Did last season’s protests really force the club’s hand, or did they completely fail in their objective?

By Blacksheep

I noticed a thread on Twitter the other day that interested me. One or more people were tweeting in reaction to Arsenal’s acquisition of the French forward, Alexandre Lacazette and changes to the backroom staff.

Someone named @KennyKen1972 posted:

AFC being seemingly active in this transfer window, apparent changes behind the scenes, funny what the “muggy pointless” protests achieved.

For those of you wondering what “muggy” means I can explain this has little to do with the seasonal weather but is ‘yoof speak’. It means being rude or disrespectful towards someone as in ‘are you mugging me off?’ Quite why we need to keep inventing new versions of ‘are you disrespectin me bruv’ I’m am not sure but I will consult Mr Rees-Mogg (should that be Mugg? – ed) next time I am in my club, because Jacob is sure to know.

Anyway, it got me thinking about protests and their efficacy.

As a teenager I enjoyed a good protest or three. I marched in favour banning the bomb, I danced in Stockwell park and other public places in support of Rock Against Racism, and I protested loudly in Trafalgar Square at the passing of the Public Order Act (which wanted to restrict exactly the sorts of protest I felt I was entitled to take part in).

England has a long tradition of popular protest stretching back over centuries. In 1780 rioters destroyed houses and property in the City during the Gordon Riots, others protested against the Corn Laws in the 1800s., or the treatment of Queen Caroline. At Peterloo in 1819 a demonstration (one of many) demanding the extension of the franchise (the vote) was brutally put down by the authorities. In 1887 protesters complaining about austerity and poverty were assaulted by Charles Warren’s Metropolitan Police in what was termed ‘Bloody Sunday’.

In Cable Street in 1936 local people were joined by socialists, anarchists and the wider Labour movement to oppose the march of the British Union of Fascists (led by Oswald Mosley), through a largely Jewish working-class district. And in 1968 thousands besieged the American Embassy to voice their opposition to the war in Vietnam.

So those brave men (and women – although I think I only saw men) who marched proudly around the perimeter of the Emirates Stadium displaying their ‘Wenger Out/No new contract’ banners in the second half of last season are part of a long tradition of peaceful protest for the Common Good.

The question remains though, whatever you think of them, were their efforts effective? Is @KennyKen1972 right in suggesting that the protest (which he says he was involved at every stage) instrumental in forcing Arsene’s (or Arsenal’s) hand in forking out a record sum for our new signing?

Let us look at the facts as we know them.

Over the last five seasons we have bought quite a few players. Tony and Andrew would have better data to hand than myself but I think the highlights are as follows:

2012/13 Ooo Santi Cazorla (£16m), Lucas Podolski (£13m), Oli Girooooooouuud (£10m), Nacho Monreal (£8.5m)

2013/14 Mesut Özil (£40m), Yaya Sanogo (free), Matthieu Flamini (free)  and Kim Kallström (injured)

2014/15 Alexis (£36m), Calum Chambers (£17m), Danny Welbeck (£17m), Gabriel (£13m), David OoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooospiiiinA! (£3.4m)

Now it may be my fading memory but I can’t recall the protests in 2012 or 2013, there were one or two last year but nothing sustained. So Arsenal FC shelled out considerable amounts of money on some top players (ok, Sanogo excluded) without KennyKen and his chums forcing them to do so.

But cause and effect are notoriously difficult things to measure (unless someone points a gun at your head and blows your brains out – then I think we can be fairly clear what the cause of your demise would be).

And the protests were about sacking the manager or at least not renewing his contract. When I marched with CND we wanted Britain to sign up to a process of unilateral nuclear disarmament. We still have a nuclear deterrent; we failed in our protest, or we failed to convince anyone. The Public Order Act remains on the statute; we failed there as well. The Countryside Alliance, despite huge numbers, failed to allow the ritual dismemberment of foxes by trained packs of dogs supported by over privileged tw*ts in pink to continue. Millions marched in protest but the war in Iraq carried on with fatal consequences for so many, then, now and in the future.

The vote wasn’t won in 1819 despite the deaths in St Peter’s Square, Manchester. It was only ‘won’ in 1918 when universal suffrage was legislated into being at the end of the First World War. That had little to do with protest and everything to do with events elsewhere (the war and revolutions in Russia and Germany).

