Booing your own players and management is dumb

By Tony Attwood

Every day we get comments on Untold which criticise either one or more Arsenal players, or our manager, or the management team.

As I have said many, many times before, we will publish such commentaries, but only when backed up by some logic, stats or reasoned argument.  Just calling someone at Arsenal a name, or making an accusation, is to my mind, just plain dumb.  There are, after all, enough supporters of Tottenham H, Manchester C, Manchester U, and Chelsea to do that.  Why should people who call themselves Arsenal fans do this as well?

The answer to this question is usually given by restating the original complaint – that player x is not fit to wear the shirt, that the manager is useless, and so on.  The implication is that someone, anyone, is going to be better.

But of course we don’t really know that.  The notion that Arsenal automatically should be winning the league every few years is not based on any historical analysis, but on the history of the club under Wenger.  Put another way, it is an argument that says that Wenger today is not as good as Wenger in earlier years, so he should go.

Leaving aside the issue of how the financing of football has changed in the last ten years, there is still the question of whether criticising a player or manager or anyone else at the club, does any good.  It is hard to find any evidence that it does, but there are lots of situations in which good people have been forced out of football clubs when the crowd has turned on them.

We’ve certainly seen this in the past with Herbert Chapman becoming very vocal in his contempt for supposed Arsenal fans booing players like Jack Lambert – and it got to the stage in 1953 when members of the Arsenal Championship winning side openly said to the press that Arsenal fans were the worst in the country.

But of course it is not just Arsenal that has this problem.  I have no particular desire to talk up Gareth Bale, but stepping back from my usual prejudice, of course I admit what a superb player he is.

Although it seems supporters of his chosen club, Real Mad, don’t share my view.   He is whistled every time he gets the ball because he is supposedly “too greedy.”   He gets jeered if he ever loses possession.

Whether he is greedy or not is not really my point here.  Rather I’m more interested in whether this sort of critical activity is helpful.  When we saw it over Gervinho it certainly wasn’t.  Going back to the Graham era we saw it with the promising talent of Martin Hayes and that more or less destroyed his talent.  In fact the crowd were getting decidedly edgy about Theirry Henry during the first four or five games he played at Highbury.   It has happened through the ages.

Support from the manager is always there for such players.  Real Mad manager Carlo Ancelotti, said recently, “I do not expect anything more from him and he has done very well.” But in the end there is only one outcome: Bale will decline as a player – at least at home.

Of course sometimes players don’t help themselves – and one can certainly say this of Mauro Icardi who plays for Inter.   He made the mistake of thinking that some of Inter’s travelling support might welcome a chance to get their hands on his shirt, but when he threw it into the away crowd after the game against Sassuolo the Inter fan who got it, threw it back at him.

That might be enough of a confrontation for most players but Icardi is not one to let matters drift.  He repeatedly called the offending fans “pieces of shit”.

To attempt to redeem the situation, the manager then told the offending Icardi to go back to the away support (ably protected by Andrea Ranocchia, Juan Pablo Carrizo, Fredy Guarín, Samir Handanovic and Rodrigo Palacio) and apologise. Which he did.

The point is, banners proclaiming that the manager should leave, the booing of players, the little demos on the roundabout outside the Emirates Media Entrance that Black Scarf used to organise or condone – none of them do anything positive.

As a result of those protests nothing changed.  Arsene Wenger bought the players he was going to buy and who were willing to come to the club, he hasn’t changed his methodology, and the refs haven’t changed their approach to Arsenal.  The club has improved its results of late not because of a banner telling the manager to go, but because the number of injures has come down.

And hhe number of injuries has come down, not because of any change in training methods or because the club has relayed the pitch at Stadium Wenger, but because our players are getting better at jumping out of the way of lunging potentially leg breaking tackles.

