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June 2021

Middlesbrough v Arsenal. Booing Héctor Bellerín probably doesn’t help very much

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.”

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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.

The problem for Arsenal mentally is that not only do a few of the away fans turn on the team and individual players, but their form (probably affected to some degree by the attitude of some of the travelling support) has meant a really poor away run.  Here are the games… (Data from
Game Date Opposition Venue Result Pos Pts
16 13.12.2016 Everton away L1-2 2 34
17 18.12.2016 Manchester City away L1-2 4 34
20 03.01.2017 Bournemouth away D3-3 4 41
21 14.01.2017 Swansea City away W4-0 3 44
24 04.02.2017 Chelsea away L1-3 3 47
27 04.03.2017 Liverpool away L1-3 5 50
29 18.03.2017 West Bromwich Albion away L1-3 5 50
32 10.04.2017 Crystal Palace away L0-3 6 54

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.

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14 comments to Middlesbrough v Arsenal. Booing Héctor Bellerín probably doesn’t help very much

  • Mandy Dodd

    Not sure if that was aimed specifically at Hector, or he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, but take your point. Agree, we will not easily replace our elite players ……rightly or wrongly, we have chosen the path of self sufficiency, others have not.
    Sadly, this toxic atmosphere will continue until there is change, or results improve…..just get the sense this is a club tearing itself apart, with nobody doing much to stop it . This is not what we went through the lean years for, the club have to either come out , conspicuously back and stick with the manager, or dispense of his service, this uncertainty , hinting, leaking, briefing, confusion on the pitch, chaos off it ,is doing nobody any good and unbecoming of this clubs history. The situation currently will not help recruit the best, and serves only to bolster those with an agenda against us, the media are lapping this up for all their worth.
    Hopefully, things can be put right, starting this evening.

  • MickHazel

    I am seeing reports that the signing of Sead Kolasinac is not definite, as reported last week by the media and Untold.
    According to current reports Inter Milan are in the mix to sign him as well and he will make a decision next week. This information apparently comes from Kolasinacs father.

  • MickHazel

    Mandy Dodd
    I agree with your comments.
    I think the club and Arsene are making a serious error of judgement by allowing the uncertainty to fester.
    The situation is like an open wound and the maggott’s are gorging themslves on the exposed flesh.
    Why the club are letting this uncertainty continue is mystifying and makes no sense, the club is being severely damaged both in terms of results on the pitch and our historical reputation for honesty and integrity.
    I am convinced that our run of poor results are directly due to the current uncertainty.
    As a staunch admirer of Arsene it pains me to say it but he is acting appallingly by not declaring his intentions. He is going to risk losing even more support from previously loyal supporters if he continues in his current manner.
    Someone at the club needs to get a grip of the situation and sort this mess out.

  • para

    If Arsenal are planning change, they certainly will not tell anyone until they have it in place.

    Arsenal has never been one of the media’s darlings lately and wont be any time soon.

  • Steve Vallins

    I totally agree with both Mick and Mandy’s view on Arsenals current situation the other problem maybe the club has approached other people to take charge of running different aspects of the club and they are under contract at the present time and can’t commit which means it will just carry on with the uncertainty
    An announcement must becoming shortly for the good of the club and its supporters

  • Leon

    Poor old Hector. He seems one of the really nice young guys who’ve come through recently, and doesn’t deserve to be barracked like that. He actually looked quite shocked at the time, but has probably got over it by now. There are reports that he’s been carrying a niggling injury for some time which would have required an operation and that Wenger isn’t keen on him going with the Spain U23 squad. Easily resolved. Operate now & he has the better part of four months to recover.

  • Josif

    Kolašinac’s father said there is also an offer from AC Milan. The Chinese owners want to make a start and getting a powerful left full-back in front of our noses for free would be some statement.

    Now, it’s time for a constructive criticism. As for Bellerin, there is a weird thing about his performances. If Bellerin is out of shape due to his injured ankle/concussion shouldn’t the manager have put some faith in his alternatives? What’s the point of much praised 25-men list if the alternatives are considered as not good enough to step up when the first-choice players are not available/100% fit/out of form?

    Mustafi, Gabriel, Debuchy…each one of them van play on the right side of the defence yet the manager prefers Bellerin who is out of shape on either side of pitch and physically unfit.

    (Of course, this constructive criticism doesn’t mean that those who boo at our own players and the manager are not idiots.)

  • Leon


  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    Le Prof MUST motivate his selected Gunners first team side to collect all points against the relegation threatened selected Middlesborough first team side this evening at the Riverside.

    Arsenal first team has been infested with unpardonable poor results in their recent outings. And this was as a result of their poor run of games which is largely due to their loss of form as consequence of their on the field injuries suffered by some regular playing Gunners at various stages during this season’s campaign.

