What effect is all the negative criticism having on Arsenal?

By Tony Attwood

I was moved to ask that question on seeing these headlines turn up during a three and a half hour period yesterday following the Leicester defeat.

  • Emery exposed as Arsenal embarrassed again & five tactical lessons from the Premier League…: Goal.com
  • Arsenal would get embarrassed in the Champions League – Wright: Goal.comLeicester: that’s top four out for Arsenal’s bottlers: Suburban Gooners
  • Arsenal need complete change – Top to bottom: Just Arsenal News
  • Gary Neville predicts bad news for Arsenal & Man United: 101 Great Goals
  • ‘They’ve been woeful’, ‘Going missing’ … Many Arsenal fans savage ‘average’ duo after Leicester loss: The Boot Room
  • Ex-Chelsea ace’s damming comments about Unai Emery as Arsenal suffer Champions League blow: Football.London
  • So wait, have we actually gotten any better? Pain in the Arsenal
  • “Less than worthless”, “Another 0/10 performance” – Many fans fume at star who “sums up” Arsenal: FootballFanCast
  • Arsenal’s away record is embarrassing & success remains a long way off – Keown: Goal.com
  • Arsenal are softer under Unai Emery than Arsene Wenger – Tony Cascarino: Daily and Sunday Express
  • Leicester 3-0 Arsenal: Emery’s timid approach condemns Arsenal to third successive defeat: Arseblog
  • “The biggest problem”, “Bottler” – Arsenal are being urged to act by loads of unhappy fans: FootballFanCast
  • ‘Simply wrong’ – Plenty of Arsenal fans fume over this man’s Leicester shocker: The Transfer Tavern
  • Goodbye top four’ … Many Arsenal fans in meltdown after flashpoint at Leicester: The Boot Room

And that was just in that one short period.  Many of the same had come in before, and they are still being published as I write this.  And you might notice in passing that some of these are by the same publication, not just wanting to publish a totally negative story once, but twice – in a three and a half hour period.  And what I want to ask is, “What is the effect of all of this raging negativity on the various parties involved?”

But I also found myself pondering what was not said.  For example that many of us stayed as the players came over to the away fans at the end of the game.  Some applauded the players, some chanted the name of Leno who had an utterly outstanding game.  Which then raises the point that few if any publications have actually commented upon this.

Ah, but yes, many of them are written by journalists who log off as the final whistle goes (if not before – I remember watching Alan Smith in the press box finishing writing 10 minutes before the end of one Arsenal game).  Some are written by fans who were there, but not that many.

And moving on from that thought I started to ponder the different groups of people who could be affected by negative criticism, such as the players, Arsenal supporters who were at the game, those who were not, the management, supporters of other clubs and so on.

I don’t believe that the players are stupid – they know how a game has gone and they reflect upon it.  So for them the negative criticism is rubbing it in, making them feel worse than they already did, and perhaps making them wonder why they are being blamed for some eccentric refereeing.

Those of us at the game would already have had our own feelings from the match – whether it was that the players were awful, that the ref was biased or incompetent, or that playing 60 minutes with ten men, and trying to go for an equaliser at the end was bound to be a risky affair.

But those who were not there – what do they make of this rampant negativity in which at least half a dozen publications published two separate articles tearing into Arsenal within a couple of hours of each other?

And each time I look at this issue I reach the same conclusion.  The bloggers and the journalists are only writing for themselves, to cause further negative feelings, which cannot help the club.

Now we know that such an approach cannot help the club, because all of last season we had the same with the endless “Wenger Out” campaign.  Yes it achieved the objective of removing Wenger and disrupting the club, and now it is likely to be doing the same again.   After all, a player who has the chance of going to Arsenal or another club will surely think twice about Arsenal after seeing the publicity they get day after day from their own blogs and the press.

Tragically, instead of learning the lesson that remourceless, ceaseless negativity about the club merely makes things worse, these people just go on doing it over and over again.  And now, having managed to force Mr Wenger out, they are piling the pressure on Mr Emery.

