By Tony Attwood
The change in the attitude of the newspapers, TV stations and the blogs was nothing short of sensational. From the “We care do you” moan moan moan approach publicised so widely by Arsenal Supporters’ Trust, Arseblog, Black Scarf, The Gooner, Le Grove, Redaction, 7am Kickoff and the rest, which was in essence a reflection of what some of the media was saying, following AST’s statement that Arsenal only had £40m or £45m to spend, we were transformed in the space of days to headlines such as that from Caught Offside…
“Five in, six out: Emery set to take summer spending well beyond £100m as key star nears Arsenal … “
Although it should also be noted that just 23 hours earlier it was running
“Ex-Premier League star predicts that West Ham could capitalise on poor Arsenal and Manchester United seasons” and “snatch a top six finish”. But to be fair to one of the much better and more positive sites, they were just reporting a typical bit of bonkers ex-player chatter that is always out there in the background.
Indeed the site has by and large been a contrast to the AST gang who appear to have been going round and round feeding off each other while still being utterly flummoxed that the long rambling document to which they all so heartily signed up in their negativity, was actually based on a total load of balderdash.
And now here’s the problem they all have: if you make a big complaint with a lot of noise, and the whole central premise of your complaint is proven to be totally and utterly wrong… a sort of gross inflated fantasy… well then you can look a bit silly. Maybe not to yourself because it is so easy to be bound up in the ideas that you have been propagating, you can still think you are right, but you can look a bit dopey to quite a few other people around you.
Or at least the ones who think long and hard enough as the transfers roll in to say, “I thought Arsenal could only spend £45m.” (Indeed we do have a couple of people writing to this site trying to excuse the £40m/£45m maximum story saying that because the transfers were being paid over a number of years, the earlier figure was right. I won’t bore you with all the accountancy technicalities but safe to say that even the bonkers Express newspapers gave up on that one after two days and just pretended they had never said anything about Arsenal having limited expenses.)
Anyway, AST told us that “Off the pitch, fans have never felt more marginalised, less listened to or valued,” and that is what all the camp followers signed up. And of course if you feel less valued, then yes, you might well be signing up to the cause.
But really, it is only when these people finally recognise that when you start to believe your own propaganda the next time you make a complaint or have a suggestion, your credibility is going to be rock bottom. Some person or other is going to say, “Oh weren’t you the people who signed up to the idea that Arsenal were “at the crossroads” while pointing in the wrong direction?”
The problem is that these people are trying to take Arsenal back to a magical land of the past where Arsenal won everything all the time and “once again make Arsenal a place where fans have a real sense of belonging”. Although when that was, and how it was achieved is never made clear. I certainly don’t remember it and I’ve been going to the club since the days when dinosaurs roamed on Highbury Hill.
So as a result, irrespective of whether you have a great reputation as a reasonable source of information and commentary, support for an idea that has been found to be totally wrong and in essence utterly bonkers can undo that whole reputation in a trice.
For the point is, was it ever likely that Arsenal were going into this transfer window with a budget of £40m or £45m?
Of course once the AST ran with the idea that Arsenal’s approach was “uncoordinated and appears to lack strategy” the newspapers would seize upon it, because, basically, that is what they do.
And then they would drop it again as they started to lap up the signings that Arsenal were making, leaving Arsenal Supporters Trust and its fellow travellers appearing simply a left-over offshoot of what for many a long year we have called the Anti-Arsenal Arsenal – that collection of journalists and supporters groups who feel either that they have a much better idea of how to run a football club than the current owners, directors and managers, or that the current owners are a bunch of crooks who know only to well how to run a sports club, and rip it off.
(Interestingly no one asked Untold Arsenal to sign – but then our slogan about supporting the club, the manager and the team rather suggests that we wouldn’t really be interested in yet another AAA salvo or AST initiative, so maybe they thought it wasn’t worth dropping us a note).
Ultimately to be side stepped as an irrelevance by the load of journalists who write newspaper columns and spout on TV about football really is something of an achievement.
- Clubs are showing signs of fighting back at journalists
- Are Arsenal really making progress, or are we starting to slip back?
- Luton 3 Arsenal 4: maybe it is time to say positive things
- Luton v Arsenal – the referee, the team, Saka and Cliff Bastin
- Luton Town – how do they play the game. The tackles, fouls and cards.