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How the criticism of Arsenal players rolls on and on until they are forced to leave

By Tony Attwood

Last week there was a headline produced by The Boot Room which read “‘Deadwood’, ‘Lazy and inconsistent’: Many Arsenal fans react as £35k-a-week man struggles against Liege.”

And I wondered how the writer of this vignette would have felt if he or she had been referred to in a headline by his or her salary.  “£6 an hour told to work harder in supermarket.”  It is rather a de-humanising thing to do.

Anyway, the piece was about Maitland-Niles, a man who had spent his time this season playing out of his natural position at full back, and was now suddenly given a place in mid-field.   As anyone who has ever played football regularly will attest – indeed as anyone who has ever done any job regularly which is skill based rather than simply repetitive will attest – a sudden change can be quite disruptive.  Everything that you have been doing automatically slips away, as one has to think through all the changes needed.

These days I’m lucky – I have my regular writing schedule and although it involves several different types of writing, I’m very used to jumping from one to another as the moment requires.   But early on in my life it was difficult and it took quite a while to be able to jump from writing an advert to a serious article to a report…   People who do highly repetitive jobs don’t quite realise how hard some changes can be.

Likewise ask a blues musician suddenly to play country and western and it will take him or her quite a while to adapt.   A young musician of quality needs time to adjust – and so does anyone whose job is more than just doing the same thing over and over.  I rather suspect those calling out AMN had repetitive jobs.  Check-outs in a supermarket perhaps.  Or shelf-fillers.

Now giving Maitland-Niles the time to adjust in a game that Arsenal could easily win was, for me, a good bit of player management.  I’m sure Maitland-Niles learned a lot from that game and will go on learning a lot so that as his career develops he will be able to move between several roles in midfield and defence, according to the needs of the team.

But this attack on M-N headline, as noted above with the “Many Arsenal fans react” opening can only cause harm – or at best have no impact on the player.   It is hard to imagine any scenario in which it would do him good.  He is, after all, told all about the evaluation of his performance by his manager and the coaching staff.  Does he need to be put down by “many” Arsenal fans.

HITC picked up the theme by writing, “Arsenal youngster Ainsley Maitland-Niles failed to impress supporters with his performance last night.”   That means all Arsenal supporters I suppose.  Except I was there and it certainly didn’t apply to me.  Nor any of the guys around me in the upper east stand.  But HITC also wrote, “What is wrong with him?’: Some Arsenal fans slate ‘lazy’ youngster’s display last night.”

A better response would be “What’s wrong with them: how come these supposed Arsenal fans don’t realise what effect their criticism has?”  Or maybe “Have they no experience of the real world?”

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Although I suspect, and indeed I have suspected for a long time that these criticisms come from people who are so limited in their outlook that the only pleasure they can ever get from anything in life is by criticising others.

And of course M-N was not the only player to get taken apart by the “fans” after the Europa game.  Another to hit the dust was Pepe, as with “‘We need to drop him, Sorry’ – Some fans want this Arsenal star dropped after Liege game” from Red London.  At least they said “some”.

But as if dropping a player is the only way to get a player to develop….   Perhaps the scribblers of these notes have forgotten the early games of Thierry Henry.   I suppose they would have written stuff about how he should never be allowed to pull on an Arsenal shirt again as he struggled to adjust to English football.

And the same can be said of so many others.   Endless criticism of players is virtually never helpful.  Supporting them often is.  And yet the negativity goes on and on…

Anyway here’s a bit of positive news, in case you missed it earlier.

Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock and Eddie Nketiah have been called up for England Under-21s’ friendly against Slovenia and their Euro qualifier against Austria.

Bukayo Saka is in the England Under-19s squad for the International Marbella Cup, where they’ll face France and Belgium.

Miguel Azeez and Sam Greenwood have been named in the England Under-18s squad ahead of friendlies against Poland, Slovakia, and Austria.   Hubert Graczyk and Charlie Patino have been called up by England Under-17s for a series of friendlies against Germany (twice) and Spain.

All I can say to those lucky young men is enjoy every second of it.  Because if you do make it through and get into the first team, there will be a load of alleged supporters out there waiting to call for your immediate departure from the team.

20 comments to How the criticism of Arsenal players rolls on and on until they are forced to leave

  • Ben

    Tony did you get a chance to read the interview of Mustafi yet?

    https://www.reddit.com/r/Gunners/comments/df511t/full_transcript_of_spiegels_interview_with/

    A clear example that players are affected by the crap from the media and “fans” regardless of their pay packet.

  • Mikey

    100% agree.