Most victories that stem from protest come as a result of a combination of events, action and pressure. Apartheid collapsed because of the pressure applied within and outside South Africa; I still struggle to buy SA produce even though I know it’s now fine to do so, it had become so engrained in my psyche. Now I routinely boycott all Israeli goods; not because I am an anti-Semite, but because I object to the way the Israeli state occupies the West Bank.

I suspect the board, Wenger, Gazidis et al (who is this Al bloke? – ed) did hear the protests and (as Gazidis pretty much admitted) it upset them. No one wants the fans to be upset because that usually means the team aren’t doing very well.

But the evidence rather suggests that we were pursuing changes anyway. Arsenal are always looking to recruit and Lacerzette’s signing probably has more to do with team strategy, the potential loss of our highest scorer, and missing out on Champions League football than it does on the sterling efforts of comrade Ken and his merry band of banner waivers.

But, as I told him, he could be right, it could have them wot done it. Only Arsene knows after all.

In case you missed it…

That was one of the most thoughtful and well written football articles that I have read in months. Scary that it came from a Gooner, but credit where it’s due – nice work.

And Also

Untold Social

Why you should pause before you pay that parking fine

26 Replies to “Did last season’s protests really force the club’s hand, or did they completely fail in their objective?”

  1. Sorry OT
    Amazing how the slow, sub standard failure of a striker Giroud has suddenly been morphed by the media into such a desirable great buy now Everton are linked with him.

  2. Arsenal signed Mustafi and Perez last season because I had written in the comment section here that Arsenal would need reinforcement both in the defence and in the attack.

    Of course I’m kiddin’. Arsene didn’t do that because I wanted him to sign a new central defender and a new striker. He did it because he had made a deep analysis before making a final call.

    If he had listened me, he would have neither signed Özil – not because I hadn’t rated him while he was at Real but because I had never thought we could get him! – nor tried to sign Suarez (because of the Evra incident). No. He would have spent big money to sign Marouane Fellaini and, if there was any money left, a pacy striker like Demba Ba or Papiss Cisse in the summer 2013.

  3. The first time that the ‘time for change’ protest was brought into the stadium (in a formal way) two seasons ago it was shown up to be very much a minority view and was loudly booed. The following week Stan Kroenke bought more shares even though his already dominant position did not require it.
    Protests do work – but often in the opposite way that is intended.
    Putting your cards on the table and expecting to win the hand can backfire. Just ask Teresa May.

  4. What’s the word I’m searching for ?

    Muggy ?

    Not quite but sounds like it a bit …..

    Ah yes … SMUG

  5. If anyone thinks waving banners in the stadium, flying planes over it, or marching outside it, makes the slightest difference to Arsenals or Arsene Wenger’s transfer policy, they are seriously deluding themselves.

    In fact, it’s almost as delusional as me believing that anything I ever say on here actually changes anyone’s opinion.

    Arsenal/Wenger always said that once the difficult period of austerity was past they would spend more money. That is exactly what they have done.

    No, we still haven’t got the bottomless pockets of Man Utd, Man City or Chelsea but we do have some cash on the hip, so to speak. But we still have to take care.

    We still cant just speculate on a £70Million player then shrug our shoulders when it all goes wrong.

    We still cant afford to spend ‘what ever it takes’.

    We still cant just buy at the first price quoted. We still have to negotiate.

    These are all things you have to take in to account when you have a budget.

    If people think we can now operate in a manner such as those 3 then they are going to be seriously disappointed.

    So I say again, if people really believe that screaming abuse at the players, the manager and the board makes the slightest difference to club policy then they really need a reality check.

  6. They can’t seriously believe that they are the reason that Arsenal purchased Lacezette? No, I’m certain the people that organised those protests couldn’t be so utterly out of touch with reality. I reckon they know the protests had absolutely shit-all effect, but they are trying to avoid the embarrassment by making out that if Arsenal with the PL this season, it was all down to their efforts. I’m specifically talking about the people that organised them, here, not the brain-dead morons that follow them; they’ll believe literally anything if you say it angrily enough.

  7. The very fact that Wenger signed a 2 year extension, shows beyond doubt, what insignificant effect these protests have.

    Before he had signed a new contract, I understand that these people could have easily deluded themselves into thinking they would have an impact, but now that’s all over (and we know Wenger always sees out his contracts), there’s still a large group of them that complain and moan about literally everything going on at Arsenal.