I can’t think of any occasion in which booing one’s own players or the manager or management has ever done a club any good.  And yet people continue to do it.   Yes there are times when I think Arsenal should have moved their manager on more quickly (Knighton should have gone at least two years earlier, Bertie Mee four – to give two examples) and I really, really, really didn’t like the utterly negative approach to football that Graham used when winning the Cup Double, but I never booed the teams of Mee or Graham, not least because it would have done no good.  (Contrary to popular belief I wasn’t actually on the terraces during the Knighton era).

For the moment those who have protested and booed have gone back underground, but I suspect that it will only take one defeat or another rash of injuries for them to emerge once more.  But each protest only does one thing: it makes matters worse.

Anniversary of the date

  • 2 February 2002: Arsenal 1 Southampton 1.  Through this draw Arsenal broke the  consecutive goal scoring record, scoring in 26 consecutive games, and then went on to win every single league game.   League match 25 of the 3rd Double season.

Footnote: Through much of today the History of Arsenal web site has been down.  This appears to be due to a problem with web hosting service One and One (who don’t host Untold) and for the moment is completely beyond our control.

44 Replies to “Booing your own players and management is dumb”

  1. Sorry Tony but I have to take a different view on one of your points.

    You state that, “As a result of those protests nothing changed. Arsene Wenger bought the players he was going to buy and who were willing to come to the club……”.

    We can only speculate that Wenger bought the players he was going to buy. I actually think that there is a possibility that players who Wenger was going to buy may have actually decided not to sign. They may, in fact, have heard fetc., etc. Hence some of Wengers chosen signings may have actually decided not to subject themselves to such behaviour. In effect, the protests can actually actually change things…………………but only to the detriment of the club.

  2. Admittedly you did qualify things by saying these protests can only make things worse but I’m sure the AAA will need it spelling out in words of one syllable….

  3. Maybe not but fans have to vent their feelings and it happens at every club. However I have to say there does seem a marked improvement in the side.. more determination and it seems to have started since the stoke game. They were truly ugly scenes and not ones I would support, but anger flared and the small number of fans let it out. Maybe it struck a chord with the players that they needed to do more.. then came the southampton game were we were dreadful… so changes made and we have not conceded a premier league goal since. I think we can now push on with this new found desire and who knows.. lets just hope everyone gets behind the team for the run in.

  4. Sorry Tony, I dont agree at all. I believe that the pessure on Wenger has steadily increased through this season ;
    Protests at home games
    Jacqui Oatley interview
    Unpleasant attack at stoke train station
    Supporter in his face at St Marys

    …and furthemore I think that it was the cumultive effect of these that led to the unrecognisable Arsenal at Man City – and now the new look Arsenal that is controlling games, for the first time in years.

    Wenger has been forced to wake up – Chesney has been benched, Coquelin play in favour of his favourite son Flamini, Monreal replaces Gibbs and has been instructed to defend.

    So, whilst I am not happy at some of the attacks that have taken place, it is important for the manager and team to know that we were not happy with their efforts.

  5. Criticisms can have its effect on the one that is being criticized. This can either have bad effect or sometimes good ones. While it is true that criticisms affects the performance of a lot of players and managers, it should be noted that it will not be stopped even if people are reminded that this can kill their team’s performance.

    However I would like for Arsenal to perform similarly at Tottenheim like what they did at MCFC, then I will be able to conclude the matter of consistency.

  6. We all have the right to criticise the players club management its our God given right!! especially fee paying members of the club…especially the manager who most of us feel has too much powers to himself!

    Arsene has been a beacon of light in the dark days of the club..but he is making most of us feel that he is the one holding back the club….I don’t subscribe to booing during games by the way…but criticising ..definitely!

    None of us want to boo or criticise..we didn’t win anything for 10yrs and most fans never booed however frustrated they were..but it had to come to a head…too many things at the club were happenning again and again lessons were not being learnt…transfers..tactics..and it almost came to a head this season…

    It is so sad because we have almost all the ingredients to really challenge once again…but after 10yrs arsene has to show it not by words but by action!