And I would ask, to what end?  Getting rid of Mr Wenger hasn’t turned the club around, so why would getting rid of Mr Emery?

What is clearly an issue here is that Arsenal does not have the spending power of most of the clubs above them.  And Arsenal is not going to get it under the current owner.   Meanwhile there is no doubt that Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool are going to continue spending huge amounts this summer.   Chelsea might not because of a) the absence of the owner and b) the transfer window ban (which is under appeal), and Tottenham might not because they have a stadium to pay for.

But three of those clubs will keep spending in a way that Arsenal’s owner could afford to support, but seems to have no inclination to support.

So the squad might change but we are not going to be bringing the sort of players Man C, Man U and Liverpool will be buying.  What we will instead have, is abuse, more abuse, and then more abuse.

Ask yourself, if you were a top footballer who could have his pick between clubs, would you go to one in which players have been abused under two different managers across two seasons?

I suppose some people will answer “yes” to that, but I suspect most footballers will answer “no”.  Worse, I suspect, from what I have seen, that Mr Emery is a very talented manager, but how much more of the abuse do you think he is going to take, when there are clubs all over Europe that would welcome him with open arms?

One day, sometime, the abuse has to stop.  But I suspect we are a long way away from that point.  The blogs and the journalists after all, only think of themselves.

20 Replies to “What effect is all the negative criticism having on Arsenal?”

  1. The game against Leicester proved many points

    1) The media and blogtettas will continur to abuse Atsenal even post Wenger.
    2) The pigmob will continue to hurt Arsenal woth bias officiating.
    3) The Wengerball dayd ate over for the fans to see attacking quality football.

  2. Arseblog were positive till the last 3-4 years of Wengers reign. Shame that…..

  3. Tony, remember not too long ago, in early February precisely, it was untold publishing the series of negative articles. Walter wrote “how to kill a player”, blacksheep wrote ” is Emery leading us into a ditch” or something like that. They you wrote “should we continue to support..” Where you conceded that it was time to review the slogan on the masthead, as for you supporting the club actually meant supporting Wenger. You followed it up with several articles in the same tone.
    So, I expect you to be more sympathetic to the negative feelings of the supporters, seeing as you’ve been there and done that

  4. The negativity is symptomatic of the blog culture that has arisen in recent years.

    The ability to say what you like, virtually anonymously, is too much for many people to withstand.

    The Internet is replete with vicious spiteful comments, very frequently slanderous, because people know they can get away with it.

    My son works for a company that does, what is known as, reputation management. It is their job, on behalf of a number of large corporations, to ensure that what is said about them on the Internet is not negative and certainly not false.

    That is why so many of us choose a blog or blogs that we are happy does not do that and why I left one particular blog because I felt that the negativity and insults were going too far.

    Negativity means more clicks and frequently more income.

    Basic human nature is to get pleasure out of other people’s misfortunes.

    In Jewish Law, saying negative things about people is strictly forbidden, even if it is the truth. It goes so far so that it is forbidden to be too complimentary about someone, as that will very frequently result in the person you are talking to then the side are saying something not so complimentary about him.

    I have no doubt at all that most players will not be put off by the negativity of our fans, because they’re only coming for the money anyway. If the money is good, then they will come either to get as much as they can or to use us as a stepping stone to one of the even more generous clubs.

    The situation might be different with regard to players that already with us who need to be detected by the manager as Wenger did so well and as UE now seems to be doing

    Do we actually know that the blogs for other clubs are any better? I would be very surprised if they are.

    I agree with Mr. Rosicky in that we are in for what might be an unpleasant change in focus.

  5. Correction.

    In Jewish Law, saying negative things about people is strictly forbidden, even if it is the truth. It goes so far so that it is forbidden to be too complimentary about someone, as that will very frequently result in the person you are talking to then saying something not so complimentary about him.