    I have no expectations of the general media but how Arsenal “supporters” can come up with such nonsense. When there is the opportunity to respond to site I will often make the statement that instead of the headline, “many Arsenal fans say” or, the more general, “Arsenal fans say”, it should read, “tweets from six Arsenal fans who have no experience of working in football at all and, who do not represent anybody, say”. It is so annoying when they pick up on a handful of negative quotes and make a “story” out of it. It’s cheap and shoddy. What gets me is that other fans are taken in by something so pathetic. I guess we just live in a world of unsubstantiated sound bites and fake news and people are too lazy to form an opinion of their own based on logical thought or evidence.

    I don’t see a way round this but hey that’s progress eh……………….god help us all!

  • Bobome

    Tony,
    I read the Mustafi interview here and it only underscores the need to consistently call out the media, the AAA, PigMob and other haters of AFC that their stink bombing of the Club will not go unchallenged. They’ve practically ruined a loyal servant’s carrier on the back of their search for glory for no just cause. Count me in.

  • RA

    I think the £6 per hour man has been victimised — he should report it to someone (?) as that is well below the minimum wage.

  • RA

    An opinion is the expression of an observation, a judgement or a view about something, or someone, that is not always based on fact or knowledge.

    It can be intensely irritating when said/written about something/someone loved by another. Saying “the Arsenal player xxxx is crap” can be infuriating if addressed to others who disagree — whereas saying “cabbage is the worst smelling, most disgusting tasting vegetable in the world” would probably just rate a shrug and the response “just get over it — get a life”.

    The problem with some bloggers is that they often express an opinion about the Arsenal as if it were a fact — and will brook no disagreement — even if it is factually just total tosh!!

    Fortunately, there are many other fans who are knowledgeable, intelligent bloggers and are a pleasure to chat with and to read their comments.

    Maybe my attempt at rationalising why some fans talk rubbish, will be damned as rubbish itself. That’s life.

  • John L

    As has been mentioned before, this is not a new phenomenon. Herbert Chapman was quoted on this subject, during a historic period of success for Arsenal.

    In my own memory, Jon Sammels, a very talented player in the 1971 Double team, was singled out for unfair criticism, which led to him leaving Arsenal and going to Leicester City.

    More recent targets have been Eboue, just about every keeper since Jens Lehmann and even Ramsey. Gervinho, Denilson, Walcott, Giroud, Iwobi and most central defenders have also been unfairly criticised by so-called Arsenal supporters.

    I hate the term “dead-wood” in any employment context. It is insulting and offensive. Some players are better than others, some are inconsistent and may make mistakes, but no Arsenal players should ever be described in this fashion. None have ever been dead-wood.

  • Nitram

    Just read the article and it’s horrible. Horrible on many levels.

    1-That that is how bad the guy is made to feel by his own fans.

    2-That an ex Arsenal player just adds to the problem, and it wont just be petit.

    3-That the interviewer felt it acceptable to be so brutal, lacking in any kind of empathy, let alone sympathy.

    Given how I, and many others on Untold have called out ex players, especially our own, for the crass, disrespectful and down right insulting way they talk about our players, I found this excert particularly telling:

    SPIEGEL: But there was also criticism of you from the football establishment. The former Arsenal player and 1998 French world champion, Emmanuel Petit, called you the “King of the Blunders”.

    Mustafi: That annoyed me a lot. It’s one thing when fans or the media criticise you. But it’s something completely different when an ex-player, who knows how hard it is sometimes on the field, says something like that. I expect those players to be more sensitive and to see what this sharp criticism can do. In the past, it might have been in the paper for a day and then people would have forgotten. Today it’s on the Internet and it’s going to haunt me for the rest of my career. Actually, former players like Petit shouldn’t need to make a name for themselves by making condescending comments about current players.

    —–

    The way ex players, from their lofty studios, insult, not just criticise in a professional way, insult, current players is shameful.

    Then you have the hacks, most of which have never kicked a ball or been near a management or coaching possession spouting shite as if they actually know a jot !!

    With all that it’s hardly surprising these ‘bloggers’ or whatever they are, feel entitled to abuse and insult ad infinitim. I mean, it’s what everybody does isn’t it.

    I am ever more grateful for the sanity and sanctum that is Untold Arsenal

  • Nitram

    Corr: Position not possession.

  • Nigel

    That is exactly how I feel. Anyone who wears the Arsenal shirt should be encouraged and respected. Untold Arsenal does this which is not what a lot of other sites can claim.