  7. Actually, thanks to vastly increased, sponsorship derived, revenues Arsenal has vastly reduced the ability of other clubs to tempt players away and has slightly ‘overstocked’ in the forward line. Together with hiring more adaptable defenders and seeing some youngsters come through we have been able to cover for the injuries better and give those who do get injured a bit longer to recover.
    When the next financial statement is published and the Club again announces that it has more cash in the bank than the rest of the EPL put together they’ll still be those who won’t understand why we don’t go out and buy (Arsenal fan) Gareth Bale!

  8. We will never know but it’s a fair guess that the truly toxic atmosphere at the Emirates following the defeat by Villa at the start of the last season was a major factor why AW sanctioned the last minute signing of Mesut Osil for £42 million.

  9. Tony, yet another good write up.

    I found it interesting the other day when a caller to a phone in show pointed out how the stadium move restricted Wenger. Another caller said ‘oh no, not that old excuse again, they always go on about that and oil money. We had money’.

    This is the problem. We have a lot of very ignorant fans out there who don’t understand (or want to understand) what we have acheived or how Wenger has been handicapped. These are the same people that repeated the ‘9 years without a trophy’ nonsense.

    However, I lay the blame at the media. They have constantly picked on the club and seem to take some kind of morbid satisfaction out of slagging us off. If it wasnt the 9 years, it was the number of red cards, the fact we were ‘killing’ the English game recruiting foreigners etc.

    Then we get the George Graham back four nonsense, how injuries are wengers fault, Wenger and his coat…………….!

    The media banged on about ‘9 years without a trophy’ on an almost daily basis. Nobody had the brains to say ‘hold on a minute, didn’t they build that 60,000 stadium and redevelop Highbury?’ or ‘Since Arsenal built the stadium Man City and Chelsea invested a billion quid while Wenger was making profits every year’.

    When do you hear the media criticising Man City for cheating ‘FFP’ and getting fined for it?

    When do you hear the media praising Arsenal for trying to build their stadium and grow the club, while Cheslea and Man City spent money like water?

    You don’t. You won’t.

    Whether we like it or not, a large number of fans are not particularly bright and therefore believe everything they read or hear in the media. We have a blog that writes some of the biggest load of old rubbish you could ever read (most of which is very anti-Arsenal & not just anti-Wenger) – yet its comments and views get repeated as fact. We have a major Talk Radio show that employs a presenter whose sole aim is to troll Arsenal fans and feed them rubbish. We have ex players working as pundits who again repeat this nonsense. Alan Smith was at it Sunday, clearly fooled by the Telegraphs exclusive and a certain blogs narrative, that we spent the same on wages as Chelsea. Jeremy Wilson had to admit he guessed – so it was a made up story. Retraction? Apology? No bloody chance!

    It is all media driven. They dislike us.

    Unfortunately, there are fans out there that have either forgotten or never known what the word ‘support’ means and for whm insulting and abusing people is fun.

  10. Andrew has been good about advertising the youth games. The Youth FA Cup game against Crewe has been postponed, due to a frozen pitch. Probably needs to be played soon, as ManCity and Birmingham are already through on their ties to the next round. Not sure who the other tie involves.

  11. The comments about the adverse effect on Gervinho and Martin Hayes reminded me of the case of Jon Sammels, a very talented player and contributor to our Fairs Cup win in 1970 and our 1971 double. He was effectively driven out of the club by the destructive criticism from some supporters.

    No player is immune from this. Think of some peoples attitude to Ramsey the season before last, the criticism of Santi earlier this season, the recurring criticism of Giroud and the inclination to criticise
    anyone who has played in goal for us since Seaman left. etc etc.
    What about the idiots who swallow all the media rubbish about Ozil.

    Perhaps there are people who are deluded enough to claim credit for any success we achieve by believing that their booing has made Arsene Wenger change his ways.