    They know all the negativity has a hugely detrimental impact on the team, but originally they would say they were doing it to improve the club, by forcing us to get a different manager. As is apparent, that is not going to happen for at least another 2 years, so I wonder what the excuses for their interminable moaning and protests will be, this time around?

    Why do we have to get lumped in with these dickheads? (That’s rhetorical; we all know that they are just very easily fooled and manipulated)

  8. Luckily the manager takes zero notice of the banners or demos (no one does apart from the media) whilst he also knows the sport media is run by, and full of failures.
    Plenty of successful players think they’re manager material but how many of them have succeeded anywhere (especially in the PL), and the guys that write columns in the media are probably the most unsuited of all to manage a modern team.
    But I do think the Manager has lost patients with a few players who just haven’t taken the chances they’ve been given.
    All PL players are talented to a level that supporters could never achieve, and all our players have the talent to be top class, but talent alone isn’t enough.
    Too many of our players have let the manager down by not making the ‘step up’ that he’s offered them.
    I do think he’s had enough with a few players and that will be changed in the next couple of seasons.

  9. Sometimes makes me wonder are they really Arsenal fans?
    Even if they are it seems there only agenda is for Wenger to fail, and they don’t give a damm about Arsenal.
    Hope Arsenal has great season ahead. COYG

  10. I don’t doubt that the people paying for aeroplanes flying banners do want Arsene Wenger to leave. Some want him out because they feel a personal antipathy toward our manager, however, I would suggest most want him out because they don’t see him bringing Arsenal a title or a CL trophy. Did their protests have an affect? Yes, as we are discussing their protests. Obviously, Arsene was not fired so in that sense the protests failed, however, many protests including the protests against nuclear weapons have long term affects that cannot be predicted.

  11. With due respect, I beg to differ.

    The protests AND our failing to make the TOP 4 for the first time in 20 or so years have had some effect. What we may be correct in saying is that it has had the effect of accelerating changes that have been deemed necessary and phased into future “when able” years in the Arsenal staid planning horizon.

    Which is a positive and good thing: the shock of not making TOP 4 and seeing a more sustained, even if still a minority, protest didn’t send Arsenal’s management into a tizzy or panic mode but into releasing the “hand brake” on the Club’s budget a bit more, in the 2017 off season.

    Some evidences that I’ll like to point to are:

    1. Post completion of the Ems and from 2012/13, we had tended to buy two players in the 15-20 million pds range or one marquee player in the over 40 million pds range. However, this year, we seem to be going for 3-4 players in the 40 million or more pounds range – if the blogettas and the Club’s body language on the desire for Lemar/Mahrez and Mbappe after the acquisition of Lacazzete are to be believed.

    2. It also seems that these transfers are not necessarily at the expense of more established players such as: Bellerin, The Ox, Giroud, Walcott and Sanchez. The objective, it seems, is to create intense competition for shirts in all positions and to have 2 strong squads such as are necessary for rotation in playing two matches per week.

    3. Wenger, as a person, may exude a kind fatherly mien to his team but it seems now, that Arsenal, as a Club, is keen to acquire a more hard-nosed attitude towards its subsisting contracts with players and pretty long patience with players plagued with injuries or taking too long to achieve their potential (bye-bye Sonogo and Perez; bye-bye Wlishire and Jekinson; if The Ox, Walcott and Chambers will shape up – have options ready and don’t make it seem that they are untradable!)

    The impression Blacksheep tend to convey, which I don’t agree with is that it is axiomatic and expected for leaders to have thick skins towards the critical ones among the masses that they are supposed to be leading. However, while this may be true in the political world (with justification); it isn’t in the Corporate world, where the Corporate managers tend to be obsessed with their brand image and therefore, loathe to take the goodwill of their loyal customers for granted.

    Indeed, Gazidis assured Arsenal fans that there would be proactive and positive responses to the building fans’ disaffection and, so far, it is a better proposition to argue that the Arsenal management which he leads, is delivering on the promise.

    There is no loss of face in doing so!

  12. Shakabula Gooner, so you don’t think the dramatic increase in price of all players, together with us having a fatter purse, may be why we’re spending more money this window… Interesting…

  13. Andy Mack

    “Too many of our players have let the manager down by not making the ‘step up’ that he’s offered them.”

    You could be right, but I for one have massive sympathy with Wenger, and all managers with this. I can be a very fine balance between keep or sell.

    Some examples.

