The problem is some Arsenal “fans” are more interested in themselves than the club

by Tony Attwood

As you may have seen I have been writing a little series of articles on the way the media and some of the Arsenal fan base have on occasion united in attacking the team and the management of Arsenal.

The opening piece which introduced the series was “Arsenal on the back foot.  How the media misrepresent Arsenal’s situation.    That will be followed up by “Supporters and the Media against the Arsenal: how it all started,” which will appear this afternoon.

There will be a couple more articles in the series over the next couple of days which will continue the review of Arsenal, its fans and the media through the ages.

I do appreciate not everyone is interested in Arsenal’s history, which is why I normally keep articles relating to Arsenal’s history on a separate site, but the history of the way the media and some “fans” have combined to undermine Arsenal players, while the fans pretend to be supporting the club, is one that I think is fascinating, and needs examination.

And of course it is not a subject that the media (which is complicit in encouraging fans to complain about the Arsenal), is certainly not going to investigate.  So it is something for Untold to take up.

The issue has been highlighted for me, not just by the activities of some fans groups (the media keep say 16 fan groups, or 17 fans groups, but I am darned if I can find more than two or three of fully organised groups in the sense of having a structure and membership) but by the activities of some fans on the American tour, where, I am told Mustafi has been roundly booed.

Of course the Sun loved this, reporting the issue and calling Mustafi a “calamity defender”.  But they then said something quite interesting.  (Yes I know it is the Sun, and I would not normally call anything they write interesting, and indeed they probably didn’t know they had written something interesting, but interesting it was.)

For the Sun said, “Mustafi’s name was greeted with a chorus of boos when read out over the stadium PA system in Denver.  On Twitter, though, fans were split with many backing the boo-boys while others believe while he is still a Gunner, Mustif must be supported.

What particularly made me look twice was the use of the phrase “boo-boys” – the phrase that Herbert Chapman used to describe supporters in the 1930s who booed every mistake players made.  Indeed so bad was it that Chapman vigorously called them out, and the players in interviews talked about how bad the situation had got on the terraces, noting that no other club had this sort of problem to the level Arsenal had.

So it seems the tradition continues.

But what is the benefit of booing Mustafi?   There can be no doubt that the management of the club know about the campaign that has been run by some supporters and the media against Mustafi.  But likewise there can be no doubt that the statisticians see the player differently.  “Who Scored” for example rate him “Very strong” for tackling, “strong” for aerial duels, and “strong” for ball interception.

Not that I expect many people to take notice of this.  When I quoted statistics about Xhaka in some detail these were just denied with replies of “Anyone can see he is useless”.

What is interesting in all this is that the fans, most of whom have had no engagement in professional football, feel that not only can they have an opinon (which of course they can) but also their opinion is worth more than that of people who have been involved in professional football for years.

Even more odd is the fact that they think that booing players like Mustafi and Xhaka actually helps Arsenal.  And I suppose from their odd point of view, if Mustafi puts in a transfer request and leaves they will believe that they have helped the club see the error of its ways.

But the reality is that each time this happens, it gets that bit harder for Arsenal to recruit the next player they want.  Footballers, not surprisingly, talk to each other, and the word spreads about clubs that have a lot of negativists in the ground.

Here is a player who has played 20 times for Germany who the media and some fans together are trying to force out of the club, seemingly in the belief that they (the journalists who by and large can’t seem to tell a wild rumour from the truth, and the fans most of whom have never played professional football) know more than everyone else.

Would I ever put my faith in a professional football journalist?  Actually no, simply because they are so wrong most of the time.  But I know why they propagate such stories – it is to get readers.

So why do people who claim to support Arsenal boo some of the Arsenal players.  Certainly it can’t be for some weird reasoning that suggests it will help the club or the player.  No, the posturing is there to make themselves feel good.  At least journalists have the excuse that writing the gibberish they write is done in order to make a living and perhaps feed their family.  But fans don’t even have that excuse. 