  12. Sorry, off topic but tonight’s U18 cup game at BorehamWood has been postponed due to a frozen pitch.

  13. The Guardian reports that Arsenal must pay them £1 million to stop them from making up transfer stories

    The Daily Mail reports that Arsenal must pay them £137,000 to stop them from making up transfer stories

    Metro reports that Arsenal must pay them £4826.31 to stop them from making up transfer stories

    The Daily Star reports that Arsenal must buy a copy of their newspaper to stop them from making up transfer stories

    The Independent reports that Arsenal must buy them an ice cream cone to get them to stop them from making up transfer stories

    HITC reports that they will never stop making up transfer stories

    The Financial Times is reporting that the BBC have sold Phil Neville to the WWE for £19,999.98

  14. John 4.20 pm
    “I’d walk a million miles
    For one of your goals
    Jon Saaaaam-mels….!”
    Great player but, as you say, the crowd got on his back.
    He was head and shoulders above most of his contemporaries, to be quite honest, but a touch player who needed protection. He got hacked by the 1960s version of Stoke (Bremner, Leeds; & Smith, Liverpool etc) and the North Bank wanted him to be more like Peter Storey. I also remember Tom Coakley, a useful tricky winger who got booed out of the club.
    I’m ashamed to admit I was one of those…but, in my defence, I was only 18 then.

  15. Thanks 256Gunner.

    I guess Sheffield Wednesday is going to get very serious about parking the bus. They just signed Sergiu Bus from CSKA Sofia.

    Sorry, bad joke.

  16. Ukesox you are right that we will never know, but it just seems so, so unlikely that a deal like this could have happened in the last week or so, and that all the information we have about the other buying and selling that went on around this (as revealed in detail at the time on Untold) is wrong, and that the information we got about Tottenham spending weeks trying to block the sale of Ozil, making it a condition of their sale of Bale, is also wrong. For all of that information from solid sources, some of it even backed up by Mr Wenger to be quite wrong, is very unlikely.

  17. Craszy Gooner, I have said that we don’t print things that make allegations without any back up. I’m making an exception here, simply to show my point:

    You said

    especially the manager who most of us feel has too much powers to himself!

    “Most of us” you said. How on earth do you justify that? I would justify the opposite by citing the endless chanting of his name, the fact that the Black Scarf movement attracted so few to its demos, the fact that the Black Scarf paid up (not free) membership is so small, the fact that before the match on Sunday he got a cheer, chant and applause far bigger than that given to any player etc etc.

    You really do have to find some evidence for what you say.

  18. Frenchcloe – that of course is your belief as you say, but there is no evidence. Look at the issue of Coquelin – when he came back from Charlton the criticism of Wenger rose dramatically.

  19. jambug

    February 1, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    proudkev @ 3:28

    “Alan Smith was at it Sunday, clearly fooled by the Telegraphs exclusive and a certain blogs narrative, that we spent the same on wages as Chelsea. Jeremy Wilson had to admit he guessed – so it was a made up story. Retraction? Apology? No bloody chance!”

    This is what I said at the time on Sunday:

    “Why is Wenger talking to that Wanker Smith. Hardly ever has a good word to say about us.

    As far as I know our wage bill doesn’t match Chelseas (it was published on Untold recently but I cant remember) yet Wenger lets him sit there and say it is.

    I may be wrong of course. If someone could find those figures I’d be grateful.”

    Why did Wenger/his advisors let him sit there and say that, unchallenged?

    As much as I love Wenger, you know that, sometimes he’s his own worst enemy.

    As for that Wanker Smith, he MUST of known what he was saying simply wasn’t true, which begs the question, why say it?

    If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand times, we have to stop talking to the media (except for the contractual obligations) until they stop making things up.

    You mention the disgraceful way we are treated by Talkshite, but I bet you a pound to a piece of shit one of our players will give them an ‘exclusive’ the second they smell a dime.