    1) Ramsey

    A Few seasons ago I thought he’d lost it following his injury. Personally I would of let him go. I don’t think I ever said that on here. I know for a fact I didn’t start shouting the odds about what a fool Wenger was.

    And what do you know, the next season was his best in an Arsenal shirt. What do I know?

    But he hasn’t reached that level again. Can he? Well he has certainly shown signs.

    Is he finally going to make that step up to a consistently World class player?

    I certainly don’t know. Would I change him? Would I persevere?

    I’m glad it’s not my decision but I trust Wenger, so lets see.

    Is he one of those you speak of Andy? What would you do with him?

    2) Walcott

    Similar story. Last year summed him up. For the first few months he looked World class. For the last few months he couldn’t get near the team. Which Walcott will we get this year? Would I sell? Would I keep him?

    Yet again I’m glad it’s not my decision.

    Same questions again Andy?

    3) The OX

    One minute he looks like the World Class player we all hoped he would be. The next he’s more like the invisible man.

    Same again Andy ?

    They are just 3 enigmas that I would think split Arsenal fans straight down the middle, and I can see the arguments for both sides.

    Personally I would keep all 3, because if they all stay injury free, a contributory factor in all 3 of their up and down form I have no doubt, then I believe we do indeed have 3 World Class players. But as I say, I would understand if some had lost patience, especially with Theo and the Ox.

  14. Interesting read.
    I am sure the club consider the views of the support base as a whole, but I doubt if they would in any way be influenced by the extremists within the support base, if support is the right word for these people.
    That’s not to say things shouldnt be learned from some of the more disappointing moments of last season. I am sure Wenger, Gazidis and others had a candid seasons review behind closed doors and plotted their way forward. We may be seeing the results of this, two early signings of players, and always a good idea to add new expertise behind the scenes with new ideas, some of wengers backroom staff have been with the club a long time, doesnt make them obsolete but I am sure someone like Jens will have fresh ideas.
    But, surely one of the main learning points of last season, the club may be too dependent on its remarkable manager, who is not getting any younger, and has two years left on his current deal. I am sure we have and will continue to see changes to prepare us better for the time Wenger leaves, and hopefully, without some of the disruption seen last season with us, or in the last few years with Utd

  15. These points you noted are not evidences because:
    1. Arsene has always maintained that once the financial shackles of Ems funding were off, the team will compete for players with high prices. Moreover, there’s been an overall increase in the price of players.
    2. The team spent over 90m last season which is consistent with increased outlay on players as noted in the article.
    3. Allowing players to leave this year is nothing new, it happened with a couple of others in the past who simply couldn’t make the cut. It’s not as if anything chalked with the manager’s fatherly approach…

  16. Nitram, the answer to ‘who will go and who will stay but become more peripheral unless they improve notably’ is one I can’t answer (only the manager can). But yes they are certainly some of the players, along with Coquelin and a few others. Players that when they play well, they can change a game (in Coquelins case, without being spectacular) but when they play poorly… etc

  17. Andy Mack

    But who has let the manager down in your opinion?

    And who would YOU sell?

  18. Andy Mack @ 1:56pm

    The prices had been going up for awhile now. And, until in this window, our response had been conservative bargain hunting. However, compare Wenger’s comment on ManU’s acquisition of Martial and Pogba in seasons past, with his full-blooded pursuit of Mbappe, an 18year old, this season.With Wenger’s astuteness, I trust that he is a special talent and as a good Arsenal fan, I hope that he gets the player. When he does, it will be the best testimony of how very much the spending hand brake was eased in this transfer window, in comparison with other windows even after the Ems debts eased up in 2012-14.

  19. Nice thought provoking article . Some varied and interesting comments too.
    I for one don’t believe that AW personally is too bothered by noises made by unqualified critics .
    I do agree that the club itself would like to imagine itself as to be seen doing the ‘right’ thing .
    I again believe that most of the noise makers are NOT Arsenal fans , rather fans of a(nearby?)club or fans of our direct competitors .
    Anything Arsenal , more so if it is in negative light , garners more attention and ‘hits’.
    What I would like tom see is to have the real fans stand up and be counted . To cheer and sing your heart out for each and every player in each and every game . No matter the result .

    So how about it ? Anyone with me ?

  20. Teacher : Give me an example of any business failure due to careless management?

    Johnny : A prostitute getting pregnant ?

    Teacher : Get out of my class !

    Was Johnny wrong ?