10 Replies to “The problem is some Arsenal “fans” are more interested in themselves than the club”

  1. I totally agree with this article and want to appreciate that someone of the “blogs” actually have an opinion that is backed by some substance. Mustafi makes mistakes that have cost Arsenal deerly there is no one doubting it, similarly xhaka makes mistakes that sometimes causes us to lose games but even these two have put in some big performances without being appreciate and if you think about the way zidane smashed his head into materazzi in a world cup final, these are all brain freezes that happen to some of the best even.

    The negativity you mentioned has had such a bad impact on the performance of the players.
    Also another important thing being pointed out in this article is for the new recruitments to re-think their moves, that would be a dangerous situation to come in the future. We need an air of positivity and support in the worst of times, not when every season arsenal is in the middle of those runs where they go without losing for 20 odd games.

  2. Emery said something last season to the effect that Mustafi is a very good player, and it is the coaches job to help him.
    Of course he makes mistakes, most of us do, it many of theses mistakes are due to him being isolated at counter attacks, similar to Xhaka, a feature of the way we have played under Wenger, and so far under Emery.
    Some fans are just idiots. It’s like this club is the lightening rod for populism in football.
    Reading an Alistair Campbell article this week , he talked about the dynamics behind populism , why some voters were agitated to the point of taking a path clearly against their interests, quoting a tweet he had read , something close to “ some voters will quite happily throw themselves head first into an empty swimming pool because they are angry there is no water in it” Reminds me a little of a certain group of people we suffer

  3. Mandy

    I’ve read a couple of Alistair Campbell novels, and they’re ok.

    He basically writes about 3 things, alcohol, or more accurately dependence upon it, politics and football.

    He then tends to delve into the Psychology of all 3.

    Seeing as he was a ‘spin doctor’ it is no surprise at all that he has a deep interest in how the mind works. I know some think it’s all hokum but I find it very interesting and think he makes a lot of sense when he looks at how psychology affects people and their behaviour especially in politics and football.

    His swimming pool analogy is typical of how he summarises a complicated emotional responses into a simple explanation.

  4. Good piece, especially agree with the title.

    Although more than frustrated as any true supporter of our great club over the past decade or so, one particular issue that has been added to my seemingly ever growing list of “major irritations(to put it mildly)” is the way in which a section of our fans refuse to realize that in some situations it may be best just to withhold opinion until the situation they IMMEDIATLY gripe about unfolds a little.

    The above is written fully appreciating that patience has long since been exhausted, season upon season, with the way in which the club is run from top to bottom (both on and off the park.

    All too often we read “Arsenal Fans Furious With (whatever it may be), Livid Arsenal Fans Tell Emery To (this that and the other) – and so on, you get my drift.

    Whilst I usually end up adopting the persona of a regular Victor Meldrew when discussing the current “plight” of our beloved club, it really does seem of late the tolerance level of a section of our fans is precisely zero in ALL situations.

    Now, don’t get me wrong – I have MAJOR concerns over the way we handle our affairs at all levels. But sometimes, just sometimes, it may be better to just hold fire for a short while before banging away on the key’s and venting on twitter or your favourite platform etc.

    As we all know money is king nowadays, and players could not give the proverbial monkeys of what they read in the press and on social media.

    But it may, just may, it some cases be detrimental to what the club could be trying to achieve if we create what from the outside seems a completely venomous atmosphere to consider joining and becoming part of the future.

    In closing I must say I am as critical as the next (true) supporter at some of the jaw dropping inadequacies that have occurred over the years, this both on and off the park.

    But I just believe in some cases, waiting slightly more than a millisecond in feeding the generally anti Arsenal press more ammunition may be the best approach.

    For the record – I am pro Emery ! !

  5. The recent Addidas advert with Ian Wright and recent Arsenal players also included super fan Maria Petri and in the advert she said to continue supporting the players as booing does not work.

  6. Summed up perfectly Tony. I would go one step further though, particularly given the headline you gave the article. I would suggest that a large proportion of the “supporters” who moan and boo are those who started “supporting” Arsenal when we were extremely successful. We no longer benefit from the same level of success we did before and so those people can’t brag to their mates or walk around in their Arsenal shirt feeling envied by people. Basically it’s an ego issue. So those fans started supporting the club for little more than having their own ego massaged. Yes they may have liked the football but so did supporters of other clubs and neutrals I’ve spoken to, they didn’t need to directly associate themselves with that glory.