  6. On the BBC Sports app, after 15 minutes against Leicester at 0-0 the headline read something like “Leicester absolutely dominant” or Leicester dominating Arsenal. I was a bit taken aback as I often look for info on live games via this app and had never seen them make subective judgements before. Usually it would be a comment such as “XXX go close” or “xxx hits post in early exchanges” or something vaguely factual.

    Now compare this with last night when Ajax were 1-0 up and the Spuds hadn’t even mustered a shot. It read something like, “Can Spurs fight back”. So basically Arsenal are crap when they’re not losing but other teams aren’t crap even though they are losing. This is beyond a joke now.

  7. I think the only time the abuse will ease off significantly will be when we have finished in the bottom half of the league for a few seasons and the people who only started “supporting” the club during the glory years have lost interest and/or gone to seek glory with another club.

    You’re absolutely correct in stating that this level of criticism is counterproductive. But this is just when it’s from people who are purport the club. The rest of the media are loving it as they know what they are doing to us and they positively relish it.

  8. The only newspaper reports that are worth a damn are the league tables and attendance numbers. Personally although it is obvious that this present team is not good enough to challenge for a league title it is also nowhere as bad as many reports would make out. Anybody who even pays attention or reads stuff by ex players are delusional in the extreme, its not even good enough to be used as chip paper. My personal support for this outfit stretches to over 60 years and a good read of “Fever Pitch” would point out how irrational this is. However, it does not take an analysis by intellectuals such as Paul Merson to point out those obvious deficiencies that are clear for all to see. But remember the first game of next season will soon be here and hope will rise eternal.

  9. For Arsenal to have lost 3 PL matches in succession under Unai Emery guidance as head coach is totally unacceptable and calls for an internal auditing by the club’s hierarchy bosses to take appropriate action that will be appropriate enough to stop the rot from extending to the last 2 PL matches of the season of the club against Brighton & HA at the Ems and away to Burnley on the last day of this season’s PL campaign.

    I have not given up hope that Arsenal will not make the top-four place finish this season. For, should there be another twist and turn in results obtained by the 3 Arsenal rival club sides vying for the remaining 2 UCL spot tickets for next season, Arsenal could still slip in into the top-four place finish at the end of the season.

    By the way, has an Arsene Wenger’s managed Arsenal Gunners team ever lost 3 PL matches in a row? I think Mr Attwood is in position to provide the correct answer to my ask. Please do.

  10. A european league could well be coming and there is an agenda to ensure other clubs are in a better position to be part of it.
    Arsenals ownership model, the club silencing wenger on some matters and ivans self serving political pragmatism havs given those with an agenda against the club, including the pgmol a very easy run in recent years.
    Perhaps the club need to stand up to things a little more. The man had faults but maybe a little more David dein style lobbying in the corridors of power needed. No other big club would so passively put up with the raw deal this club gets

  11. Many (majority?) of the players, especially the older players do not pay attention to the internet or the media in general because they understand how it works. They understand that it is the circulation of the paper, or the number of clicks on a blog, that is important, not whether what is said, is what is important. They also understand that by and large the comments by the journalists, bloggers, et al. are uninformed.

    And many wonder why there is a divide or a lack of unity between the players and the supporters.

  12. Tony,
    You have asked this question so many times in the past, I loose count. But I’d like to take a different approach. I watched the Tottenham v Ajax match last night and was simply mesmerized about the Ajax players’ fluency. I understand a large number of them are products of their Youth Academy, especially their Captain – Ligt – who is said to be 19 years old.

    Another report I read also quoted Johann Cruyff as saying that ‘… bags of money does not play or win matches…’ This got me thinking – why are AFC youth products not the mainstay of Arsenal season transfers, rather than bother about matching the money bags clubs at spendings on players?

    Ajax seems to have done a remarkable job in that regard; it was also said that Blind’s transfer from Man U was the highest fee the club had paid for any player, especially a defender. (£17 million). This model is one AFC can hit the ground running with if we are serious about challenging for trophies over the long haul with this ownership structure that we are lumped with.