  21. The world’s shortest joke ?

    Doctor : How is your headache ?

    Patient: She is fine .

  22. Nitram, There’s a lot of players need a good talking to but as for selling any, I don’t see them in training so I’m not in a position to decide who stays and who goes.

    Shakabula Gooner, The prices have been increasing but this present market is far beyond the natural increase that was expected. Even with the vast increase of TV money, the prices have jumped well above what was expected.
    Martial is a decent player but there’s no way he was worth what ManU paid for him in that window, although he is now.
    As for Mbappe, we may find out how much truth is behind the media stories but I doubt it. He’s certainly a talented youngster but only time will tell if he’s as talented as the media price suggests.
    As for AW spending money, clearly this season the club is in a better position financially than it’s ever been in before (although still way behind the top clubs).
    We’ve always known that our budget would increase year on year as soon as we’d ‘broken the back’ of the main stadium debt, together with the improving commercial income and increased TV money we now have more to spend than ever before, so between that and the market I still don’t believe the demos have had any affect whatsoever on the club.
    It’s just a natural progression.
    AW spent a lot in his first few seasons with us because the money was available and the players to improve the team were available, between then and now either one or the other of those 2 were missing every transfer window (in the managers opinion and he’s the one that knows).

  23. Andy Mack

    Sorry to push you on this but you made a statement that “Too many of our players have let the manager down” and I’m not sure what you mean by that, or indeed who you mean.

    It’s irrelevant what is happening in training because you have made this ‘accusation’ on what you have seen on the pitch.

    I really enjoy your posts and agree with most of what you have to say, but I’m sorry I find it annoying when people make accusations about players as you did without being prepared to say exactly who you are accusing, and why you are accusing them.

    I for one cant think of a single player I would point the finger at and say “you let Wenger down”

    Yes, players had bad games, even bad spells, but that is normal for any player, especially as often that would of been related to injury, but that doesn’t mean they ‘Let Wenger down’ because that implies a lack of ‘application’, or ‘professionalism’, something along those lines, and I’m sorry but I just didn’t see that from anyone.

    You’ve made a statement. I’m just asking you to say who exactly you think let Wenger down and how?

  24. Thanks Mandy Dodd. You write a lot of sense.
    Wenger and Gazidis are both very, very intelligent men. And as intelligent men they listen to all opinions. They listen to fans who think Almunia was a great goalie and they listen to “fans” who said we don’t need a striker and they listen to the comments made by the distasteful Wenger-out Brigade. After listening to all opinions, they also consult their own inner intellect, and lastly come up with a solution.

    I don’t like the Wenger-out Brigade because of their disruptive approach. I however don’t dismiss everything they say. I am a big admirer of Wenger but I don’t think he lacks weaknesses. I believe we all have weaknesses. When the Wenger-out Brigade complain that we tend to frequently lose or draw the first match of the season, I think they have a valid point. And I think the fact we tend not to win the first game of the season on too many occassions seems to highlight a possible weakness in our preparations for the start of the season. (The excuse of our players being on international duty is just an excuse because Chelsea, Man Utd, Everton, Spurs and Man City also have international players).

  25. Nitram, I don’t think it’s right to name names and start some kind of bitch-fest about players.
    There’s only a couple of them that had a few games where they didn’t look like they put the effort in, and I’m sure the club stats will show this. The manager will deal with this as he see fit. However the ‘let down’ is more about players not achieving what they could.

    All the defenders (Inc DMs and GKs) seem to have lost concentration far too often, which resulted in goals against us. All of them are now experienced enough to know they need to be ‘on the ball’ mentally for the full 90+ minutes and particularly at certain times in a game.
    We’ve enough experienced players that should have taken a bit more control when we had our ‘blip’ (they shouldn’t have allowed those score-lines against Bayern).
    The change to 3 CBs was done purely as a mental exercise and didn’t really make a difference compared to earlier in the season, but it was done to give players something new to work on, rather than let their thoughts fester on the failures.
    Well the experience members of the team shouldn’t have needed such a ploy.

    MFs who lost track of their positions on the field without checking they were covered by others, and whose eye for a pass seemed to desert them.

    Attacking players that are especially good at one or two particular things didn’t do those things (or didn’t do them enough), even if they strengthened other parts of their game.

    If this squad had played to their potential then we’d have been fighting for the top, but in the end we failed to get top 4. Far too many of them were nowhere near the level we’ve seen them at previously.

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