    I am one of those Gooners who was heavy with criticism on Bellerin’s lacklustred defending and wingback offensive performerce showings for Arsenal this season. But on a second thought after reading this article posting which shed light on the ankle injury suffered by him I think by that Spurs left back’ leg breaker who injured his ankle in a PL match between Arsenal and Spurs at the Ems early this season, thus, I’ve decided to have a rethink on my heavy criticism of him and have downgraded it to light criticism. But still, he has to improved on the quality of his defending and assault for Arsenal considerably and consistently too.

    Can Arsenal afford to be waiting until Bellerin improved before they start to collect maximum points again in their matches? No! They shouldn’t. But apart of Bellerin, do they have another recognized top right back now who is fully fit physically, mentally and in top match form they can rely on and be fielding? Yes! In the interim, Paulista should fit into the bill. But one of the CBs of, Mertesacker and Holding should be sat on the bench ready to be brought on.

    My afterthought Arsenal back four for M’Borough:
    Paulista Koscielny Mustafi Monreal.

    Bellerin Holding Gibbs.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Some interesting points. Guess there is a possibility people they want to bring in are currently under contract.
    My suspicion….and fear is that they are going ahead with plans Wenger fundamentally disagrees with, personally, I don’t think a DOF is unreasonable in our circumstances, but Wenger is reportedly not a fan. so it may take time, repercussions, and ultimately, Stan to solve, but who knows.
    The board have been incredibly quiet, just hope it is for good reasons that will become clear in due course. I hope so, because it is proving very damaging, not least on the financial level which is alleged by some to be the clubs prime motivation.

  • Jojo

    The alleged “booing” of Bellerin isn’t as black and white as portrayed here or by Wenger.

    There has been much noise around including from AFC fans attending the game in that section that attempt to debunk this notion that booing was aimed at Bellerin specifically.

    Rather many claim booing was aimed at the club and Wenger (if true, not surprising he wouldn’t acknowledge that and rather paint it as the fans specifically attacking a player) specifically while Bellerin was walking over to that section.

    I’m not saying which is correct, but that context and basic research would have added a lot to this article.

    Alleged booing of Bellerin aside, he desperately needs competition or dropping, and for some time now. Personally I’ve always thought he was defensively lacking with his pace and attacking exploits helping to cover that shortfall, initially.

    Also I find this statement by Wenger troubling:

    “You get bad habits and you forget that your job is, first, to defend and win challenges because you protect yourself a little bit.”

    Injury or not, Bellerin’s drop off in defending has been ongoing for several months now, if he’s “forgotten” what his main job is (for months) Is it not the manager’s job to remind him and make him remember it through instruction?

    I mean we’ve conceded a lot (especially recently) and Bellerin has been found wanting and culpable for quite some bit of it…

    If not via mandating him to “remember” his main job, why not drop him then and bring in Gabriel who may be more solid’s not like on current form we stand to lose much attacking output because Bellerin hasn’t been playing that well attacking-wise either for some time..

    Any serious thoughts or answers on these questions as it pertains to Wenger’s management of the Bellerin situation?

  • Alex

    If Hector leaves because of that, then Özil should have been gone since a while after all the insults he weekly endures from the fans, pundits and media…

  • Goonermkey

    Booing, for whatever reason, has a negative effect. Sadly, We have some “supporters” who aren’t bright enough to work that out. Having said that, they appear to be far more interested in having their own egos massaging than the well being of the players and the club. It takes all sorts………

  • omgarsenal

    Jojo….I believe that a small % of so-called AFC supporters are booing players but, because of what is loosely described as a toxic atmosphere at the Emirates (as this does not happen when we are away-away fans have more class and commitment)there is a growing discontent at AFC’s poor form and lack of desire to win against all odds. I can understand this completely but we are supporters and by definition there to ONLY SUPPORT our club, not to judge it or the manager or the players. We can judge them all at the end of this season.

    Wenger , not being a fluent English-speaker, probably means that Bellerin is more focused on his avoidance of injury and fear of making mistakes (partly due to the boo boys)and thus is distracted from his primary role of defending. As is often common with returning injured, they try too hard and try to return to former heights, without realizing that it is a slower process and one where, putting one foot ahead of the other is usually the best tactics….NOT rushing into it. Bellerin is young and eager to prove himself and that is what Wenger means, when he says: “You get bad habits and you forget that your job is, first, to defend and win challenges because you protect yourself a little bit.”

    I read his comments in French and they were far more understandable and coherent. Wenger clearly understands Bellerin’s mindset and as always is showing patience and support for him rather than pressuring him to perform. He apparently has dropped him for the Middlesborough game so maybe the message is being given. Unless you’ve actually managed professional footballers, it is unwise to jump to conclusions or demand harsh responses at this point.