    Theo, Jack, Aaron, Alex, this station insults you, accuses you of cheating, accuses AFC of ripping of there own fans, insults our manager on a daily basis and calls US, the fans, MUGS.


  20. As someone who was brought up in the glory days (football-wise) before the onset of a world war, I see the fickleness of many modern supporters of our great Club.
    They all fail to realise that Arsenal have no divine right to succeed in what is probably the toughest league in professional football.
    The post-war Club has always progressed in peaks and troughs. Championships, however dominantly won, have never been retained.
    It is about time that the home support in particular realised that whoever wears the shirt in a game has been selected by the manager to perform a specific task on the day. If the tactic doesn’t work it is defeatist to blame the player whose game will suffer.
    Those who claim that the purchase of a ticket gives them the right to vent their anger in any shape or
    form are so short-sighted that they contribute nothing to the team’s success.
    Since 1945 when the UK returned to peace, the number of players who have been driven from the Club by sustained abuse and hatred from certain sections of home supporters is a disgrace. It is as though a scapegoat must be found on whom criticism must be centred, regardless of his performance and regardless of the team’s overall success.
    The current comments today on Untold speak for themselves. Examples are numerous.
    Until 100% loyalty is displayed by all who claim to support Arsenal FC, the fickleness reputation of some of our followers will not change….to our shame.

  21. Jambug

    It is quite simple:

    Arsenal employ an average of (2012/2013) 537,


    Chelsea employ an average number of (2012/2013) 260.

    I have still to obtain a copy of the 2013/2014 Chelsea accounts. I would not expect any significant changes.

    For The Arsenal in 2013/2014 it was 548.

    These numbers exclude the match-day temporaries.

    Deloites’s annual reports are based on a catch-all model, reporters are not interested in the caveats! Lol!

  22. Jerry

    Thanks for that.

    Someone should take those figures and shove them down the nasty little twats throat.

    But Wenger? What’s he doing letting him sit there saying that shit?

  23. I’m guessing that we have done all our business early this window?

    Well I say early two signings with a week to spare, good stuff.

    However we still have not signed up the two that really matter ?

    Coquelin an akpom ?

    Will they stay ?

    Does Coquelin really believe that he will be the chosen one when all the other options are back?

    I hope he is because he really injects urgency in tackling that we have missed last few years!


    Don’t want him to leave but he will be last in the queues after sanago !

    He deserves better than that , surely

  24. RSCP Arsenal,
    Maybe the roles are reversed with Sanogo now? Akpom getting a few chances in the last matches to show his potential and it looks big potential!! I hope he really stays.

    Maybe sending Sanogo on loan was to see if Akpom can step it up and to help Sanogo also to improve. So maybe a win-win situation?

  25. Graham – I’ve said it before and I will say it again. The improvement in our form is almost entirely correlated to players recovering from injury. Destructive criticism may produce a short term gain (and it may not), but it is almost always counter-productive in the longer term.

    French Chloe – Utter rot. Speak for yourself – I have been happy with the team’s efforts. The only significant problem we have been facing as a club is the number of injuries (leaving aside the refereeing).

    Craszy Gunner – You’ve certainly chosen an appropriate first name – but would leave out the second if I was you. And, as Tony wrote, I am afraid you are only entitled to speak for yourself.

  26. R.S.P.C.Arsenal,

    Are you by any chance psychic or do you have access into Wenger’s head? You seem to have it all figured out with your bold predictions.

  27. Hardly surprising to find some of those commenters, who have been missing in the wake of this fine run these last few weeks, coming out in force on a thread criticising booing your own players. It IS daft to boo your own players.

  28. Just a comment Brickfields.

    Youtube recently announced that HTML 5 is the default format for media. In the last week, there have been 3 0-day vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash. I just removed all flash from 10 different web browsers tonight. It is too old, and is just getting to be too much of a hazard.