  • It’s their lack of humility that grates on me. I may disagree with the club and the coach but I’m always conscious that in terms of knowledge and expertise, they are the professionals, and its more likely that they are right. The abuse and vile comments are so disgraceful, you have to question their decency and total lack of awareness as to the impact on the players they are abusing. Just to highlight how moronic these people are, they criticise the club of not being able to move these players on,incapable of recognising their culpability in damaging the value of the player. There is a long list of former players who suffered incessant abuse from these ‘supporters’, Walcott, Iwobi, Ramsey and Xhaka are the latest examples.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I don’t respect pundits who juat prattle on and on , and who do not respect the club they played for .
    How many of them were truly sucessful in club management ? Most of them were spectular failures !
    By what right or benchmark do these clowns feel they are qualified to judge the present managers and players ?

    Does anyone really listen to the ‘insights’ of morons like Gary Nevile, Keane, Shearer , Sherewood , who all sucked at management. And not to mention Hutchinson , Wright , Owen , Savage , or the Jamies -Carragher & Redknapp .

    Would you buy a car or house from any of these ?

  • Minesy

    It’s pretty easy … I never watch Match Of The Day or Football Focus live, if I occasionally want to see either I record them and fast forward through all the pundits … I watch live football with the commentary turned down, (I don’t need it when I’m at a game, I sure as hell don’t need it when I have close ups and replays provided) … never read newspapers or blogs unless I’m looking for a particular article, (usually one that’s been commented on here) … doesn’t matter who they used to play for, they spout the rubbish that their paymasters require for their money …. let them, I don’t have to listen …. or indeed care …

  • Les Williams

    @Brickfields Gunners could not have put it better myself. If they are so wonderful why are they on TV? Oh yes they spout rubbish for their paymasters – who are mostly bookies.

    Like you I turn the sound down so as not to listen to the pub drunk on the TV. The American media call ex players “colour” commentators – its a pity in this country ours are a colourless sludge.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    @ Les Williams 10/10/2019 – I am just waiting for some young whippersnapper who made money on technology to buy a club and follow the advice of these pundits .
    As he may have grown up listening to these gurus , he may hire some brash clown to run his club .
    What do you think will happen ?
    In my day , we used to say that a fool and his money are soon parted.
    Probably no change here too !

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I am just waiting to see who among those ex Man Utd players , now pundits , will stick the knife into Ole .
    October will be the new Ides of March .
    Ahhh.. don’t you just live the drama , and the bloodletting ?

  • Les Williams

    @Brickfields Gunners Never thought of tech guy etc… but it is a credible scenario.

    I must say I didn’t think Ole Solksjaer was the man for the job but given that the board picked him they should support him but hey…

    You are right in asking how long before ex Manure players put the boot in. Ironic if G Neville does it first though!

  • Brickfields Gunners

    @ Les Williams – 10/10/2019 at 5:41 pm – Ole was ‘presented’ the job after the powers to be decided that he deserved it after that fabulous unbeaten run after dour Mour’s departure.
    Enter the Baby face Assasin , a former hero and crowd favourite , who appeared to be an inspired choice , and who delivered at first . Then the plot twists and takes a turn for the worse.
    Just like any Hollywood movie or drama . Kudos to the hidden director/s of this story. Just who is pulling all the strings ?

    When Arsenal and Arsene were getting in the face with both barrels , I warned my Man Utd loving son , that their turn would not be too far away. Once SAF left , the vultures were swiftly taking apart the carcass .

    Whose turn will it be this season to rule the roost ? How about a team that has never won the EPL before ? Or the old first division in 30 years ? And who have yet to drop points this season.

    Could a club really go an entire season without drawing or losing a game ? Wouldn’t that reignite interest in the EPL – the greatest football league in the world ? Such a team would truly in reality, never ever walk alone !

    Place your bets , gentlemen !

  • Les Williams

    @Brickfields Gunners – 10/11/2019 7:21am The sad thing is you are spot on with your analysis.

    Fairness and sporting prowess – that isn’t the way things are done in the premier league. There is much more fiction than that. After all we have bookies to please

    The bad thing about all this is that it is a very short term approach. A lot more fans are realising that you cant polish a turd.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    @ Les Williams – 11/10/2019 at 12:19 pm – I have given any hope that the EPL is nothing but fixed and rotten to the core . I now limit myself to 90 minutes of watching Arsenal play . I do hope that we win , one way or another .
    I truly cannot remember watching someother team play , without getting bored in a few minutes . Mostly end up looking at my handphone messages or Facebook.

    Sometimes I think we waste time worring about other’s fates . I see my self being aloof and watching fools . well. basicially being fools . Like this…
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTKfRTkekP4

    Cheers !

  • Les Williams

    @Brickfields Gunners – 12/10/2019 at 4:44 am see what you mean. Brilliantly inane video though. It sums up all the punditry around….

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