    Now we have those same people whose egos are no longer being adequately massaged. As you rightly say, not one of them has any experience, qualifications or ability to either coach, manage or run a football club, let alone one of the biggest in the world. But the weak ego takes over and they think they know more than they do. Given the general lack of logic in any of their approach, they then feel they have the right to boo and moan because they somehow feel they are being cheated of something to which they have a right and they will force the change they believe is needed even though the manager may have a hundred reasons not to agree with them.

    As has been said elsewhere, Mustafi has made some mistakes the idea that we have all seen them but the manager hasn’t is patently absurd. If UE believes there is a better way of doing things; or that we have a better overall player in the squad; or that he can attract a better player who is available at the right price and wants to come, do these “supporters” really believe he wouldn’t change things? It’s completely brainless to think that he is persisting with the wrong player when he has so much knowledge and experience that, as supporters, we will never have. It drives me bloody mad listening to their drivel. And of course the anti-Arsenal media throw these negative stories out there and the weak egos lap them up because it just reinforces their idea that their opinion is correct and that again makes them feel good. By moaning more about something that other similar people will agree with is just more ammunition for them in their crusade for change. Not that they have an idea how to change anything because they have no idea football clubs, transfers, big business, the dressing room, players individual desires etc etc etc.

    I refuse to comment on who we should buy, who we should or shouldn’t sell, or what tactics we should or should not use because I am simply not experienced or qualified to do so. All I ask is other people recognise that they are similarly lacking and stfu.

    Supporters, support. The clue is in the name ffs!

  7. Although I don’t get to the Emirates as often as I would like, I do recall in the 2016/2017 season when Mustafi joined that I was impressed with his confident, aggressive approach dealing with opposition strikers. It’s clear his form has declined and he does now make an increasing number of bad mistakes.
    I think this is down to a couple of reasons.
    He is the aggressive CB who loves to attack the long forward aerial pass, and he plays best with a ball playing CB such as Kos or Holding who are good with the ball at their feet. Both of these have been long term injuries in past two seasons, and Sokratis is a similar player to Mustafi.

    Secondly with Le Prof leaving, the AAA Boo Boys had to have someone to hate. Although Xhaka and Ozil have come in for their fair share of negativity, Mustafi has been the main target, and the unrelenting negativity over the last season has to have had a major effect on his confidence. I challenge anyone to perform to high work standards under such constant bile and hate.

    This type of behaviour is of course not restricted to Arsenal – check out any local or schools football – where it’s the referee who is often the target of vile verbal and physical assault.

  8. I generally agree with your sentiments but historically when Arsenal have had a defender liable to make one or two serious errors per game they have looked to restrict his playing time then quietly move on. Mustafi’s stats might be excellent 99% of the time but that 1% frequently leads to a goal – the opposite of what a defender is for. Somehow Mustafi keeps getting selected which either speaks to the paucity of other central defenders or the increasing reliance on ‘numbers’ rather than what we perceive. I get that Xhaka has impressive stats but is prone to the odd defensive brain fart. This is more acceptable as he creates more offensively. A club wishing to truly compete should be able to drop Mustafi until he eliminates those errors from his game. The fact that we cant means our lack of action in bringing in another CB all the more worrying.

  9. Absolutely spot on,I could not agree with you more! I’m sure constructive criticisms of the managers of the club are essential to ensure they understand the frustration and desperation for success. But it has to be done respectfully and an appreciation of the myriad of complexity in a viciously competitive and very corrupt environment. I even read a supporter on one of the many negative blogs, asserting that Xhaka is so useless, his level is hardly higher than Sunday league. Now seriously,it is beyond a joke the way they abuse and denigrate some of our players, and then get into a rant when the club is unable to raise significant funds when they are sold. I feel ashamed at how infantile, ignorant and idiotic at some of our supporters. Some of them are too stupid to understand they are simply useful idiots to the media’s very sinister agenda.

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