  29. hahah,

    some fans living in the fantasy land!!!…

    TV has deluded you lot. Every football related show has this theme “fans demand this””please the fans””for the fans””listen to the fans””this is what we ask from the manager”. All this has done is increase TRP and ‘deluded fantasy land living I demamd this of the club’ fans.

  30. Some of us were hoping Joel Campbell would stay, some were worried he would be sold. Why would Joel want to play for Arsenal? Why would he not? Has anybody thought about his life so far? He is only 22.

    Joel Nathaniel Campbell Samuels

    I would imagine he grew up speaking Spanish, probably knew some slang American from tourism. He is from the capital of Costa Rica, or at least that is where he first played for a team. San Jose is a city of about 290,000 people and is midway between Pacific and Caribbean, and also about midway between neighbouring countries to north and south (sort of). His first team was Deportivo Saprissa. He spent some time on loan at Puntarenas. This is a coastal city, on the Pacific side or about 100,000 people. He has played U17, U20 and adult for Costa Rica.

    Okay, after some start/stop/start/stop/… negotiations, he becomes an Arsenal player, except with no work permit, he can’t play in England.

    AW arranges a loan for him, the the city of Lorient, in Brittany, France. I don’t know, are many people there going to speak that gaelic language called Breton there? About 58,000 people live there, and the history of this costal city (on the Atlantic part of Brittany, not the English Channel side) has a history tied to the East Indies and the Caribbean. I’ve no idea if there are beaches there, or if the water is warm enough for going to the beach and swimming or what not.

    Still no work permit. AW sends him to Seville, Spain (in the south) and the Real Bettis team on loan. This should be among the oldest places he has been to so far in his life, it goes back 2200 years or so. It’s history involves the Moors (Muslims) coming north and into Spain. I think a fair chunk of science came into Europe with the Moors. Seville is quite a bit bigger city at 1,500,000. It is not on the coast, but it isn’t all that far from Gibraltar, where the Atlantic meets the Mediteranean.

    Still no work permit. AW sends him to Olympiacos at Piraeus, Greece. Third largest port city in the world, it is the port for Athens. Only 164,000 people live there. Piraeus has to be at least twice as old as Seville.

    Almost makes it into the team. One more loan. Back to Spain, Vila-real, a costal city of 51,000 on the east coast of Spain, on the Mediteranean.

    Some people want to travel after leaving school. Look at where this young man has gone! Maybe he is only interested in girls, and never noticed the culture and science. But I would have expected Lorient to be of interest from their part in the East Indies.

    Good luck in Spain Joel.

  31. To those who think by complaining and yet not doing real work to improve arsenal,:

    You are assured that your voice is not heard at all .

    It’s a fallacy that your contribution thru complains worked. Arsenal are run by private investors and they knew what’s best to protect their investment in Arsenal and their support for Wenger-san hadn’t change at all.

    They don’t have time to read your comments or complaint on the Internet.

  32. Sometimes i wonder how lucky some people are to watch arsenal play at ashburton groove and still have the luxury to boo the players…man up and get behind the boys just for 90min or so…and the (AAA’s) can complain henceforth for all we care.

  33. Anyone saying that the complaining and booing changed our style of play and pointing to the City game needs to think this, we had been to Chelsea and Liverpool and given very very few chances away, at Liverpool we nearly won and at Chelsea we lost to a penalty and a breakaway (after being assaulted for the whole match), then we went to City and didn’t concede early and were given a rare correct decision that we built on, that’s the difference not the fans booing and having a go at the manager.

  34. Booing helps the team and changes things positively……..and poking your self in the eye with a red hot poker because you can’t see, brings your eyesight back……….

    In fairness though, UA criticises the AAA’s for never providing any evidence. I think they’ve provided loads of evidence which proves how naive they are……

  35. Tony, nicely said. I think I have noticed this jumping out of the way of crushing tackles in the last 4 premiership game. Also a use of the hand to break falls.

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