by Tony Attwood
It’s fairly clear that the concept of asking the question of “why and how is it helpful to the club for fans to join with the media and the anti-Arsenal gangs in criticising the manager or the players?” is one that does not take the debate any further forward, most of the time.
A number of people, both on Untold and people with whom I have tried to engage in a discussion, consider that the answer is to point out that Arsenal are failing to win things and therefore the manager and players deserve criticism. Which doesn’t actually answer the question: how is this criticism helpful?
I think one of the most telling responses I have had to this is, “So you think they ought to be praised for a defeat like yesterday?” And my answer obviously is “no”. Just like when someone says, “So I suppose you blame the refs for everything,” the answer is equally no. But I am still left asking, “In what way is it helpful to the success of the club, for people who define themselves as Arsenal fans to pour scorn on the players and the management?”
They’ve been doing it for years and it hasn’t moved the manager or the board, so what’s the point?
And there is of course a secondary question: “what counts as success?” I’ve watched four Wembley finals in five years as an Arsenal supporter, and of those four finals I have seen us win three. Not a bad run in my estimation and indeed better than most clubs. Does writing out of history that ground-breaking run help the club and the players? I can’t see how.
This was brought into focus on the Underground train with Blacksheep after the game yesterday as I sat next to a gent who was perhaps somewhat older than me (although Blacksheep finds that impossible to believe) who complained vigorously about Arsenal. I said that although I had not enjoyed the final this season I had seen worse, citing the Luton final in the same competition. He then countered with the Swindon final as even worse than that. But he still felt the current performances demanded criticism. Endless criticism in fact. All the way from King’s Cross to Arnos Grove.
So as we had time I put the point to him that supporting Arsenal can be quite a difficult occupation over time, but there can also be some good times. He wouldn’t have any of that and focused on the failings of yesterday’s team and other past failings; it was a brief discussion of two perspectives, one enjoying the good memories, one bemoaning the bad performances. I was quite happy with my memories and reflections, he, if I may speak ill of the elderly, was a grumpy old sod.
Thus I still find a lot of reasons to be very wary of supporting the stance of the national media and their camp followers such as Arsenal Fan TV, Football London and the like (in that there is no evidence that it brings about change for the better, but there are reasons to believe that it might disincline some players to sign for Arsenal, now they know how vitriolic some Arsenal fans can be).
And yet still I have one area of hope.
I don’t hide the fact that I am a Jeremy Corbyn supporter; indeed there is a picture of him and me in Parliament on the home page of this site (although you have to scroll down a long way to find it). And so I watch with much interest the daily attacks on him by the same media that remorselessly attack Arsenal. And I watch the data that emerges showing that every round of attack on Mr Corbyn leads to further rises in his support.
While previous Labour leaders have tried to cosy up to the anti-Labour media, this no longer happens and Mr Corbyn and his team expose them simply as “owned by billionaire tax exiles.” As a result attacks by the media and their camp followers on the Labour leadership now play into Labour’s hands, and indeed it is estimated that Momentum, the group within Labour that works to promote the work of Jeremy Corbyn now has more members than the Conservative Party. Every time another attack without evidence is made on Mr Corbyn the membership of party rises.
And yet, amazingly, the Mail, Express, Star, Sun, Times and Telegraph continue to attack Corbyn day by day even though they too see that the result they are achieving is a growth in support for Corbyn.
And the way the remorseless attacks of the media have been used by Labour to its own advantage suggests there might (just might, nothing more) be a way out using the constant attacks by the media and their blogs on Arsenal, to be benefit of its club. There is after all a similarity. The media attacks on Mr Corbyn concerning his involvement with Czech spy rings were utterly fanciful, and resulted in another spike in support for the Party. It would be interesting if we could find a way to use the current round of anti-Wengerianism in the same way. (This is where the anti-Arsenal correspondents call me delusional – I thought I would put that in to save them the time).
I’m not quite sure how to achieve this, or if it can be achieved, but at least I have a model as I studen the way the media and the men who wanted to take over Arsenal in the 1920s worked to destroy the reputation of the man who did more to save and develop the club than anyone else. I would feel it a betrayal of the sort of club I support if I did nothing to prevent this sort of thing happening again.
The story of Henry Norris at the Arsenal is being told on the Arsenal History Society site which covers his work with the club month by month. We’ve covered the first two major libels on Norris (that he rigged the election of 1919 and that he forced the manager to play the brother-in-law of the club doctor because he would not give any money to transfers) and you can find details below, plus there is a list of all the articles in the series thus far at Henry Norris at the Arsenal.
The preliminaries to the first libel
- April 1915: New revelations concerning perhaps the most important month in Arsenal’s history
- November / December 1915: the match fixing scandal comes to the fore: Norris is armed
The voting and the comments before and after the election of Arsenal to the 1st Division
- The first suggestion that Arsenal could be elected to the 1st division.
- Arsenal in January 1919: rioting in the streets and the question of promotion
- What the media said about the election of Arsenal to the 1st division in 1919
- Arsenal prepare for the vote on who should be promoted to the First Division
- March 1919: The vote to extend the league and what the media said
- Why did the clubs vote for Arsenal rather than Tottenham in March 1919?
The Second Libel, the manager and Bernard Joy
- Is the injury to Gabriel Jesus equivalent to the assault on Eduardo in 2008?
- Womens Champions League Arsenal Women v Juventus – the match preview
- It never rains but the journalists want Arsenal to drown in a mess of their own making
- Back to the football: Watford video and Arsenal v Lyon 8 December preview
- The 40 players coming to Arsenal and the 6 most predicted for this January