grandfather ended up a very meek and mild character, although we all knew of his troubled mind, He lost too many Brothers and friends during both the Great war and the second World War the later he served in and was injured and in a coma for a month, he was lucky, so in return I’m lucky to be here.
    I thank you all for the service you provided to us all when faced with the most extreme form of discrimination (Fascism/totalitarianism).
    People need reminding of the most extreme forms of discrimination and how it all starts through isolating and targeting certain groups within society. Even those who feel the need to start their own groups within society (examples the black police association, the royal black institution, The United Kingdom Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists) which all have their own reasons for being but have unwittingly segregated themselves and added to the problem, which is a shame as all have something to offer society although all can be damaging just by being.
    What this all highlights are closed minds, unwilling to open to new ideas and cultures. There is an unspoken ideology within the UK, an accidently experiment if you will, which given time and more tolerance will show the world that peoples of different cultures and races can co-exist and even excel. What we have here in the UK is something to be very proud of and why some people spread their hatred is a sign of their fear of something different.

  9. Seriously, these two issues shouldn’t have been ‘deliberately’ muddled… While curiously no reference was made to the AFC away fans chanting “you don’t know what you’re doing” to Wenger, the undertones of the muddling of these two issues, by highlighting the Chelsea/Celtic fans chanting against their manager, with issues about racism and religious prejudice, are pretty clear in my opinion.

    Basically, those AFC fans chanting against Wenger are the same side of the token as bigoted football fans…There is no relevance in discussing booing managers and racism. Sorry but that’s how I see it, poor form.

  10. Adam,
    You make a very valid point that has hitherto escaped me.
    The need felt by some ethic groups to form ad hoc bodies (often within existing associations) only emphasises their segregation……the very situation they should be fighting against.

  11. I think we are all appalled at what happened to the Spurs fans in Italy – and equally appalled at the intolerance of various self appointed thugs who delight in tormenting and abusing the fans from other teams.

    Lets hope the values of decency and respect shown by the majority of fans from all teams will win through – and quickly.

  12. A very good and timely article Tony .I ‘ve never understood the need of people to pigeon-hole themselves into this and that and trying to pretend to be superior to others ,but ending up looking and sounding like morons .
    Do what you love doing without hurting others or stepping on others ‘toes just because you can.
    Just comtemplate on this .
    “My feeling is that there is nothing in life but refraining from hurting others , and comforting those that are sad .” -Olive Schreiner, South African author and feminist(1855 – 1920 ).

  13. Great article Tony.
    I think when a player from one team says in public that he is disappointed how small group of fans (of club he playbs for) behave and asking club and FA to FIND AND PUNISH THEM, there should be no excuses why nothing will be done.

    For those who don’t follow Yossi Benayoun on twitter here is his tweets from Monday Nov 26th:
    “I have a great relationship with West Ham United supporters, from my first spell at the club and again now I am back on loan here”
    “this is why I was very disappointed to hear some of the
    songs yesterday and it was embarrasing..”
    “But we need to remember that it was made by a minority group of fans and I’m sure the fa together with west ham unted football club will do everything to find and punish them”

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