    Ajax dumped Real Madrid and Juventus in short order – both high spenders in the transfer market – and still looks ready to go all the way to the final of UCL. Even if they don’t eventually win they would have succeeded in making a statement that ‘money doesn’t always bag trophies’. A few years back the rest of the world was looking at Ajax as a spent force, no they were actually regrouping for another onslaught on the Europa champions league!

    Need we continue to worry about matching Man City and the others in the spending madness on transfers when M Wenger has set up the Club to challenge for the future with the AFC Youth system?

  13. In the heady days, pre-WW2, George Allison, the Arsenal manager, was often heard to remark “No news (about Arsenal) is bad news”.
    Our great Club has always been able to treat plaudits and criticism with equal measure. Both are fleeting in their existence.
    Better by far, never to waver in our loyalty to Club, Manager and whoever wears the shirt. The sun will always shine on Arsenal FC. 😎

  14. Spot on nicky.

    As regards Laws, all Laws are bollocks when the masses have no understanding of social justice or love and respect for life (in all living things).

  15. “ll Laws are bollocks when the masses have no understanding of social justice or love and respect for life (in all living things).” I guess that’s why you’ve told people to kill themselves by walking out into traffic on here a number of occasions, right?

  16. OT: Referees

    in the news, was an article about referees declaring what team they support.


    I think it is ridiculous to suggest that all referees are only capable of supporting a single team. There may be referees who support more than 1 team, or referees who don’t support any team in the country they are officiating in. Long ago, I supported two ice hockey teams, the Edmonton Oilers and whoever was playing the Calgary Flames.

    However, the ridiculousness is not limited. The need to declare which team you support also leads to the idea that you if you dislike any teams, you could not do anything to increase the chance that they will drop points and or goal difference.

    A referee can potentially tilt the field just as much by favouring one or more teams he/she supports, as he/she can by favouring opposition of teams he/she supports.

    What is needed is for referees to act professionally, and not just have the word “professional” in the name of the organization which employs them. Or to assume that just because they are being paid for the work, that they are now to be treated as professionals.

  17. OT: Referees and home versus away

    There have been scientific articles touching on the home field advantage. And it is considered reasonable that the conduct of a referee regardless of how professional they are, can be swayed by the home crowd.

    It is entirely possible that someone could analyse the away games we’ve lost, and find the referee was “only” being influenced by the home crowd.

    But there are converses which are possible. Referees could be assigned games looking to maximize the home field advantage against certain teams, making it more likely that they will consistently lose points on away games. Referees could dislike some of the away teams they are officiating, and “let” themselves be swayed more by the home crowd. And if discipline is handed out to away teams, disciplinary committees could decide to rule for the referee more often than they should; which would penalize those away teams since they might have players under bans more during the season.

  18. Dave
    02/05/2019 at 1:10 pm

    You are obviously not aware of English idiom. The term ‘go play in the traffic’ means go away or go somewher else. It is a part of London humour not a ‘literal command’.

    Spend some time reading the dictionary – you may learn something.

  19. Conceding 9 goals in 3 games and 3 defeats against mid table teams from a team which has spent what we have- with the wage bill we have- forget the English print media’s exaggerated hysteria- we have become a laughing stock from opposition fans on social media.
    Despite the exaggerated nature of much of these comments- there is a kernel of truth in assertions that we look vulnerable in defence- the league table does not lie- we have conceded 49 goals- only ManU in the top 9 have conceded more.

    Yes we’ve been unlucky with injuries to defenders however, I certainly expected us to do better against such opposition- with the players we fielded.

    When a team of potentially good players consistently underperform against moderate opposition – as we have away from home this season- it takes a long bow to blame the owner for under investing and exonerate the managers and coaches who have chosen the players, picked the team, tactics. style of play and determined purchasing priorities and are responsible for coaching defensive tactics.

    Is it about the quantum of money spent by the club? or the owner? who is the same owner who authorised 35m to be spent on Mustafi, who we would be lucky to sell for one tenth of that today- such has been his performances this year.

    Chelsea and Manu consistently spend far more than us- are they appreciably better than either us or Spurs who have spent less?

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